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New bad leak -- any ideas?

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Tazling View Drop Down
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Joined: 16 Jan 2013
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Tazling Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: New bad leak -- any ideas?
    Posted: 04 Dec 2014 at 7:25pm
I have been slowly restoring my beat-up old 1981 JJ Taylor (Canadian) Contessa 32.  This year's big project was to fix some obvious damage at the place where the rudder post passes through the hull (by way of a tube with a stuffing box at the top).  The area where the tube meets the hull, on the inside, was a mess of old gype that looked like it had been flung more than smeared (highly suspect) and whenever I sailed in following seas the bilge would fill up :-)  you could see the trickle of water coming from under the gype, so it's been on my fixit list ever since the my cruising season with the boat.

So this year I gritted my teeth and put her into a local yard where there's a good fibreglasser, and asked him to grind all the mess away and find out what the heck was going on in there.  Answer:  the tube terminated in a flange which was (I emphasise the past tense) glassed to the hull.  The glassing had partially failed (!) and he said I was lucky it hadn't come adrift entirely.  I saw a British CO32 last year that also had a snakes'nest of gype at that same spot, so I'm thinking this may have been a weak point of the original design.  Can anyone confirm that this is a trouble spot for old 32's?

Anyway, a month (this delay was due more to a lackadaisical rigger than to the glasser) and several thousand CAD later... the tube is rebedded, the stuffing box repacked, the rudder re-hung, and a custom plate with a proper bushing installed in the cockpit floor to take the side-loading from the tiller so that the tube base won't be stressed.  Wow, was I glad to motor away from there feeling that my leak problem was fixed at last.

Now for the bad news.  *New* leak problem!  Tazling was in the yard for over 30 days and there were several sub-freezing nights (-10 or so), and I'm guessing this has something to do with the ghastly realisation, *after* getting her home (3 hrs in pretty parky conditions), that she's taking on water faster than I've ever known her to do.  Filling the bilge in 12 hours!  Dismay, alarm, consternation.  Good thing I dropped by w/in 24 hours to check on her!  The bilgewater was over the top of the water tank when I arrived.

Needless to say I've been hunting for that leak everywhere, and so far am utterly mystified.  The driveshaft stuffing box is dripping about once every 40 seconds -- hardly enough to account for the water accumulation.  The water tank (and hence the ballast chamber in the keel) was suspect for a while because it was full of saltwater, but a very simple test (draining both water tank and bilge and checking after 6 hours) made it clear that the bilge overflowed and filled the water tank (there's a cheesy round access cover on the top that is far from watertight), not the other way around.  The top of the skeg does have a slow seep, but it's not enough to account for the influx   The "v" bottom of the hull is bone dry from the stem all the way to the water tank;  all the through hulls are bone dry, not even a sweat or a seep to be seen.

My last reasonable theory (one that doesn't involve Ancient Egyptian Curses or gremlins, that is) blames the bilge drain plug.  This (to me dubious!) feature is often found on East Coast Canadian boats because they haul out all winter for dry storage (to get out of the ice).  To avoid freezing in the bilge and possible damage, and to obviate personal attendance for bilge pumping (or relying on auto pumping all winter) they have drain plugs.

I'm wondering whether anyone else's CO32 has a drain plug, and whether you have ever seen it spontaneously start leaking after (a) drying out for 4 weeks and/or (b) sub-freezing conditions on the hard.  I'm thinking maybe thermal cycling, or a bit of ice expansion, or some sikaflex that got brittle or shrank...?  getting desperate here for an explanation of this unprecedented leakage, and how it's related to the long haulout which seems to have started the problem.  If I can keep the old girl afloat till Spring, on my next routine haulout I'm going to remove that plug and glass it over :-) just on principle.

Today I'm going to try to clean out the ridiculously deep bilge, scrub some old fossilised engine oil off the bottom, and try to *see* if there's water coming in from below.  Nasty, mucky, cold, wet job, but I just can't stand not knowing.  If it isn't visibly coming in there, then I'm completely flummoxed.  If anyone has had a similar experience -- long haulout, drying out, cold conditions, then a sudden new and fairly rapid leak -- I would surely like to know what you finally found to be the cause.
..... Bound is boatless (wo)man .....
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George Isted View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote George Isted Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2014 at 11:04pm
Seacocks and stern gland would be the first places I would look but I presume you have checked all of them. A drip every 40 seconds from the stern gland is more than I would like, do you have a greaser?

Not seen a drain plug on a Co32 before.
George Isted
Contessa 32 "Concerto"
Co32 Class Captain and Measurer.
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waratah912 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waratah912 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 2014 at 7:24am
Anode? or possibly if it occurred after being ashore some problem with the log or depth transducers being compressed in the slings?

Edited by waratah912 - 06 Dec 2014 at 11:00am
Paul Smith
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Zoom 495 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Zoom 495 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2014 at 3:33am
Hello Tazling, I am a fellow Contessa ( English built ) owner and live in Courtenay. We could talk all things Contessa. Kris Oetter text 338 3179
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