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      Hello everyone, we recently bought our first boat a 2003 Bavaria 32 from Clipper Marine at Woolverstone, and I’ve just joined the BOA. My wife and I have been chartering and doing the RYA courses for a few years now, but we decided to take the plunge this year.

      Our home port is Blyth in Northumberland and we have had a successful trip north so far, setting out from Woolverstone to Lowestoft last Saturday. After waiting for an extra crew member to join us on Monday, we set off for Whitby at HW on Monday, only to return later in the day after encountering a fairly big sea north of the Scroby Sands wind farm. We waited for another weather window and set off again on Weds deciding to aim for a nearer destination – Grimsby – this time. We arrived early on Thursday morning and had to potter about in the Humber for an hour or two waiting for the lock to open.

      We came home on the train and we are going to continue our journey north on the next decent weekend.

      My question for the forum is this. We have found that a considerable amount of fresh water is collecting in the bilge. I have mopped 5 to 7 litres from it in roughly each 24 hour period. We have examined all of the visible pipework and cannot see any leaks. Also the fresh water tank does not seem to be depleting by a corresponding amount. So I am thinking that maybe it is rainwater. We have had some very wet weather at times. Water starts to collect in the ‘main’ part of the bilge where the bilge pump is (obviously) and when there is enough it will flow through into the compartment forward of that and eventually the next one as well. It does not seem to be coming in from forward and flowing back (as far as I can tell). Under the engine is dry, as is the rear part of the boat under the rear cabin. Also under the forward cabin is dry.

      Do you think the problem is most likely to be deck fittings around the midships area letting in rainwater? How difficult is it to get behind the woodwork under the sink unit so that I can properly examine fresh water pipes there and eliminate them from the equation.

      Any advice would be gratefully received!


      Could be hatches and windows. The foam gaskets go hard and start to leak. The solution is to remove them all, clean off all the old foam gasket, and re-bed them using Abromast butyl sealant.

      Could also be stantion bases, especially if the boats had a ding (creeping crack sealer is good for this).

      Could also be the toerail or hull-deck joint.

      Unfortunately it can be difficult to get to the bottom of this problem, it took me a while (I also have a 2003 boat, and could get a bucket-full out of the bilge in a day). I would suggest that you do the hatches and windows first, and see if that sorts it. If not, then start looking at other stuff.

      Hope that helps


      PS. Mine was the hatches and windows, which is why I suggest you start there.


        Hi Sandpiper – and Welcome!
        One of my personal hates is “water inside the boat”, and boy have I had enough of it!!

        I agree with the “windows and hatches theme” (basically because they are amongst the easiest to sort out.)

        But do not forget a couple of other ideas;
        1. Fresh waster can leak from the internal plumbing side of things, I know that you have said that the tank does not appear to be depleteing but another check is to leave the pump on and see if the system loses pressure over a period of time…. a few hours should be sufficient for a biggish leak (if the pump has to re-prime it is losing pressure…. ie. leaking somewhere!
        2. On cold nights if you have any form of heating on – even just the warmth of bodies and cooking etc. condensation does build up inside the hull and ends up in the bilges…. possibly not buckets full on a single day but it doea soon mount up!

        Hope you find the source as hunting crack leaks from deck gear can be a bit of a pain!

        All the best


          Thanks Steve and Bob for the suggestions.

          We have noticed small amounts (a few drops) of water getting in round some of the window and hatch seals while it is raining heavily. So these are definitely on my ‘snag list’ list of jobs to be sorted. But the amount of water collecting in the bilge seems a lot more than can be getting in this way. Or by condensation. The water pressure pump does occasionally run when no-one is using any water so that does seem to point more towards the fresh water supply as the culprit.

          Also, we have had the boat in the water since the beginning of April, and she was completely dry for the first few weeks. Although we didn’t experience any heavy rain during that time, and neither did we do any sailing out of the River Orwell or Stour – so no heavy boat movements which could have exacerbated rainwater leaks.

          The thing is, we have had our heads in cupboards and under bunks and inspected all of the pipework we can find with a torch and cannot see anything dripping at all. The only bit we haven’t inspected properly is the supply to the galley tap – I can see the blue pipe disappearing behind some woodwork under the sink, but I think I may need to remove the woodwork to get at it properly.

          Have you ever done this? how difficult or easy is it likely to be?


            Hello Sandpiper,
            We have had our share of leaks into our 2001 bavaria 34 so here are my thoughts. the one that catches me out the most is when i leave the shower on the bathing platform switched on and as we sail the button on the shower head gets pushed in against its holder allowing the shower to leak into the boat. The water finds its way via the cockpit locker to the bilge over a period of time without getting into the engine bay. if you lift the floor from the companionway steps you will have a better idea if the water is comming from astern.
            The water pressure pump running on is not necessarily because there is a water leak in the system. It will happen if air is leaking in as well as if water is leaking out. leaks from the toe rail usually show at the height of the berths and in the underberth storage and can be found by placing kitchen roll in places suspect.
            berst of luck in getting the boat dry.


              Thanks Saloma for your suggestions. You have hit the nail on the head, I think.

              Last weekend we got our torches out for another look inside lockers and under hatches and found some moisture trickling down from the stern under the aft cabin under-berth locker. It was running under the hot water cylinder which made it hard to spot.

              Outside for a check of the bathing platform shower revealed a needle-fine jet of water squirting from the plastic handle along the mould-line and the tap was not properly turned off. My theory is that it may have had some water left in it when the system was drained last winter and it has frozen up causing the plastic to give way.

              Last Monday we got Sandpiper back to our home port of Blyth and I have had some time to devote to the problem. I drained the fresh water tank completely, dried out the bilge and left it for a couple of days, during which we have had some very heavy rain. When I went back the bilge was still dry so it looks like the shower was probably the source of the problem.

              I have replaced the shower handset, refilled the tank and pressured up the system, and after 24 hours there was a small amount of water in the bilge, but probably only about a quarter of a litre – not the 5 to 7 litres we were getting before.

              If I can track down the source of that, I will update this post again.

              Thanks everyone for all your useful advice and suggestions.


                Glad to have been of help. You will probably find that the small amount of water that has found its way to the bilge after you corrected the shower is that remaining under the cabin sole at the foot of the companionway. This section cannot drain properly into the bilge as there are sections not connected by limberholes to the bilge. Best to take this section of cabin sole up and sponge out, otherwise it will keep draining in small quantities for a period of weeks.


                  You will probably find that the small amount of water that has found its way to the bilge after you corrected the shower is that remaining under the cabin sole at the foot of the companionway.

                  Yes, I think that was the source of the remaining water. The bilge is dry now and has remained so through the biblical thunderstorm we enjoyed here last week!
                  Thanks again for everyone’s help.


                    Hi everyone Im a new member we have a Bavaria 36 2003 called Sea Hawk we bought her in March 2005 . We based her at the beautiful Brixham marina for five years until the travelling 287miles each way got the better of us ,so now we have a berthed Sea Hawk in the Channel Islands St Helier Marina Jersey ( filghts are cheaper than driving ) We still love her to bits can’t wait to go again.

                    In reply to your fresh water problem we have had the same fresh water in the bilge the problem was the plastic screw top on the rear water tank under the port side berth was not nipped up tight and when we filled the tank the excess water in the swan-neck( the pipe from the tank to the filler cap) forced the water out into the bilges.Also when the boat was heeling that also caused the full tank to leek.
                    Hope this may help all the best Steve

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