Whilst sorting some bits and pieces when we were in Amiens at the beginning of Sept we found water in the bilge under the kitchen floor. We manually pumped and then soaked up around 35 litres of what looked like clean water. We tried to dry out the bilge so that we could see if any more was coming in. This took some patience and lots of wringing of mopping up cloths as water seemed to ooze down from the stuff lining the bilges.
Then it was a case of trying to identify a likely source. Not easy when you can’t just expose the bilge throughout the length of the boat. It really is a process of elimination. After much towel wringing and discussion with Rob Curry (at Amiens) and then Chris Lanley (at Corbie), we decided the water tank is the most likely candidate. It holds over 1400 litres and we really cannot function on board without it since it provides all our domestic water, including toilet flushing! It has to get fixed.
Chris Lanley suggested that maybe a seam or a fixing on the tank was stressed / flexed when we were out of the water at Zelzate. Seems the most likely option since we didn’t have any sign of a leak beforehand. But impossible to be certain.
There is no easy access / sight of the tank. Over several days Adrian has dismantled various panels and we’ve tried to look down various holes/gaps. We bought an endoscopic camera thingy hoping to try and get to ‘see’ the sides / seams of the tank.
We have exposed one side of the tank in the rear cabin so that is now a total mess! We found what we thought was THE leak. Sopping up water with cloths & wringing them out 2 or 3 times a day. We estimate it is running at nearly a litre a day. When we exposed the side of the tank and got down on the floor with the endoscopic camera it became clear that there are more areas of concern – rusting and showing some drips along the bottom side seams, although not as bad as the main one.
We sent email and pictures to the manufacturer and hope they are considerate because, at this stage, it looks like a new tank is probably the only answer! It seems that the cheapskate guy from whom we bought the boat, put in the cheapest (why are we surprised?) stainless steel tank and it was not really right for the job. He would have been told the better quality steel & thickness were more suitable for a tank of this size. But since he always intended to sell the boat he was only thinking of cost. He was unlikely to get caught in the situation in which we now find ourselves. Yet another example of his highfalutin claims turning out to be downright lies!
The next question will be how to take the old one out and put the new one in! The tank was put in and the boat built around it with no thought as to how it could be removed / replaced. Its big ……. about 3m long ……. we thought that the wheelhouse would have to be taken apart but that is not possible because of the construction of the boat. Another option considered was taking it out through the back window of the salon which would mean taking part of the kitchen out! Finally Martin at Carron Marine suggested cutting out the exposed side of the tank and using the rest as a ‘cupboard’ to house new plastic tanks.
Following discussions with both Jay Wolfe (original manufacturer) and Chris Langley (whom we met on the Somme) we are considering both stainless steel and plastic tanks. We may replace the black water tank whilst we are at it as that is too small and also showing some signs of problems.
We arrived at Zelzate on 23rd Sept and were finally lifted out of the water again on the 30th. Talk about ‘deja vue’! Back on the wonk / piss ….. whilst they do various jobs. Most notably the leaking around the prop shaft needs redoing because despite all the work they did in May / June it has started spraying water again. We couldn’t believe it!
During this week we have done lots of research on tanks for boats. There are stainless steel ones (various qualities & thicknesses), plastic ones and bladders! They can be ‘off the shelf’ or ‘made to measure’. A big constraint for either is the access available to get said tank(s) into the back cabin. We have also dismantled the bed so that we have full access to the side of the tank. Looks loverly!
Our options seem to be:
- cut a panel out of the tank and send a guy inside to see if it can be welded from the inside! Little boys and chimneys come to mind!
- cut out the whole side of the tank at Zelzate and get them to source and fit plastic ones into the old shell
- get side of tank cut off at Zelzate & head to Bruges and have Chris Langley provide and fit new plastic ones
- head back to Bruges as soon as Carron has finished the other jobs and give whole tank job to Chris Lanley
- this takes the pressure off us – when the tank is cut we would have to be off the boat as we would have no water
- it enables us and Chris to properly decide on best configuration of new tanks and to get them ordered & delivered in a timely fashion.
So that is what we will do. We’ll sort out the rest of the details with Chris as and when we need. It means we can return home around 15th Oct as planned ready for our short trip to Egypt at the end of the month. We are both really looking forward to that, if not to actually being at home.
So that’s the story of the LEAK to date. More will no doubt follow as things progress.
We sure ain’t had much luck this year!