View Full Version : 300 gallons of water, where did it go?

08-06-2001, 08:08 PM
Straight out...

Today I started pumping water through my folkboat. I wonder If I will ever get this thing to float. I pumped around 300 gallons of water into her, and at best could get about 2" of standing water on the keel. Lots of leaking through the strakes. Most of my other repairs were pretty water tight, but not too stiff when she swells up.

I'm running a humidifier tonight, and I'm hoping that will help the wood swell.

As I start down this path, I'm having a very hard time finding a mooring in Lake Champlain. "Almost great lake my a$$" ..:)

Well wish me luck.


Ed Harrow
08-06-2001, 10:26 PM
Noah - boats are made to keep water out, not keep it in. Not a good idea to fill a boat with water. All kinds of bad stresses are imposed on the hull.


Set up sprinkler underneath and build up moisture level that way

Cover the hull with heavy cloth and keep that moist (easier if boat upside down)

Dump her in the drink and let the water flow in. Raise her in a couple of weeks and see how she does once pumped out and sitting on top. (Just don't raise her higher than the interior water level - in other words when the deck's awash coming out, start pumping like mad and raise the boat as the interior water level drops.

08-07-2001, 08:32 AM
Well I'm not too worried about getting too much water in the boat. Infact, if it ever holds water I will be sure to open the drain plug to let it out. The fact is that it is much easier to get water to stay on the planks from the inside. Plus they don't have any finish on them, so it soaks in better.

Thanks for your note.


John R Smith
08-07-2001, 08:44 AM

I think a lot of people here may not be too familiar with the Folkboat. To re-cap: this is a 25 foot, deep-keel, very heavy, CLINKER built yacht. Like all clinker boats, if it has been ashore for some time it wil have dried out and opened up in a BIG way. The previous owner of Lulu had a similar nightmare experience when he had her hauled out for about a year. Here is the best advice we can offer from the land of the clinker yacht -

Forget seam compound, Sikaflex, and similar googe. Launch the boat from a travel lift and let her sit in the slings for at least 24 hours. Pump. Depending on how things are looking, put her on the mooring, stay aboard and pump for as long as it takes. She WILL take up, eventually. Have plenty of food and beer aboard. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif


Ian McColgin
08-07-2001, 09:43 AM
Sleep right on the cabin sole so you're the first to know when the water is lapping the floor boards. . .

08-07-2001, 09:48 AM
The Current plan is lots of water over the next couple of weeks to get some swelling out of her, and then being left in the slings overnight. When the morning rolls around I will start pumping her out. She will stay at a dock for a couple of days, where my 3000 GPH AC sump pump can do the hard work for me. If I'm still loosing ground at that point it might be helpless...

No, no I have lots of faith in the old girl.


08-07-2001, 10:09 AM
After our carvel planked egg harbor was out for several weeks of extensive repair,we hung her in a travel sling and I stayed aboard.Spent two days and three nights raising and lowering her as the tide came and went.Seemed like she would never close up.
It was a matter of trying to sleep on the salon floor with the center floor hatch opened,my arm hanging down into the engine room so I would awaken when my hand got wet or I felt like I had to go pea.
I don't know how you folks handle it in places where you must haul each winter.What do you do?Does all that shrinking and swelling eventually wear out the planks ability to come back?

John R Smith
08-07-2001, 10:18 AM

the answer to that question, in good old Cornwall at least, is that folks usually haul only in winter. And the Cornish winter is so wet (rain, rain, rain) that the boat really does not dry out too much.


08-07-2001, 10:30 AM
I think that Carvel Planking takes longer to swell than does Lapstrake planking. I also have two other Lapstrake boats. A 16 1/2 ft Lyman outboard which never ever leaks a drop, and lives on a trailer, and a 12ft Shew & Burnham Whitehall skiff. This boat has a crack in one of the planks that at the beginning of the season lets some water in but swells up over night.

Knowing that this Folkboat I have won't last forever, unless I do a complete rebuild (New Keel, transom, sternpost, deadwood, stem, replace most planks, completely refasten, new floors & keelbolts, and rebuild the cockpit) I keep feeling like getting out some Marine Silicone and running a bead down each lap joint. Not in it, but on the outside. It sure would make my life easier...

Also on the joints of a few planks I have found cotton caulking. I don't know when this was put in and why? It shouldn't be there, and I wonder if it is because the fastenings weren't quite up to snuff.

Oh well, I guess I will find out.


08-07-2001, 12:55 PM
Sounds like you are on the right track. I would agree that wetting the hull for a week or two is a good start. Also, don't allow too much water to accumulate inside the hull and be sure the hull is well blocked. Hanging the boat in the slings of a travel lift is probably your best bet.

25 years ago we used to distribute sawdust from the table saw on the surface of the water just before settling a dry boat into the water. The boss claimed the sawdust temporarily stopped the seams until the wood had a chance to swell up tight. Though he swore by the method, I am not so sure it really helped much. Still, it might be worth a try if polution controls are not too strict.

The yard handled a dozen Folkboats each year. Sometimes they were out of the water as much as a mounth. I don't remember any of them leaking enough to cause concern when launched.

I have only seen caulking cotton on the garboard, transom and stem on Folkboats.

If the boat doesn't swell up tight after a week or two in the water, haul it again and tighten the rivets in the offending area. Though you will need a helper this doesn't really take very long if you have access to the rivet heads. Be sure to allow the boat to swell up as much as it can before you tighten the rivets.

08-07-2001, 01:16 PM
What JohnRSmith said.

There may be some need of refastening or "hardening up" the extant ones, but until the boat is wet you will never know where those places are. Pump, look, pay attention. Stay away from easy solutions till you have the boat in the water for a bit. Good pumps!

08-07-2001, 01:22 PM
Did I miss it? How long has your boat been dry?

08-07-2001, 01:48 PM
Been dry 6 years, in a hot sunny place with no paint. Yes, she is *very* dry.

What % of turpinetine should I mix with linseed oil? I think that along with water I will give her a very liberal dousing of the stuff.


08-07-2001, 02:03 PM

I think, but don't know, that coatings like lindsead and turps would be at cross purposes. Get the boat soaked up. After a week it will mean a bi-weekly visit. Better than a mistress!

Bob Cleek
08-07-2001, 05:28 PM
Noah... Noah... Noah... No need to experiment. We're talking a mature technology here.

1) DO NOT fill your boat with water. As said, it is built to keep water out, not in. The pressure and weight of water inside is likely to start fastenings and splay the planking, which will PROMOTE more leaking, especially in a clinker built boat. This isn't a matter for discussion. Take it on faith.

2) You aren't going to get your boat to swell much squirting water on it. Basically, this is an exercise in futility. As said, put her in the slings, and/or stick a 120v sump pump in her with the float switch taped to the cord, so it will kick on when she gets a foot or two of water in the bilges. That should stay ahead of the leaking. It should taper off in a few days and then pretty much stabilize over the next month or so.

3) Forget sawdust. Only works when the water rushing in is sufficient to draw the sawdust into the seams... lots of sawdust, lots of water. Doesn't work much except at the waterline and above (i.e: when she's sinking below her lines!) ... water coming in from below isn't going to have any sawdust floating on it. Besides, a bunch of wet sawdust is the last thing you want in your seams and bilges! What has not been said: Pack your seams with soft soap. This will keep the water out long enough for the planking to take up and as it does, it will squeeze out the soft soap, which will dissolve and rinse away.

4) If your yard doesn't have the skill and experience to deal with swelling up your folkboat... find another yard for your next haul out. This problem is basic Boatyard 101. A competent yard ought to take care of these issues for you as a "given." They ought to be used to it and know all the proper things to do.

5) As said, no way on the linseed oil and turpentine. That will only slow down the wood's ability to take up.

6) As for "very" dry... well, sometimes wood doesn't swell all the way back up for a long, long time. Trust the force.

08-07-2001, 06:28 PM
Thanks for the warnings on filling the boat with water. I have no intentions of letting the boat get more than 3" of standing water in it. I recognize that this would be a major error on my part.

I have covered the boat with a tarp, and every day I'm running 2-300 gallons of water *through* it with a sprinkler.

So far the results have been amazing. Today one plank that had a 3/4" split down the middle closed up completely. This is on a 6" piece of either larch or cedar.
This plank closed up in a matter of 1 hour.
As I spray down the boat you can almost see the wood move. Keeping it this way until it hits the water will be another problem all together.

For this year I plan on putting copper over all the major splits in the planking. Once the boat has swelled up I will pull it out of the water, and rout out the split areas, and epoxy in dutchmen.

I'm totally bummed about my choice of boatyards by the way. I was too late on Friday to have the boat lifted off at the yard of my choice (they wouldn't do it until Monday, and I had a rented truck and trailer)
So I went with my second choice. It turns out they are a bunch of money hungry bastards that should all be given a good beating. Maybe as I leave I will do my best at it...:)

Thanks for the advice on the linseed oil. I won't go that route until the boat is fully swelled up, and ready to float. Boy am I glad, because I was about to give it a thorough dousing...


Ed Harrow
08-07-2001, 09:03 PM
LOL, this place is just like work (and Boeing too, I've read). You ask ten different engineers the same question and you get twelve different opinions.

This article might be useful, might be able to read it at your library... I don't have it handy.

/Boat covers:/design by Paul E. Haley, 145:57

/Drying out of wooden hulls:/prevention/winter storage/Paul C. Haley, 145:57

/Haley, Paul C., author:/"Sheltering Your Boat for the Winter," 145:57

/Heat-shrink plastic covers:/for winter storage/Paul C. Haley, 145:57

/Winter layup:/methods/Paul E. Haley, 145:57

08-08-2001, 07:32 AM
It sounds like you are making good headway. I just wanted to add that what you are experiencing is not that unusual. I grew up on the Jersey shore where lapstrake skiffs were the only thing built for over a hundred years. (We owned more than our share.) As my dad used to say, they leak like old peach baskets when you put them in the water, but wait 2-3 days and they will be as tight as a drum. Being as dry as your boat is , and given the presence of some cotton in the seams (a big no-no) you may expect some residual issues, but nothing unmanagable. I also would not be concerned about 4"-6" inches of water in her bilge for a few days, it used to be regular practice. Good Luck.

[This message has been edited by nedL (edited 08-08-2001).]

Bob Cleek
08-08-2001, 07:44 PM
If you have a plank split all the way through (not just checked), a dutchman isn't going to fix it. You will have to hang a new plank. Not too big a deal. You have the old one as a pattern. Cut it a little wide and plane to fit. If it swells tight and the fastenings are sound, you may be able to get away with it for a bit, but watch it closely.