View Full Version : How Much water in bilge at launch

12-15-2016, 12:36 PM
Just wondering about how much water I should expect in the bilge at re launch of my 1961 Connie. The last time I had to leave the trailer under her over night or she may of went down. After about 2 hours the pumps started keeping up and she was floating at 24 hours the pumps were running every 15 minutes. I am just wondering if members can tell me what their experiences are so I can make some comparisons and if my situation is normal or should I be looking at some repairs to keep the water out at launch. And if so any suggestions would be appreciated to ensure a dry bilge.


Ian McColgin
12-15-2016, 03:35 PM
Not nearly enough information, as there were so many models in those years. From the remark about a trailer, one of the smaller? Maybe a bit about the boat and her record would help. For some boats, the initial leakage sounds alarming. For others, rather routine. And you have experience but provide no information on pumping requirements after she's taken up.

Paul Schweiss
12-15-2016, 04:42 PM
When we had wood yachts in our yard for extensive repairs, I would rig a 110 volt sump pump to back up the bilge pumps, and to keep water from rising higher than the floorboards. These pumps are cheap and can move quite a volume of water if need be, and just require 110 volt power, which we also needed for the battery charger to keep the bilge pumps running.
On a lovely 55' Rhodes Yawl built at Abeking and Rasmussen, we put new teak decks on, and since this was tight seam construction, no real caulking, I was a little worried as it had been out of the water all winter, and we had kept some heat for the epoxy work. So I designated myself as back up Float Switch...I laid on a bunk where I could put my bare foot below the floorboards, so would get a wake up if something went wrong.
All the extra prep and worry was for naught, as the 110 volt pump only cycled a few times, and then the bilge pumps easily kept up with the water. But better than a fire drill if real gushers had appeared.

12-15-2016, 04:44 PM
Yep,... need more information. ... And how long has she been out of the water?

12-15-2016, 05:33 PM
My 50' coni took on water for a day or two pretty badly. The main pump ran for 2 hours pretty steady for the steam back home, then backed off to nothing over two months.

12-15-2016, 06:09 PM
She is a twin engine 28 ft 1961 Connie, she has been out of the water for 4 years now, by the sounds of some of the other comments its not unusual to expect a fair amount of water during the first few hours after launch. Once she has been in for a few days the pumps run for about 30 seconds every couple hours.

12-15-2016, 06:20 PM
4 years? Dam that's a long time for a wood boat to be out. Good luck. I doubt anyone will be able to answer this other than to say it need to sit for more than a few days to swell up. I don't believe this boat was meant to be trailered and stored out of the water but I could be wrong.

Todd D
12-15-2016, 07:36 PM
After a winter in the unheated, dirt floored, boat shed my 1936 carvel planked boat takes on quite a bit of water at launch. Last Spring my pumps ran for 8 seconds every 30 seconds on the run over to the marina. Within an hour the pumps were cycling on for 8 seconds every 10 minutes and the cycling was down to once every 3 hours after 24 hours. After about 3 weeks the pumps cycled once a day for 8 seconds.

I have two sets of bilge pumps. On set is as low as possible in the bilge and is the set that cycles. Those two pumps are both 1500 gph pumps. I also have two 4,000 gph pumps located on top of the keel that have only come on during tests. Note that my bilge is only 4" deep to the top of the keel and about 7-8" to the bottom of the sole boards in the main cabin, so my bilges don't hold a lot of water.

Every year when I launch thee are two critical times. The first is how long the pumps take to turn on the first time after launch and the second is how long they run before they start cycling. Last year the initial turn on time was about 2-3 minutes and the first run before cycling was 8 seconds. I am always greatly relieved when the pumps start cycling.

I do skirt the hull for about a week before launch and pour water under the boat several times a day to swell the planks. There is no running water or I would put a soaker hose under the boat to keep the bottom wet for a couple of days.

Finally, how much water you can expect to take on will increase with time out of the water and may be significant if the boat was in a heated shed for any time at all.

12-15-2016, 07:42 PM
Yeah you may be , my guess is there are a probably a few 60 year old wooden boats around that spend a lot of years out of the water going through restorations, this one sits on a custom triple axle trailer when not in the water, don't recall anyone suggesting the boat is being trailered around, it's an 8000 lb boat.

In any event thanks to the people that provided good information about their own experience with the amount of bilge water that can be expected during a re launch. Any other stories about the subject would be appreciated.

12-15-2016, 07:47 PM
Thanks Todd, I appreciate your feed back.

12-16-2016, 02:33 PM
People new to wooden boats get freaked with the prospect of water in the bilge. Some leakage is to be expected. Skirting the boat is a good suggestion. I have obtained a garbage can full of planer shavings...then run water in the can until the shavings are saturated. Then spread the shavings under the boat under the skirt. This will provide an island of high humidity under the boat. If the owner of the 28ft. Connie could arrange to put the boat in with a Travellift instead of a trailer, it could be arranged to let the boat sit in slings several hours or overnight.

I once put a boat in the water after being in a paved asphalt yard for a month or more in the middle summer. The owner, a novice and twitchy guy to begin, with was nervous about the launch. The boat went in and as it sat in slings we went on board. I opened a hanging locker and there were cascades of water coming in the sides of the boat. The owner got the vapors and was pacing nervously and ineffectually back and forth in the boat. I yelled, "Hey! Man the manual bilge pump." The manual bilge pump was one of those wobble pumps on which you move a handle back and forth. The handle was a blur as the owner pumped! In literally minutes...an hour or so you could see the water seepage slowing down. A few hours later it was time to move the boat to its slip.

But the best addition to this thread is Paul Schweiss's method of relaxing on a settee with his toe in the bilge. Let that be an example to follow for peoples' concern when launching.

12-17-2016, 07:45 PM
Hey GordC, that's part of the excitement of owning a wooden boat! My 27' Monk (carvel planked) had been on the hard for at least 4 years when I bought her, and then spent an additional 3 out of the water in the heat of the southeast while I worked on her. I had to use a float switch sump pump on her for the first launch.
She slowed down after a weekend in the slings and a week at the dock, but never enough for comfort, so I pulled her and located the leak in her stern tube. Which I fixed per instructions in Jim Emmett's book "Guide to Fitting Out".
On her relaunch, she tightened up nicely after about 3 days, but it took a month or more before I had a dry bilge.
The dry bilge lasted all summer until I started getting "phantom leaks" when the heat and humidity went down....It's a constant battle, and luckily never anything that set off the bilge pumps more than once a week.
It sounds like you are launching her via trailer, so I would suggest letting her soak on the trailer for as long as you can get away with it.
Make sure you have shore power and a sump pump handy for a few days! The bilge pumps may not be able to keep up if she is really dried out.

Bob Adams
12-17-2016, 08:31 PM
I never liked the idea of letting a boat setting in the slings unless you are on a lake. Tide creates a problem. I am a believer in pumps. Take the capacity you think you need then double it. you just need to baby sit her until she takes up.

12-17-2016, 08:41 PM
Gord, is a '61 Connie double-planked or carvel? I get confused because of the different methods and # of models. / Jim

12-17-2016, 10:18 PM
Gord, is a '61 Connie double-planked or carvel? I get confused because of the different methods and # of models. / Jim

All Chris-Crafts are double planked on the bottom and batten seam on the sides.

12-18-2016, 03:04 AM
Tks Pat, for that clarification. I had remembered some of it from Peter Jardine's restoration, but not all apparently.

Would a a traditional seam compound work here, or are there different approaches to double planked bottoms? / Jim

Dave Hadfield
12-18-2016, 08:03 AM
Drake leaks like Niagara Falls for the first half hour, after a winter on the hard. A torrent. I use a sump pump to augment the bilge pumps. But after a couple of hours in the slings she is reduced to a flow her bilge pumps can handle. By next day, it's down to one bilge pump every :20 min, then drops from there.

She never has dry bilges, ever, and has not had since her first launch in 1947.

Dont worry about it.

12-18-2016, 08:58 AM
The boat works I know would get really mad at this last statement. I work hard and pay good money to have a dry bilge.

12-18-2016, 09:35 AM
Would a a traditional seam compound work here, or are there different approaches to double planked bottoms? / Jim

I'm not sure if there is a seam compound that is commercially available anymore that I would recommend for the bottom of a Chris. Interlux is the only company that I know of that still markets an underwater seam compound and I would not recommend it (unless you could absolutely get her in the water within a day or two after applying). The Interlux compound starts to really stiffen up within a couple of weeks a turns rock hard within about a month.

If you really need something I think I would go with "Slick seam". I have never applied it myself, but believe I have seen it in seams years after it was applied and it is still very soft and pliable.

I am also of the 'some water in the bilge is normal' camp.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-20-2016, 09:09 PM
There is maybe 6 people here who are qualified to talk about Chris Craft boats. You will figure it out. First, there is no seam compound used in the seams of CC cruisers. Second, if the boat has been out of the water for a long time, then yep, it will take on water... if it has only been out a few months and leaks like a sieve, then there are some issues, and it should not be that hard to find them.... planks moving, fasteners broken, rot somewhere.... If the hull is in really good condition, the leaks should be able to be dealt with by bilge pumps. Go join the Chris Craft Antique boat Club. They like power boats, and like Chris Craft, which is a lot harder to find here. Before long someone will come along and insult you because you have a power boat, and a Chris Craft. I don't post here about anything I do on boats as a result of the moderator's tolerance of this behaviour. Cheers, great boat.