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Thread: Seawater in the bilge while on land

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    3

    Default Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Hello,

    A newbie question for the group (similar to Sneezy’s most recent):

    I have to keep my boat on land for a few years for a refit. How worried should I be about the hull drying out.

    The boat:

    • 40’ carvel planked, full keel ketch, built in 1969
    • 1 ¼” teak planks on Iroko frames (fastened with copper rivets)
    • Cast Iron ballast keel fixed with stainless steel bolts


    The plan:

    • Keep about 50 – 100 gal of seawater in the bilge
    • Line the inside hull sections between frames with burlap (water will wick up the burlap keeping the inside of the planking wet between the keel and the sheer clamp).
    • Boat will be re-caulked before going back in the water.


    The refit will involve new deck frames, new decking, a few hull frame repairs. The seawater in the bilge will cover the ends of the stainless steel keel bolts. I assume there is good separation/insulation between the ss bolts and the iron keel. Bolts (appear to be) in excellent condition. Boat is located on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada with somewhat dry summers and long wet winters.

    Is there a problem in keeping seawater in the bilge of a wooden boat that will be sitting on land for possibly 3-4 years?

    Or, is it ok to just let the boat dry out if it will be re-caulking before it goes back in the water?

    Thanks for any input

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Padanaram, MA USA
    Posts
    10,314

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Describe what shelter it’ll have. Best would be a relatively tight building with a dirt floor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
    Posts
    22,227

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    i think teak over iroko....just keep the ground wetish
    seawater sitting in the bilge gonna get funkay.
    seawater in the bilge being good for a boat is a myth
    when you say "re caulking"...do you plan to reef out the old cotton or squirt a tube o goo in the gaps?
    but, we have a 50 plus year old carvel boat...she just may need more work than you think...."new decking, a few frames and planks"....just maybe

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Mukilteo, WA
    Posts
    3,757

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Just let it dry out. You will be growing all kinds of stagnant nastiness for no benefit. Cover to keep the sun off if possible and keep on a dirt pad rather than concrete if possible. Before launching start wetting down the boat and dirt under it for a few weeks. The boat will be okay.

    Teak is one of the most stable woods. My ketch was on land near Nanaimo for 17 years before I launched it. Took a few days to swell up but no harm done. It's constant cycling that is damaging, not one slow drying out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Wooden superstructure built on the present deck, covered with a tarp that extends down to the waterline. Boat is on blocks and stands on pavement.

    Soon the rainy season will be starting up (we're in a temperate rainforest), and it will be a lot of rain and high humidity until spring. There is a brief freeze up in winter for a week or two if we're lucky)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    yes, will be reefing out the old and redoing with new

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Thank you, that's encouraging

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Walney, near Cumbria UK
    Posts
    59,339

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Instead of seawater, sprinkle Timbore in the bilge. If it gets wet, it will soak preservative into the wood and should not corrode the metals.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    45,554

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightkeeper View Post
    Wooden superstructure built on the present deck, covered with a tarp that extends down to the waterline. Boat is on blocks and stands on pavement.

    Soon the rainy season will be starting up (we're in a temperate rainforest), and it will be a lot of rain and high humidity until spring. There is a brief freeze up in winter for a week or two if we're lucky)
    Freezing water in the bilge of my boat created a 1" wide crack in the horn timber & required complete replacement of it - I could stick my hand into the side of the boat & touch the prop shaft! That led to replacing all the bottom planking...

    So - a vote for no water whatsoever in the bilge!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Somewhere
    Posts
    4,210

    Default Re: Seawater in the bilge while on land

    You would be better off periodically adding clean city water mixed with borax to the bilge. The city water won't have fungi spores and even if it does the borax will kill them.

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