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mystery leak . . .


hokeyhydro
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Spent several hours yesterday beach pitting and sailing the wood/epoxy S&G catamaran I built for my daughter. Cat sailing is work! After less than an hour at the helm I am jonesing for a Core Sound rig. Yes indeed, sorta sit and sail instead of scrambling around a tramp and ducking the boom.

Problem is the starboard hull has a leak. First time out it took on a gallon or so in an hour and I figured someone (me?) had forgotten to tighten the drain plug. This time, about four hours wet, it dumped several gallons. So I took the cat apart and examined the hull. Looks tight. I flipped the hull sideways and poured several ounces of denatured alcohol in the beam pockets. Nope, alky didn't leak out. I checked hardware - all good. Only thing left are two 3/32" holes I had drilled for future hardware installation. The holes are just aft of the bow and right under the gunwale - way above resting waterline. But wait! There was blue tape over the holes on the port hull, which was dry, and no tape over the holes on the leaky starboard hull. Still, I am skeptical that two tiny holes high on the hull would ship several gallons of water while underway.

Anyone have a similar experience? As in small holes that only get wet when a bow wave cruises by flooding a boat?

Anyway, holes are plugged so after my daughter gives the cat a workout over the holiday I will get a report.

Catamarans, for the young and frisky. I'm going Core Sound . . .

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I will not go into the math, but a very small hole can let in a huge amount of water in very short order. A 1" hole can easily fill and sink an 18' powerboat of conventional proportions in less then 5 minutes. So, your little holes can permit a fairly high amount of water into the hull in a surprisingly short amount of time.

A 26' cabin cruiser I restored several years ago, sank at it's berth last summer, when a thru hull hose let go. The hole was about 1" in diameter, the boat a big, heavy 2 1/2 ton cruiser, but it sank in about 10 minutes, with the pumps (two Rule 1,000 GPH)running as fast as they could in spite of it all.

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I will not go into the math, but a very small hole can let in a huge amount of water in very short order. A 1" hole can easily fill and sink an 18' powerboat of conventional proportions in less then 5 minutes. So, your little holes can permit a fairly high amount of water into the hull in a surprisingly short amount of time.

A 26' cabin cruiser I restored several years ago, sank at it's berth last summer, when a thru hull hose let go. The hole was about 1" in diameter, the boat a big, heavy 2 1/2 ton cruiser, but it sank in about 10 minutes, with the pumps (two Rule 1,000 GPH)running as fast as they could in spite of it all.

Yes, I've been fooling around with boats since 1954 and I've had a few leaks. A 1" hole below the waterline is a quick sinker. Who among us who trailer launches hasn't done the mad scramble when we realize we forgot the drain plug.

I could do the math but it would be easier to punch two 3/32" holes in a bucket, fill it with 5 gallons of water and time the drain. Or just wait for a report from the upcoming weekend Cat adventures. If the hull is dry then those itty-bitty holes were the problem. If not ??? the search goes on . . .

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In my humble and limited cat experience, the leeward hull usually seems to be in a bow-down pitch. Something about the loading from the sails, etc. Don't know if you looked/remember but the s-board hull may be down to the gunnel when it is leeward and you're smokin'

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In my humble and limited cat experience, the leeward hull usually seems to be in a bow-down pitch. Something about the loading from the sails, etc. Don't know if you looked/remember but the s-board hull may be down to the gunnel when it is leeward and you're smokin'

Oh yeah. Both hulls had wet noses at times. Couple waves/wakes even slammed the crossbeams which was why I examined the beam pockets for integrity. Darling Daughter will be tearing up the sound side of Frisco NC this weekend, so we will see if it stays dry.

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No experience with Cats, but I once heard of another way to test for the source of leaks. Water than runs in, also runs out. If you can fill the hull with water when it's on the trailer (supported obviously), any leaks should be obvious in no time.

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No joy. Hull still takes water. According to my Daughter the wind in Frisco was "kicking" today and they had a blast! The eye strap and outhaul pulley bailed, but they rigged a fix. Ran aground in the shallow sound water twice. First time SIL jumped over to push the cat free, but he was on the windward side, Daughter was leeward, and whoops! Cat capsized.

The weekend adventures continue. When they return I'll go on another leak search. Might even use Howard's method, fill `er up with a garden hose look for wet spots. I'll do that on the lawn - no rain so it could use a bath.

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When they return I'll go on another leak search. Might even use Howard's method, fill `er up with a garden hose look for wet spots.

You might try using a soapy water solution on the hull to deck areas and also on any areas where hardware attaches to the hull. Swab some soapy water on, put the shop vac on blower where the removed plug goes in the hull, and Viola! if bubbles form, there is your leak. This is an old Hobie Cat trick.

Kyle ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Using the soapy water trick suggested by Kyle H and Steve W I found the leak! In the last second rush to mount fittings and get `er in the water last year I failed to squirt enough caulk on the starboard drain plug fitting. It had a 1/2" wide gap about a small screwdriver thick on one side. Fitting removed and re-caulked. Good to go soon as I finish beefing up the outhaul pulley mount. Worked fine until the Frisco, NC wind clocked in at 11 knots and then *twang*.

Cat will be sailing again this weekend. I'll be working so I will get updates on fixes via text message.

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