Water Wars

Well, I’m about to take the trusty old Sawzall to Magic Carpet.

It’s a drastic step, but I’ve pondered and cogitated until my cogitator is plumb wore out, and I just can’t think of another way.

There’s a 150 gallon fresh water tank under the master berth that is failing miserably at the only thing I’ve ever asked it to do…hold water.

For the longest time, there’s been a recurring but intermittent water pooling issue in the forward bilge. The water tank, under the master berth, is in the stern of the boat, so it didn’t occur to me that the two would be related.

The previous owner did leave a cryptic note on a piece of paper that I found among the various papers left on board, referring to the water tank gauge in the galley. The note said something to the effect that the water tank should not be filled to the full mark on the gauge, and in fact should not be filled past a sloppy white paint smudge someone had placed on the face of the gauge, or the tank would overflow into the bilge.

Now this alone should have set off alarms in my head, but as you’ve probably guessed, the alarm circuit was dead.

If a water tank is filled to overflowing, the overflowing part is supposed to go out the side of the boat through a vent hose installed for that very purpose, not into the bilge.

BUT…the tank is in the back, right? So if it overflows into the bilge, the water that overflows oughta collect in the bilge toward the back of the boat, right?

Seems logical, but that’s if you fail to take Mr. Murphy and his overarching law into account.

I’d go to the boat on the weekend, and the forward bilge would be bone dry. Good. Then next weekend, there would be two or three inches of standing water…the forward bilge pump can’t get that last bit out. So, I’d haul out the shopvac and suck it out. Maybe it rained, I thought, and I’d look high and low for anything on the outside of the boat that could leak badly enough to let that much water in. Couldn’t find anything.

The water tank occurred to me as a possible culprit, but when I checked the rear bilge it was dry, the center bilge was dry, the only thing wet was up forward.

Major red herring.

This went on for some months until a couple weeks ago, I decided on a whim to pull the mattress off the master berth, and pull up the access hatches to take a real close look at the water tank to see if I could figure out why it would overflow into the bilge.

I’d glanced in there soon after we bought the boat, and saw that the poly water tank was snugged up nice and tight with some of the spray foam that you use to seal cracks around the house. That should have set off an alarm also, but…

When I took a real close look, trying to find out where the vent hose went, I realized that the foam was only along a relatively short section of the top edge of the tank, and it surrounded the fill hose fitting. Uh oh.

Started peeling that off, and found a layer of some sort of caulking material underneath. Things were definitely not looking up.

Once it was all peeled off, it was quite apparent that the tank was cracked, and someone in the past, instead of doing what I’m soon going to do, had slobbered on as much goop as they could to try to keep water from coming out of the crack. Didn’t work. That’s why it overflows into the bilge…because the crack is lower than the vent fitting.

And the aft and mid bilges looked dry, because I was never looking AS the tank was overflowing. Only AFTER it had done so. By then the water had all run to what is obviously the lowest point in the boat, the forward bilge. Don’t know why that’s the lowest point, but it is.

So, I decided that the only logical thing to do is pull the tank out and replace it. There are places that say they can repair these poly tanks, but access to the crack is poor, it’s right at a fitting, and the life expectancy of a repair would probably be measured in hours.

Just pull the tank out and drop in a new one. Except…

The berth consists of a teak-veneered box within which sits the water tank, covered with a 3/4″ plywood panel, upon which the mattress lays. The panel is screwed down to the box with approximately 3.7 bazillion screws, and I managed to get them all out and gave a little tug on the plywood panel to lift it up.


Bigger tug.


REALLY big tug.


The panel is obviously fastened to the box with an industrial strength glue in addition to the screws. I’ve tried to slide a putty knife in between the box and the panel, but I think that’s the tightest joint on the whole boat. It’s become clear that the panel isn’t coming off except in pieces, and without it gone, there’s no way to remove the tank.

So once again, a new item has been added to the to-do list, and that item has grown in complexity from “this shouldn’t be too bad” to “why didn’t I take up flying?”

I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.


About TwoCaptains

The TwoCaptains are Jim and Janet, both US Coast Guard licensed boat captains home-ported in Daytona Beach. We recently sold our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56' CPMY "Magic Carpet", and now we're in the hunt for a replacement.
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2 Responses to Water Wars

  1. Oh, Jim. You do put a smile on my face. Good luck with the repairs!

  2. Pingback: Water Wars ! Part Deux | TwoCaptains Blog

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