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Thread: "Shipping Water"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Shipping Water

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

Dear Bud:

I have been having a problem with water shipping down below after a day's sail. Last Saturday, we went out in fresh trades of 20 knots, gusting to 30 knots or more. Driving the boat hard to windward, we had the rail buried with a swift stream of seawater running down the sidedeck. After a mere two hours or so, there was a quart of seawater on the cabin sole under the galley. Lockers under the starboard berth also took on a bit of seawater. This has happened often before.

I have taken pains to caulk both outboard and inboard caprail seams with 3M 5200, but Evangeline still takes on water when heeled. My question to you is this: Did the first Westsail 32s have a peculiar hull-to-deck joint that has developed into an Achilles' heel on these vessels? Something about a wooden sandwich in the bulwarks?

Chip Wheeler
Westsail 32, Hull #32

Robert Coomber

Hi Chip
First off, do you have scuppers? My expierence has been similar. I removed my bronze scuppers and found room for water to ingress. Solution was when replacing the outer scupper on the rebate apply a windscreen type sealant. (used on windscreens on vehicles)THis does not squeeze out completely. Please note, this sealant comes on a reel, which is black,back with paper and is not a gun sealant. You then cut off the required length and place around the rebate and then fix back into the scupper hole. On the inner part of the scupper you may notice a gap between the sandwich I used a building sealant foam filler to fill, then screwed the inner part of the scupper back on.

The caprails in my case have been fine but I found that water was seeping through the teak decks and also through the barge board so therefore when I tired of my teak decks, removed the deck, reamed out all screw holes then epoxied the holes and re-painted the deck. Removed the barge board and filled holes with epoxy, put a nice blue stripe down the side of the boat hence now I have a dry boat.
One other thing, through my anchor chain hole I was also seeping water through there. Since redoing the deck as explained I now have a Westsail that is dry. Hallalluyah! Hope this helps! Let me know...

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

Thanks for responding. I have the first W32 that was built. She does not have the scuppers for drainage from the side decks that I have seen on the later boats. She used to have bronze drains, about 3/4"ID, that were embedded flush with and down through the teak deck near the aftermost end of the cabin top. The drain led to a short hose under the side deck that led to a through hull in the upper top sides. It was a complicated, leaky mess.

I removed my teak deck for reasons similar to yours and painted the underlying fiberglass deck. Now that the teak deck was gone, my boat had to rely for drainage upon the two short pieces of PVC pipe, 2"ID. They are embedded through the bulwarks to the topsides in two places on each side deck near the aftermost part of the cabin top. I have built up the side decks about a half inch with epoxy putty to raise the level of the deck to a line even with the bottoms of the drain pipes so that all rain water will drain off the boat. You may be right in assuming that that is one place where water may be infiltrating down below.

By the way, what do you mean by rebate? A rabbet? And, what is a barge board?

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

Do you have a comment to make here? I suspect that the boat is leaking in more places than the drain pipes. Have other boats had problems with the hull-to-deck seam?

Bud Taplin


The following is info from Page J-2 of my Westsail Service Manual.


If your boat is one of the early ones, it was made with a wooden sheer clamp bonded to the inside top edge of the hull, and used as a flange to fasten down the deck. After the deck was set on the wooden edge with caulking, it was fastened down with screws, then the exterior edge between the hull and deck was filled with a polyester putty to seal the edge. On some of these installations, the putty has cracked out, and let water in through the joint.

I would recommend checking and testing this area on the exterior side of the hull just under the caprail for leaks. If found, clean out the brittle putty and caulk with a good grade of polyurethane caulking. Use masking tape on either side of the seam, squeeze in the caulking well with a putty knife, then pull the tape for a clean, well caulked seam.

Another possible source of leaks is your stanchions. I believe that yours were mounted on top of the caprail, instead of through the bulwarks.

Gerald Astrella and Cathy Calisch

Chip, I have the tenth Westsail built and suffered your exact problem. Also, when heavy rain fall was combined with heavy winds, (we live in Oregon where rain and 50 m.p.h. gust in the marina are not uncommom) rainwater accumulated 90% on the windward side. I think Bud's response is right on. I looked very closely at the sheer stripe paint about one inch below the bottom of the cap rails. There was a very thin, ragged crack line in the paint basically all the way from fore to aft. It did not look significant nor even like it went went clear through the paint. No matter, I started scrapeing paint out and oh boy! Under the paint were many holes clear through the seam. I cut, pulled out and scraped all the seam, accetoned it and applied caulk. I still have a minor amount of water comming in (the spun brass hause pipes are next) but no where near the volume. Good luck and happy scrapeing.

Lawrence and Mayumi Wheeler

Thanks, all, for your help. I will continue to pursue this problem.

Especially, thanks to Bud for your help here and for coming down to meet me on short notice while I was in Newport Beach last week. (What a place to have a boat!) I rarely get to the mainland, so meeting you was real treat. It was an honor to meet you for the first time and a privilege to hear the story of your career. Have you thought of writing a book?

Chip Wheeler
W32, Hull #32

Bud Taplin

Chip, Thanks for your kind words. If I wrote a book, who would read it except for Westsail owners. I have already put most of my thoughts down in my articles I have written over the years in the Windblown. Now that Christie is putting these articles on the website, they are there for everyone to read.

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