Water in Hull

Thread starter #1
I have a late Mod two with a molded cuddy.

I take on water into the hull (one to one and a half gallons) when sailing in moderate winds. any ideas on how i can find the leak?

I have to raise the bow to about 30 degrees to drain the water. Does this provide any clue?

How is the centerboard trunk attached to the floor and hull?

Could a leaking centerboard gasket mount be causing this problem?

Ed Jones

Secretary/Vice Commodore
Hull leak

The fact that you have to raise the bow to drain the hull through the drain plug tells us nothing about the source.

First - check to see if the drain plug is leaking. Tilt the bow up as before, but don't take out the plug before seeing whether water is coming out around the closed plug! This is a cheap fix - just order a new drain plug from Catalina. (818-884-7700) If it's OK, then read further...

The centerboard gasket is not the cause. It merely keeps water from sluicing up alongside the C/B and into the cockpit.

The C/B trunk is a narrow fiberglass "box" that is glassed into the space between the hull and the cockpit floor. It's possible you may have a leak where it's bonded to the inside of the hull.

Here's how to look for a leak anywhere in the hull: Drain the boat and let it dry out. Then lower the bow SLIGHTLY lower than the stern. Put water in the hull with a hose through the drain plug, then look under the boat to see where any water is coming out.

PS - For those with Mod 1s simply add water through the cuddy door.
Another and less wet way to check for leaks is tape a foot powered air pump to the drain plug. Use duct tape and try and make air tight seal. Then hose down the outside of the boat. Take a sponge with dish soap and "sud up" the deack and hull. Then pump air into the hull slowly. Look for and growing bubbles. That take a pencil and circle it. If air can get out then water can get in.
I have an older Catalina that was keep on a lift for the winter in Maryland. When I opened the drain plug a good 10 gallons must have poured out, if not more. I have a few questions:

What caused this water to be in the boat - its been on the lift since November.

Will this have damaged the inside of the boat - delaminated it?


Hi Michael,
I don't think it's likely the water did any serious damage to your C-14. Most boats are designed to tolerate constant water water in the bilge; at least that's true of all the fiberglass boats I've had. You might have some mold growing in there. What color was the water when you drained it and what did it smell like?

More importantly is how it got in there. Ten gallons is a lot and seems too much to be explained by condensation. I'm assuming you don't have any visible cracks in the deck or cockpit? How about the angle of the boat during storage? Was the bow tilted down enough for rain to get into the cuddy compartment? Normally rain drains through the transom holes or centerboard trunk. Were those blocked with leaves or other debris? One of the habits I carried over from owning a wood dinghy years ago is leaving out the drain plug and tilting her stern down during storage. Might be a good idea until you figure out how all that water got in there.

BTW, I sail on the Severn. Send me a pm if you ever want to get together.

Hi Jim -

Thanks for the reply. I don't see any visible cracks. Although the boat is on a lift, during extreme high tides and storms it will end up "sitting in the water." It's been there since November; and as you know we've had some storms that were doozies. We live in Hillsmere and we take the winter storms in the face.

The water was clear with no debris.

I will follow you advice and leave the drain plug out; the boat is canted up at an angle with the bow up, so it will drain.

Thanks again; how does one send a PM?

I forgot to ask - do you have a hatch or a plastic pocket in your cuddy compartment. If the latter, it's unlikely the water is getting in there unless it was removed and not resealed back in place. If yours is an even older model (Mod 1) and you have a hatch, perhaps it isn't sealing properly and rain is running in off the deck. We've certainly had enough rain the past few months to account for all the water you found.

I got your message, will reply shortly.

I was advised by Catalina Woodland Hills that it is unlikley any water gets through the Gasket attachment but that the most likely leaking joint would be the joint where the Centerboard box attaches to the floor. If so, remove the board for best access and refill the joint with 5200. You will need to use a rubber glove and caulk/smear the adhesive into the (inverted) joint with your finger.
With the exception of the one time my boat turtled, the hull stays completely dry after a day of sailing. If yours is consistently taking in water, maybe you have a crack somewhere below the water line? This could happen when the tides are extra high, putting the boat back in the water.

About the seal between the cockpit floor and the centerboard trunk, water which falls into the cockpit and drains around the centerboard shouldn't normally find it's way into the hull even if the seal is deteriorated. If I remember correctly, the floor overlaps the trunk so water would drain harmlessly past the seal. Of course, water which splashes past the gasket or heavy loads which put the boat low in the water could result in water getting over the trunk and under the floor.

Regardless, it might be a good idea to pull the centerboard (easy task) and inspect the trunk and apply a new sealant. It would certainly be on my list of things to try if I were getting water in the hull.

Good luck!

I removed the centerboard and filled in the entire joint with 5200 - worked like a champ. Took it out and had zero water in the bilge.

Thanks for the great tips.