Ballast leak

A forum for discussing topics relating to MacGregor Powersailor Sailboats

Moderators: Hamin' X, kmclemore, Paul S, beene, Catigale

Post Reply
davera20023
Just Enlisted
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:13 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Ballast leak

Post by davera20023 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:17 pm

My 26x has a leak in the water ballast. My boat is dry until I fill the ballast. What is the best way to find the leak? It is annoying as when my boat sits idle for a week, the ballast slowly fills with water and then starts filling my interior. I remove about a gallon a day.
Any suggestions?

User avatar
Russ
Admiral
Posts: 5578
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:01 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Bozeman, Montana "Luna Azul" 2008 M 70hp Suzi

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Russ » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:49 pm

That's extremely unusual to have a ballast leak.
With that said, you could place a dye in the ballast to see where it comes in.

Image
https://www.homedepot.com/p/AM-Conserva ... /203620775

Also, I'd check other possible places. Rainwater is very common.

If your interior water is dyed, you know for sure and can search for a flow, otherwise, it's rainwater.


--Russ

User avatar
Herschel
Captain
Posts: 812
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:22 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Orlando, Florida
Contact:

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Herschel » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:50 pm

First, let me share that I have had a ballast leak in the past and got to the bottom of it (no pun intended)! :D but I do have a question. Is your boat in the water or on a trailer?

davera20023
Just Enlisted
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:13 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Re: Ballast leak

Post by davera20023 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:42 am

Hi Herschel,
I only have the issue when my boat is in the water. If I keep the ballast empty, I do not notice the issue. When the Ballast is full, I see the water filling the area where the kitchen sink is (walk way).
Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Thanks,
Don

kurz
Captain
Posts: 789
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:07 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Zürich, Switzerland, Europe

Re: Ballast leak

Post by kurz » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:45 am

check all your mods. I had a friend with an :macx: . The local dealer fixed an AC converter with screws into the ballast tank. Worked fine the first 10 years... then startet to leak :evil: :evil:

Starscream
Captain
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:08 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Montreal, Quebec. 2002 26X - Etec90

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Starscream » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:15 am

I hope for you that it isn't really a crack in the ballast tank. I've read that it can be very difficult and possibly expensive to repair.

I would check the ballast vent very carefully, hoping that the problem is there and not in the structure of the tank itself. I would load the boat up, fill the ballast, find some choppy conditions, and have someone below watch the vent valve very carefully. On late X's the valve is up front, on early X's it's somewhere else, near the stairs I think. I have heard of leaks coming from the vent up front, if the "bowl" surrounding the vent has been modified, damaged or removed, and the plug is less than a perfect fit.

Of course, since you may have a hole letting water in, be very careful that you have the appropriate bailing mechanism in case of emergency. It may work to simply open the rear gate-valve and drain the ballast at full throttle if the leak gets worse, but I wouldn't leave the dock without a high-capacity bilge pump, and certainly not with passengers who aren't aware of the situation and able to take care of themselves. Even then, in the US, liability would be a big issue if a friend did come along to help find the leak, and something bad happened.

User avatar
Jimmyt
Captain
Posts: 732
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:52 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Mobile AL 2013 26M, 60 Etec

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:30 pm

If it were mine, I'd get the bilge dry and gather 3 or 4 buddies with good flashlights and at least one borescope. Then I'd pull out all of the interior cushions, covers, etc. I'd get people stationed around the boat and open the ballast valve; and have everyone start looking for the trickle. You might have to do it a few times to pinpoint the leak. But if you can find the general area, you will eventually be able to locate the leak. The bore scope will let you look in places your face won't fit.

Idea 2:
If you've got water in the bilge, you could open the ballast valve and pressurize the vent hole with your shop vac exhaust. A good shop vac will have enough pressure to blow the ballast out. Once empty, close the ballast valve, but keep the shop vac on the vent hole. If the tank is empty, skip the first step and just use the shop vac to pressure the tank. Then, you can look for air bubbles in the bilge water to locate the leak. A few drops of dish detergent here and there in the bilge might be necessary to get a bubble trail you can find.

DONT USE COMPRESSED AIR. ANY SIGNIFICANT AIR PRESSURE COULD DAMAGE YOUR BOAT. Use caution with the shop vac also. Use only enough pressure to bubble the leak.

It's been done before on this forum. As I recall the owner (or boatyard) had to remove a section of cabin floor to get working access to repair the crack.

Good luck! Hope you find it quickly.

LeePierce
Deckhand
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:14 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Re: Ballast leak

Post by LeePierce » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:48 pm

Is the sink drain above water when the ballast is empty and under when ballast is full?
Far more likely the sink drain hose is leaking.
Sticking a plug in the drain might be a quick an inexpensive test.

User avatar
Herschel
Captain
Posts: 812
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:22 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Orlando, Florida
Contact:

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Herschel » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:46 pm

davera20023 wrote:Hi Herschel,
I only have the issue when my boat is in the water. If I keep the ballast empty, I do not notice the issue. When the Ballast is full, I see the water filling the area where the kitchen sink is (walk way).
Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Thanks,
Don
My leak was from a mod the PO had made when he installed depth and speed gauges through the ballast tank. He had thought the PVC he glued around the intruments would be water tight, but it turned out not to be the case. I finally had to have the intruments cut out and the the hull and the upper deck of the tank itself resealed. So, the first thing I would do is to examine the ballast tank to see if any possible mod has been made that deteriorated the water tight integrity of the tank. If that is negative, then the shop vac/dish soap techniques appears sound to me. Putting a colofred dye in the ballast water has been used as well to help detect the source of the leak.

User avatar
Spector
First Officer
Posts: 237
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:53 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Calgary AB, 98 26X 'Cenoté' 2002 Yamaha 60 HP
Contact:

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Spector » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:08 am

We had a crack in our ballast tank. In our case the water was collecting under the table/head area. The crack was on the inboard side of the port tank. Simple to fix once it was opened up but tracking it down involved cutting open the floor. Yours sound like it must be on the outboard side.
Open floor and crack location
https://photos.app.goo.gl/NXD8x3PgfZNBM2sFA
The crack
https://photos.app.goo.gl/6twUuehgvMJmgf1TA
The finished product
https://photos.app.goo.gl/deWDyqgENUNNKpSG6

This gives a good idea layout of the layout of the tank in the X in case anyone is unfamiliar

Image

Stevenhigbee
Engineer
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:15 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26S

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Stevenhigbee » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:02 pm

davera20023 wrote:my boat sits idle for a week, the ballast slowly fills with water and then starts filling my interior. I remove about a gallon a day.
That suggests first that the seal for the ballast inlet through-hull isn't sealing. Then after the ballast tank is full, you get water coming into the interior. What do you have that seals the interior ballast check port? That's the most likely culprit. While the water could be coming in from the ballast tank, it could also be coming in from elsewhere due to the draft increasing with the ballast. I'm not sure what you have on the X protecting the the keel cable, but on the S it's just a plastic tube with a hose clamp--I would check that.

TJCormack
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 16, 2019 8:17 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Re: Ballast leak

Post by TJCormack » Thu May 16, 2019 9:10 am

I have a bit different ballast tank leak that I hope some of you can shed some light on. I just purchased my 1999 :macx: a few months ago. It is not in pristine condition. But, we are making progress in getting it seaworthy. Upon suggestions in this post, I filled my ballast tank and pulled it out of the water to look for leaks. All was well EXCEPT water just POURED out of the centerboard trunk. I found no water in the cabin or bilge under sail or sitting at mooring. Since it doesn't enter the cabin, it seems the only consequence is that water will leak into the ballast chamber and not affect floating or sailing. Does anyone have any thoughts about how serious this problem is (My aim is eventually to sail the boat from LA harbor across the channel to Catalina) and how to proceed.

User avatar
Tomfoolery
Admiral
Posts: 5221
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:42 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Rochester, NY '99X BF50 'Tomfoolery'

Re: Ballast leak

Post by Tomfoolery » Thu May 16, 2019 10:06 am

TJCormack wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 9:10 am
All was well EXCEPT water just POURED out of the centerboard trunk. <snip> Does anyone have any thoughts about how serious this problem is (My aim is eventually to sail the boat from LA harbor across the channel to Catalina) and how to proceed.
If it pours out of the trunk when level, it will pour out even faster when heeled since the depth to the leak location will be greater. Losing ballast when on an extended leg is not a good thing.

User avatar
rsvpasap
Deckhand
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:05 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Ballast leak

Post by rsvpasap » Thu May 16, 2019 3:07 pm

I had a problem with water accumulation in the bilge of my 2002 26x any time I would sail (heel), motor or when the boat was moored in even slightly rough water. This would happen whether the keel was up or down. There was no water accumulation when the boat was moored and the water was totally calm. I eventually discovered (with help from this forum) that water was sloshing in a opening where the mast support pole attaches to the top of the swing keel trunk. I removed the black plastic cover and could see the water slosh in just beneath the U-shaped bracket. I solved the problem with "Splash Zone" from Pettit. http://www.pettitpaint.com/products/epo ... lash-zone

TJCormack
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 16, 2019 8:17 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X

Re: Ballast leak

Post by TJCormack » Wed May 22, 2019 11:42 am

Tom Foolery, thanks for the thoughts on losing ballast when healed. I have only had the boat :macx: for 3 months and sailed it only 3 times, mostly winds 15kt with gusts over 20kts (we have a windy lake). I did note that under shortend jib only the boat would heel enough to lose control and round up. I know it was gusty, but seemed odd that it would do that under short sail. So, losing water from the ballast tank under sail would explain that.

It does not get into the interior of the boat.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how to check the centerboard trunk for a leak and then repair it.

I assume I will need to drop the centerboard. Is it true that I can do this with the boat on the trailer?

Is it then just a matter of visual inspection from underneath the boat into the very narrow centerboard slot. And doing some very tight space fiberglass work? Has anyone had to deal with patches in the centerboard trunk/ballast tank before?

Thanks.

Post Reply