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If There Is An Alarming Amount of Water In The Bilge, Give It A Taste!

When I was a fresh crew member on a yacht sailing offshore, I was doing routine bilge checks, and one occasion, the bilge was full of water. In a panicked state, I ran to tell the captain. He calmly asked, …”Well, did you taste the water?”  Confused, I asked him what he meant, and he told me to go down below and taste the bilge water. I ran down below and reluctantly took a sip of the putrid bilge water, and to my surprise it wasn’t salty, which could only mean one thing; there was a fresh water leak.


Although it seems disgusting, a quick taste of the bilge water saved us hours of time that we could have spent trying to find a salt-water leak. Just don’t forget to brush your teeth!


If you are on a boat in the ocean, and you taste fresh water in the bilge, then you can be 99.99% certain that you do not have hull or through-hull leak. Look for a inboard freshwater leak.






If the bilge water doesn’t taste salty, I would focus on finding leaks from the following sources:


  • Check the freshwater tanks

    • Check the volume of water in the freshwater tanks. If it is lower than it should be, then you have almost certainly found the problem. Next step below:

  • Check the freshwater water plumbing, hose clamps and valves

    • Freshwater in the bilge is almost always caused a loose hose clamp or burst hosepipe or fitting. Follow all of the freshwater hoses and check for drips or water spraying.


  • Rain Water

    • Check the deck scuppers and the hose fittings to see if any have come loose, which may be letting rainwater make it’s way into the bilge.

    • Check your hatches and portholes to see if you accidentally left one cracked open or insecurely tightened.

    • Check to see if any of the deck fittings, or any deck hardware is causing the leak. Sometimes deck fittings become loose leaving a place for water to enter.



*It is important to always follow your safety plan, but the above is a small tip that can help you save time. It is always important to be sure that you don’t also have a saltwater leak, as it can be possible to have a leak from inside and outside at the same time.





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