Tracking down an exterior fresh water leak aboard a boat might be the most frustrating service issue a boater can face. That nagging drip whenever the rain blows hard onto the forward port quarter … or the puddle on the galley counter that’s there every time you leave the boat for a couple of days. Water can travel long distances undetected, and you never know for sure if you’ve found the source of a leak until ’til it starts to leak again. Or not!
If this sounds like a scenario you know all too well, here’s a fix that’s worth its weight in gold.
First, get a roll of painter’s tape – the kind that won’t leave a sticky residue when you peel it off. Use the tape on the inside of your boat to seal as many of the seams and openings as possible which might allow air to escape the inside of the boat.
Next, open a hatch. Measure, cut and insert a piece of heavy cardboard into the hatch opening, taping the edges to make it airtight.
Now get yourself a leaf blower. Electric, gasoline, it doesn’t matter. Cut a whole in the cardboard hatch cover that’s the same size as the blower nozzle and insert the nozzle into the hole from the outside in. Once you’ve started the leaf blower, even on idle speed, the air from the blower will exhaust into the sealed boat, creating positive pressure inside the boat.
While the pressure’s building, fill a bucket with very soapy water. Using a large paint brush, slop the soapy water onto any suspect areas of the boat. Just like finding the leak in the inner tube of a bicycle tire, air escaping from the boat through even tiny holes will cause the soapy water to bubble! Now you can spot the leak(s) and make a repair.