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Bilge pumps clogged: Fiberglass debris in the hull of my vessel

Discussion in 'Ask A Catalina Owner' started by gvidor, Aug 11, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. gvidor


    Joined Aug 6, 2015
    2 posts, 0 likes
    Catalina 350
    US San Pedro, CA
    Bilge pumps clogged: Fiberglass waste in the hull of my vessel
    One year ago my partner went down below to whip up some lunch for my mate and I. “Gary, there’s water on the floor.” I was hoping the ice in the chest had too much melt and had leaked out.
    While checking the thru-hull near the motor I saw that the bolt on the end-cap of the heat-exchanger had “sheared” off and water was flowing in from there. After closing that thru-hull I checked the bilge pump. It had stopped working as it was clogged by debris. The manual bilge stopped working also (for the same reason).
    I had recently purchased a hand bilge pump for my dinghy and incidents such as this. It saved the day.
    I soon figured out that the debris was small pieces of fiberglass. Apparently while manufacturing the vessel the fiberglass debris in the hull had never been removed. This was probably the first time the bottom of the hull had filled up enough to collect the debris which had then clogged both the automatic and the manual bilge pumps. The debris may have been by something else??

  2. justsomeguy


    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    5,342 posts, 429 likes
    MacGregor, Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Ain't nothin' so effective as a determined person working a pump. I suspect you've cleaned up the debris, and the pumps are again operational?

    Doubtful that the fiberglass debris had just sloughed off recently. Noting the timing of your post, you'd joined two years ago, the incident happened one year ago, and this is your first post!


  3. Ron20324


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    5,387 posts, 314 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Annapolis MD
    I heard there are fiberglass worms. That was probably their poop that you saw?

  4. fsarmast


    Joined Apr 11, 2013
    9 posts, 0 likes
    Catalina 350
    US Syracuse, NY Sackets Harbor
    I recently unscrewed and cleaned out the compartments underneath the floorboards on our catalina 350 and found a lot of fiberglass debris as well. For similar reasons, I took apart the woodwork in the v berth and found tons of saw dust. I am sure the fiberglass debris and sawdust is from the original construction. I have not owned many other boats to know if this is common practice among builders to not clean up as they go.

  5. gvidor


    Joined Aug 6, 2015
    2 posts, 0 likes
    Catalina 350
    US San Pedro, CA
    Thank you for your reply. If others suspect this let me know. Probably will check w/catalina.

  6. jviss


    Joined Feb 5, 2004
    1,120 posts, 30 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Westport, MA
    This is common. I have found building debris and detritus in boats old and new, from $1M+ luxury yachts to our more pedestrian Catalinas and Hunters, and everything in between. And I'm just a casual observer! I have a "thing" about this. The main reason is that if can clog pumps. Regardless of the age of your boat, brand new, or if you're the fourth or fifth owner, clean out the bilges!

    I wouldn't bother contacting Catalina about this, there's nothing they can do, or will do, about it. Just clean it out. Maybe even play a hose in the higher bilge areas once you've cleaned the bottom, to see what you can wash out.

    I've found hardware like screws, nuts, and washers; fiberglass flakes and chunks and dust, sawdust, paper labels, zip-tie cut-offs, little plastic bags, and more.

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