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99 Malibu Sportster LX leak - HDS?

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At the begging of this season i noticed my 99 sportster lx had a small leak, but thought it was just the shaft packing. It was slow enough the bilge was taking care of it on auto bilge and the carpets where staying completely dry. 

queue 2 weeks later. After a weekend of heavy use, the boat was showing a bit more water i attributed to 7-8 skiers in and out of the boat - but again all was bilged out by end of day. after leaving the boat off for 3 days my neighbor altered me the rear right corner of the boat was completely under water with water over the gunnels - battery had died and bilge was no longer able to keep up. 

The boat was beached on its bow with no damage to the rudder or prop (luckily cottage beach has a steep drop off). Water was pumped out, reaching the top of the rear seats, and about 4" up the cover of the engine off the floor. 

After drying the boat out i checked oil - which was ok. Most the engine was dry,. Gas was at a 1/4 as it was left. Replaced the battery and engine turned over and started (will probably replace the started regardless as it is likely going to have future issues. 

I am thinking based on the speed it took on water without the bilge i am likely dealing with an HDS issue. The hull does not look cracked or damaged. The boat was able to drive fine for about 15 min to the launch and achieve normal speed (although bilge was probably working at full capacity). 

How can i diagnose an HDS leak ? Does the speed of it taking on water (almost fully submerged in a couple of days while parked dockside) sound about right ? 


Is it better to dry the boat out and look from water coming from outside in when on the launch trailer, or vice versa filling the HDS compartment with water ? 

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