Home' Afloat : AFLOAT June 2016 Contents Take monthly with water June 2016 53
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
You never stop learning in this game,
but as a boat owner and tester
you also like to share some of the
mistakes you find along the way in the hope
they won’t be repeated. A few weeks ago,
I slipped down to the boat for a routine
check and could hear a pump running, with
the faint hum felt underfoot as I stood on
the boarding platform.
1. FLICK TAP FAIL
My boat has no less than six flick taps.
That is okay, except where they are located
in busy outdoor areas like a cockpit sink
and inside a hatch where popular items
are stored and retrieved.
My old pump used to have a warning
light in the saloon when it was running.
But in this case not even that would have
helped. When I returned the boat hose
to the locker after
as a final action,
flicked on the
hose tap. There
sufficient to force
a little drip out
the end. Over the
course of a week,
450 litres ran dry.
I turn off the freshwater toilets on the
panel for this very reason, as you don’t
want a Vacuflush toilet cycling due to
a seal leak or no water while you aren’t
aboard. But as it was, without a freshwater
supply, my onboard watermaker didn’t
get its automatic weekly flush cycle and
the icemaker was clogged up. First world
But no one wants a continuously
running dry diaphragm pump. So I say to
all boatbuilders, please, no flick taps in
lockers or outdoor sinks. A screw tap is a
more sensible thing for taps in high traffic
areas. Imagine if this happened after a
passage to a remote location without a
watermaker. It would game over.
2. SCREW OFF INSPECTION
I’m not a fan of screw off inspection
hatches in engine splash wells. You see
it all the time, due to a moulded liner
and deck creating compromised inboard
access to the bilge. So they bore a hull
in the engine splash well and add an
inspection hatch. Done.
If your bilge pump fails, you will need
to access the said bilge to manipulate
wires, replace the pump and maybe drop
in a hand pump to rid the boat of water
if there isn’t room to bail. But when you
add your weight to the transom and have a
boat drifting at sea, that inspection hatch
in the engine well can be at water level
or so close to it that waves dump inside.
Additionally, plastic inspection
hatches warp and their rubber O-rings
lose their seal over time. I am not alone in
saying this, with the maritime authorities
in South Australia releasing a warning on
spin off hatches some years ago after a boat
capsized due to compromised stability
from a leak through a hatch. A life was
lost as a result of the roll over.
Speak with shipwrights, you will find
the spin off hatch and plastic floor hatches
can be points of water ingress over time. At
survey level, boats often fit stainless steel
or bronze or aluminium spinout hatches.
They may have key openings. But unless
they are regularly serviced they can seize.
It is much better to create internal bilge
access and to make that aperture nice
and big so you can get a bucket or bailer
in there. This is a little crusade of mine.
Good bilge access is a beautiful thing and
watertightness can be compromised from
spin off plastic hatches.
3. PLASTIC SKIN AND POORLY
EXECUTED DECK FITTINGS
Common polypropylene plastic
skin fittings lose their integrity over
time, especially when they are exposed
to sunlight, but also where they are
continuously bumped or flexed. A small
bowrider that sunk in Sydney on its
mooring not long ago was found to have
a broken plastic plumbing fitting around
a deck hatch.
When these deck drains are
incorporated in a hatch or near a hatch
they can be easily knocked and snapped
when items are stored below decks in, say,
a lazarette. You mightn’t know the bottom
of the plastic T-fitting has snapped. You
mightn’t be maintaining and checking/
running your bilge pump either. The boat
fills and sometimes it drops to a level where
water runs back aboard. Glug.
As my flick tap and pump fail proved,
now is the time to check your boat. A good
run will help keep things lubricated and
moving. But even time spent aboard on
the mooring or berth can be a saviour.
Looks for water ingress.
Top quality plumbing and (preferably
stainless steel or bronze) skin fittings are a
sign of a well built boat, as is good access
to the bilge pump to promote maintenance
by the owners.
In Sydney, June can bring crazy heavy
rain. BOM is forecasting a big wet. Make
this the month you check your pumps
and bilge. h
BILGE IN JUNE
Great bilge access on the Regulator 23CC.
The offending flick tap.
June is the month for big storms and sunken boats.
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