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Old 21-01-2014, 18:54   #1
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I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

Alright, be gentleÖ I promise Iíve searched a decent amount for what undoubtedly are some very simplistic and possibly even mockingly basic questions. However, I found that some of what Iím looking for are just a tad different than the answers I found, or that I may not be phrasing my searches just correctly enough. And any links that might be helpful for me, I greatly appreciate  (and itís a long-ish post, soÖbe warned). Also, itís kind of a general group of questions, with variety.

Ok, soÖI became the recent proud owner of a 1970 Islander Excalibur 26 sailboat. This is the first Iíve ever owned, so I have very little experience with certain aspects of construction. I fully intend to learn as much as I can, donít get me wrong. I am doing as much research with what I can, and know full well that I can never stop learning enough. But Iím also the type that likes to understand the Ďwhyí of things too, so any additional information is also great. That all said, here goes:

1) Thru-hulls.. my boat currently has 3 that Iíve found. One in the stern under the cockpit, which is where the two cockpit drains T into. Another under the sink, and the 3rd is for the Head. All three of which, are under the waterline. Iím planning on re-routing the cockpit drains to the rear and out either the stern, or the engine well, and also tying the bilge pump into those lines, with some sort of check valve(s) to prevent any water coming in reverse. I assume thatís ok? From all the diagrams of the head, that makes sense, to be the intake for that. The sink..I assume the sink drain is fine too? It just seems counter to my logic circuit, that anything that should be ďdrainingĒ should be under the waterline. Is there some magic force that allows for this when things drain under the water?

2) That wonderful head.. My only experience with boat systems, are the portapotty set-ups that my dad had years back in his Mac 25, and what my brother has in his Oíday 23. I donít plan on using the boat for extended cruises anywhere, maybe once a year Iíd be out for more than a weekend. Otherwise, itís going to be a daysailer/weekender setup. Is it worth keeping the holding tank setup as it is for what little it would get used, or should I pull it and store it aside and just use a portapotty instead? I guess Iím concerned about what I would encounter with having a holding tank with barely anything in it, needing to be pumped out. Seems overkill, lets say I use it once during the trip. Iíd feel foolish needing a pump for just that.

3) Right now, the mast is down. It is a collar setup, so stepping it up myself would beÖinteresting. I would like to change to a hinged setup of sorts to make it easier to do, as Iíll be on the finger lakes and the ability to go through the canals between the lakes, and up to Lake Ontario, etc. The thing Iím trying to figure out, is the easiest way to do so. Is it as simple as finding a set of plates, the typical one I see everywhere, mount one to the deck in place of where the collar currently is, and then find someone that can do aluminum welding to put that side on the bottom of the mast? Or am I missing some cruicial bit there? I know, sounds simple enough, but surprisingly, I havenít found any good images / videos / tips on changing over. I figure having a hinge will also allow for adding anything later, like spreader lights if needed, or anything like that.

I think those are the most pressing issues so far. Hereís the plan, for anyone wishing to issue any words of wisdom:

The plan right now, is to sand and repaint the bottom while itís on the hard, before it gets splashed in spring. I would also do the thru-hull changes before that, obviously, and if I need to change the sink drink to..somewhere else(?)..then I can fill in that one before the new one goes somewhere. I also have some crazing to fill in and repair on the deck, and doing some basic glasswork inside. I have to clean/replace and reseal the chainplates as a precaution, and install backing plates on all the stanchion mounts, as there are none (not even washers, wtf!). After that, motoring from where it is now, through the canal to Cayuga Lake, sailing it down the lake and parking in Ithaca. There, Iíll work on finishing the interior work and work on the other little projects.

Thanks in much advance for reading all this drabble, and humoring a novice who really wants to learn and for some reason, the information is escaping me.

(As a bonus, I've also picked up Don Casey's big book of awesomeness. Excellent read, just..the specific things that I was looking for, no answers found yet. Like, the effect of thrus below the waterline for drains, etc..)

~Charles
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:28   #2
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

Hi CharlzO,

Don't worry. I'm pretty sure you won't be murdered for asking questions on the forum, even if they were dumb questions, which they are not.

Maybe I can help a little.

Drains. On a boat the water level is the drain limit, whether the thru-hull is above or below the water line of the boat, anything will drain to that level. It's not unusual to have cockpit drains, sink drains, etc to exit below the water (they all do in my boat). Often that's the most convenient routing. BUT, any hole below the water line should have a proper seacock to stop the water flowing back into the boat if the hose breaks or something.

Holding tank. Got to have it on the boat if you have a head on the boat unless you completely remove it or lock all the valves and use only the portapotty. Up to you which you prefer. but for myself, I'm pretty sure that I would use a head more than once over a weekend. If you're worried about a small pumpout it doesn't hurt to fill the tank with water to help rinse out the sludge.

Just remember, there are lots of areas that are restricted to NO DISCHARGE!!! and you have to pump into the holding tank or portapotty in those areas or face a fine. And, if you are stopped by some local version of the water police and they check your head you better have the valves and handles locked so anyone using the head can pump only into the tank. Some places they will check by pumping die through the toilet to see if it comes out in the water. I assume you know that to empty the tank you shouldn't need a pump on your boat. Pumpout stations will suck the sewage out of your tank.

Can't help you any with the mast question since I have little experience this kind of rig.

Good luck.
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:39   #3
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

I don't know your boat but the simple answer to almost all your questions is sail it for a season, get to know it, how you use it, and the environs and then maybe make mods. i'm willing to bet the manufacturer understood where to place thruhulls.

You've mentioned thruhulls but not "seacocks". the biggest thing you can do is make sure any required seacocks are operational before you splash
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:47   #4
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

The law in Canada..... a portapotty does not count as a marine head. You cannot even carry sealed alcohol on a boat in Canada without sleeping quarters, cooking facilities and a marine head with holding tank.

You may want to check if the law is the same on your side of the border before you remove that holding tank ..... if you like a cold beer now and then.
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Old 21-01-2014, 20:40   #5
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

Thanks all for the responses. The way the head is now (from what I can tell in the limited time I saw, is there's no option for discharge, it's straight to the holding tank (through the handle, of course), and then to be pumped out. The holding tank is actually a new tank, never been plumbed. But I'd replace all the hoses regardless, just because it'd be silly not to, with a refit. I was thinking of taking it all out and doing the porta potty thing, but I've gone back and forth as I'm sure it'll be about the same cost to put new hoses, as it would to buy the portable. As simple as it sounds, I never really thought about just introducing a little more water into the tank in the process. I'll likely leave it in, then. That way, I at least have that convenience. And the area I'll be slipped includes pumpouts with the fees, so it saves carrying it around to empty or whatever.

There are seacocks already in place with the thruholls, but I will be replacing those as well. I know for a fact that the one under the cockpit is broken, not sure if it's stuck open or closed, but the handle spins freely (yeah, one of those kinds). My plan is to replace all (both the thruhulls and seacocks) in each location. I just wasn't sure on the waterline placements above and below, before doing so. I figured I'd try to sort that out before I did though, so if I needed to glass over where one comes out, I could do that before drilling new holes. I think I'll leave the sink one where it is now, just replace the hoses and fittings, and the only one I'll re-route is the one for the cockpit drains.

The way it sits now, there is a temp bilge pump with a small section of hose, but it looks more like it's just used to empty it into a bucket to then dump over the side. I'm certainly not looking to go coastal at this point, but I think for my own peace of mind, I'll put an automatic in with it plumbed out the back, above the waterline. I also will have a manual as a backup, of course.

Oh, and the other reason I had asked about the thruhulls, was because there are limited images online of these boats, and the ones I've seen have varying locations. I've seen some out the stern, I've seen one with one out the port side near the cockpit, and I've seen some where I can't locate any. I'm inclined to think mine are in the "stock" locations though, so as long as it was good enough then, it's good enough for me, with new hardware.

Thanks again all, now just need some weather that isn't in the negatives so I can start ordering parts and get to work before spring hits.
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Old 21-01-2014, 20:47   #6
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

In your original post you mentioned a check valve. Do not put a check valve in the bilge pump out line. It will greatly reduce the output of the pump and they do tend to jam.
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Old 21-01-2014, 22:03   #7
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

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In your original post you mentioned a check valve. Do not put a check valve in the bilge pump out line. It will greatly reduce the output of the pump and they do tend to jam.
Alright. I guess as long as the output is above the waterline, then worst case, even if any water backwashes into that, it should just get pumped back out when clear again, when the pump sees water. Again, not that I expect anything crazy, but never know. Just overcautious I guess. Thanks
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Old 21-01-2014, 22:30   #8
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

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I don't know your boat but the simple answer to almost all your questions is sail it for a season, get to know it, how you use it, and the environs and then maybe make mods.
+1
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Old 22-01-2014, 03:30   #9
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

second no check valve but i would prefer a completely separate outlet for the bilge.
In the stern above the waterline?

a second vote for keeping the head. maintenance is not such a big deal. this past year i did a rebuilt of the hand pump....actually just replaced it. 4 screws, 5 minutes and $50. using vinegar helps to keep things.... hmmmm....rosy.

stepping the mast:
take a look at this: Mast Stepping System

on the other hand i would imagine there are other boats transiting this same route?? if so there are probably shore side facilities to step and unstep???

out of curiosity I looked up your boat specs on sail data. with the exception of the keel it appears remarkably like a Pearson 26. from memory the numbers look close and she should be a good sailing boat for the lakes.
congratulations and enjoy!
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Old 22-01-2014, 03:55   #10
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

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Originally Posted by CharlzO View Post
................................ There are seacocks already in place with the thruholls, but I will be replacing those as well. I know for a fact that the one under the cockpit is broken, not sure if it's stuck open or closed, but the handle spins freely (yeah, one of those kinds). ...............................
When I read the part where you say, "the handle spins freely", I suspect that you may have gate valves instead of seacocks. The gate valves normally have a circular handle like a household garden fawcett and the handle turns a worm gear, while a seacock contains a ball valve that opens and closes with a ninety degree turn of a lever. A broken gate valve will not identify wether it is left closed or open by the external appearance of the valve. Gate valves are not desirable on board.
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Old 22-01-2014, 07:23   #11
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

my advice is............dont go looking for work!, it will find you anyway .

easy to get carried away and over invest time and money.

of course the thru hulls might be about to sink yer boat, so no one can say for sure not to bother.............but i will say that nothing wrong with the concept, boats just sink from lack of maintanence / old age.

unless an accident waiting to happen (pics would help, albeit not definative) i would leave until next year. bilge pump pumping overboard would make sense however.

the mast thing (adding a tabernacle) is a tricky thing to do, unless you were litterally stuck in port behind a bridge! i would also leave until next year.

next year you will have lots more ideas and questions and will also understand more what is important to you from actual use....and that could even be a different boat!........plus next year involves no work now .
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Old 22-01-2014, 10:25   #12
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

Your cockpit sole will not be very far above the waterline , so be careful of putting drains out the transom, where if you are on a run, the stern will squat and allow water back into the cockpit. As your boat speeds up the stern wave will raise the effective waterline at the stern, but not as much, more towards the center of the boat. I think you will find that most small boats have the cockpit drains at the front end of the cockpit, rather than the rear of the cockpit, just for that reason. I am not sure if my explanation is clear, but research it more before you eliminate your existing drains. Just my thoughts. I have heard that those boats sail very well. Congrats. _____Grant.
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Old 22-01-2014, 16:24   #13
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

I should've worded it a little better. The rear drain under the cockpit is in fact a gate valve, and definitely not gating lol. That was getting replaced no matter what, with a proper one. I think it was something a previous owner threw in there so that's on the list out.

I haven't checked with places on the north end of Cayuga yet, for transitioning between the canals and such. My thinking was that if I can convert to a hinged step, then I can avoid the costs each time I want to do so, and just raise and lower on my own. That part I'm not worried about, as far as the raising lowering with a hinge. It's just that mine isn't hinged so it adds a degree of difficulty to it. I don't anticipate it being done often, but never know. My brother's boat is a trailerable O'day and we're hoping to sail together from time to time. So the ability to go from lake to lake with relative ease would be nice. Maybe we can find a way to do it as it is though, make some sort of guide for the base to go along with. Agreed though, that it's not the first priority.

I'm still working out the figuring on the drains, will be easier to figure out when I'm there I guess. I was thinking about a separate output for the bilge, just need to figure out where to out it, and how high above the line. Worst case, I don't do that until later, and just keep the hose ready that if I DO take water, I can pump it overboard instead.

This is why this forum is great, everyone has been very helpful. Will definitely keep posted and get a lot more pictures once I get under the gun with it all. I'm aiming to get a lot started mid-Feb, weather pending, and then splash as soon as the marina will let me/as soon as the locks open up.

Thanks again all!
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Old 22-01-2014, 18:07   #14
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

If you are new to this, you may be new to the New York State Canal system. My all time favourite cruising area. This link will show you a few of the highlights.
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Old 22-01-2014, 18:40   #15
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Re: I feel silly, but have a couple newbie questions

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If you are new to this, you may be new to the New York State Canal system. My all time favourite cruising area. This link will show you a few of the highlights.
That's a great link, thanks! Yeah, the last time I was through the locks between Seneca and Cayuga was 20+years ago, so needless to say, my knowledge of it is virtually non-existent. Will be reading that throughout the night
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