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Old 16-06-2014, 17:44   #1
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A Previous Owner Rant

So I am working on a friend's boat, prepping it to go offshore. Boat’s a veteran racer that won a prestigious offshore race a couple years back and has most certainly been inspected by the Race Committee for ORC compliance on at least one occasion during it's career and possibly more.

Boat’s on the hard. I'm going down my little list.

1. Demo rotten portion of aft bulkhead caused by mysterious black radiator hose(?) that connects port and starboard side cockpit drains.

Check.

2. Install timber support to repair rudder stops rotted by mystery hose.

Check.

3. Replace mystery hose with PVC pipe.

Check.

4. Install new diaphragm in cockpit-mounted bilge pump.

Check.

5. Confirm operability of cockpit-mounted bilge pump (bit of rainwater in bilge)

WTF????

I'm standing in the cockpit giving the pump a couple strokes and I can feel some water, then I hear a slurping sound and get a splash of water in the face that comes up from the cockpit drain when I look down to see the noise.

The boat, as it is sitting on the hard isn't level, so there is a little bit of water caught in an elbow of the cockpit drains. I hear this bit splashing on the ground before it stops and I am then listening to the pump huffing dryly through the cockpit drains.

WTF???? again.

I go below and when I am looking at the bilge pump I am noticing that the pump has been teed into the cockpit drain and that the black mystery hose was cut into the drain system to connect the port and starboard sides.

Now why on earth would someone ever do that? Make a bilge pump into a cockpit pump? Why would they connect the two sides with this crap hose I just replaced? Why?

Well of course one of the drains must be fouled.

Sure enough I climb down and look up inside the opened seacock and can see a vintage ninetee-eighties blue plastic soda bottle cap! What the hell is that Pepsi? Orange Crush?

Mind you the boat doesn’t have a bridgedeck and a drop board is all that is keeping the water out of the companionway. Seriously WTF is wrong with people? I mean, I can tell by looking at it that it’s vintage. For a while, back when we had oil to burn, plastic soda bottle caps were much more robust than they are now. It's probably been stuck in there for twenty years.

I don’t know if the PO was aware of what was fouling his drains but he most certainly knew one of them was. The fact that at some point in the boat’s history, some sort of home-madey looking cockpit drain covers were installed suggests that he did. Why he didn’t bother to fix the problem and instead chose to eliminate an important tool for getting water out of the boat is beyond me.

Total fail by the owner. Fail by the Race Committee. Fail by the guy who surveyed prior to purchase. And frankly, fail by me for not noticing the fact that the pump was teed into the cockpit drain earlier.

My friend has had the boat for a year and we did some cruising on it last summer. The pump is a pump that moved when you stuck a handle in it. My friend only ever cleared the bilge with a second manual pump down below where he could see the bilge itself. We replaced the diaphragm as a matter of course. I just tested it because that’s just what you do, otherwise we might never have noticed.

Does the boat have a cockpit mounted bilge pump? Of course it does! You can see it right there. Does it work? Well, why wouldn’t it?

My advice is to take nothing for granted.




Done with rant.

P.S. I don’t know how the hell I am going to get that bottle cap out. Any thoughts appreciated. Maybe vacuum it out the cockpit? I don’t know. It’s caught in a 120 elbow about six inches above the seacock. The cockpit drain assembly is all PVC pipe (now that the mystery hose has been replaced) and my experience general with old plumbing makes me dread having to tear it all apart.

Presumably, the bottle cap made it’s way past at least one ninety to get where it is now, if I can grab it with a grabber tool and bring it close enough to the seacock I can maybe grind it up with a Dremmel tool. I don’t think I can pull it all the way out though, for whatever reason the ID of the seacock is smaller than the pipe size.
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Old 16-06-2014, 17:52   #2
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

If you can get it close to the exit point, perhaps heating it with a hair dryer type gun would soften it enough to allow you to drag it through the bottleneck.

Cheers,

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Old 16-06-2014, 17:58   #3
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

I will see your cockpit drain (although we haven't finished diagnosis) and up you a battery charger in the wet locker accessed through the shower.
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:22   #4
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

The list of previous owner WTFs could fill a book. I just replaced the water filter which had the drinking faucet plumbed to the inlet side and the supply line plumbed to the outlet. Result was water was not filtered and full of charcoal flakes. Awesome.

Anyway that's a pretty good one. What size is the seacock? Not to give you more work, but if it's small enough be blocked with a bottle cap (1" maybe..?) it probably doesn't drain water super fast. Maybe shoot compressed air up and blast it back out the other way?
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:24   #5
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

I still think mine is tops, my PO had a second bilge pump professionally installed, I have the receipt.
Installer didn't want to put in another thru hull fitting, so he added a T into the propane locker drain. Now if there is a propane bottle leaking, the gas will go straight to the bilge through the bilge pump hose.
You can't make this stuff up
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:31   #6
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

The PVC ID is 1-1/4" I think the seacock is 1", looks to me like a two-liter cap which I figure around 1-3/16". Probably a winner that never got redeemed!

I think I'll try the grab and grind approach first rather than risk blowing it back and getting it stuck somewhere else and having to tear it all apart. If that doesn't work then try sucking or blowing. And if that doesn't work, well....
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:32   #7
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I still think mine is tops, my PO had a second bilge pump professionally installed, I have the receipt.
Installer didn't want to put in another thru hull fitting, so he added a T into the propane locker drain. Now if there is a propane bottle leaking, the gas will go straight to the bilge through the bilge pump hose.
You can't make this stuff up
That's not so bad, per Boatie you just use the bilge pump to pump the propane out!
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:35   #8
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I still think mine is tops, my PO had a second bilge pump professionally installed, I have the receipt.
Installer didn't want to put in another thru hull fitting, so he added a T into the propane locker drain. Now if there is a propane bottle leaking, the gas will go straight to the bilge through the bilge pump hose.
You can't make this stuff up

Awwww, and I was going to bring up the foam plug around the propane hose that is currently hanging a couple of inches below the locker...
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Old 29-06-2014, 11:47   #9
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Well 2-1/2" hours labor, including a trip to the hardware store, and about $7.00 in PVC fittings, and the offending bottle cap has been removed from the cockpit drain.

I tired the grabber tool and drilling it to bits to no avail. I bent the shank of a perfectly good rat-tail file into a hook to pull it out, but ended up breaking the hook before promptly cutting the works apart.

It was blue and bore the mark of CCE Atlanta, GA which I understand refers to Coca Cola Enterprises. It definitely pre-dated the interwebs and was most certainly not a winner. I think it was much older than all of that.

I meant to take a picture of the bottle cap but threw it away without thinking in disgust. Stupid thing.

I am sorry I threw it away though, it had an interesting seal design that has been long since abandoned. Could have given it to a museum? Maybe sold it ebay? Who knows, who cares?

At least the freaking cockpit will clear itself now.
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Old 29-06-2014, 12:14   #10
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Is this the same boat you are nervous about taking across the Atlantic this summer?
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Old 29-06-2014, 12:21   #11
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

A cockpit drain that was plugged by a bottle cap needs some thought, IMO.
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Old 29-06-2014, 13:14   #12
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Hey, don't put words in my mouth. I never expressed concerns about the boat. The cockpit drains have been sorted and that's the last thing on the list that has been checked twenty times at his point. Putting two and two together with the cockpits drains was just part of the process. Really at this point the boat is the least of my concerns.
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Old 29-06-2014, 14:18   #13
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

Great post Delancey - there is always something crazy to learn! When I was surveying of course I checked all the hoses and connections, but I never thought to tell the owner to check that all the drains actually drained. I occasionally do pre-purchase and pre-cruise consulting and from now on will always tell clients to check their drains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
The cockpit drain assembly is all PVC pipe (now that the mystery hose has been replaced)
Sorry about this, but once a surveyor always a surveyor - you need a bit of (flexible) hose between the ends of the PVC pipe and the attachments to the boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
and my experience general with old plumbing makes me dread having to tear it all apart.
And my experience (and need to cover my @ss) as a surveyor makes me say, "Renew it." I know it is not your boat, but hoses should be replaced every five to 10 years.

When surveying a boat I always mapped out the thru-hulls inside the boat then outside when the boat was hauled. One haulout I found two thru-hulls I didn't find inside because the previous owner had built cabinets over them - the current owners of 10 years did not know about them, and I was the first surveyor to notice them - good grief! One turned out to be a completely rusted gate valve, and the other had had a wood bung hammered into it and a single piece of fiberglass epoxied over it inside. The wood had rotted and only the sheet of fiberglass was keeping the ocean out of the boat.

A few years ago I remember hearing about a cockpit drain seacock that was attached to the hull ... but no thru-hull!! And the surveyor did not notice that.

Here is one of my "favorites", the galley sink drain (red handle) is next to the water intake for the galley sink (rusted/orange handle that goes to the foot pump). (The corrosion was SO impressive I didn't dare try to operate the drain valve.) That picture also shows another of my pet peeves - ball valves screwed onto thruhulls below the waterline. Grrrr - all below-the-waterline thruhulls should have proper seacocks with substantial backing plates.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
I'm standing in the cockpit giving the pump a couple strokes and I can feel some water, then I hear a slurping sound and get a splash of water in the face that comes up from the cockpit drain when I look down to see the noise.
Sorry, but the visual of that made me laugh out loud.
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Old 29-06-2014, 22:45   #14
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Re: A Previous Owner Rant

My last boat had its mast drain plugged with silicone. When I discovered this (a wet winter after buying the boat) and unplugged it the water ran and ran and ran....
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