The first few days of owning this boat
are turning out to be more exciting than I was hoping. We bought a 63' custom steel
in Northern Canada
and have hired a delivery captain
it into the USA via the St. Lawrence. Short story: The delivery captain
is reporting all drains are backing up and we are trying to figure out what to do. I am not aboard and I am communicating with the delivery captain by phone
. I am wondering if anyone has ideas to help me problem-solve this.
The boat has been stored on the hard
for three years. Prior to departure seller was to fill water tanks, empty the waste tank. When the delivery captain arrived on the day of departure, he noticed the shower
pan in the aft head
was filled with debris. Oily sludge, luckily odorless. Big surprise: The freshwater tank was empty, the waste tank was full. The freshwater tank had apparently drained into the waste tank over the past few days. None of the faucets were open. The seller sent out a plumber.
The boat has integral steel
tanks with the water forward, then the fuel, then waste aft. There is no grey water
The plumber checked faucets and lines (several hours) and reported that they were fine but the freshwater tank was plumbed THROUGH the waste tank. A sloped stainless steel
feed line runs from the water tanks forward THROUGH the fuel tank
, then the waste tank, kind of bisecting them, to the water pump
in the engine
room aft. (I am not a plumber but this sure seems like a bad idea.)
As all other faucets and lines checked out, his conclusion was that this feed line must have failed INSIDE the waste tank, explaining the drain from water tank to waste tank. He cut out this pipe and indeed found a hairline crack. He replaced with hydraulic hose, his recommendation.
Our delivery captain got underway. He is now calling me about 70 nm downstream from Montreal. He reports all drains are blocked and everything comes up in the aft shower
pan (the lowest drain). He has a shop vac, plumbing
snake, buckets, bleach, and a plunger aboard.
Plunger did not do much. He tried to remove material from the drain with the shop vac. He got some out but he found that the stuff coming up looked very old and dense and dried out. After a while he found nothing else came up from the drain, but it was still plugged. He next tried the plumbing
snake but found "something very hard." Not sure if he's hit a bend or a blockage. He is now trying putting hot water down the drain, letting it soak, cool -- then vacuuming it out and repeating.
My thinking was that he should put in at Montreal for assistance but I have not encountered this situation before so don't know what assistance to ask for. Just call a plumber?
I'm also thinking that the issue is likely that the winterization was improperly done for the waste and water tanks. Northern Canada
is very cold and freezing in the water lines and waste tank could explain this. The old material is evidence that the waste tank was left sitting with waste in it, it should have been emptied for winter.
All of the metals on the boat have alloy rings that allow welding with dissimilar metals so I am not suspecting electrolysis
. The stainless steel
pipe had these rings on it.
Waste plumbing is PVC, except the stainless steel feed line to the pump
(with one part of that line now replaced by hydraulic hose).
I have done quite a bit of reading on this and other forums
about plumbing issues aboard but it would be helpful if anyone has been in this situation and has ideas. Also it would be good to know if my "poor winterization" theory "holds water" (ha ha) or if this sounds like some other problem.