Sailboat bottom renovation | Part 3: Thru hulls

Sailboat bottom renovation | Part 3: Thru hulls

Greetings from an idyllic cove in the Ionian, where we are anchoring in crystal clear water! We did eventually get back in the water, but this post is still about our boat’s bottom renovation, its third and last part. Replacing our thru hulls was the actual reason for our boatyard visit, but then we discovered more pressing matters with the hull. I wrote about them in the previous posts, parts 1 and 2.

Thru hulls are holes in the bottom of the boat, through which seawater is taken in – to flush the toilet and to cool the engine, for example – and washing, shower, bilge and rainwater are discharged into the sea. Offshore, boats are also allowed to discharge their toilet waste, which none of us wants to do unless faced with no alternative. All of these thru hulls have a closing valve, called seacock, so that they can be safely closed when not in use, or in an emergency – in case a hose breaks and the sea wants to come inside the boat. Our seacocks were original sturdy bronze ones called Groco, but many of them were so badly seized, they couldn’t have been closed in an unexpected situation. That’s why we always kept wooden bungs close at hand. We didn’t even consider reconditioning the old ones, even though some people choose to do that. We would replace each and every one.

Removing the old seacocks required some force but was quite easy. Most of them, however, were situated in such tight quarters, you couldn’t get your hands on them, let alone big wrenches. We had to demolish some floors, bathroom cabinets and such to get to them. That hardly surprised us, after our experience with the old water tanks earlier this year. Like them, these seacocks had obviously been installed before the furniture was built. That was another mistake we didn’t want to repeat, so we decided to rebuild in a much simpler way. The cockpit drain seacocks were crammed into the corners of the engine space and were so impossible to reach, we decided to glass them over and drill new holes in a more accessible place. As a consequence, many metres of hose would disappear from the engine room, thus making it much easier to service the engine.

There are now 10 holes in the bottom of our boat. We installed a Trudesign skin fitting and ball valve into every one of them. They are made of nylon composite, which doesn’t react with seawater, as metal parts do – metal has to be grounded to prevent corrosion. The composite ones are also maintenance free, provided that you open and close them every now and then to prevent them from sticking. I have to say that my peace of mind improved greatly after replacing our old seacocks. After all, there’s only an inch or so of fibreglass between our home and the depths of the ocean. It’s nice to know that both the hull and all its holes are now watertight.

All of the hoses associated with the thru hulls were also replaced. Last winter we removed miles of old fresh water hoses, now we got rid of at least as much old bilge, toilet, seawater and engine cooling hoses. Most of them seemed original to the boat, except the engine hoses which were only 20 years old. It felt good!

We carefully planned the routing of the new hoses, because the boat was originally full of very strange arrangements. The worst, perhaps, was a toilet that would occasionally burp a little “hello” out of the wash basin. The kitchen sink drain was connected to the cockpit drains in such a complicated way, it was surprising that either the sinks or the cockpit ever drained at all. We had to use our drain unblocker frequently to make them work. We routed the new hoses as straight down as possible and into newly drilled outlets. All of the seacocks are now easily accessible and can be closed within seconds, if necessary.

The shower had formerly drained straight into the bilge, and you always had to remember to pump the bilge immediately after taking a shower, otherwise it would start smelling pretty quickly. This occasional funky waft was one of the least charming characteristics of our boat, and definitely needed attention. Formerly there was no way to reach the bottom of the shower tray, but after demolishing the toilet floor next door, we could wiggle a hose under the tray and connect it to a new drain, and after installing a dedicated pump for draining the shower, we now have a much drier and fresher smelling bilge!

Two deck drains were closed and epoxied over on both side decks. We could see no point in deliberately bringing water from the deck into the boat – neither rainwater or salty spray washing the decks in heavy seas. We haven’t encountered any water sitting on the decks since then, so it seems to find its own way out just fine.

Forward head demolished…
… and nearly rebuilt.

After all the demolishing, there was quite a bit of rebuilding to get both toilets back in business. We installed the Nature’s Head composting toilet in the aft head, but left most of the furniture to be finished at an unspecified future moment. Building a toilet sounds like a fun way to spend a few winter weeks, doesn’t it? The forward head turned fresh looking with a bit of colour, and has a lot more storage space than before!

Now our boat was all finished, inside and out, and ready for the seas! In the next blog post, Aina will splash into the Ionian!

Leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: