Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keep The Water On The Outside, Part 1: Seacocks

Seacocks, 5/31/2006

Virtually every boat has holes in the hull. That sounds bad, but it's not. Many systems need a constant flow of seawater, so a thru-hull fitting below the waterline provides this flow via a seacock and hose. A seacock is simply a valve that protects the boat from flooding in case the hose fails. Open the valve, full water flow. Close the valve, no water.

Over time, it's fairly common for seacocks to become stuck (or "frozen") if they aren't maintained or at least operated regularly. In our case, the prior owner kept the boat on a lift, so he never closed the seacocks. As a result, our engine and head intake valves were frozen in the open position, which is not safe.

Cape Dory is known for rugged construction and quality components. Much of Cape Dory hardware, including the seacocks, came from Spartan Marine in Georgetown, Maine (the original home of Cape Dory). Sometimes, that quality has its drawback (read: "price"). I learned this very early on, when restoring these seacocks to operating condition. I briefly contemplated replacing the seacocks. Very briefly. Bronze is obviously not cheap, but the $238.00-per-seacock price tag made a repair effort seem like a great idea.

In the end, the repair work was not that difficult. While the boat was out of the water for bottom painting, I soaked and scrubbed them with CLR to remove lime deposits and WD40 to loosen them up. Eventually I was able to get them moving again, enough to suffice for the first season, and plan for more complete maintenance at next haulout. Now that the seacocks are functional, I've made it a habit to close them every time we leave the boat overnight. I sleep much better knowing that sturdy bronze fittings, rather than rubber hoses, are protecting the boat while I'm away.


Brent said...

I will refrain from the comments I could make about you repairing your seacocks. Needless to say, I am proud of you.


Trawler Joe said...

Yeah, well, wait til I start posting about packing my stuffing box...