To reduce this onslaught of mud, some sailors rely upon the bucket-on-a-rope method to retrieve water for rinsing off the anchor rode. Others swab tirelessly with a long-handled brush as the rode is slowly retrieved. The end result is that usually quite a bit of mud or muck still finds its way on board.
It’s not just an issue of keeping the boat clean. Walking around on deck with abrasive grit underfoot will shorten the life of your gelcoat or paint finish. To keep that shine and protection in tact, removing the dirt is imperative. Eliminating the mud before a bunch of it makes its way down into your anchor locker also provides several benefits. On many boats, the anchor locker drains directly into the bilge. By cleaning your anchor rode before storing, the smell of stinky mud wafting through your main salon will be a thing of the past. Mud that’s allowed to enter your anchor locker can also become a safety issue. Mud and debris in your bilge can quickly clog your bilge pump strainer and render your pump useless. Even with an overboard draining anchor locker, mud can present a problem when a build-up clogs the drain and the locker fills with water.
Most deck washdown systems obtain their water supply directly from the water in which the boat is sailing, be it saltwater or freshwater. Here, the amount of water you can use is unlimited.
To add a saltwater deck washdown to your own boat requires just a few components and is an easy installation that can be accomplished in about a day. First, assemble the needed components:
- Washdown pump w/ pressure switch
- Re-enforced hose (below deck)
- Garden hose & spray nozzle
- Stainless steel hose clamps
- Through-deck fitting
- Tinned wire and connectors
- Water source—T-off existing plumbing, or install dedicated through hull and seacock
- Circuit breaker or fuse
Next, you’ll want to work on the system layout and installation. Determine exactly where you’ll obtain your water and where you want your deck fitting located. There’s no law saying this has to be at the bow. That’s just where most people put it, as it is usually used for cleaning the anchor more than anything else. For a water source, you have a choice of either installing a dedicated through-hull and seacock, or placing a T-fitting into an existing hose. We feel that both options can offer a safe supply of water providing the proper hose is used and all connections are fitted with double hose clamps. From a practical standpoint, if your boat is in the water, you’ll probably just T into the existing plumbing. The intake hose from a head is often seen sharing its water with a washdown pump. This may require adapting the hose size from the head intake with simple hose barbed connectors to match the hose size for your washdown pump.
Once you’ve located your water source, you can mount the pump between your water supply and the underside of the deck fitting. Keep this as close to the electrical source as possible to facilitate easy wiring. Some washdown pumps are self-priming to two feet, others to six feet, and yet others up to nine feet. Make sure you don’t mount your pump four feet above the waterline if it only self-primes to two feet.
Before final positioning of your deck fitting, ensure there is ample room below for your hose connections, and that you’re not drilling into anything you shouldn’t be. Armed with your electric drill with a hole-saw bit, make the cutout to receive your deck fitting. Then seal the edges of the hole with epoxy. When cured, bed the deck fitting with a polysulfide sealant like 3M 101.
|"Again, remember to always use double hose clamps on all fittings. "|
Now comes the fun part. Attach your garden hose to the deck fitting, switch the circuit breaker on, take aim, and fire! Believe us, you’ll enjoy anchoring a lot more knowing that tomorrow morning’s clean-up will be a snap. Most sailors leave a short section of hose attached at the bow for anchor rode cleaning during the raising process, and store a longer hose in the locker for times when a more thorough cleaning of the whole deck is required.
With your new washdown system, you not only have a means to stay mud-free; you also have a secret attack weapon. Imagine you’re at a floating picnic gathering with other boats and you just became victim of a water balloon smack in the middle of your cockpit. No longer do you have to resort to trying to retaliate with a bucket of water, if you can get close enough. You now have a steady, strong stream to completely soak your attackers. And you thought this was just going to keep your boat clean.
Divide and Conquer with a
Our mud diverter is a strip of teak about three-inches high that we epoxied to the deck. This stops the muddy water from leaving the bow area. We later painted the teak strip so it looks like part of our molded deck. We added a cockpit drain in each aft corner of this newly made triangle, just in front of the diverter. Our drains discharge the water overboard approximately one foot above the waterline. These drains could simply be scuppers at deck level, but then the effluent would leave a muddy line on the hull.
If your boat doesn’t have a bulwark like ours, or large toe rail, a mud diverter could be as simple as a strip of teak caulked across he deck that channels the flow directly overboard.
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