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countrybumpkin 09-20-2008 09:43 PM

Will my boat sink? What should I do?
Okay, y'all have helped out alot with getting my inboard back running (1979 Cal 27):

today, armed with fresh fuel, filters, new fuel lines, manuals I set out to try to get the enigne to fire.

Alas the first thing I do is try to see what postion the gate valve for the raw water intake is in. (thru hull fitting). I try to turn it clockwise, counterclockwise and meet some resistance. Giving it some more pressure...................."SNAP!"............. the gate valve handle is now in my hand and the thru hull fitting is wide open!

Long story short, after about 5 hours and 3 trips to Home Depot I get a rubber stopper the right size to plug the intake under the hull, just enough to slow down the flow inside the engine compartment enought to jamb some plumber's epoxy into the open valve (it will harden in water) and place a stainless U clamp over it. It finally stopped. No drips.

I have pictures, but can't find the USB for this particular camera right now. I will post when I find the cable.

So!? Now what? can I trust the patch to get me through the rest of the fall? Do I need to haul her out right now? There is no haul out service on the lake, you have to get a crane in there. I know where to get one, but then I need a trailer or stands to put it on.

I probalby left something out, but man, with the gate "taped in" the flow into the hull was probably 4 gal an hour, if it fell out, probably 1 gal per minute. I was not comfortable with either leak.

Any suggestions? Will post pics when I find the cable.


erps 09-20-2008 09:53 PM

That's scary! Can you go back to home depot, buy a ball valve shut off and some fittings and put it inline with your water intake after the broken thru-hull fitting as a patch until you can get it fixed? At least that way you can shut off the water when you leave the boat and turn it on when you need to motor over to the haul out place.

I personally shut off all our thru-hulls whenever the boat is unattended. A while back, I pulled the transmission out while the boat was in the water. I pushed the propeller shaft back and kept re-adjusting the collar for the drippless shaft seal and then tied the propeller shaft in place. I didn't sleep very well for the two nights it sat like that. I kept imagining that the propeller shaft would creep away from the carbon seal in the shaft bellows and the boat would sink.

Vitesse473 09-20-2008 10:12 PM

Same thing happen to me years ago on my Santana 22. A buddy plugged the hole while I drove to the chandlery to get the underwater epoxy. It's a two part system in clay like form that you mix together and stick in the hole.

That experience taught me to always keep that underwater epoxy stuff and a variety of wood plugs on board.

Btw, I wouldn't trust plumber's putty. Go online to either West Marine or and look for something like Marine-Tex.

FAQ's for products in the Marine-Tex line

hellosailor 09-20-2008 10:27 PM

Plumbers putty is pretty much rock-hard forever, I wouldn't be surprised if it wsa the same thing as the marine products. For a temporary leak stop, it should last very nicely. it is meant to seal damaged pipes--permanently--in places like wood frame walls where you don't want to use a torch to make a proper repair.

CB, now you understand why gate valves are considered uninsurable by many companies. They're not suitable for anything beyond garden hoses. Beware the ball valves at Home Depot and such, they are usually brass (not bronze) with a stainless (not bronze) ball in them, and they can rot out from galvanic action in a boat surprisingly quickly. I'd leave the epoxy where it is, and if you can stand a week without sailing, plug the raw wate intake from the outside with a gob of beeswax (sold for $4 as a toilet bowl ring seal, warm it up before gobbing it in) as insurance.
Then, order a proper BRONZE or MARELON (not just plastic, but Marelon) seacock or ballcock on install on the fitting, and do the repair just once. Temporary repairs to these things tend to be too convenient--and then two or three years later you say "Oh, yeah, I meant to get around to that..." when it finally does fail again. Better to do it once, and do it right.

If you have any other gate valves on the boat? Order the replacements at the same time, put them in when you can. And, order a couple of sets of tampons (aka bass wood damage control plugs) and attach one with a string (means drilling a 1/4" hole through the top of each one) to each fitting that might fail and need to be plugged. Cheap insurance--and good seamanship. You tie them on with a foot or so of string, so there's no fumbling about if you need to find one while there's water gushing in.

sailingdog 09-21-2008 08:20 AM

One point to add to what HS said. Put the wood plugs in plastic baggies... so they stay DRY. They're supposed to swell up when they get wet and help hold themselves in place, and won't do that properly if they're wet to begin with.

countrybumpkin 09-21-2008 03:54 PM

Thanks for the advice. I went out to the boat and checked my repair this morning. BONE DRY!

HS, are you saying that with a gob of beeswax over the intake, I can spin the old valve off and replace it? I'm a bit nervous about applying too much pressure and maybe snapping off the nipple that sticks out of the hull. I have soaked the fitting with seafoam in hopes that it will break free easy. I will take your advice on the quality of the replacement for sure.

One crazy idea I had: the slip next to me is vacant. What if I took the main halyard and attached it to a cleat on the vacant slip finger and then winched it in. I'm thinking it would heal the boat enough to raise the intake out of the water. I could then hopefully replace the valve without worry of taking on more water.

Anyway, here is the culprit:

and the temporary repair

Picure quailty is kinda poor, used another camera.

Thanks again for the advice, oh, and where do you get those "tampons"? I googled them and only found a manufacturer, no distributor yet, although I haven't checked out West, or others yet either.

Stillraining 09-21-2008 06:22 PM


Originally Posted by countrybumpkin (Post 372243)

One crazy idea I had: the slip next to me is vacant. What if I took the main halyard and attached it to a cleat on the vacant slip finger and then winched it in. I'm thinking it would heal the boat enough to raise the intake out of the water. I could then hopefully replace the valve without worry of taking on more water.

Not a crazy idea I was just going to suggest this..

Excellent job on the emergency repair by the way...probably make an Atlantic crossing.

CS271409 09-21-2008 07:39 PM

Hi Bumpkin,
Others may condemn this idea but I think you have afforded an excellent repair and I would think it would do you until you need to haul out for the winter. When I bought my boat, the galley sink drain through hull had cracked on the "dry" side of the old original gate valve and it was held together with the handyman's friend Duct Tape. Yikes. I cut the through hull and the valve out with a hacksaw and replaced both before I put it back in the water at my marina. I have since replaced all of my through hulls from the orignal equiment (in 1978) gate valves to proper ball valve seacocks. Heeling the boat at the slip is an ingenious idea but I think your chances of sinking are very low and I would enjoy the rest of the season and do the work when it is easy to get at both the inside and outside of the hull. I would suggest changing the through hull along with the valve to ensure a proper thread match. The through hull is inexpensive compared to the valve.
If it was my boat, I would leave it as is until haulout.

Dave S

Valiente 09-21-2008 10:09 PM

...proper BRONZE ball valves...

Brass is 1/8th the price, sure, but it's not for below the waterline and won't fit the proper through-hull threads anyway.

hellosailor 09-21-2008 11:43 PM

Bumpkin, heeling the boat over with a line form your masthead to another slip or such is a perfectly traditional way to get a fitting above the waterline.

Beeswax makes a fairly good temporary plug, and it is easy to "chew" and wipe back out of the fitting afterwards. But I was thinking more of using it as a backup for your epoxy repair, than as a primary plug while you were spinning fittings off.

The plugs are usually available in a poly-bagged four pack from all the boat supply stores, of course at least two of them will fit nothing on your boat "one size fits all" haha. They're usually "NAFTA" packaged for the US/Canadian market, so the French side calls them "tampons", apparently that's simply French for "plug".

At first i couldn't figure out the pcitures you posted, then I realize the u-bolt and grey glob are the PATCH, not normal equipment.<G> Ideally the shut-off valve should be as close to the hull as possible, so there's less chance of someone standing on it, or something banging past it, and shearing it off. I'm not sure what all that plumbing there is doing--but anything you can also so to reduce it and make it less vulnerable, counts.

Of course whatever parts you need, from a reputable source, in the right material, will only be stocked in the wrong thread size or special ordered from a craftsman in the far north of Finland. that's just the way marine plumbing goes--be prepared to make multiple trips, multiple measurements, and wait a week, twice.

All good reason to "do it right the first time" !

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