Proper Cockpit Draining - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 09-16-2010
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Proper Cockpit Draining

Hi Everyone:

While looking at some of the treads on autopilot installations below decks in the Pacific Seacraft section, I noticed that cockpit draining is done differenctly on many different types of sailboats. Some cockpits drain via thru hulls with seacocks and hoses runing from the cockpit to the hull, however my sailboat has two drain holes in the stern, at the lowest part of the cockpit, which must be plugged when the motor is running or in a following sea to keep water out. Not really a good setup since in bad weather with water coming in due to rough seas, the engine might be running, and I would have to bail water out, or rely on the bilge pump to remove water that got by any engine hatch seal gaps. So do most people then retrofit new drains in? Do cockpit drains that exit the hull bottom via seacocks have any backflow valves to prevent water bubbling in with swells? In bad weather I guess you want to be able to drain the cockpit quickly so what is the best approach?
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Old 09-16-2010
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On most boats I have seen and all I have owned with draining cockpits they drained underwater. The drains are often crossed so the leeward drain doesn't fill the cockpit when heeled. This doesn't work with all hull shapes as depth is needed under the cockpit so the drain can still go downhill. I have never seen any valves installed in cockpit drains to prevent backflow. All should have seacocks although they are seldom if ever closed.

How high above the waterline is your cockpit sole? You could try spring loaded flaps mounted over the exits in the transom to keep water out in most conditions.
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I would say I have about 3 ~ 4 inches from the drain holes to the waterline.
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How far is the waterline below the cockpit sole? In other words do the drains go out level or at a downward angle?
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The drains go out at a slight angle to match the slant of the stern. Looks like a previous owner just drilled them in, and put on some plastic PVC fittings, or maybe the boat was built that way. The plugs are threaded with a compression rubber disk that snugs up the fit so nothing leaks.
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Here's a link to the messages that relate to cockpit drains on the Orion Yahoo group. It seems that some boats had cockpit drains at the forward end of the cockpit that exited below the waterline which is more conventional. I hope this helps.
Yahoo! Groups
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One thing I've noticed is that many cockpit drains seem to be via rather thin hoses (1-1.5" dia). Some boats have two, others four.

I modified my drains to 3" openings and 2.5" hoses to slightly above the waterline when the boat's level. When on a tack, the forward drain is underwater, the aft about even with the water. All are mounted on the hull, not the stern. I was amazed at the difference in draining speed with larger drains.
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I agree most are too small in diameter. Mine are 1 1/2" and there are 2 draining through the hull, crossed over. Way too slow. My plan is to leave them alone and add a 3" straight out the stern. My cockpit well goes to within 6" of the transom and the sole is 8" above the at rest waterline. I intend to use a hinged cover like you see on some powerboat exhausts. It will be mounted off center because my rudder is outboard but the original drains should take care of any remaining water.
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Has anybody enlarged or added drains to their cockpit?
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I have. One reason is that the stock drains were not located in positions that worked the best. The boat is a bit port heavy, as the stove, water tank, outboard engine, refrigerator and propane tank are all on the port side. It is also a bit aft heavy, due to the batteries being stowed under the cockpit. This meant that water tended to collect in the port-aft corner in the cockpit. There wasn't a drain in that corner, so I added one to get rid of the water that typically collected in that corner.
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Originally Posted by legarots View Post
Has anybody enlarged or added drains to their cockpit?
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