Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Damn Fish

We had visitors coming to the boat on Sunday.  So of course our galley sink stopped up almost entirely on Saturday.  Yeah, I tried the plunger, but if anything it made things worse.  Since we had had experience with fish swimming up our plumbing before, I suspected that this might be the case again...

So yesterday morning I tackled it - we can't go on washing dishes in the forward head sink forever...

My first thought was that the easiest approach would be to disconnect the hose from the sink plumbing under the sink.  This would allow me to isolate the problem to either the hose or the nearly inaccessible thru hull/seacock, or to the drain plumbing under the sink, where the diameter goes from 1-1/2" to 1" hose.  (One of my mechanic's rules is to always try the easiest or cheapest solution first.)

Well.  Since we all know that Murphy was a marine architect, you can guess that the "easy" approach was not so easy after all.  In fact, because of an intervening shelf that the plumbing passed thru, I destroyed almost everything in the plumber's nightmare above in getting the hose off. 

And no, the problem was not there.

Well, the hose was off, so I got out our sewer snake (don't all boats have a sewer snake?).  It easily ran down the hose all the way to the elbow on the thru hull. 

No joy.

Thankfully, Sebo's Hardware is just two blocks from the head of the dock, so I think you can imagine me, squatted down in the plumbing section, piecing together various fittings on the floor to try to make up a similar nightmare.  Sebo's is a very complete hardware - I was able to remake the plumbing and even replace the 2" sink strainer for only $28.

So where are we?

The sink plumbing is back together, shiny and new.  Sadly, it still doesn't drain. 

For now at least, we have decided to continue the use of the fwd head sink as the wash basin.  We have a haul-out scheduled for this spring - tackling the thru hull from the outside with a plunger (or worse, disassembling it) would be a lot easier with the boat on the hard than trying to use a plunger on it from the outside now, wearing a wet suit.

And who knows - maybe it will heal.  if it is a fish that is in there, maybe he leave on his own.  Or decompose.



Drew Frye said...

This spring I installed AC on my boat, and based on some "advise" did not add an external strainer. After all, most intakes lack them. It was argued that they were hard to clean.

About 40 hours of running later, the intake pump started to cavitate, with a tell-tale hissing sound. To make a long story shorter, there was a fish turned inside out at the first 90 degree bend. Gross.

Fortunately, when I installed the seacock, I bonded a large FRP pad to the hull. I grabbed a manual drill, a few screws and an external strainer, an proceeded to drill holes (depth stop on holes and butyl to seal) and install the strainer while snorkeling. I only broke one bit, when a wake bounced me around. Fun.

Most intakes are either periodic (head) or used while running fast (engine). The AC is just a steady pull.

Rick said...

Glad my drains don't have elbows! Sewer snake on Cay of Sea = straightened steel coat hanger. Same idea: doesn't every boat keep one of these on board?

Here's a thought: got an air compressor. . .?

S/v Cay of Sea

Anonymous said...

+1 on the compressed air.

LittleCunningPlan.com said...

That happened in our forward head. No salt water flush until we could haul out. mystery solved when I discovered a very dead fish close to the intake. Makes me think putting strainers on the intakes at the next haulout could be a wise thing.

Robert Salnick said...

I'm a little scared of using compressed air, or one of those devices that you put on a hose and use water pressure... Could blow apart the plumbing and make a huge mess...

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