Refit:  Winter 2008-2009

Winter 2008-2009 Refit | Saturday, October 18, 2008

During the week, I managed to sand the toerails and hatch surround and apply one more coat of varnish on Thursday afternoon.

This morning, I began by sanding the varnish again and cleaning up; I left the varnishing for later in the day.

I had been noticing an odor in the shop--a nasty gray-water sort of odor.  I knew this had to be from the galley sink sump, which still had a mixture of salt and fresh water and antifreeze in it.  Since relocating this sump and reconfiguring the related plumbing was high on my priority list for the winter's work anyway, I decided now was the time to begin the project.

First, though, I have to begin with a bit of history about the galley sink on this boat.  Bear with me; it's all relevant to the current project.

When I first built the galley, I installed a nice 13x7 sink with a 9-3/4" depth, plumbed directly overboard to a through hull right beneath the galley.  Unfortunately, what I didn't take into account--never thought of, really, until too late in the process--was that this deep sink would end up actually below the waterline, meaning that there were always several inches of water in the sink at rest.  Clearly, this was unacceptable.

To address the immediate problem, I purchased--after quite a bit of searching for the right thing--a 13x7 sink with a 5" depth, and removed the deeper sink, replacing it with the shallower version.  This helped the problem somewhat, as now the bottom of the sink was above the waterline (just barely).  We lived with this situation during the end of our first season on the water and through the entire second season, including our long 2-month cruise.  But this wasn't a long-term solution either, as it turned out; the sink still drained poorly, and I had to close the seacock underway to prevent water from entering the sink when heeled on port tack.

After removing the deep sink, I made considerable efforts to sell it.  It took forever, and eventually I sold it for a fraction of its worth; what was I ever going to do with it?

The new sink came with an extended flange with large cutouts for faucets, and at some point I moved the two spigots from the original holes in the countertop (which worked with the old sink) into the flange of the new sink to extend their reach into the bowl.  Because the flange holes were so large, I had to use a pair of large washers over the spigot bodies to sort of plug the flange holes.  For whatever reason at the time--probably availability--I used galvanized washers for this. 

This worked, more or less, but over time the washers began to corrode (we use salt water extensively in the sink for washing dishes and so forth), and they became ugly.  In addition, the spigots became a bit loose, but the washers had sort of affixed themselves to the plastic bodies of the spigots, and besides access to the area beneath the sink (where I'd have to reach to tighten the nuts holding the spigots in place) was virtually impossible.  This problem became progressively more annoying over the years.

Following the 2002 season, I replumbed the sink drain to a new electric sump pump chamber that I installed in the cabinet immediately beneath the sink.  Eliminating the direct overboard discharge meant that finally we could expect a dry sink.  The space beneath the existing sink was tight, but I found room for the sump pump.  Access was a real pain, though, which meant that servicing the pump's strainer was harder than need be--so I didn't do it much.

Worse, what began to happen shortly thereafter was that the sink drain hose, needing to take a very sharp bend in order to make it to the nearby sump chamber, began to kink at the bend.  At some point, I replaced the hose I'd used originally with a different kind, which I suppose must have helped for a while.  Still, the kinks continued, and at best, this made drainage slower than it should have been; at worst, the sink wouldn't drain at all, and I'd have to open up the access door to the under-sink area (located at the side of the engine room) and try and re-bend the hose to remove, at least temporarily, the kink.

Enough was enough.  During the 2008 season, the kink became more the rule than the exception, and with the loose faucets, gross corroded galvy washers, and the other irritations, I made plans to reconfigure the entire setup.  This, finally, brings us back to the present.


After removing the various items stored in the lockers under the sink, I began the project by removing several screws holding the sump pump chamber in place, and removed the sink drain hose.  The sump was full of water, and at this close range it really began to stink; it became far worse when I removed the plastic cover over the top of the chamber--totally disgusting.  Few things are nastier than nasty gray water.  At first, dumbly, I planned to remove the sump and complete the project while leaving the sink in place, so I began to bail out the water within the sump so that I could remove it through the small opening in the countertop--which would require tipping the sump on end.

This effort was relatively fruitless, and entirely gross.  Eventually, I inserted a small chisel beneath the sink flange to test its adhesion to the countertop; when I removed the original deep sink years ago, the flange had been extremely well adhered, and I caused some damage to the Formica during the removal.  I hoped to avoid this again this time. 

I was surprised, therefore, to discover that the seal was quite loose, and it was actually a cinch to remove the sink.  With the sink loose, I could more easily reach the nuts securing the spigots to the flange, and I removed these, allowing me to completely remove the sink.  Now I had good access to the sump chamber through the large sink hole, so I removed the overboard discharge line, snipped the electric wires, and removed the stinking sump chamber.  Disgusting.

Since the plastic top of the chamber was broken in a couple places, and given the overall disgustingness of the thing, I elected to remove, clean, and save the electric pump and float switch as a spare or for another use, but to throw away the chamber and buy a new one.  I ordered a replacement, along with some hose that I'd need to plumb in the drain and overboard discharge.


With everything out of the way, I spent some time cleaning up the lockers beneath the sink (which are virtually inaccessible and, particularly in the case of the after locker, completely invisible with the sink in place).  I planned to relocate the new sump chamber in the bilge, which would require a longer hose run but would ultimately be a much more successful location:  easier to access and service,  smooth hose runs without sharp bends subject to kinking, and opening up room beneath the sink.  I confirmed that the new sump chamber would fit nicely in the bilge.

Right around now, I also made the decision to replace the sink yet again.  Kicking myself repeatedly for selling my old 9-3/4" deep sink after removing it back in 2001, I placed an order for an identical sink, since with the sump there was no reason to limit the sink depth, and the deep sink was what I'd wanted anyway, from the getgo.  I wish I'd considered the sump originally, instead of replacing the sink, but there you have it.  This also meant that I could return the sink spigots to the holes I'd originally drilled in the countertop. 

For now, I'd moved as far on this project as I could, and would resume after the newly-ordered parts arrived.

Similarly, last season had seen the arising of a problem with the supply line to the head sink spigot.  I noticed early in the year that the foot pump didn't seem to be working correctly; the pedal wouldn't return to the top position very well on its own.  Initially, I suspected the pump might be failing, but closer inspection revealed that the line running from the tee in the potable water line to the pump had kinked badly, as the bend radius had been too tight; 8 years of service in this position had kinked the hose irrevocably.

To get around the problem for the season, I shortened the hose slightly and wire-tied it to the sink drain line, which kept the hose open enough to allow the foot pump to work correctly.  But this was only a short-term solution, so now I removed the hose and installed a new length--much longer--which I looped up on the bulkhead to allow easy bends that wouldn't kink. I also secured the new line with a couple rubber-lined clamps, and similarly rerouted the supply line from the pump to the sink spigot, shortening it slightly and securing it to the forward bulkhead out of the way.

I don't know why I ran the hoses the way I did when I originally installed this stuff.  As I continue to repeat, there are many, many things about the original work I did on the boat that I would change (and am changing, as the need arises).


While I was in the lockers beneath the galley sink, I came across a 3-conductor sheathed cable that I'd originally run to the propane sniffer located beneath the stove.  In 2002, mere months after installation, this useless device began to malfunction, and at that time I disconnected it.  Seeing the wire reminded me of this, and I took the opportunity to remove the useless sensor and cut the wire.  Later, I planned to remove the remainder of this wire run, all the way back to the LPG panel.

Earlier, while sanding the toerails,  I'd noticed that the holding tank vent fitting, located beneath the rubrail on the port bow, had corroded badly, plugging it.  I placed an order for a new one, and added the job to the project list for the winter.

I wrapped up the day by applying another coat of varnish--the third so far--to the forward hatch surround and the toerails.

Total time on Thursday (sand and varnish):  1.5 hours
Total time today:  4.5 hours

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Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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