The Day Charm Didn’t Sink

Lara, Cobin and Marin were installing required US Coast Guard stickers in the engine compartments when Cobin found this.  It is a little hard to tell from the picture but yes, that is saltwater – about 15 inches worth.  The blue thing is the exhaust trap.  Glad we were tied to the dock when this happened.  I get seasick just thinking about fixing it at sea.


For those of you that are not sailors, this is the part of the boat where the engine lives.  Having it full of water is a bad thing because a) the idea of sailing is to keep the water outside the boat and b) it could ruin the electrical system and c) it could ruin the engine and d) it could ruin my marriage.

The culprit was this PVC valve that cracked.


I already threw away the other piece (NPT collar) that was cracked so no picture – sorry.  All of our through-hull valves are made of this blue PVC except the two I have changed on the engine saltwater intakes.  They have an NPT (National Pipe Taper) collar that is screwed onto an NPS (National Pipe Straight) through-hull  not really supposed to mix the two thread types, especially on plastic female threads because this can happen.

The conical threads must have been screwed down so tight that the stress cracked the valve collar.  On the internet there are many opinions on through-hull materials and valves that I encountered while researching a good way to avoid dealing with this again.  Options are limited here in Valencia so I just went with materials that are similar to each other (e.g. bronze and bronze) to avoid corrosion or the use of chewing gum.

After fixing it I was lying in my bunk thinking that Charm’s design, in this case, is pretty good.  There are many separate compartments in the boat that, if filled with water, don’t communicate with the next compartment.


They are relatively small so they also don’t make the boat sink much when full.  The engine compartment only filled to just below the starter and then the water equalized with the outside water so no more water came in.  If we had been at sea this wouldn’t have kept salt water from reaching the starter or the alternator but since we were at the dock it worked perfectly.  Kind of cool.  I wonder if this was luck or by design?

There is a bilge pump in the compartment but why didn’t it work?  I have three kids and they are always charging their devices at the navigation station where the bilge pump switches are located.  This compartment’s switch was turned Off from Auto and I am guessing the kids inadvertently turned it off.  Sailing with children is going to be exciting at times since they don’t always know the consequences of their actions.  I suppose if we took to the Royal Navy’s rules called The Articles of War we would have three children who didn’t have much hope of avoiding penalty of death.  Lara and I don’t have any plans to be that strict just yet.

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