Don’t touch it!
There is a fine line we tread on boats. Time and time again, we have learned to not try fix things which aren’t broken. I joked yesterday on our Facebook page that we shouldn’t even touch things that aren’t broken! That said, preventive maintenance is important. It keeps things functioning and exposes weaknesses that can be dealt with before they turn critical.
Yesterday morning, one of my preventative maintenance tasks was to clean the dozen or so strainers which protect the various pumps on the boat. The strainers have a fine metal screen which catches hair, sea grass and other debris before it gets to the pump. As several of the strainers are located immediately after below-the-water through hulls, before removing the cover I first needed to close the seacocks, the valves which allow or stop water (or waste) from entering or leaving the boat. Exercising the seacocks, opening and closing them by moving the handles, is another important preventative maintenance task.
Things which are supposed to move must be moved or they will stop doing so.
So, while cleaning the strainers, I made sure to move each of the seacock handles even if they had nothing to do with the strainers. They are, after all, located in basically the same area of the boat, the bilge. All was well until I moved the handle on the large head discharge seacock. While it was not stuck, a totally different problem altogether, I did notice a few drops of water exiting around the handle.
Water? Coming into the boat? That is unnerving! I actually moved the handle a few more times to make sure that I wasn’t imagining things. Sure enough, as the handle of the Marelon seacock moved, a bit of water would exit around it. Fortunately, when I didn’t move the handle, there was no leakage. I was still stressed about it though. How stressed? I actually took the electric bilge pump beside it apart, breaking the don’t-touch-it rule, just to guarantee its function. With the pump proven to work and no more fluid entering the boat, and suitable emergency plugs left beside the seacock, I decided to do a bit of research.
Oh, I forgot to mention, the mate to this seacock in the other hull did exactly the same thing!
After describing the situation to a friend of mine, it was explained to me that there is a small O-ring in the handle which, when not moved, can get crap on it. When the handle is later turned, that O-ring may not seat perfectly, allowing the drops of water to enter as we saw. That made me feel a tiny bit better. I was pleased to hear that in the event of a catastrophic failure of said seacock, it can be replaced without hauling out the boat. Not that we’re expecting it to come to that. At the moment this issue is, in my mind, still not totally resolved.
One of the Marelon seacocks in question
PS: Good luck and congratulations to our friends Steve and Deb from Alternate Latitude. They are getting married today!