No. 2 – Everyone can have a bad day…
Boats are built by humans, and humans make mistakes. Over the years, we’ve encountered a number of annoying and sometimes potentially dangerous problems caused by assembly errors.
Don’t forget, there are usually two parties involved in putting your boat together: the boat builder and the boat dealer. Boat dealers usually install after-market accessories like bait wells and electronics, and also do the final detailing and prep work.
Remember that saying: “Never buy a car built on Monday or Friday”? The basis of that cliche is the suspicion that auto assembly line workers weren’t at the top of their game after a weekend of fun, or at the end of a long workweek. A cynic would say this also extends to boats.
Here are some examples of mistakes we’ve encountered over the years:
The Mysterious Leak
A mysterious leak in the front of the hull (click for larger image)
What would you think if you pulled your boat and trailer into the driveway after a trip, and saw this:
That’s water dripping from the drain to the storage compartment under the front casting platform. Which was supposed to be plugged.
A hurried examination found the plug was still firmly in place. So that meant…what? The thru-hull fitting is connected to the compartment by a hose. So if the water was not coming from the compartment, did the water somehow get trapped inside the hose? If so, why hadn’t it drained out when I pulled the boat from the water?
The only other possible answer was that the water was coming from inside the hull, and that the fitting was somehow leaking.
Water inside the hull, of course, is not a good thing. But a broken thru-hull is worse. Especially up at the front of the hull, where there is little access to the fitting.
On Toy Boat 2, the closest hatch to the “leaking” fitting is a pry-out porthole on the back of the casting platform. After a lot of poking around, we found that all four of the hose clamps securing the hose between the thru-hull and the front compartment drain (two on each end) had literally fallen apart from corrosion.
Rusted out hose clamps (click for larger image)
This allowed water to leak into the hull via the thru-hull, but only if the front of the hull was submerged enough to put the top of the thru-hull below the waterline. Along similar lines, the water could not drain out thru the thru-hull until the water trapped in the front of the hull rose to a level high enough to flow back out over the top of the thru-hull.
So how did this happen? I don’t think the folks at Edgewater intentionally used four of these non-stainless hose clamps on a critical hull component. After all, the four clamps securing the bilge pump hose seem to be full stainless, and are fine. I think the most likely scenario is that the non-stainless clamps somehow got mixed in with the stainless clamps by mistake.
They Know What They’re Doing, Right?
On one of my longer trips offshore, I noticed the boat was acting sluggishly. It seemed to be taking longer and longer to get on plane. Then the automatic bilge pump kicked in!
After a brief panic attack, and letting the bilge pump do its thing for a while, I got brave enough to pop the bilge hatch and take a look inside. After my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see water sloshing around, but no obvious leaks.
I got out a flashlight and took another look. Under the glare of the flashlight beam, I immediately saw that the bilge compartment was filled with a fine mist. Running my hands around in the bilge, I found that the mist was coming from a bunch of pinhole leaks in the hose connecting the washdown pump to the Hosecoil above deck.
Earlier in the day, I had run the washdown pump to hose off some tuna blood. The pump has a pressure switch that shuts the pump off when the hose back-pressure reaches 50 psi, so I left the pump on, and just shut off the spray nozzle. When the hose pressure reached 50 psi, the pump stopped.
Unfortunately, the pump was improperly installed by the dealer. The installation instructions clearly called for hose with a burst strength of 65 psi or higher on the output side of the pump. Instead, I found corrugated bilge pump hose, which does not have anywhere near that pressure rating.
Over time, the hose had developed numerous pinhole leaks at many of the corrugations. So when I shut off the spray nozzle with the pump still on, the hose would hold pressure long enough to stop the pump, but then the pinhole leaks would bleed off enough pressure to let the pump start again. Then the pump would run again, until it built up enough pressure to shut itself off again. The cycle would repeat itself over and over…until we had a whole lot of water in the bilge. On a long run, the noise of the washdown pump running was drowned out by the motor noise, so we never heard it.
There’s always a catch…
When we looked at our Edgewater in the showroom, the latch on the front casting platform was fine. A few days after we picked up the boat, we tried to latch the casting platform hatch, only to discover that it now had the wrong latch mechanism. The latch bar didn’t match the strike plate on the compartment, so it was impossible to lock the hatch.
Clearly someone had taken the old latch out and replaced it with the wrong mechanism. I didn’t want to go all the way back to the dealer to sort things out, so I called Edgewater, who shipped me the right latch. They suspected someone at the dealership had taken the latch to use in a different hull.
After a few trips through some rough water, I found a couple of stainless nuts lying on the deck. After poking around, I discovered they had vibrated off a couple of the bolts used to secure the casting platform hinges. I removed all of the nuts on the hatch hinges, and torqued them back on with Locktite, and they’ve been fine ever since. But you have to wonder…