We are well into September and the boating season is quickly coming to an end. So, Brenda and I squeeze in as many days as we can over September and into October.
This particular September day, I was walking down the dock to B45 where WINDY is docked. Having been born and raised at our family marina (Dawson’s Marina on Lake Simcoe Ontario) and learning from Dad to look after the customers’ boats, I still never just “walk” down the dock. I am always looking and listening for anything out of the ordinary that could indicate a problem. He taught me that avoiding problems is far better than fixing or cleaning up later—it’s something marina operators just do!
Today, I heard water running on the way to my boat........
It wasn’t the normal sound of water running; but, rather the noise you hear when a hose is kinked, because the flow of water is restricted.
I followed the sound down the finger to the side of a fellow boater’s Chris Craft cruiser. He had a water hose hooked up to his dockside water inlet. The hose had burst leaving a hole big enough to stick my finger in. The leak was right at the bend in the hose where it crossed the side deck into the cockpit. Water was spraying out onto the side deck AND right into the cockpit.
I immediately turned off the water supply from the dock. Luckily, I caught it before there was too much water in the bilge; otherwise, the boat could have filled up and ended up on the bottom in the slip. The flow from the “city water” is far greater than the capacity of the bilge pump. Over time, the bilge pump would eventually lose the battle. As everybody knows, when you fill a boat with water, it sinks!
On-board Pressure Water System
Boats with a pressure water system, have a tank and often a hot water tank, a pressure pump, faucets in the galley and head(s). All are connected with water pipe and lots of connectors/joints.
A water leak from on-board plumbing failure is limited to only the amount of water in your water tank; whereas, boats with dockside water inlets are able to connect to dockside water (city water) supplied by the marina and/or the municipality or town/city. The dockside water pressure is always many times greater, than the on-board water pressure pump.
When you use a cheap garden hose to connect to “city water”, the pressure can easily exceed the capacity of the hose—especially at bends and sun concentration spots. If that weak spot of the hose is inside the hull, there is a never-ending supply of water to sink your boat.
Also, leaks or bursts can occur within the boat’s plumbing system for many different reasons including—old plumbing, loose connectors, excessive “city water” pressure, aged plastic plumbing, or faulty faucets. Sometimes leaks occur, when rodents chew through plastic plumbing in search of food or a route to food.
When you are hooked up to dockside water, a leak will keep filling your boat. Like a chain, your water system is only as good as the weakest point. Too much pressure blows the hose, the boat fills with water, then it sinks.
Even though some newer cruisers have a pressure reducing valve in the dockside water inlet, don’t trust a $15 part to protect your boat.
Turn the Water Off
For boaters with dockside water systems,
remember to turn off the supply at the dock,
before leaving her. It’s just good insurance.
Watch and Listen
Watching and listening is just second nature to me, but I would recommend all boaters keep their eyes and ears open, when walking the docks.
You may see or hear something, that could prevent a catastrophe for one of your fellow boaters.
To improve your docking skills, see: