Deck Water Fill Port

Someone once said something to the effect that water is a very tiny thing that can find its way into the tiniest of crevices that are so small as to not even be seen. If you own a boat then you know this to be true.

Not long ago, my sailing partner noticed that her socks and shoes were wet after retrieving them from the forward cabin port side locker. We inspected the locker and noted there was a small trickle of water down the lateral wall. It seemed water had entered during a sail where there was a lot of water coming over the bow. I suspected that, somehow, water was coming in around the through deck fresh water fill port. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any significant leakage of water in this region as a consequence of subsequent light rains.

This past week, finally, I was able to get to the project. I removed the three screws from the top of the through deck fill. It took a while but I was finally able to pry the piece away from the caulking or gasket that held it in place to the deck. Of course, I had to remove the hose clamp from the water fill hose in the cabin locker that was connected to the metal fitting. This proved to be rather arduous as I was required to use my left hand and reach sideways into the cabin locker to unscrew the clamp and then twist and pull the hose from the fitting.

Once I was able to pull the water fill port up through the deck I stuffed paper towels into the fill pipe so as to prevent debris to enter the water tank. I cleaned the metal fitting with a pocket knife and then used a drill with one of those gentle polishing wheels to clean off the excess caulking. Then, I used my knife to cut the old gasket or caulking material off the top side of the deck and within the deck through hole. Lastly, I cleaned all of the parts with acetone.

The water fill fitting has been removed from its through deck hole.

I encircled the collar of the deck fitting with butyl tape so that it would form a good seal where the fitting goes through the deck. Next, I used a UV and salt water resistant caulking material, made for sailboats, and applied generous amounts to the under surface of the metal fitting.

Butyl tape (black stuff) applied to the fitting.
The through deck hole has been cleaned and prepped to receive the fitting.

I inserted the fitting into the deck. As I had hoped, the butyl seal was going to be robust as there was considerable resistance during insertion as a result of its thickness. I pressed the piece firmly into the hole being mindful of the location of the holes to accept the screws that would be used to secure the fitting. As expected, the caulking squirted out to the sides. I was able to successfully replace the screws. Then, I cleaned up the excess caulk with acetone.

Some of the caulk has been squeezed out from under the fitting.
The screws have been seated and the excess caulk has been removed.

Next, I returned to the forward cabin and, with great difficulty, after removing the paper towels from the hose, slid the water fill hose onto the fitting, secured the hose clamp, cleaned up, and hoped for the best.

The inside forward corner of the fore or Vee cabin locker showing the water fill hose attached to the through deck fitting.

The next day, I returned to the boat and applied a bead of caulking, that I smoothed with my finger tip, around the edge of the water fill fitting. I don’t think that was really necessary but I felt as if it added security. Next, I stuffed a dry paper towel around the circumference of the inside of the deck fitting so that I could detect any leaks when it rained.

For two days it rained. I visited Skiron once again and noted that the aft cabin locker was dry and there was no evidence of even the slightest trickle of water from around that deck fitting. I simulated water coming over the bow and running along that port side of the boat by flooding that deck fitting with a steady stream of water for 15 minutes in order to try to unmask a leak. The paper towel remain dry as did the inside of that cabin locker.

Water over the bow simulation.
The water fill port was under flowing water for 15 minutes in attempt to unmask any leaks.

I think I have successfully resolved the leak! I will, however, keep an eye on it over the coming months and during my regular general inspections of Skiron.

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