C400 Association Technical Editor Olav N. Pedersen
We’ve all experienced it. Where’s that smell coming from? Fortunately, the Midnight Sun has not had many issues like this. The bilge stays clean.
When I went to change out the plastic fittings to brass on the hot water tank, the hose line that goes down from the hot water tank underneath the floorboards was taut. So I unscrewed the floorboard that’s located in front of the door to the trash compartment to see if I could create some slack. That’s how I located the source of the smell.
Until this point in time, I was under the impression that there was a central bilge tank location (2 compartments connected by a conduit), which is just below the salon table. There is also a small collection point compartment that’s about a foot higher just forward of the base of the mast, but I don’t consider that part of the central bilge. My layout has the bilge pump in the aft compartment of the bilge and the A/C raw water strainer in the compartment forward of that. These two main compartments are connected by a conduit allowing the contents of the bilge to flow freely between the two allowing them to be pumped out. Well, that’s what I thought.
What I was not aware of is that there are two (2) more bilge compartments aft of the two under the salon table that you can’t see that are higher and drain forward.
That’s right, there are four (4) compartments. It is also evident that, on my boat, no one has ever taken the floorboard up to inspect these two. Both of the drain conduits in those compartments were completely clogged. Nothing was getting from the two aft compartments of the bilge to the two compartments under the table in the salon.
I went to the store and bought a thin plastic bristle brush and cleaned out the conduits. Then I cleaned out the compartments. While I was at it, I also cleaned out all drain conduits forward and aft. All was, once again, right with the bilge world.
So, how can you check to see if you might have this problem without having to pull up the floorboard?
I found a simple way to check one of the compartments. There are two doors below and in front of the sink. Open the door on the left. Look down on the inside of the lower left corner and you’ll see the opening where the hoses from the water heater go under the floorboard. You’ll need a fairly high intensity flashlight to do this. Point it down that hole and you should see one of the bright, shinny stainless steel bolts and nuts that secure the keel to the boat (see photo). If you can’t see that, you probably have a clog. If you can see it, but can also see standing water in it, it is clogged. I say that because these two hidden compartments are positioned higher than the other two, so, provided your bilge pump is working, they should completely gravitate to midship.
If you have to take the floorboard up, it’s not a big deal and you will be amazed at what’s under there! It’s Grand Central Station for wires and hoses. It’s also the ONLY way to access these two bilge compartments for a detailed inspection.
Hopefully, your aft bilge compartments are clear. If not, now you have a way to inspect one of them before you remove the floorboard. Ah, the joys of maintenance! –Olav N. Pedersen, firstname.lastname@example.org
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