CAUTIONARY TALE No. 2 – By Mike Lucas

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Reposted by request  11 November 2021

Article from Sadler Owner’s Magazine, January 2001


There is a tendency for most owners to assume that self-draining cockpits will look after

themselves, because operation is automatic. The reality is that any malfunction of the drains does

severely endanger the safety of the craft. This will arise either through a drain blockage or the hose

detaching from the spigot or seacock.

Take care during the winter (when the boat is ashore) that leaves do not fill the cockpit and block

the drain hose. We have learned only this month of a Sadler 29 which experienced this problem.

The water flowed into the cockpit stowage trough, through into the engine bilge and then

overflowed into the cabin, where it proceeded to fill up the boat to the level of the sole boards.

Each of the Sadler and Starlight models has a different cockpit layout and I now make a few

comments for each boat.


Both the 39 and 35 drain in a similar manner, from spigots glassed in to the drains at aft end of

cockpit, proceeding downwards to skin fittings fitted to the underside of the quarter of the boat.

Clearly these fittings are above the water line at rest, but underway they will be underwater. The

outlet spigots are joined with good quality reinforced hose which after ten years is still likely to be

in reasonable condition. However, do check the jubilee clips (which should be two at the top and

two at the bottom) for security. After ten years there is probably a case for replacing the hose since

it will by now have aged and hardened. When replacing, do take the opportunity to route the hose

so that it is clear of gear and equipment stowed in the lazarette lockers.

Sadler 34

These are done in a similar manner to the Starlight, but upto 1989 the hose fitted by Sadler Yachts

was not reinforced. The hose certainly needs replacing with reinforced or ribbed hose and at the

same time, check jubilee clip fastenings. Also check that lazarette contents do not apply pressure

on the vulnerable hose and hence the fastenings.

Sadler 32

Access to the self-drainers can be obtained by lifting the cockpit floor and the stowage trough out of

position. In the case of the 32 the cockpit drains go outwards to seacocks fitted in the sail locker

(port side) and under the quarter berth (starboard side). These seacocks must be serviced annually

with the other seacocks and hull openings in the boat, but in practice I find they are rarely

examined. As previously, replace the old hose and double clip all joints.

Sadler 29

Like the 32 the self-drain hose can be accessed through the cockpit sole lid and by lifting the

stowage trough. However the drain hose with the 29 goes aft and out through transom skin fittings.

Because these are difficult to get at (particularly the transom fittings) it is vital to service these

components when ashore for the winter.

Sadler 26

This is an almost impossible situation in that you need to be extremely small and agile to get

access to where the hose is attached to the cockpit spigots and then to the skin fittings through the

transom. The problem with the 26 is that there is no removable cockpit sole panel.

Access to the starboard side is just about possible by climbing into the sail locker and working

headfirst through to the transom. There is no doubt that the hose will then need replacing and

securely fixing with double jubilee clips. The port side is impossible to access and I suggest that

you crawl down into the far end of the quarter berth and cut out a suitable rectangular aperture to

enable access to the spigot and skin fitting to be obtained. Having cut the panel out, tidy up the

saw cuts and make up a teak frame to go around the removable panel which can then be screwed

into position with self tappers.

Sadler 25

The self-drainers are situated similar to the 26. However access is much easier through the lifting

aft locker lid, where the necessary work can be done.

Regular maintenance

I recommend that a check be carried out on the self-drain hoses every winter, because any

malfunction when afloat would be difficult to rectify. Should any owners have a further contribution

to make on this matter then why not post it on the Discussion Forum?


Cautionary Tale No.3 to follow soon….