The Vertue’s Little Cockpit

28th April 2023

Reading Time Three Minutes

Following in the wake of the recent post on “Sailing Mea” about stopping leaks in his cockpit, I thought I would join in the fun. All Vertues are slightly different but it seems common that the cockpit sole is very close to the waterline. Sumara’s cockpit floor was probably only about 2″ above the W/L. When the Concours d’Elegance judges boarded her during the Antigua Classics, they all got wet feet. Not that that worried me too much. More of a concern was that when Sumara was heeled over, some water would gather in the lee corner and gradually leak into the boat. I could have prevented it by applying copious mastic to the lift-out panel but I was reluctant to do this as I like to keep access to all bilge areas as accessible as possible. I decided to make a small dam all around the opening with some 20 x 20 mm oak and then fix the cockpit sole on top with neoprene foam tape and bronze screws.

Cockpit floor showing raised lip around the opening. The fuel tank is below.

The result is a completely watertight seal in all but the most extreme conditions when a dribble may get through the neoprene foam seal. Mea adopted a slightly different method and incorporated a slope to his floor which seems like a sensible idea.

The two sink drains are connected to two large diameter hoses leading to two Blakes seacocks which remain always open. The hoses are not crossed over.

The extra cockpit locker drains

Perhaps of more serious concern was the amount of water getting into the boat through the cockpit locker lids. This was worse because it stood a chance of wetting battery switches, dump resistors and engine controls.

The locker lids had the usual drain channels, so under moderate conditions they were perfectly dry and the drains worked as you would expect, however when the boat was heeling hard over, the drain channels would begin to point upwards and any water splashing into the cockpit would quickly collect along the corner. It would then drain away down the back of the hinged locker lids.

My solution was firstly to improve the watertight integrity of the lockers. I used a strip of Hypalon sandwiched with a brass strip to form a soft tube. That ran around three sides of the locker opening and can be seen clearly in the picture above. I then had some special stainless steel fittings made up. I drilled a large diameter hole in each outboard corner of the drainage channels and lined the holes with flanged stainless steel tubes. I then fed a pipe down to new stainless fittings mounted as low as I could in the cockpit side. These drains rapidly get rid of any water collecting on the cockpit seats in rough weather. Problem solved.

2 responses to “The Vertue’s Little Cockpit”

  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing Alasdair. I guess screwing the cockpit floor down is a good solution on Sumara, as the tank doesn’t probably need much attention anyway. On Mea, the cockpit floor gives easy access to the gearbox, stern gland, engine levers, etc., so I like the idea that it can be removed in a matter of secs if necessary.

    Also, it is a relief for me, with much less experience than Alasdair, to see that we came to similar conclusions with respect to the cockpit lockers. In my case I have a gutter going all around the locker edges, which used to have a single drain on the front outboard corner, and I have added another drain on the back outboard corner…

    And I must say how impressed I am every time I see photos of your immaculate varnish and paint jobs…

    1. Thanks Matteo. The extra drains to the cockpit seats are pretty important in the heavy weather that we sometimes encounter.

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