Move Your Galley Drain Valve for Better Gray Water Control

You’re sailing along on a reach at 4 knots with a steady wind on your beam. The sails are trimmed perfectly, there’s no weather helm, and the boat is in perfect balance. The sky is clear and the sun is shining but it’s not uncomfortably hot. Your first mate is below deck reading lazily in one of the berths. You lean back over the coaming a bit as you watch the clinometer inch past 15 degrees and you build more speed. It’s one of those dream days when everything comes together perfectly on the water and it feels like you could sail to China effortlessly. Your eyes scan up the telltales, all perfectly streaming aft. It doesn’t get any better than this. This is why you came. This is why you sail.

“Johhnnn!!!!”

Your dream bubble pops. Something’s definitely not perfect anymore.

Gray water reeking with this morning’s skillet breakfast cleanup, coffee grounds, and toothpaste just regurgitated all over the cabin sole, splashing onto the first mate. Again. The water was trapped in the galley drain hose between the funnel and the ball valve that you forgot to close before pulling the anchor. This is not why you came.

You need a do-over

Sound familiar? Rewind two weeks to before you pulled down the driveway and off to your favorite cruising spot. You’re going to fix that drain problem today so it doesn’t ruin your upcoming cruise. Again.

The problem is that the bottom of the galley sink drain funnel on first generation C-22s is lower than the tee where it joins the cockpit scupper drain hoses leading down to the main ball valve.

BEFORE - galley drain funnel connection to its hose
BEFORE – galley drain funnel connection to the start of its hose

This forms a big U in the hose that holds the gray water just like the P trap under your kitchen sink.

AFTER - easy to see what's going down or not
The end of the galley drain hose has to rise up to connect to the ball valve

The water stays out of sight until the boat heels over far enough that the top of the funnel is lower than the water level in the hose and the water pours back out through the funnel. Once free of its sanitary confinement, it feverishly seeks out your first mate’s only remaining clean clothes, any electronic device, choice foods, or a path down into the bilge where hides forever. You only know it’s there from the smell.

You can solve this problem several ways:

  • Curse the sliding galley and store it in your garage until you sell the boat to some unsuspecting noob. Where’s the fun in that?
  • Close the drain valve forever and refuse to use the sink. Good luck with that and the first mate.
  • Simply move the drain valve from the stock location at the tee upstream to the bottom of the funnel.

I recommend you go with that last one.

Then when you close the valve, the gray water is trapped behind the valve and you can lay the boat on its ear without spilling any gray water in the cabin. You’re on your own remembering to close the valve, though. If you have a storage door installed below the galley, a bonus is the new location is easier to reach so you don’t have to remove the companionway step cover to get to it. But even if you don’t have the door, the valve can still be reached by removing the step cover. The valve will be slightly out of sight around the left corner of the hull liner but within easy reach.

Moving the ball valve is a cheap, easy fix. The parts and materials you’ll need can be found at better hardware stores:

The elbow is the key because there isn’t enough space below the drain funnel for the ball valve. The elbow turns the valve sideways and leads the hose on a horizontal run that helps it drain better too.

This little pipe fitting can save your sailing career and perhaps your marriage

To move the valve:

  1. Loosen the hose clamp and disconnect the drain hose from the bottom of the funnel.
  2. Thoroughly clean and dry the outside of the tip of the drain funnel.
  3. Unscrew the drain ball valve on the other end of the hose from the tee. You can leave the hose connected to the valve.
  4. Apply a small amount of sealant/adhesive to the tip of the drain funnel.
  5. Slide the socket side of the PVC elbow onto the tip of the drain funnel with a twisting motion to be sure it is fully seated and tight. Aim the other side of the elbow straight aft.
  6. Allow the sealant to cure before continuing.
  7. Apply several wraps of Teflon thread tape clockwise around the threaded end of the elbow.
  8. Screw the drain valve onto the threaded end of the elbow until its hand tight and the valve handle is in a convenient position to close it.
  9. Remove the existing tee in the cockpit scupper drain hose and replace it with the new tee.
  10. Slip the end of the hose onto the barb on the tee and tighten the hose clamp. You might want to shorten the hose several inches first so that the hose bends naturally with the least amount of drop in the middle.

When you’re finished, the drain assembly should look like this.

Stop the gray water before it comes out the funnel
Stop the gray water before it comes out the funnel

There should be very little rise now from the ball valve to the tee. When you close the valve, your gray water isn’t going to backflow out the funnel no matter how much is trapped behind the valve or how far you heel the boat.

Back to the future

Fast forward two weeks and slip back into that dream bubble…

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