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Sea Water Spigot at Galley Sink


Mark Pearson
Staff member
I'm in the middle of re-plumbing all the potable water system, including replacing the sink. I was all set to just replace the sea water spigot at the galley sink, which is operated with a foot pump. When my wife wisely asked: why are we plumbing that spigot in? We have never used it in our 10 years of owning/cruising on Zia.

30+ years ago I used to use seawater to rinse our dishes, but our rationale for not plumbing it in the new system:
  1. The system is fed by that cheap 3/8" grey butylene tubing, coming from the head water intake. The most disturbing part is that if some part of that little butylene line leaks or becomes disconnected, it is below the water line and could sink the boat. I've never heard of that happening with M38s so it doesn't seem super likely. But it's a little troubling nonetheless. Some previous owner patched the grey butylene by sticking it into a clear poly hose, and hose clamping it. If that had pulled out, it could seriously sink the ship. See photo below. That yellow handle is the thru hull discharge valve for the galley sink, so it's for sure below the waterline. It's gone now.
  2. Since the intake is from the head intake, under the boat it is only a few inches from the head discharge, which seems a little troubling as well: Rinsing dishes with water that could include some sewage. Granted: the head discharge is only supposed to be open when at least 3 miles offshore (in the US), but still. In some countries we go to, there is not the 3 mile limit.
  3. We are usually trying to get rid of the sticky salt residual from sea water, so we prefer a fresh water rinse.
  4. Many years ago I was more confident that the sea water was relatively pollution free. Nowadays, less so.
  5. We will soon have a water maker, so we should have plenty of fresh water going forward.
I don't recall any discussion on here about the sea water spigot at the sink.

Do other folks have it? Do you use it?

Have you ever thought about how a problem with that 3/8" tubing could sink the ship? My apologies if I'm giving you something new to worry about ;). Also it's entirely possible that I'm wrong, so somebody please tell me if I am.


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Terence Thatcher
We use ours all the time offshore. Not so much in inland waters, although I use it for wash water when we are far enough north that no one else is in an anchorage. Heat the salt water on the stove to wash dishes. I would not want to be without it for serious cruising. Mine does not use the grey pipe, but old reinforced hose. I should replace that, but it is a task delayed. Main problem is the hose itself gets full of algae or something, which dies in the winter. Result: dirty stinky water in the spring. My solution is to fill the hose with bleach water and let it sit for 15 minutes. Flush it out and it is fine again.
I think all your points are quite valid and some troubling too. I WAS nearly ready to replace our spigot on Sonata as well as the sink and counter top. Maybe not now, lol. I do use sea water to rinse dishes even at the marina, just so I don't need to refill tanks so often.
Less plumbing is a plus, fewer holes everywhere. Our system has been patched together over the years and previous ownership too. Trying to fix all that now.
Since you'll have a water maker, and I assume enough fresh water, I would delete it. And it just seams to be in the way the counter top. I too, get stinky water when I first pump seawater in. Both in the head and sink. And at only about one week intervals when I arrive on Sonata. I think you're on the right course here.
And, what sink are you going to use as a replacement? I have been looking, lots of choices. Ours is a little beat. I also want to go to a single sink that is large enough to actually wash in!


Mark Pearson
Staff member
Hi Mitchell - yeah, in many places we go (including marinas), I know a lot of people are just dumping their wastewater overboard instead of holding tanks. It's probably still all fine (dilution is the solution!) but we are going to get rid of the saltwater spigot. I figure we can always go grab a bucket of seawater if we need to.

Yes, I don't really like all the stuff in the way on the countertop too, so we are getting rid of the "hand pump" spigot also. If the water pump goes out, we have a spare water pump. And if that goes out too, I'm perfectly capable of syphoning out of a tank. And the bottom line is we've never used that spigot either (in the 10 years of cruising).

I tore (literally) our sink out last weekend. It was such thin metal and glued so aggressively to the countertop, I had to bend the crap out of it to get it off.

Our planned replacement is from Home Depot. We have it already but it's not installed yet. It looks huge, like there is no way it would fit, but supposedly it will. We'll see! Not the cheapest, but it's nice heavy metal. And I will be clamping it to the counter, so removing it to work on plumbing, water heater, etc. will only take about 15 minutes. And then re-caulking just the seal around the edges.

I also took our old water heater out last weekend. The thing looked very worn out and ready to fall apart. I put a pipe wrench on the inlet to start taking it apart, and the inlet broke off (corrosion) before I even put any pressure on it. And all the water drained into the bilge. It was perfect timing, and I don't think it would have lasted even another month. It looks like it was the original, and the company that made it was sold in 1988, so I'm pretty sure it was original. A little surprised it lasted that long.

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Thanks for your response Mark. That looks like a nice sink setup. 16 gauge is plenty thick for a sink like this. I am sonsidering just a little smaller for Sonata. I am still thinking of wether to replace the counter top with something besides the original laminate. Some bonehead used it for a cutting board in the past!
I replaced our water heater about a year ago. It was the original too, I'm sure. And about the same condition as Zias. Leaking but still worked well. I put in a Quick Boiler, I believe the Quick Boiler B3, 30l, (7.9 gallon). I am really happy with it so far. The hardest part was lifting the old mess outta the cabinet. That just took some planning and protecting the area. I have HOT water in about 15-20 minutes after turning it on at the dock. I haven't used the engine to heat it yet.
It was interesting that today I picked up an order at WM, and had forgotten I ordered a new sea water spigot to replace the old leaky one. I guess it's going to be installed for the time being.
Our seawater spigot was already disconnected when we bought the boat. Just as well because we had some scary old hoses and connections below the waterline akin to Mark's picture above. I replaced the whole setup and added an inline filter in order to use the foot pump for drinking water from the tanks, leaving the faucet unfiltered so as not to wear through filters too fast. The combination of new pex plumbing everywhere, tanks as clean as I could get them from the inspection ports, and the filter led to remarkably good tasting drinkable tank water on our recent passage. I am fine with using a bucket for seawater dishwashing, but agree this is not really ideal. Oh well, another project for another day.

As for the sink, the pics of those nice heavy duty new ones look great, but I'm not sure I would ever give up dual sinks. Too useful for washing dishes (and a great place to keep dirty ones while underway without them having space to rattle around too much).

Our hot water heater must not be original because it is in much better shape than the pics above. I pulled out and replaced the rusted out hulk of one on our previous boat, and am not looking forward to repeating that project again any time soon.

Warren Holybee

Active Member
I use both the seawater pump and the hand pump extensively while offshore. I don't have a watermaker, so use seawater for everything I can. And the pressure pump stays off while offshore. A leak in the system could empty the tanks. I have had two issues. I had a leak in the head nearly empty a tank, and I had the foot pump leak, and had to shut of the through hull.

So yes, I am concerned about that below the waterline piping.


Terence Thatcher
Good thoughts. I had not thought thru the risk of leaks off shore. Do you use the original hand pump--mine is usable, but hard to move. And hard to take off to service. I have considered replacing it with a foot pump.


Ken Ferrari
We use the seawater pump to rinse dishes offshore - rarely in port. We hardly ever use the freshwater hand pump, opting instead to simply be mindful when using the pressure water faucet when water conservation is important.