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Re-Bedding the Pump-Out

Pump-out hole for Prout Escale catamaranSince we were already taking the whole sewage system apart, we though it best to attack the pump-out also. This fitting is mounted flush into the deck above the holding tank.

We removed the pump-out fitting in order to ensure water-proofness as well odor control. With the removal of the fitting the pump-out section of hose could be removed also. As expected, the pump-out fitting was glued in place using cheap clear silicone and three screws.

Note how badly the screw holes were positioned. The hole for the pump-out was oversize which led to problems with the fitting installation. The hole to the left is positioned so close to the hole of the pump-out that it broke through the edge. As a result, that hole adds no strength to the fitting. We'll carve out the balsa some day, fill the void with epoxy and redrill the hole.

Below the crudely cut fiberglass, the ceiling cover is visible. Like everywhere else on board it consists of a thin layer of foam covered by white vinyl. While I was inspecting the tank, I noticed that it relies mainly on gravity to hold it in place - the bolts holding it are fairly small. Even better, one of the bolts had over ½" of play in it. Tightening it was no big deal but it reinforced my perceptions about Prout Catamarans quality control and attention to detail.

Pump-out fitting removed from Prout Escale catamaranThe pump-out fitting. Still looks good after 10 years. The deck fitting wasn't used much over the years until I started sailing her - however, the number of pump-outs along the coast is still relatively low and the pump-out fees in marinas may scare away shoe-string cruisers. It's a fairly foolish economy on the part of the states, punishing those that actually want to ensure that their waste is treated.

However, my favorite state in this regard is still Rhode Island. The state legislature made much of the state a zero-discharge zone, which means that even cruisers with sewage treatment system on board could not discharge into the bay. The irony was that the day the law was passed, a torrential downpour overpowered the sewage systems of the state and released hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the bay. While cruisers can be fined up to $20,000 per incident, the legislature specifically excludes the waste water authority from being fined. Even worse, there are few to no functioning pump-outs in Rhode Island.. what a bunch of hippocrites! Back to the pump-out.

Prepped pump-out hole on Prout Escale catamaranThe surrounding of the pump-out hole was cleaned of all remaining silicone using de-waxer, flathead screwdrivers and a stainless wire brush. The exposed balsa surfaces were coated with a layer of epoxy. The broken section was rebuilt and reinforced with epoxy paste.

Once the epoxy paint had dried, the area around the pump-out was covered with masking tape to prepare it for the reinstallation of the pump-out fitting. This was accomplished with the original 3 screws as well as a lot of Sikaflex.

Sealed reinstalled pump-out on Prout Escale catamaranThe hose between the pump-out and the tank was replaced and clamped three times: Once where it met the pump-out, twice at the tank. The finished installation shows some "oversqueeze" of Sikaflex around the perimeter.

The masking tape prevents the Sikaflex from bonding to the fiberglass and thus allows a clean removal. I also filled up the screw holes to minimize corrosion.

Refinished pump-out with key for Prout Escale catamaran

Here is the final output. The pump-out is firmly bedded and the handle to open it (none could be found on board our Prout Escale) was recreated from a castaway stainless tube and a well-fitting 316 stainless bolt. After shaping and drilling the tube, the bolt was welded in place. The whole assembly was sandblasted to create the matte surface finish you see here. I also drilled the rear of the tube so a retaining string can be attached.

Hopefully, other Prout catamaran owners get their share of fitting keys, etc. I can't see how we would have lost ours. Oh well.

Best Estimate of Time Required:

Prepare area, remove old hardware, hose 0.5 hours
Remove all silicone, paint w/epoxy, tape 1 hour
Bed w/new hose in place, connect, properly restrain holding tank .25 hours

Make new Pump-out key 1 hour

Total 2.75 hours