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Blake's Sea Cocks

Potential Leakage
Posted: 13 Dec 2017 - By: Jeremy Lenton

My Rival 34 'Tantine' was built in1973, an early hull number. I bought her in 1997 and celebrate 20 years delighted ownership this November.

However a problem in about 2000, which nearly caused her to sink at the QAB pontoon in Plymouth, should I believe be brought to the widest possible audience of owners of 'elderly' boats

The Rival galley sink (like many of that ilk) is below w/line so must be pumped out through a skin fitting. A Whale pump through a Blake's sea cock.

When, after an enforced 6 week absence, I returned to the boat I found her stern down, with condensation inside the portlights, and was met on opening the hatch with water over a foot deep over the cabin sole - only 2 inches below battery terminal level. Damage both to the joinery and to the engine was extensive.

My brilliant insurers's (Pantaenius) surveyor subsequently identified the cause: a mis-machined 'cone drilling' in the Blake's sea cock that still allowed water to pass when in the recommended 90 degree closed position (which he confirmed it had been).  That, with a pin hole in the pump gaiter, allowed the flooding.

The pump is not designed or intended to act as a sea cock. The Blake's product was and is.  I published this dire note of warning at the time through the ROA but there must still be many other boats with similar Blake's sea cocks. I do not suggest that all Blake's contemporary or later products suffer the same defect.  But surely mine cannot have been a unique instance.

I am disappointed that Blake have never acknowledged this issue (e.g. like manufacturers' recalls), but neither have they ever contradicted me.

As I say, I bring this to your attention only as as a potential safety issue for others - my own insurance claim is long since satisfactorily resolved. I have no interest in or against Blake.  However I would feel culpable if another boat - or far more importantly a life - were lost because I said nothing.

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