Rival Logs

Join us today

To find out more about how you can benefit from ROA membership click here.
Alternatively contact us by email.

The importance of a good cup of tea.

22 May 2015

Towards the end of last season we noticed our tea was tasting horrible so vowed that cleaning the water tanks would be a priority while out on the hard over winter.  

We have owned Sally for two seasons now and she is our first boat so, while both of us have many sailing miles under our belts, everything to do with boat maintenance is a steep learning curve for us.

The original aft tank in situ before removal

We had emptied the water from the tanks before being lifted out to minimise the weight on the crane. A more pressing problem than the cleanliness of the tanks however was the water pump which was failing to turn off when the tap was closed. In order to test out the new pump was working correctly, we ran a hose across the boatyard and put a few inches of water in the forward tank but by the next day the tank was empty. We had a leak! So that was why were were pumping the bilge every day.


The old tanks out of the boat showing the unusual shape.

The tanks on Sally are stainless steel and stored on the sole plate above the keel. Lifting the floorboard makes the top of the tanks very accessible and there are a couple of large inspection hatches held on with bolts. The old swing gauges no longer worked reliably as the cork on the end of the wire tended to get stuck behind a baffle when the boat is heeled and then stayed there so reading nearly full when in fact the tank is empty, a problem we had lived with since owing the boat.

There were now several issues with our old tanks. We started investigating options for replacing them. The tanks each hold over 200 litres and are an unusual shape, fitting snugly into the sole plate above the keel. We took a quick look at using the ubiquitous flexible tanks but soon realised that these would only provide a short term solution and more importantly loose us a lot of water capacity. It would have to be custom built tanks.


We found a company called Tek-Tanks on the Internet who make strong, plastic, custom built tanks to our design. We roughly measured our tanks and sent them off for a quote which came back promptly the next day. It was not a cheap solution but our Rival, like all Rivals, is solidly built and we had decided that we would not compromise on quality with any work we did ourselves. Tek-Tanks were gong to supply us with a quality solution.

Getting the original tanks out of the boat was a bit tricky. While the tank itself would fit through the companionway with an inch to spare each side, the rigid spigots welded onto the side reduced this clearance to less than a handful of millimetres. The tanks were heavy with few handholds and needed to be pushed at just the right angle to get them out. Then we were still on the hard standing so each tank was lashed and winched over the side to the ground below.

.. and the sole plate cleaned up ready for the new tanks to fit into.

Tek-Tanks require drawings to work from but since they are an hour down the road from us, they offered to base our new tanks on the old ones, if we could deliver them. They are a small company based in a barn in the countryside just outside Alton. Once there we were welcomed by Sarah and introduced to Andy who was going to make our tanks. We were given a tour of the factory while Andy explained how the tanks were made. There were some design issues that were really important to us. There is a small hatch in the floor on Sally that, when lifted, shows the water tank gauges. This is a lovely feature as it enables us to see the gauges from the filler position and it also means the switch panel is not cluttered with additional water gauge meters. So it was important that the new tanks had a gauge in the same place. The spigots on the side of the tank needed to be the roughly in the same places too as the space at the side of the tank to route pipes was very limited and this is where the design work came in. The new tanks are thicker than the original stainless steel ones and the spigots also take up more space too meaning the whole arrangement would take up more space. With a few careful measurements to work out our constraints and the Tek-Tank designers moving internal baffles around we managed to get the position of the spigots and the water gauge all in the right places.

Most importantly, the tanks could not be any bigger as they were a snug fit already. Tek-Tanks drew up the design for us and sent it through for our approval. With several tweaks back and forth we quickly agreed a design and paid our deposit. 

The new tanks in place and fitting perfectly.

As promised, four weeks later, the new tanks were ready and we drove over to collect them. Lew was very helpful, loading them into the car for us and helping us strap the old ones to the roof bars. The new plastic tanks are made of 10 mm thick high density polyethylene and so not much lighter than the old stainless steel ones but they do have removable spigots so much better clearance going through the companionway. They fitted into the sole plate perfectly and are now connected up to the existing pipe work although we did decide to replace the filler and breather pipes for new ones too.

Connections made to the removable spigots.

Floorboards down, we can see the new gauges through the hatch in the floor.

View of the new tank gauges through the hatch in the floor.

Peace of mind, less bilge pumping and the tea tastes lovely! 


Join us today

To find out more about how you can benefit from ROA membership click here.
Alternatively contact us.