With the new Polyethylene (HDPE) water tank delivered by courier to the south of France, the task of fitting it has loomed huge and daunting in my autumn eyesight. Looking on the bright side, I am seriously blessed by the very kind assistance of John Coe who is a major technical stalwart who I am so very happy to work alongside. John started work as a BA ground engineer apprentice and graduated to flight engineer then pilot. As such he has a very broad technical knowledge and I could not have a better sounding board and helper. John is one of those who, when you think you need a certain tool with a certain size socket, he just hands it to you having already decided what you need next with a polite helpful comment about his assessment of the way forward. I would not be as happy tackling this project without John’s huge input.

So it was that we arrived on the Monday afternoon with the AC engineer booked for early the following morning to drain the refrigerant and isolate the master cabin AC unit. This was so that it and the adjacent, self-contained, saloon unit could be removed to gain access to the tank area beneath. The water tank is located in front of the diesel tank and the diesel tank has to be removed first in order to replace the tank.

Two AC units needing to be drained and removed

Having photographs of the access required from when the tanks had been replaced in 2012 (another story) we proceeded to dismantle the ‘innards’ of the boat so that the diesel tank could be removed. This involved not only the removal of the two AC units but also all the ‘spouts’ on the top of the diesel tank and the draining of the last 60 litres of diesel from the bottom of the tank. Configuring a lifting device through the level indicator boss, we managed finally to remove the tank and this was a significant milestone. With the tank on deck, it became clear where the persistent diesel smell had been coming from as the drain plug had been leaking badly. Speaking to Tek-Tanks, they explained that Northshore, the builders who had been commissioned to replace the tanks in 2012, had not bought their fittings from Tek-Tanks but supplied their own as a cost saving. Clearly the drain plug they had used was not fit for purpose and I await the recommendation from Tek-Tanks for the correct fitting.

Diesel tank removed

The removal of the diesel tank exposed a heavy ply bulkhead which had been fibre glassed in position and had to be removed. This was a real challenge as the additional screw fixings had been glassed over and these proved to be elusive for some time. When the bulkhead was finally removed, the split water tank was easy to extract. This exercise revealed a major flaw in the previous installation. The tank had only been supported on two sides so the tank, when full, was under stress along the seam which finally split. It is now clear that, although the wedging of the filler hose was indeed very silly, the seam that split was a problem waiting to happen and I actually don’t feel quite such an idiot.

John chipping away at the bulkhead

Both tanks removed

The new tank flew into place but with the requirement for more support and with the necessity to return to the UK for urgent business reasons, it was prudent to take dimensions of the necessary supports and pause the installation.

So we are in the situation that the yacht is in pieces but with the prospect of an infinitely better installation once we are ready with the new supports and drain plug.