March 25, 2001

Yesterday I cut a large trapezoidal access in the head sole, using a sabre saw and skill saw. The wood/glass is at least an inch thick and very hard. Though - thankfully - the compression post seems OK, water had been collecting there so the limber hole aft must have been clogged, and I just couldn't find it through the 6" round hatch that was there before.

What I found was interesting. Peering down in the new hole with a flashlight I found a what looked like a bulkhead about two feet aft. Banging on this I realized that it wasn't a bulkhead, but the glassed-in forward end of the water tank. I expected to find a limber hole under or on the sides of the tank- no luck. Turns out, on the starboard side along the hull, about two inches forward of the tank, there's a 1/2" hole leading aft. Exploring further it turns out the hole runs all the way to the engine bilge. I sort of expected water would run aft and be visible in the access panel where we fill the water tank, but no, this waterway runs under all that. That means, to clear it, you need a small and very long snake.

Having just rerigged the mizzen, I cut the end off one of the old 1x19 wires and used that. It took quite a lot of banging the wire back and forth to clear the hole enough that the wire ran all the way back to the engine bilge.

So I coiled the wire and left it in the space under the head sole, as this must be something that should be done from time to time. It appears that about two cases of wine will fit down here!

Feb 28, 2002 6:36pm

If memory serves me correctly, the consensus is that the 8" hole does not get the job done. Check the bilge, shower pan, and cabin sole entries in the Knowledge Base. If I have some time this weekend, I'll check my files to see if more info may be added to those files.

I'm still working on mine (the compression post did need rebuilding) and I wound up making rather large openings in the cabin sole as well as the shower pan. I'll post the info when the job is completed. I used a Sawzall and a jigsaw with the blade shortened to prevent cutting the hull. Although the hull is protected, it does create quite a challenge and potential hazard (hear that any legal wienies) to insure that you don't bend the blade, break it or have it jump out of the cut.


Feb 28, 2002 3:55pm

I recently cut out my shower pan. I used a Roto-Zip tool, that is a small router type tool. The depth of cut is adjustable allowing you to cut a little bit at a time until you cut through. I didn't even touch the top of the port to stbd. stringer that is about in the center of the shower pan. I cut a hole about 4" by 6". Now I can see where to cut, to have an access opening as large as possible.

Feb 28, 2002 4:46pm

James, When I cut the shower pan for the access port I used a saber saw and then filed and trimmed to dimension.

The hatch that I cut in the cabin sole, just outside of the head door, proved to provide more (additional) access to that area and has been most helpful in both the compression post repair as well as the periodic cleansing of that forward bilge... So much so, that recently we installed an 1 1/2" dia. sink drain (bar sink with removable debris basket) to replace the original 1/2" unit and a 90 degree elbow for the shower drain. By the way, there is room enough between the water tank and the hull to starboard to snake an 1 1/2" sanitary hose back to the bilge sump.

Save your money on a hole saw that you'll use maybe once!

Feb 28, 2002 5:44pm

I have been looking at that shower sole for a year, and thinking out what I can do, after finding no ready-made hatchlet that will fit my needs which are, in order of priority:

  1. Access to the compression post base (the 6" porthole I dug 4 years ago while upgrading for offshore does not fit the bill, only told me the base was good, but is too small for easy pumping and sponging off the water accumulating under the sole from various sources. I agree that an 8" won't fit the bill either;
  2. Access to the drainage hole and tube that leads aft to the bilge sump via the side of the water tank. That tube plugs too often, and Paul has replaced it by a 1 1/2" sanitary hose, which must be the ultimate best.
  3. A larger hole also provides access to this cool and easily accessible storage place, eg, for wine bottles, never an insubstantial consideration from a Frenchman with a mother from Provence where dry rose is highly praised for summer fare. I became a known expert on dry rose from France, Spain, Lanzarote, Tenerife and S.America among cruisers and victuallers, in the Azores to Canary, Cape Verde, Antilles and Bahamas.

My initial thinking was to drill 4 corner holes with whatever hole saw I have, and cut the sides of the hole with a circular saw, beveling so that the cover or grating I would make of teak or other would be self-supporting, and also to reduce the chances to nick the hull which is very close on the side farthest to center. I have dilly-dallied because of that very risk, because it is a tough job given the thickness of the sole especially at the stiffener, and also because I have not yet completely despaired of finding the right hatch cover that would allow keeping the sole reasonably water tight.

The alternative to the latter, to which I am almost resigned, is to eliminate the inside shower: I and crew already shower on deck from a longer hose that goes through the fwd hatch (New York law now allows disrobing on the water side except for zoning laws, but there are no such off the beach), or in the cockpit for the less shameless, using a hose tapping on the kitchen sink tap (extremely infrequent). But you need to be hardy on certain off-season evenings, in April-May or Nov-Dec, even in balmy LI Sound or Chesapeake...

I now have another excuse, and shall investigate the Roto-Zip approach which seems attractively prudent...

Best luck, and thanks for bringing up again an excellent subject. Keep us

abreast! Bert dF, Pianissimo 80K


Feb 28, 2002 6:41pm

Firstly, I would like to thank my fellow SW II owners for their advice and revelations (Cava Bert? I wouldn't mind tasting some wine myself. I like bordeaux and merlot)

I stepped on the shower pan with the teak grate out a few months ago and cracked it (about 3 in. long). I might go ahead and cut that section out. One of the previous owners mentioned in one of the earlier newsletters that rotten wood beneath the sole had been replaced a good while back. I can only assume that it was the compression post given the fact that my rig is in good standing. However no inspection ports were made. I noticed that the original shower pan drain holes were plugged with silicone. I will probably hold off on any major cutting until I get my other projects finished, but I would like to get my shower functional again. If I cut an inspection port where the crack is (a few inches aft of the forward bulkhead

and slightly starboard off center), I might be able to allow myself enough access to install the drain and hose that Paul used. I can use my newly-acquired jigsaw and spend that 323.00 on something else, perhaps some good wine, no?


Feb 28, 2002 9:56pm

Any porthole fwd of the middle will be barred from access (and even line of sight visibility) to the aft bulkhead by the transverse stiffener. since this is temporary, make sure you are close enough to the mast post to touch it and check its soundness, and make the porthole big enough to pass a hand plus a sponge without squeezing the sponge so you can extract water...



Feb 28, 2002 9:47pm

I used a sabre saw with a blade to cut through the 3/4" plywood, that's all you need to accomplish the job.

Don Bundy


Mar 1, 2002 9:02pm

Yes it can rot! likely since you had a access enough air circulated and prevented it from rotting. In a wet, and warm, stagnant air environment mold, and mildew can get into wood and rot is the result.

I treat my compression post once each year with a product that is made for wood posts in the ground to prevent rot.


Mar 1, 2002 9:56pm

Did your boat already have inspection ports in the sole for your compression post or did you cut them yourself? Why boat has no access ports.




Mar 2, 2002 3:03pm

I cut the hole in the floor of the head shower pan because at the time the Coast Guard was cutting, chopping, and sawing anything they could not see, so I cut the hole 8" diameter and found the hull full of water forward of the watertank. Next I located the drain, which was plugged, routed it out and the water drained into the bilge. Thankfully in a few days the bilge was dry and the post was a solid piece of oak.


Mar 3, 2002 9:27am

I have never installed a shower in the head, instead we take cockpit baths using a Sunshower, using about 2 gallons for the two of us, or in very cold weather, a sponge bath (a la Francais) using the galley sink. The shower in the head uses fresh water which is likely to drain to or near the bottom of the head bulkheads. Fresh water is the source of rot, not salt water. And I don't want a rotten head bulkhead or compression post. I do have a drain hole in the head floor (or sole), but only for the rare head overflows.We have been able to preserve what modesty we have by the use of cockpit cushions turned on their side in the cockpit. If we are in a marina we use the marina shower, if any.

Mar 3, 2002 0:39pm

Hear, hear, but I still recommend tapping the existing shower pipe, or the forward sink tap as an alternative to the kitchen tap, with a hose and showerhead long enough to reach, respectively, fwd deck and cockpit. Although you can last weeks healthily on mere "sponge baths" (why the French connection? Or is it too salacious to elaborate?), there is nothing like a sparse but full shower when you come out of a swim, and/or when the engine has heated the water in less balmy climes.

I reserve the tank water for that use (and fresh water dishwashing once a week, the other days use seawater from a separate hand pump, on the other side of the icebox drain pump), having found that 60 days of bottled freshwater (3 times the expected crossing time) can easily be stored in our spacious boats, at least for the crew of two which is the comfortable number offshore, when the fwd V-berth is loaded with need-to-access equipment, charts, sails, etc. Our 50 gal tank thus gives us ample bliss from short showers (if only for rincing after soaping with biodegradable Joy and pre-rincing off the boat), on long voyages and/or when swimming.

Salt water inside the cabin, on body, clothes or walling surfaces, is just a NO-NO: We even wash and dry the dishes in the cockpit when using seawater, to avoid a spills or drops inside. We get everything ready (towels, clothes, showerhead) for people to walk directly to the fwd deck from the ladder, without entering the cokpit after a swim.

Mar 4, 2002 8:36am

Could you tell me the approximate location where you cut the hole? I suppose it would be toward the port and fwd side the pan.

Mar 4, 2002 8:13pm

There are two ribs that run athwartships, the hole must be cut directly in between these to ensure the strength of the sole remains. I will get you the dimensions tomorrow and email them to you.

Jun 15, 2002 11:20am

I will begin cutting soon to put in my 8 in. inspection port and a new shower drain. Are there any hull structures underneath that I have to concern myself about? If I have to, I'll remove the whole thing and build another.

Jun 15, 2002 1:06pm

The only things below the shower pan on my boat were the two knees which were used to support the pan.


Jun 15, 2002 4:30pm

An eight inch inspection port seems large. I have a 4 or 6 inch inspection port outside the entrance door to head and a similar sized one forward of the head, in the centerline of the boat. I would not put in an eight inch sized one because the curvature of the floor will not follow it.


Aug 21, 2004 3:38pm

Alas, I am beginning my repair of a spongy compression post...I'm
thinking of cutting off the butt end of the post about 3 inches or
so below the cabin sole, and fitting a used 1.5" bronse seacock body
and pipe nipple as a new "base". I'm wondering if I can simply use a
bit of bronze threaded pipe in the old seacock with one of those
throw away nuts that come with thru hulls as a "house jack"
arrangement beneath the post for final adjustment. I'll have a piece
of stainless channel made to surround the sides and bottom of the
oak post for the nut to push up on...sound like a plan??

Aug 21, 2004 7:32pm

I would take the mast off first, then measure nthe height of the transwerse beam above the sole floor, then do the substitution of sound material or bronze metal to rotten stuff at the exact same height, using whatever jacking up assist you may concoct.

Since the metal to wood substitution is on a small percentage of the total height, you don't have to adjust for the difference in compression modulus. This is assuming your beam and/or deck has not yet sagged under the mast...

Aug 22, 2004 2:24pm

The compression post deterioration is a common malady of the ASWII. Repairs, however, must be affected with a degree of permanency in mind. Protecting the laminate below the original placement is probably the most important of the missions.

My own solution came after a great deal of thought and was accomplished back in 1993. A description of the process is contained either in the Sea Quill notes found under the owners page or the knowledge page and describes a process that allows the repair without removal of the mast.

All of the original measurements taken after the repair have not changed at all in 11-years.

Tue Mar 29, 2005 0:22pm

Hello everyone. we're in the process of getting to know our ASWII
(Salty Dawg #25) and we are wanting to check the bilge areas to ensure
that there is nothing particularly nasty growing or evolving down
there. Our question is simple (to ask at least): how are the bilges
accessed other than from within the engine room?

If, as we suspect, some folk at least have made good/better access to
the bilges thoughts/advice/experiences would be very welcome.

regards from the UK to all

Mar 29, 2005 0:56pm

The previous owner on my boat, 83C, cut out a circle in the shower
floor. He installed a 10in round hatch which gives
Good access to the area under the shower pan. That area is subject to
water entering and accumulating there. You will want to be able to
access that area to inspect the timbers that comprise the mast
compression system to insure the wood supports remain dry and rot free.
There is a lot of information about that on the knowledge page of the
allied seawind home page.

Mar 29, 2005 3:44pm

On Wind Ketcher #19, the only access is via one of 3 forms of inverted torture: 1) cramming my head in from the fore side via the engine access way behind the ladder. The engine fluid drip pan allows just enough room to get most of my head through (leaving only one ear behind), 2) & 3) either cockpit locker and with removal of the fore/aft divider - such access allowing only "arms" entry with poor workability.

Suggest having a very strong magnet available on a string to retrieve tools etc. dropped in the bilge - and a telescoping grab pole.

Don't forget the fresh water bilge area under the head sole which immediately surrounds the main compression post and imperils same if moisture is not routinely evacuated and monitored there.

Fair Winds.

Mar 29, 2005 11:20am

Following on with getting water away from the compression post area... this area drains through a molded-in hose that discharges into the deeper bilge sump under the engine. I've found on Windfall (64K) that the regular use of a plumber's snake, from the discharge forward, removes any debris which may be preventing complete draining and drying of the compression post base area. The discharge is glassed to the starboard engine stringer about half way down into the "Black Hole".

Mar 29, 2005 5:45pm

There should be an explanation of this in knowledge base, I know over the last 8 years on the internet, I have given my views on this issue. On Silver Spray we cut a hole in the floor of the head compartment, installed an access port in the head compartment- its about 10 inches in diameter, it is water tight when screwed down. To inspect the forward bilge area, we remove the grate in the head, open the port, and reach in, or pump out whatever. In our boat as in every other Seawind I have seen the drain holes are continually stopped up, the forward bilge must be kept free of water or the post that supports the mast will rot. It's made of oak and has only glass around this first 1/2 inch or so. I know one owner who had to repair the post, he used get-rot and a dental mirror after digging out the soft spots. Not a real satisfactory repair. To properly repair, the mast must be unstepped, the post removed and replace thus requiring removable of bulkheads and sole or parts of each.

We reach the main bilge thru the lockers it requires some contortion to get down, but there is plenty of room once in. We use a magnet to retrieve lost tools and a net for other things.

Our Seawind II is hull 101.

Mar 29, 2005 8:01pm

Years ago, 1985, I cleaned out the drain that leads to the deep bilge area using a plastic coated wire and a cleaner degreaser fluid. This drain has remained dry since, now 2005. I use the space for storing 22 litres of wine when traveling.

Mar 29, 2005 8:05pm

I cut a 8" round hole in the floor of the head, gaining access into the
lower area and which gives me great amount of additional storage for 22
litres of wine. This also allows me to visually inspect the main support
for the mast.

Mar 30, 2005 1:15am

Dear each who have replied and shared thoughts and experiences,

Ok, it sounds as if there's a choice: to get organised and cut an
inspection hatch; or for one of us to make sure we don't gain too much
weight and continue to be able to get into the lockers. Having said that if there is no inspection hatch presumably there's also no inspection of the kingpost. Sounds important that.

Again thanks for the replies and regards to everyone

Mar 30, 2005 8:44am

I agree. My cut was a 6" hole and that is a bit too small. However, unless you intend to maintain a shower stall instead of showering on deck, which avoids polluting the bilge with gray water and ladies hair, I would simply open a large quadrangle, leaving enough falnges around to maintain the strength of the floor, and bevelled so you can use the cutout as a hatch cover. then full access is restored to clean, inspect and store and retrieve those cool bottles.

Mar 30, 2005 0:49pm

The head is not the only place a hatch can be cut to access the
forward bilge.

Ixchel has a hatch in the passageway directly outside the head. I
think the opening is about 7 inches square. It is much easier to
access the forward bilge this way, than through the head, as there is
no need to remove the grate and there is more room above to manuever
to check the compression post beneath the mast and to access the
bottles of wine or whatever in the bilge.

The passageway floor here is made up of the faux plywood laid teak
floor beneath which there is a solidified fiberglass-resin mush above
the flat horizontal roof of the forward bilge. Make the hole rather
near the head door, as the mush is least thick there. I suppose that
if you make the hole too far laterally you will find yourself cutting
through the hull rather than the fiberglass mush. It is possible to
make a rather nice hatch here, using the cutout piece and inlaying a
teak frame.

There are probably exact dimensions in the knowledge base, as this
type of hatch was shown in one of the early "SeaWords". Or I can
provide more exact dimensions if required.

Mar 31, 2005 0:26pm

Thanks for the detail and info. Good stuff that. At the risk of being a
pain is there any chance of you letting me have the dimensions? I've
tried without success to find the details on the owners site

Mar 31, 2005 2:52pm

I, also use the fwd bilge for vino storage and have only had moisture is the area twice since I replaced the oak compression post in _95. I installed two inspection ports in the cabin sole for access to the area

Apr 1, 2005 8:45am

The Prior owner of Summerwind installed an 8" Beckson in the middle
of the sole, just forward of the post, and 6" square opening in the
forward, port corner of the head. This is covered with a caulked
piece of plastic.
The bottom 3" of the post was cut off and replaced with 2 SS plates,
4" x 4", 1/2" thick, with bolts at each corner to adjust the space
between the plates. I think it's an excellent system, although
probably took some skinned knuckles to install. No more problems
with rot at the bottom of the post, and easy access to inspect the

Apr 1, 2005 8:45am

The Prior owner of Summerwind installed an 8" Beckson in the middle
of the sole, just forward of the post, and 6" square opening in the
forward, port corner of the head. This is covered with a caulked
piece of plastic.
The bottom 3" of the post was cut off and replaced with 2 SS plates,
4" x 4", 1/2" thick, with bolts at each corner to adjust the space
between the plates. I think it's an excellent system, although
probably took some skinned knuckles to install. No more problems
with rot at the bottom of the post, and easy access to inspect the

Apr 1, 2005 3:56pm

A picture or drawing of these plates in place would help, thanks in advance. Bert dF 80K

Apr 1, 2005 5:00pm

My shower floor was resurfaced and the drains plugged up after it was
removed to repair the compression post years before I got my boat. Instead of drilling a new drain, I thought about using a hose with one of those flat, rectangular bronze suction fittings like the one used in the bottom of the icebox. I could run a hose through the grating with the drain pick up there and attach it to a water pump in the cabinet behind the head, run a hose from that to a thru-hull outside. When taking a shower a person would turn the pump on once the water level was about even with the grate. An in-line strainer could be used to prevent the pump from being clogged by hair, or a piece of mesh could be attached to the bronze pick up.

Apr 1, 2005 5:05pm

I have been asked to give the dimensions of the hatch to the forward
bilge on Ixchel. It is located in the passageway, directly outside
the door to the head.

The finished size of the hatch is:
9 3/4" fore and aft
7 3/4 athwartships
It is 1 1/4" thick on its inboard edge and 2 1/8" thick on the
outboard edge.

This hatch is the cutout from the hatch opening, modified. Each edge
is finished with 1/4" thick teak.

The hatch opening is also finished with 1/4" teak on all four cut
edges so that the hatch without the finishing teak is 1" smaller in
the fore and aft as well as in the athwartships dimension than the
unfinished cutout in the passageway floor.

The floor opening (including teak edging) is 1 3/4" outboard of the
head compartment and the after edge of the opening is 4" forward of
the after surface of the head compartment.

There is a lip beneath the edge of the opening for the hatch to bear
on. It also appears to be made of 1/4" teak.

To open the hatch, a 1/4" carriage bolt is set as a loose fit in a
hole in the center of the hatch with a nut epoxied to the bottom of
the bolt so that the bolt can be raised a half inch or so to grasp its
head and raise the hatch. When the carriage bolt is in its down
position, it makes a small smooth lump that does not stub toes.

I did not install this hatch, I had it installed. I am sure there is
more work in creating this hatch than installing one in the head
compartment, but the access to the hatch and the forward bilge is much

Do not make the hatch wider than specification, as the outboard edge
of the hatch is near the hull. I don't think a sabre saw could cut
through this fiberglass mush, it would take a sawsall.

Dick Weaver, SWII 75K

Apr 1, 2005 7:31pm

I think your plan will work. Integrity has a drain and hose from the shower to a pump mounted in the port cockpit locker. There is a switch mounted on the wall of the head that activates the pump. There is a hatch outside the door of the head that gives access to the forward bilge and compression post. This hatch also gives access to the hose which runs back to the pump under the water tank.


Apr 2, 2005 8:21am

Hello all

I got some pictures that could be interesting for those who need informations about the access of the bilge under the toilet floor. The former owner M. Buckley ( Spirit )did a very good job regarding this access. The clear opening is 10" X 20" which give a very good access where you can put all your head to have a complete inspection of this area. The plastic hatch itself has a good and easy to use opening devices and has gasket all around. Of course this also give an extra locker where you can put several of your best bottles of wine.

Michel no. 119




Apr 2, 2005 8:16am

I did put the pictures of the bilge access to the photo album HULL
Thank you Michel
Apr 2, 2005 11:40am

Superb pictures Michel of Spirit!. Any brand name on the plastic hatch?

The pictures I had in mind was of the stainless steel plates and bolting Bob of Summerwindy mentioned separating the (under mast) post's foot from the bilge bottom. Many of us at some time will have to develop such a solution or similar, even if as a Floridian does, we douse each winter the post foot with and antifungus/rot solution. Bert dF of Pianissimo 89K


Apr 4, 2005 1:17pm

I looked at one of those suction fittings and they already have a strainer in them. I believe I'll try to run the hose into the cabinet behind the head, mount the pump in the cabinet, and go out through the hull right

September 25, 2006

Hatch in the forward cabin sole


A view of the hatchway facing aft.

The compression post is set in a mass of fiberglass mush. The grey painted plywood is bolted and glued to the underside of the cabin sole. The screw holes are countersunk and hidden with bungs

Another view, from the main cabin

The hatch in place.

The head of the stainless carriage bolt can be lifted to provide a grasp for removal of the hatch.