Nothing is ever easy on a boat, especially an old boat. I remember years ago listening to my uncle complaining about his outboard motors. He was saying how they’re overly expensive and require way more service than a car engine. Today’s cars can drive about 100k miles with very little in the way of service. They’re almost bulletproof. Why are marine motors and parts different? Imagine if you were running that same car but you only drove it uphill on a steep slope all the time. Imagine if every time you used the breaks you were heading downhill on a steep incline. The fact is that the sea is just unforgiving. If there is a weakness, the sea will find it, quickly.

This weekend’s task was to secure the water tanks. With all the plumbing and sinks installed we were ready to finalize the installation. But of course there were issues, because the rule is, nothing is ever easy on a boat. There were two things that conspired to make a seemingly simple task into an ugly one. The first issue is that the new water tanks aren’t the same size as the old ones, so the tie downs needed some adjustment. The second problem is that the old tie downs are in fact, old.

Two of them had already let go when the screws that secure them broke, needing new holes and new screws. Then when I started to tighten the straps, some of them would break at the mounting points. This was an old angle bracket welded onto the stainless steel straps. I guess the years had taken their toll and the welds were just not what they used to be. So the first order of business was to fix that. I made up some new angle brackets and used bolts to secure them to the straps. Btw, I hate drilling stainless.
Angle iron for the water tank securement

The second order of business was to make sure the new poly tanks were damaged by the straps. The old tanks were metal and the metal on metal problem didn’t exist. With these newer plastic tanks I was concerned about it. So to rectify this I cut up some of the old fresh water plumbing hose and recycled it into padding under the metal straps between them and the tanks. This will hopefully prevent any damaging rubbing.
Water tank securement tiedown

I had consulted with other people that had Westsails about their tank securement. 40 gallons of water is a lot of weight, especially if it is sloshing around. I was concerned the tanks could slide around in the bilge, which could be really bad. If the tanks moved apart, they could pull all the plumbing apart and if they slide hard too far forward they could crack the front of the bilge. If they slid too far to the rear, they could crush the bilge pumps. Most of the other westsailors said that they just used the straps and have never had a problem. The tanks are in the lowest center of gravity on the boat. But I wasn’t entirely convinced so I hedged my bets a bit.

To prevent too much movement, I decided I’d put blocks between the tanks and the between the forward tank and the end of the bilge.
Wedge for the water tank securement

I once again recycled some of our old materials. I used chopped up pieces of the old sampson posts and scrap wedges of wood and starboard to slip them into place.
Another wedge inbetween both tank for the water tank securement
Front wedge in the bilge for the water tank securement

Finally, the big problem. The rear strap for the rear tank was mounted up so high that it was just not going to put any pressure on that tank. So instead of trying to strap it down I used an old trick I’d learned when we secured the port side fuel tank. Blocking. I made a big block to wedge between the tank and the floor. This holds the tank down. Since the bilge narrows in the stern, as long as the tank is head down it cannot shift aft.
After wedge for water tank securement

After all this was accomplished we put the bilge covers on, dusted our hands, and we were done. Now I’m free to begin to stove install this weekend.