Clearing Medina’s through-hulls

The exhaust through hull - prior to being cleared

The exhaust through hull (on the water line)

This week the Skipper delegated the task of clearing Medina’s through hulls to me.

How did I get this unfortunate task?

By doing “such a good job” of clearing a cockpit drain hole (a type of through hull) from barnacles that were stopping a ball from one of Orbit’s toys from exiting, which in turn blocked the drain.

What are through hulls?

Through hulls are essentially ‘pipes’ that go from inside the boat to the outside or vice versa. They are usually found just above and under the waterline. Each contains a fitting that allows water to flow in or out, depending on its purpose.

Sorry barnacles, but it is time to go.

Sorry barnacles, but it is time to go.

Medina’s has through hull drains for the shower, galley, heads (toilets), cockpit, engine exhaust and bilge pumps. She also has a through hull intake for our saltwater which is split for a variety of uses, saltwater pump in the galley, flushing the heads and cooling the engine. We try to be conscious of what goes through each of the through hulls, as they can be easily blocked from either end.

Clearing through hulls can only be ‘easily’ be done when a boat is out of the water. Its not a very technical process, first, I scraped the ‘pipe’ with a screw driver until all the barnacles, algae, anti foul paint (the black paint) and anything else was removed. I then used sandpaper to smooth the ‘pipe’ to hopefully reduce the chance of anything making this area of the boat its home. The Skipper will then reapply the anti foul paint (and primer if required).

All cleared - ready for the Skipper to prime and anti-foul

All cleared – ready for the Skipper to prime and anti-foul

So, now having completed my delegated task (have a look at our Facebook page for some more details) I thought I would share the top 10 things I learnt when clearing Medina’s through hulls. I am sure you can imagine how I came up with each of these!

  1. Wear a long sleeve shirt with a button that you can do up at the collar.
  2. Pop your ear phones in, fast paced music works well for the initial scraping (e.g. Lonely Boy by the Black Keys) and slower paced music for the sanding (e.g. Mess Is Mine by Vance Joy).
  3. Scraping is not about strength, rather the angles.
  4. Keep your mouth closed when scraping – particularly when your ‘under’ the hull (e.g. clearing cockpit drains).
  5. After scraping or sanding, check yourself in a mirror before going out in public.


    Just remember not to sing too loudly with ear phones in – unless you want people to hear you sing …

  6. Use a ladder that is easy to move around the boat and move it around the through hulls to help create angles.
  7. Aviator sunglasses are not good ‘safety glasses’.
  8. Moisturise you hands as much as you can in the days leading up to the task (it helps to prevent the anti-foul dust getting deeply embedded in the pores of your hands).
  9. Wear socks with your shoes (a build up of anti-foul dust between the toes is not good).
  10. A human head and the hull of a steel boat should never meet, particularly more than once.

Writing this post has reminded me of a lesson a very wise lady from Aurukun once told me …

“Rather than allowing yourself to make mistakes but then beating yourself up for it, allow yourself to learn and enjoy the roller coaster.”


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