1/2″ seawater inlet to the galley. The skin fitting flange had totally fractured and was held in place by the Sikaflex sealant.
3/4″ galley-sink outlet seacock – badly corroded and weeping. Light visible beneath the flange in the photograph.
3/4″ seacock – threads corroded, penetration on interior of the hull.
The only two seacocks that didn’t seem affected were the heads sink outlet which is on the waterline (it was cleaner than before but hadn’t lost any structural material), and the cockpit drain seacock, which isn’t bonded at all.
Heat-exchanger and the rear cap which contains the anode was plastered with deposits from the now non-existent anode (a total of 28 engine hours since new, of which about 24 hours were with the aforementioned wiring cockup). I managed to scrape most of it off, then dissolved the rest in juice from a lemon, before inserting a new anode.
Update – more damage to brand new engine parts due to electrolysis appears to have taken place:
* heat-exchanger stack has gone pink, engineer reccomends replacement.
* gearbox (normally bulletproof) is gradually leaking ATF; repair if possible or replacement.
Some lessons and current thinking about this case history
First and foremost the obvious one. Live battery connections should not be connected incorrectly. To anywhere else the violent spark would have made it obvious that something was incorrect. In this case the resistance of the seawater was sufficient that the flow of current was fairly slow, so no spark occurred.
Stray electric currents, involving far less power than in this case, can be a problem for metals underwater. Direct and alternating currents, the latter in marinas with mains power connections, can accelerate corrosion of fittings to a considerable extent.
All seacocks except one were bonded to the anode, and in this case to the positive terminal of the battery. Modern thinking, partially derived from the well-publicised case of the Random Harvest near-sinking, is that bonding of skin fittings and seacocks is bad practice. All seacocks should be made from DZR brass, bronze, (see Brass and Bronze pages) or another corrosion-resistant material. If this is the case there is nothing to be gained by bonding.
|Severe corrosion of rudder pintles|
|Upper pintle with damage. No explanation has been found for the appearance of this damage.|
|The exposed terminals of the breaker.
All photos by Jan Lasse Eilertsen
|Rapid corrosion of a seacock|
|A closer view of the fitting, showing the intensity of the attack. The boat is relatively new and the seacock had been in good condition prior to the event.
Photos: Matt Boney
Unusual chain pitting
This pitting was observed on a 2-year old Maggi Aqua 7 chain. The pitting was almost 1 mm deep in spots but totally confined to the outside faces of the links. No galvanising was left on affected areas. The first 20 metres was affected, not damaged otherwise.
The pitting is not due to corrosion as it is highly localised on the outside of the links. Any form of corrosion due to mud, sulfurous water or similar would affect the whole surface. Investigation revealed an electrical fault in the windlass, allowing leakage of positive DC into the sea via the chain. The pitting is caused by electrical make-and-break sparking. Loss of galvanising may be coincidental, as this is the active part of the chain.
Photos: Charles Buehler.