There is just something way wrong with the fact that when Steve Lassley and I walked up the side of the 60’ Hatteras “Bad Company” and stepped out on the forward deck we nearly crashed due to the heavy coat of solid ice. This is Southern California and it’s supposed to be warm and balmy. But freezing cold temps had settled in to make an interesting start to my bow tank installation.
Steve and I had met on the boat only a few days previously to plan the installation. Their other boat, a 60 Viking, had sold suddenly so there was a mad rush to get this boat ready to get down to Cabo for the season. Although this boat already had some incredible history to her credit, one critical piece of gear was missing and we had a short time frame to get it built, plumbed and done.
Fortunately, there was just enough space to fit in a Pacific Edge PEBT-24-D, our most popular bow tank for the bigger rigs. In its full size this divided tank is about 90 gallons and is one of our best sellers for guys wanting a stylish design combined with extraordinary bait-holding characteristics. The same is true when we cut them down 10-12 inches to fit up forward...they’re just perfect if you can handle the physical size.
Once we had decided on the tank, I made a quick pattern to build a cover for what was to be one of the challenges; the lack of space below forcing the inlet and drain hoses to go forward into the base of the pulpit before dropping into the spacious chain locker. We settled on the color selection, got the basics figured out for the plumbing and then it was back to the shop to get the process started.
Normally we try to allow at least 10-12 working days to build a tank, especially one requiring a custom color. But no such luxury this time given the departure schedule Steve was planning on, but we work well under pressure and I knew it would all get done. Honestly, this time it was a stretch to get the tank cut down and finished, the pre-plumbing done in the shop, the stainless rod rack designed, built, polished and installed along with a redesigned set of locking lids to keep the water in when running at 30 knots in choppy weather. But I’ve got a great team to work with and they all came through.
When I headed to San Diego for the installation, it was with total confidence. The tank was all set with the pre-plumbing done, the rod rack installed and the lids in place. I had a van full of installation parts and by the end of the day the job would be complete and the boat ready to head south. And with one little exception, it all went exactly as planned.
It’s those glitches that can really cramp your style. The cold temps and ice on the deck were one thing and not totally unexpected given the time of year. But the problem started with a stainless deckplate for an old rocket launcher and the six flat head bolts with no way to hold the nuts under the interior headliner...ugh!
It had to come off and the solution was to drill down through the center of the heads with a pilot bit then follow it up with a 3/8”, the same diameter as the bolt and then pop it off. It sure wasn’t my idea of fun but with time short and limited options the chips started flying.
As it turned out I had the right bits and the drilling went well. Then there was a bit of a good surprise in that someone must have just waxed the part before it went down as the normal 5200 bond is a nightmare to break loose and this plate just pryed up with no problem.
With the plate off I was able to get the tank slid into position, lined up and centered, and then begin the process of scribing the tank to the deck. Although it takes a while to make the tank sit flat and match the lines of the boat as well as accommodate the crown in the deck, it’s worth it to make a clean installation.
With the scribe complete, I measure where the mounting cleats are positioned. We use custom made fiberglass angle which is very strong, bonds well to the deck for security, does not corrode and holds the screws securely. I put down the first two set in a big bead of 5200, then slide the tank in place and measure for the other two. With them gooped and screwed down then it’s time to drill the actual mounting holes through the tank and cleats and double check the fit before attaching the hoses.
As I was going forward through the tank and into the base of the pulpit with the plumbing there was a bunch more drilling to be done. Two matching 15/8” holes provided the access to the chain locker but revealed some wood that needed to be sealed. The perfect product is a 5 minute two-part epoxy made by West Systems. I love the stuff and use it a lot and they are not kidding about the 5 minutes...they don’t mean 5 minutes and 30 seconds!
With the holes drilled and prepped it was time for the inlet and drain hoses to be slid into place. For many installations we use the heavy wall, white sanitation hose which is very strong but hard to work with. It does require some heat to soften the ends before you slide it on the fittings.
I use a heat gun very cautiously, to get the hose barely soft enough to slide it on the fittings I’ve added some sealant to. I’ve been appalled to see other installers use the open flame from a lighter as the concentrated heat will damage the internal integrity of the hose...not good.
With the hoses in place and double clamped it was time to position the tank and complete the installation. With the hoses going forward and into the base of the pulpit, this was a two person job. Luckily, Joe from Viking Marine was aboard doing some plumbing and he was able to give me a hand from down below as I guided the tank from above.
I always love the feeling when the tank drops into place and is ready to be secured. With everything pre-fit and drilled the final steps are easy. I put sealant on each screw then run them in...all lined up and matching. A little alcohol on a rag will clean off the goop and then the 1” blue tape comes out.
I tape off both the deck and the tank, leaving about an1/8” of glass showing on each side, just enough for the bead of silicone to fill in. I’ll cut the spout on the cartridge creating a 3/16” hole and the caulk the seam, forcing the material both under the tank and covering the gap. I’ve found a wet finger is the perfect tool to smooth and contour the bead and when it looks perfect I’ll carefully pull and dispose of the tape. Then I’ll make any final corrections necessary, add the Pacific Edge decal and stand back for a second to see that all is ready to be called complete.
By the time my project was finished, the temperature was dropping as fast as the sun was setting. But all was done and as I was cleaning up the crew was loading up, getting ready for their planned departure and a trip down the Baja coast to chase the warm southern sun.
The base of the pulpit where the hoses will pass through
This was the culprit that had to go...
The bow of the Hatteras...covered with ice...but ready to work
The plate off...with the drilled-off bolt heads