PVC Pipe

We’re amazed that more boats are not plumbed with ordinary PVC pipe, but then again we never thought of using it either until we bought Morgan’s Cloud 16 years ago and found that her builder had used PVC pipe for almost all of her plumbing.

Since then we have added several plumbing systems in PVC and modified existing ones.

Among the benefits are:

  1. Economy. PVC pipe is dirt cheap. The total at the cash register after you buy several lengths of pipe, together with the fittings and glue to go with it, comes as a surprise—a pleasant one; particularly if your last stop was a yacht supply shop (chandlery).
  2. Availability. Even a small corner hardware store has enough PVC plumbing fittings in stock for most jobs and the bounty in the bins of a large building supply store will let you build almost anything.
  3. Flexibility. No, it does not bend, or at least not much, but the amazing variety of PVC pipe fittings allows you to solve some very vexing problems surprisingly easily. Want to connect a 2” line to a 1/2” line and then T off a 1” line? A quick trip to a hardware store and a bit of ingenuity and you are done.
  4. Fast Assembly. With a little practice and a pipe cutter you can assemble a plumbing system amazingly quickly using PVC pipe. (You can cut the pipe with a saw, but it is time consuming and messy.)
  5. Long Lasting. Even good quality hose only seems to last five years or so, but PVC pipe will last decades.
  6. Impervious to Most Chemicals. You can flush a PVC pipe system out with muriatic (hydrochloric) acid; the quickest and, as far as I know, only effective way to get rid of the scale that builds up in head discharge lines. Don’t try that with hose.
  7. Impervious to Odors. You can spend a fortune on sanitation grade hose and your holding tank system will still stink, but it won’t if you use PVC pipe.

One caution: We do not recommend PVC pipe for piping that is open to the sea and below the water line where a crack could sink you.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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