I originally wanted to remove the tanks to check out the bilge, clean it, and maybe epoxy barrier coat it. We have been working on this project for weeks now and I think we are almost to the halfway point. I really thought this would be a simple matter of pulling the tanks out, taking them off the boat, giving them a good scrubbing, and reinstalling. Nope. Not at all.
Here I am removing the grimy water “day” tank (one of the few that can be taken off the boat):
There are five tanks on the Alberg 37 MKII, four of these are screwed into the fiberglass “pan” that makes up the interior (MK1 boats do not have this pan). One of the biggest concerns with tankage on a sailboat is chafe (really its one of the biggest concerns period). If the tanks rest in the bilge, hull flexing can wear a hole, if they are held in by straps, the straps can wear a hole, if the tank is a bladder the movement can wear a hole – you get the point.
The pan on the Alberg is quite stout and extremely stable. The top of each tank is a wide sheet of metal that bolts into the pan. Its actually a great design in my opinion because the tanks “float” in the bilge. As a result there is zero concern for chafe. As long as the welds are good and the bilge dry the tanks should last the life of the boat.
The main water tank is under the v-berth and is the one tank that is in great condition for the most part. There are some deposits that have collected over time but once we pump them out and clean the tank it should prove to the the easiest in of the bunch. (Especially since we don’t have to remove it!)
The fuel tank is another story all together. This has proven to be a truly nasty job. I opened up the inspection plate to find the 35 gallon (132 Liters) tank full to the brim which was a bit surprising but I was hopeful that someone had done this on purpose to prevent corrosion. Nope – wrong again. Somehow water had siphoned itself into the tank raising the levels.
I hand pumped all the water and fuel out into 5 gallon (19 Liter) jugs. Diesel went everywhere. All over the floor. All over me. Everywhere. But I got the job done, one by one I filled the jugs and lugged then down the ladder (a job in itself). When the tank was empty it was not a pretty sight! There was tons of sludge and grime everywhere. The sludge I could not pump out I scooped up with rags.
I then cleaned the equally dirty exterior with Barkeepers Friend. The top flange is huge and would not go through the companionway so this was a long and tedious job inside the saloon.
Once I got most of the grime off the tank I turned my attention to the bilge which had an equal amount of grime and some hand tools buried deep within. It cleaned up much easier than the tank and all in all looked pretty good. Next step: Holding tank (I’ve been saving this one for last)