Your most frequently asked questions… answered.

Editor’s notes (2019)

The FAQ and discussion below has been mildly edited to eliminate typos, make it clearer who the authors are and which boats they themselves have (by hull number and boat name if known). Wherever possible alternative (i.e. current) references to products & suppliers are provided.

The bulk of this FAQ was originally generated as a Q&A in the period 2005 – 2015. In this period Lester Helmus acted as a clearing house for questions and responses, but some respondents would also write direct to each other, hence some of the overlapping answers you see in the FAQ. In places there are 2019 and subsequent comments, drawing either on my own experiences, or from other Corbin 39 owners and sources, including our Corbin 39 Group on Facebook. More comments are most welcome and this FAQ will inevitably grow.

We have attempted to contact all contributors to the 2015 version of the FAQ. All responses have been most supportive, thank you. If you are a contributor who has yet to respond please contact us.

As will be apparent there are multiple viewpoints on some topics. Sometimes, but not always, this can be traced to differences in arrangement between the boats of the various authors. Some of the topics raised are not so much a Q&A, as simply being a statement of why a particular owner thought something was a good idea, which of course it may not have been at all. Make your own mind up.

If you have further comments or suggestions on any of these questions, or wish to pose new questions, or describe various issues you have faced and/or overcome, then please contact us either via the Facebook Group or via the Website.

[Remark as of November 2019: Quite a lot of the links to drawings & photos are not yet reinstated due to workload. However I also know quite a few of the relevant images have gone astray. You may find the relevant photos in the individual boat’s entry. Please email us if you have any of the missing photos, drawings, etc.]


a. I talked with Tops’n’ Quality in Marysville Michigan and they said they have supplied many of the stainless pulpits for Corbin. I know of no vendor for the fuel tanks, I would imagine getting the tanks built will be an easy thing to do. Gene Whitney (#069, Joint Effort) b. The tanks, as far as I know, were fabricated in Montreal–don’t know the supplier– if anyone has a set of blueprints, the dimensions of all tanks are noted for local fabrication–I do have a set for the Corbin39-3es (ES = Edition Special, the mk2)– the latest version, aft cockpit. as for the pulpits: Tops-In-Quality Marysville, MI 48040 last phone # 313-364-7150 Doug Archibald (#158, Chaos !) c. As the Corbin factory sold the majority of boats for owner finishing they probably only had one off orders for tanks and pulpits. Probably one of the biggest orders for pulpits was mine, for members of the Toronto Boat Builders Co-Op, 7 boat sets, in Sept 1980. They were made to my specification, including all deck measurements, by Tops In Quality, now in Port Huron, MI. Tel: 313 982 1900. The photos on my website give an idea of the appearance. starboardbow.jpg The bow pulpit has a 10″ drop at the front for easier access. The mast pulpits (granny bars) have a curved top in plan view (other designers have used a straight back rest). I also have the hull profile to accommodate boarding ladder standoffs, located at about 20″ forward of the stern. However, we didn’t go with this but later designed a 3 part folding ladder to go at the lifeline gate, near the forward end of the wheelhouse. All stanchions are 30″ high. Tops In Quality may have dimensions on file. Photo of 2 satisfied customers attached. pulpits.jpg Regarding tanks, the same comment re Corbin factory applies. Many boats would have different tank requirements. Our stainless fuel and water tanks were made by Klacko Mfg, Oakville, Ontario. They are still in the same business and made tanks for other owners. tel: 905 825 0015. They are pricey, but perhaps not so bad for U.S. customers. Hope this helps, Regards, David Salter (s/v #050, Opportunity) d. I bought all my pulpits from Marine Exchange Corp. in Peabody, Ma. They are still in business. At the time the father was building a Corbin and had a good source for the stainless work. Now the sons run the business and may be able to help. Bill Schwartz (s/v #090, Moonshadow) e. Marine Exchange was run by Kevin Montague and family. After it went out of business Kevin started up North East Rigging Systems. His contact in Needham, MA, is (781) 559 8416,Kevinmontague He also has a website now. I have used his company for several high cost purchases (e.g. Profurl, Electric Windlass) as well as many lesser items and he is very competitive and also knowledgeable. As noted, his father had a Corbin 39. Kevin is a rigger but also good for most other boat equipment. Regards, David Salter (s/v #050, Opportunity)

a. We have a grey water tank located in the bilge, adjacent to the galley sinks. It is custom made of fibreglass, like the head holding tanks. The capacity is about 14 gallons. By using a grey water tank we avoid having three thru-hull seacocks and three valves for grey water discharge. Items feeding to the tank are: 1. the galley sink(s), 2. the fwd head sink and shower sump, 3. the aft head sink; [The sinks drain by gravity and the shower sump is pumped.] The tank is hand discharged by its own diaphragm pump (Whale Gusher 8 – discontinued) through a seacock above the water line; it is emptied daily. The tank has a vent and a cleanout hatch. Here is the wooden mold, Grey Water Tank Mould.Here is the Grey Water Tank (fiberglassed) and the Grey Water Tank Installation. My grey water discharge is protected against ingress by the flap check valve in the Gusher diaphragm pump. David S., s/v #050, Opportunity

b. [Lester Note: I destroyed an 8 mm movie camera and damaged an expensive Plath sextant when I had a grounding in my Bristol 29 sailboat in Manasquan Inlet, NJ in 1978.The boat lay over on its port side while seawater rushed in via a sink. I had to call the Coast Guard to pump out the boat; I was too dazed to realize what was happening because I was exhausted from too little sleep during my nine day ordeal returning from Bermuda singlehanded. Moral of story: Close sink seacocks before grounding or better, install a grey water system.]

c. Endorphin is equipped with a grey water tank (sump) which receives grey water from the 2 showers and head sinks onboard. It is located high in the aft area of the main salon’s bilge. The galley sinks drain directly overboard. A bilge pump drains the sump with a manual switch. There is an inline screen filter. Our whole system is less than ideal. The sump is not water tight. When full the sump over flows into the bilge. All in all, at this time, our grey water system does not provide much in the way of an example for other boat owners. Thank you, David H. (#195, Endorphin).

d. The builder, Swift custom boats, put a tank center of bilge, with a float, and a macerator pump under a seat. All galley, sinks, and shower drains to it. Float kicks on pump when full out to a thru hull at water line. Works great! Cappy D. (#169, CapBam)

e. Yes, #023, Simmerdim is equipped with a grey water tank. The 4 gallon tank is located under the salon floor, center, a meter in front of the mast post. A 12 volt pump discharges the contents via the head sink thruhull. There is a screen filter between the tank and the pump to prevent clogging. The filter needs to be cleaned once a month. The tank drains the galley sink, the ice box, and the shower. So far, our main usage is with the galley sink and the 4 gallons is not large enough in a liveaboard situation. It fills quickly and requires being pumped too often, once every two days. Our galley sink is double so it is my plan to divert one of the sinks directly to a thruhull so we can choose direct discharge or tank discharge. An access is needed to clean the tank at the end of the season; otherwise you can get bad odours. Gilles L. (#023, Simmerdim).

f. I have one because at one time it was suggested that the Ontario government would make them mandatory. Basically, the system collects the grey water from the sinks and the shower and pumps it directly overboard or via the holding tank. Charles L. (#115, Melodia).

g. May 22, 2011, Boat got launched, the usual plumbing issues, seals and gaskets dry up over winter ……other than that all OK ! Enclosing a photo of my Grey Water Tank…..Frank B., s/v (#186, Visitant).

h. I don’t have a grey water tank on my personal boat but I dealt with them on larger yachts that I operated for other owners. Grey waters are all the drains from sinks, showers, washing machines (clothes or dish). It accumulates in a tank so that you can dump it out at a pump out station or offshore. Some boats only had the shower and sinks and drained the washing machines directly overboard. Although there was no law where I sailed to have them, it just seemed a good idea not to send overboard grey water when you swim around the boat. In most cases it did not mean much. I think that a 40′ boat is too small to have a grey water tank unless it is mandatory in the area you sail (like Lake Champlain in Vermont). I think that most important is consider using soap that has no phosphate and that is biodegradable, deal with any cooking oil separately and put the solids in the garbage. Avoid using chemicals that will have a negative impact on the environment. This is also true for the black water tank. People put tons of chemicals in their toilet to cut down the smell. The smell has to do with the installation of the toilet and tank. Chemicals don’t help much just like the lady who went to the doctor because she had gasses. The doctor gave her a small spray can with wild pine odor that she was to use in emergencies. She found herself in an elevator with a young man and decided to try the system. After a minute she asked the young man if he smelled anything. After sniffing and thinking about it for a second or two, the young man said:” Yes it smells like someone sh….. under a Christmas tree” I have been in many boats that reminded me of that story All plastic hoses will eventually transpire the contents that circulates through them, hence the smell. We used PVC (household) piping throughout with flexible joints. If the tank itself is plastic, you glue aluminum foil on all its surface to prevent the smell from going through. That is the way my boat is now and I have no need for pine scent. Have a wonderful day. Marius Corbin

I have a question for the group if possible. I am still in the tear out everything rotted phase on #032, Tusitala. I have been working in the v berth. I have installed drains for both of the anchor/ sail lockers. But as I peer into the darkness of the chain locker, which is under the front of the old berth, I am wondering where the water goes that comes on board with the chain. I now have a small hole at the bottom of the Forward Bulkhead, but that is going to send the extra water, sand, and debris to the bilge in the front head. The chain locker is slightly below the waterline so it can’t drain overboard… Looking for ideas, pictures, anything. Thanks in advance, Paul (#032, Tusitala).

a. From the photo it seems that you have certainly torn everything out! The attached photo may be of help, Keel Sump . My chain locker was a heavily constructed box under the V berth with a large drain opening aft. The bilge connected to the deepest part, at the foot of the mast compression post. As I melted my own lead in ingots I arranged it so that this was the deepest part. If you have factory ballast it may be level all the way, or with a slight slope. I think it is unavoidable that sand and water will come aboard with the chain so the best you can hope for is to have suitable bilge pumps for removing the liquid. In the photo you may be able to make out the strum box for a Whale Gusher 10 diaphragm pump, an electric pump set in the white plastic mount and the small hand pump for removing most of the last drops. If solids accumulate you will need to “dig” them out. I installed a deck wash pump with a discharge at the bow (and in the cockpit) to use as an anchor washdown. It should be able to minimize solids coming aboard. I had a switch for the pump near to the bow (as well as close to the pump) which was in the engine room with its own thru hull. Regards, David Salter (#050, Opportunity).

b. I think mine runs into the sump. While you’ve got it all torn out it’s a good chance to revisit the chain drop; mine drops all the way forward in the bow and runs down the bow and has a tendency to stack up .I’ve got over 300 feet of 3/8 chain and I sometimes have to go down and re-stack it. Bill Schmid (#174 s/v Anakena).

c. You will not collect too much water in the chain locker, that said …………… On our former #186, Visitant, I had a drain at the lowest part of the chain locker with a small hose (3/4″) piped into the Grey Water tank which is below the level of the chain locker. (Side note on chain locker (ours), I found that the 3/8″ chain tends to pile in one place at the foot of the hawse pipe. On occasion, when we had a lot of chain that had to be brought in, I needed to stop the retrieval and go below to move the pile to the side otherwise it would just back up, up to the windlass and jam. Hope that helps, my $0.02 CAD …… Frank B (#186, Visitant).

d. On #010, Insouciance the 300′ of HT chain was led from the windlass to a locker under the forward part of the berth, then via a pipe to an area in the bilge aft of the mast. About 120′ was kept forward with the remaining 180′ pulled aft. It took a crewman below to pull the chain and pile it neatly in the storage area. This method had the advantage of moving a large amount of weight aft which helps to reduce weather helm but requires the services of a crewman. Lester H (#010, Insouciance).

e. Your bulkhead is in better shape than I found mine (formerly Phoenix). Mine was completely rotted out. There was a limber hole, but it was not flush with the hull, so water had constantly pooled behind it and created a moist incubator. Over the years, the moisture got behind the fiberglass backing and everything just fell apart. I have not yet replaced this bulkhead but here is what will happen:
– replace with proper marine ply (the stuff that was used on my boat delaminates like cardboard!);
– make a generous limber hole, flush with the hull;
– place a sieve into the V of the hull to catch debris and keep the bilge sump reasonably clean. Make sure it is easily accessible for cleaning through a V-berth floor hatch;
– install a ventilation grille into the bulkhead;
– install an access hatch for cleaning and drying.
Reasoning: you can’t have standing water on the boat anywhere. It will ruin things in the long term. Thus water and dirt from the wet chain have to drain out of the chain locker. The locker needs to be ventilated, and like all compartments, easily accessible. Good luck, Boris S (#131, Two Crows, formerly “Phoenix”)
[Ed Note: Limber holes should be cut on BOTH sides of the bulkhead to allow for heeling of the boat.]

f. I know what you mean. When the chain piles up, if you don’t have a stainless chain, it can be hard to get at, particularly if you’re in a hurry. We subdivided the starboard forward sail locker, made a hole in the deck and now guide the chain into the forward part of that locker, while using the aft part for storage. Works much better, even if you have to have the locker open while raising the anchor to avoid piling up the chain. We have 100 meters (300 ft for you Yanks). Any water that comes in now drains from the locker as it is above the water line. Have fun. Gerry S (#087, Octopus I)
[ Ed Note: Is there that much space in one sail locker for 300′ of chain? Isn’t it difficult stowing that chain with such a short fall?]

g. Our chain locker drains into a stainless sump in the bilge. The sump is drained with a whale diaphragm pump. The same sump collects grey water from our two showers and head sinks. Endorphin is a centre cockpit with an aft cabin. Best, David H (#195, Endorphin).

h. I have the same configuration as what you describe with the chain locker under the forward bunk. I have a hand pump that pumps out the water that is connected to the bilge in a 3 way where I can specifically focus on the chain locker. As for debris, I just hand clean it out. I try to have a clean chain before it goes to the locker. I do have a problem with this in that as the chain is being fed into the locker, it collects against the hull, so it needs to be hand fed into the locker. The chain bunches up because the opening in the deck is too far ahead, but we knew this when the boat was being built as the windlass needs to be as forward as possible. We had an electric windlass installed last year which needed to be located back a bit and part of the sail lockers had to be permanently fastened because they were in the way. I can still get into the lockers and did not lose any space but lost some of the cover. It anyone out there has a suggestion as to stop the chain from bunching up so the chain falls freely directly into the chain locker, I would be interested in hearing it. I have talked with many people about this problem and no one has suggested anything better. Chris L (#105, Christar).

I have a question about my bilge. The bilge has a bulkhead aft of the galley, a bulkhead forward of the galley , then a chain holding partition two feet forward, and lastly a partition forward of the mast.. My two bilge pumps are at the forward end of the bilge, just aft of the head bulkhead. I want bilge water to move freely from under the pilothouse to the pumps. The first owner cut a two inch hole in the PH bulkhead and a two inch hole in the forward partition. Both holes are an inch above the bilge bottom, so they do nothing to drain most bilge water. They were probably intended for emergency drainage. There are one inch slits in the two partitions at the sides but these limber “holes” get clogged easily and become useless. I want to drill a 1/4″ hole in each of the bulkheads/partitions in the center bottom, as low as possible. Is there a problem developed by doing this? Does this sound OK with you? Do you have any other suggestion? Anonymous

a. This is a tricky job, face down in the bilge! I made quarter circle cut-outs each side in my original bilge bulkheads; easy to do before glassing them in. I can’t see a problem in drilling holes now, but I would suggest larger than 1/4″, say 3/4″ at least. You will also find this easier using a right-angle drive drill or adapter I should think. After drilling you should paint the raw wood or glass with epoxy. Regards, David S. (#050, Opportunity).

b. Weird !!! As my bilge had a few bulkheads but there was a 1″ channel along each side of the bilge cavity that was below the floor level of the bilge. Those channels ran right to a 12″ Sump cavity (lower than the bilge floor) at the mast compression post in the bilge. You need to drill about a 1″ hole in each corner of the bulkhead at floor level (remember, because of heel …) and then saw out the part that’s round at the floor level. You will end up with a horseshoe shape with no wood at the floor level. Maybe you could try to position your wood bit or holesaw at the very lower corner of the bulkhead and you may get away with minimum sawing after …… ????? Paint the raw wood with epoxy. Cheers, Frank B. (#186, Visitant).

c. There is no problem doing this. I would make those holes a minimum of 1″ because a 1/4″ hole will always be clogged. Have a wonderful day. Marius Corbin

Load More