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.]


One of the last items on the “to do” list, is the watermaker. To that end, I would appreciate any info/feedback from Corbin owners that have/had one. Specifically: Recommended capacity ( 2 person extended cruise ) ? Engine driven/electric ?, Make/model ?, Maintenance issues ? Thank you in advance, Frank Bryant, s/v #186, Visitant ( 186 ). a. Hi, I’m Bill Schwartz and built (and still sail) hull #90, “Moonshadow”. We spent the winter in the Abacos 2 years ago and although there was no trouble obtaining water we almost exclusively used our Pur 160e watermaker. It produces a solid 1.5 gallons an hour and although it draws a bit of current we found that we had to run the engine or generator for about 2 hours a day to keep the refrigerator, house and anchor light going anyway. We have too large of a generator and alternator so we never missed the extra “juice” it took to produce unbelievably clean and good tasting water. Much of our time was spent motoring from anchorage to anchorage and we ran the watermaker while we traveled, usually having to shut it down before we reached our destination because our tanks were full. As for maintenance, the only times we had to check the filter or pickle it was in the States where we used it infrequently. Pickling is easy and takes about 15 minutes. I did not connect the watermaker directly to the tank but left a long coil of hose so I could roll it out to the deck fill and stick it in there. This also allowed me to fill jerry jugs that we used for drinking water without extra piping. I would suggest buying the highest capacity water maker that you think is practical. If we had a smaller size we would have to forgo showers after swimming or run the electric longer to produce the quantity of water we wanted. Forget running the water maker from battery power only. Even the smaller sizes draw too much to make this practical. A wind generator or solar panels might power your refrigerator but not the water maker so you might as well take the plunge and plan on running your engine or generator and with a larger size water maker you can do this less. Best regards, Bill “heading out again soon” Schwartz (s/v #090, Moonshadow). b. All watermakers require a lot of management and good maintenance. People that put them on prior to extended cruising will develop water use habits that are in line with their water production. I have cruised with people that had 30 to 40 gallon / hour watermakers that will take showers every day and I have seen them doing washdowns in remote anchorages. In my opinion the best value watermaker is a Spector. The smaller Spector produces about 8 gal./hour and uses about 7 to 8 amps per hour. The Spector is a little more money but it would be a good investment if one were just starting to do some extended cruising. You need to be careful with engine driven watermakers. You can put too much load on your crank shaft pulley. I would not put one on a Perkins 4-108. You need to talk to your engine manufacture about this. My wife and I spent the first six years without a watermaker and did fine in the Pacific. We installed a Katadyn 80E for our trip across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea. I am glad we did and it has served us very well. It produces about 3.5 gal per hour and consumes about 7 amps. We make water whenever the engine is on. It requires a lot of attention but does a good job. We have not allowed ourselves to change our water consumption rate. This has allowed us to get by with a small watermaker. Good luck Richard Bacon (#080. Balmacara).

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

a. See : freshwatersystem.jpg below, submitted by David Salter (s/v #050, Opportunity)


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