Clearing Cockpit Drains

Every so often, something – such as that piece of wood in the photo – will go down one of our cockpit drains and get stuck at the “L.” And then other bits of hair, dirt and who knows what else will get trapped as well.

We try to keep the drains covered when we’re doing a project in cockpit – we don’t want to lose parts down the drain, either – but sometimes things happen.

On our previous boat, we kept an old coat hanger with a “U” bent into the end to pull stuff out. Now we have a much better tool.

It’s called a Zip-It and you can buy them in most hardware and home improvement stores. We got ours at Home Depot for about $2.50.

Basically it’s a barbed piece of plastic that you can push down a drain (also works in the galley and head) and then pull out – all the gunk in the drain gets caught on the barbs and comes out too. Our cockpit drains have an “L” at the bottom and the plastic will bend so that we can clear the whole drain.

Cockpit drains need to be kept clear so they will drain quickly. But it's easy for things such as hair and parts from a project to go down them. So you need to clean them out. This inexpensive tool is the best we've found!

They’re not expensive but it’s worth it to get a name brand as two friends who have bought knock-offs had the plastic barbs break.

It’s one of those things that makes a “not fun” job a little easier. See it on Amazon (it’s more expensive, but if you don’t have a store nearby with one . . .):

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7 Comments
  • Nicki Reineck
    Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

    These tools are great but the plastic they are made from does get brittle with age and then breaks in the drain. It is probably a good plan to replace regularly (and dispose of the old ones carefully).

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

      Thanks for that! We haven’t had a problem with ours (it’s been about a year), but maybe we’ll replace it sooner rather than later . . .

    • Nicki Reineck
      Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

      The Boat Galley Good idea, it was embarrassing to call the plumber to remedy my attempt at DYI.

    • patricia phillips
      Posted at 12 April 2016 Reply

      a long handle bottle brush is great for lots of things on boat

  • Wheels To Keels
    Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

    We use the same one on our bus (i.e. landboat)! Good to know, Nicki Reineck !

  • Evan
    Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

    Having clogged my 15 year old Catalina 30 galley drain with a final topping of too much grease, food particles and who knows what– we were 30 miles offshore and desperate. Using hot water and my hand as a plunger, I made a little progress… all I needed was a bit more pressure. OMG! The foot pump for the dinghy! Bailed out as much water from the sink, detached the hose clamp from the drain and reattached it to the pump (remarkably the same size and correct pipe sex), stood with my 210 pounds on the pump for 30 seconds or so (no way you could actually pump it)… Then BLOWOUT. Scrambled topside to see what environmental disaster I created– none really, it was actually attracting fish– reassembled the sink, and it was better than ever for a 15 year boat! No chemicals, and basically FREE!!!

  • Evan
    Posted at 04 April 2016 Reply

    P.S. I later tried the dinghy pump on the cockpit drains… With a wet rag to help seal the opening and a little assistance from the Mrs.– Badda Bing!

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