Confession: Viking owner’s DIY shower drain shame

In this month’s Confession, we hear how one Viking owner’s morning shower went from refreshing to embarrassing

I used to keep an old boat, a Viking 26, at Upton upon Severn. It was early season and the boat had just gone into the water after its winter storage.

Armed with a list of jobs before the cruising season I decided to tackle the water pump issue. I had forgot to drain down the water over the winter and it had cracked the water pump.

On the way down to the boat I stopped off to buy a new pump. Typically, there were many different makes and types, so as I was confused I decided to buy the cheapest one they had (as you do).

After successfully removing the old pump, with the help of various implements in the cutlery drawer, I managed to modify the new pump to fit.

But it was only when I was testing it that I realised I had fitted the wrong one – it clearly stated on the instructions that it was for use on grey and bilge water only.

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So I set off back to the chandler’s again, quietly cursing myself for turning down the offer of assistance from the helpful chap behind the counter previously.

There was no way I was going to admit I’d bought the wrong pump, and even if I did there was no way he was going to swap it as I had completely butchered it trying to get it to fit.

Arriving back to the boat with a very expensive but correct pump, I set about the installation, which was surprisingly easy and required no modification.

The kettle was filled using my new pump and a rewarding cup of tea had. While patting myself on the back for a job well done I began thinking how easy something can be when you have the right parts.

Then my eyes strayed to the new but very butchered grey water pump lying on the cabin floor. Having fitted the new freshwater pump and tested it, I felt invincible and turned my attention to the shower discharge pump.

I replaced the existing and frankly useless discharge pump with the grey water pump. It seemed to work fine and I felt much better about my pump-buying fiasco, but it wasn’t tested in anger with water in the shower.

Our next visit to the boat was for a weekend getaway and by this point I had completely forgotten about the shower pump. We headed towards Worcester where we were meeting some friends at a favourite overnight mooring.

The weather was fabulous. The mooring was in a popular cutting before a lock, and so quite a narrow backwater. It was very busy and there were quite a few boats around.

On the Sunday morning, I got up and was first in the shower compartment. After a refreshing rinse

I reassuringly heard the pump run. I couldn’t help noticing how rapidly the shower tray was draining. It didn’t use to do that, but looked impressive all the same. I took it as a sign of a job well done.

But my pride was broken by a commotion outside. I slid back the opaque shower window to see an irate man shouting in my direction and shaking his fists. When I got the soap out of my eyes I realised that he was just as wet as I was.

At that moment the pump kicked in again. The water shot straight over at him, hitting the side of his dayboat and showering him, his wife and their al fresco breakfast with my soap suds.

My wife began screaming while my friends on the back of the boat burst out laughing. I immediately tried turning the pump off only to realise I couldn’t as there was no isolator – I didn’t install an on/off switch.

So we had to let the water drain. I couldn’t apologise enough – I was so embarrassed. I learnt a lot of lessons that day: don’t buy the cheapest thing you see; always read the instructions and always be sure to test something out before using it.

The author of every confession we print wins the original Stephen Shaw cartoon artwork (above) and an Icom IC-M23 Buoyant VHF Marine Transceiver handheld VHF radio worth £165.

For your chance to win, spill the beans on your funniest boating moments in 650 words. Email your story to:


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