Oys­ters do block in­lets – I know!

Yachting Monthly - - LETTERS - Prof Noel Dilly

I read with in­ter­est your ar­ti­cle about oys­ters be­ing in­tro­duced to MDL mari­nas in the So­lent (Jul 17). How­ever, the as­ser­tion that oys­ters will not block boats’ through-hulls is un­true. A few years ago I changed my saildrive's gaiter. On split­ting the leg I found a live oys­ter across the en­gine cool­ing pipe. It was block­ing half the cross-sec­tional area of the pipe and, if left, would have grown to block it com­pletely. Lo­cated about 250mm up in­side the leg, it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to de­tect or reach. It was so strong and well at­tached that I had to use a long steel drift and a ham­mer to re­move it.

I rec­om­mend that all cruis­ers in­spect and clear pos­si­ble block­ages dur­ing the an­nual lift out. The Volvo saildrive has a 15mm di­am­e­ter (ap­prox.) hole in the bot­tom. I poke a 13mm di­am­e­ter wooden dowel (500mm long) up the hole to the top of the water­way. The in­side sur­faces should be straight and smooth so guid­ing the dowel tip up each side of the pipe will de­tect any oys­ters. A steel rod and ham­mer may be needed to re­move an oys­ter as they have very strong shells and ce­ment. The wooden dowel will smash mus­sel shells, which can be washed out. Chris Mar­don

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