Family’s invention helps keep boats afloat

Seth and Ed Gray aboard their Newman 32 Old Squaw, which is equipped with the system. The Gray family also owns and operates Newman and Gray Boatyard on Great Cranberry Island.

CRANBERRY ISLES — A new way to operate the valves that let water in or out the hull of a boat has earned a patent for the family behind the Newman and Gray boatyard. The invention and patent have sparked a new venture they’re calling Graylock.

Through-hulls, the openings in a boat for pipes that let in, for example, raw water from the ocean to cool the engine, are controlled by valves called sea cocks. These are manually operated in-line or ball valves that attach to pipes or hoses controlling the flow.

Ed Gray got the idea, he says, “15 years ago when a friend was traveling to Bermuda in a sailboat. He had a hose break off from the sea cock to the engine.” With the valve open and the hose no longer in place, the boat took on water quickly.

“It took him a long time to discover what was wrong,” Gray said. “And he was hundreds of miles from everything.” He had to fish around in the bilges of his boat for the handle to the sea cock.

“When he told me the story, I thought, ‘There’s got to be a way to shut these sea cocks off from the helm where it’s safe.’”

Soon after that, a student at Wentworth Technical Institute in Boston, Ed Gray’s son Seth was searching a senior design project.

“I needed to create a system I could do some engineering on,” Seth Gray said. “I decided to design this system my dad came up with and get a patent on it.”

Seth Gray’s design uses the power of compressed air to activate the sea cock remotely.

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Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.
Liz Graves

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