Dec 6th (again!) 2017
News from Deck -2 yes, you read right, Deck Negative2
You know those days when you take a great bucket shower, you put a clean
bikini on, and think to yourself: now I am going to go back outside, and -
yes! read my book, just a chapter, then we can fly the big genny if the
angle is right.. Maybe I should put some sunscreen back on, since I
washed it all off. Oh ok, since I am still down here I should first check
in with Brian, the bilge, and then put the sunscreen on, so I don’t get it
all over the interior of the boat. And while I am at it, introduce Thalita
to him, she hasn’t met Brian yet.
So I call Thalita and open up to say hello to Brian, and find that we have
A LOT of water in there. A LOT, sloshing around. I had just checked it
less than two hours ago, and there was nothing. Immediately I do the most
important test and stick my finger in and taste it, to see if it is salty
or sweet water:
b) it is salty.
First thoughts running though my mind: Where is it coming from? What part
of the hull is damaged? Is a seacock is leaking? Did we hit anything and I
did not hear it? Does anything sound different? WHERE is it coming from?
Dang, what if it is the keel bolts?
We tear up all the floorboards and we have water in all the bilges on the
starboard side. I check around the keel bolts and they seem ok, but won’t
be really able to tell until we get the water down some. And it keeps
coming in, slowly seeping in from the communication holes between the hull
and the bilges. It is a light grey/cream color, cloudy.
Paranoid skipper brain already goes though the sinking/evacuation scenario
and I immediately send a satellite message to the office, alerting them
that we might have a problem and our position.
Then start checking each and every seacock. Thalita checks the port side
ones, I go for the starboard side. Nothing seems amiss. Engine seacock is
dry. But the engine bilge is wet? What?? We mop up 10 litres of water,
and I am able to check the keel bolts. They are OK. Then we each crawl
into the back of the boat, all the way to the stern near the steering shaft
(there is water mostly towards the rear of the boat not forward..) so that
we can methodically check as much of the hull as possible. Port side,
When I crawl into the stern on the starboard side I see water both on the
bottom and splashed on the walls of the space. This is where where our
engine exhaust is located, as well as the cockpit seacock drain. New
evacuation scenarios run through my mind and I wonder if I should mention
something to the rest of the crew, who are up on deck helming, reading and
hanging out… ok just a few more minutes and I’ll do that. I dry around the
engine exhaust and its seacock and have Thalita run the engine, to see if
that is the cause. No. Phew, I don’t have a replacement piece for the
exhaust line anyway, and we might need the engine to keep water out or get
us somewhere.. What am I thinking? Where would we go? We are so far from
anything right now and have not seen a single boat in two days. Not even
I test the drain. No, it looks gross but its not leaking. Then I look up,
instead of below or around the waterline of the boat. That’s when I notice
that the outside shower handle is hanging, somewhat caught up in one of the
hoses that crisscross the space. Huh? I realise that the cup that holds
it outside has been cracked and pushed into the space. I test the water on
the walls - just icky this time, it is clear - and it is salty, but not as
salty as it is in the bilges. It dawns upon us that it might be the
culprit. I ask Thalita to shut down the water pump, although I don’t see
much evidence of active leaking, and to check our water tank level. The
tank is now empty. Great. So maybe we have a source of the problem.
Great. Well, that was intended to be sarcastic, but at the same time, we
might now also have a different type of problem. I then grab the plumbing
diagram and see if I can shut down only the outside faucet somewhere, but
it is not an option.
Thalita and I start really emptying out the bilges of water to see if it
keeps rising, and slowly we make progress. The electric bilge pump is
making a funny noise.. and I become uneasy using it as the cloudy stuff in
the water turns out to be fibreglass dust, and it becomes cakey mud, at the
bottom of the pit, potentially clogging up the impeller if it gets sucked
in. I just changed it in Gibraltar, and now I do not have a spare of that
one on board -either.
I finally feel comfortable enough to send a message to the office that I
think I found the problem.
Music is turned on, nice and loud. Thalita and I smile at each other,
making faces as our hands start stinging more and more from the fibreglass
dust in the water. So we manually remove the water, container by
container, with sponges and - since the backup manual hand pump won’t fit
in the small crevices, and we are creative, 10ml at a time with the used
syringes I gathered up after the Medical Care at Sea course we just took in
the UK and threw into the toolbox (Sue: thank you… probably the first time
your antibiotics injection practice leftovers are used in this way.)
Finally after two hours, the water has stopped rising and just comes into
the bilges from the interstitial spaces when we have a sudden movement, but
it is minor. Enough that we are now monitoring it, and simply trying to
get as much out as possible at every watch change.
We did lose at least 1/4 of our freshwater Tank1 to this. So forget
seawater bucket shower rinse-offs even for 10seconds. And I have to fix
the handle and the faucet outside. And maybe replace the junctureT valve
with one with a shutoff lever. I think I might have one of those of the
right size… so voila’ added it to my “oh look, I have a spare moment, what
should I do?” list.
The rest of the crew, you ask? Apparently had no clue. They thought it
was normal to spend close to 3 1/2 hours “playing” in the bilges. Thalita,
thank you for all your help, especially for laughing and keeping me sane
while it was happening. I promise I will not suggest you have a second
date with Brian. EVER.
On the positive side, we now have very very very clean bilges. All the
food that was stored in some of them has been removed, dried, reorganised.
We now know that we have a vast quantity of mais cans. Looks like our
menus will be focusing on this fabulous ingredient in the foreseeable
That’s all from the Deck Neg2 problem resolution desk. It is time to put
some sunscreen on and to go outside and sail, so please come back with any
issues after 4pm.