Sinking at the Dock?

Sinking at the Dock?

Monday, April 19

Still here! First thing, even before coffee, I called Napa Auto Parts. What a difference in service! The guy was friendly and took the time to make sure he had all the numbers right. He had to do some searching around but called back within 15 minutes with the news that he had found one and might be able to get it there by the next day. If not, Wednesday for sure. Just out of curiosity, after ordering from Napa, I called the local Volvo Penta dealer to see if they would have one in stock and, if so, how many millions of dollars they’d want for it. Napa had quoted me $18.00. Advanced Marine didn’t even have any record of the model of gearbox I have. He had never heard of a (Volvo) MSB-1, never mind having a seal for it.

Tuesday, April 20

We had heard the news that BC was announcing some fairly serious travel restrictions in response to the growing COVID crisis. What the hell have we gotten ourselves into down here? AAARGH! New restrictions, announced by the government of BC, indicate that as of this Friday, we will no longer be able to travel outside our “health authority” region. So what exactly happens when your “health authority region” is defined by a mailing address for the past five years and you’re nowhere near it, nor can you physically get your sailboat to it? Well, we came up with a solution, but I better not say too much; the Gestapo might be listening. I know many people are sensitive to the issue of others travelling around during this crisis. Let me remind the reader here that we would not be travelling at all if we did not have to. We were on Haida Gwaii because I was employed there, and that job was over. We had been isolated completely—no contact with any other human beings—since mid-August 2020 until we reached Prince Rupert in early March. We were now on our way home—home being our boat, which would normally be located on the south coast, not Haida Gwaii or the north or central coast. Make no mistake, this is an uncomfortable position to be in during these times.

So the seal gods were smiling upon us today. We spent the day mostly in the neighbourhood of Napa Auto Parts on other business, and the last thing was to get our precious seal. It was even the right one. OMG! IKR?

I had the new seal installed in the spare tranny in about ten minutes after arriving back at the boat and then tore into removing the bad tranny. Just before 10:00 PM, I flashed up the Garth Monster and reset the throttle settings, then tested the gearbox. The response from the shifter into and out of both forward and reverse was both immediate and strong. Coming out of both gears into neutral was normal as well. This was a definite win! We cracked a celebratory beer, which led to a post-celebration beer and then bed. I know, we’re getting old…

Wednesday, April 21

With the cheer of the fans still ringing in my ears after the victory of the previous evening, I awoke at 06:15 to lean over and turn the inverter on to start the coffee maker. Check-out time is 11:00 o’clock, and we still had a lot of cleaning up and stowing to do before heading over to the fuel dock. All indications were for a triumphant emergence from the marina and a fantastic sail over to Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island. Three quick cups of coffee along with breakfast, and we were in full swing for our departure. Wendi was already busy topping up the freshwater tanks and was nearly finished when I made my way to the engine room door. I opened the door to do the prerequisite fluids check to see an abrupt cancellation of the day’s plans…

Wednesday, April 21 Continued

With a paper towel in hand, I opened the forward engine room door and turned on the light. As I reached down for the dipstick, I did a quick scan of the ER. Much to my surprise, there was water swirling up from the bilge and starting to pour into the engine catch pan.

“Uh, I think we have a little problem here”, I said. Wendi was in the cockpit and looked down into the galley. From that vantage point, she could see through the finger hole in the floorboard access port to the centre water tank and that the tank was completely submerged in water.

The transmission change the day before had necessitated draining the oil from Garth, and to safeguard against an overboard oil spill, I had turned off the bilge pumps and had forgotten to turn the switches back on when I was done.

I came forward and opened the floorboards—full to the brim!

Forward to the next one—full to the brim!

Next: Full!

Next: Full, and all still rising. Were we sinking?

Wendi had turned the dock water off the moment she heard me say that I thought we had a problem, so it was slightly confusing that the levels were still rising. Of course, one’s worst fears are always there to play games with one’s head. In fairly short order, I had emptied the engine room bilge at least twice and several more times partially. Wendi was using the small shop vac to suck water out of the adjacent centre tank compartment, but she could not keep up. Both were still rising, but we couldn’t tell which one was spilling into the other. Finally, I went up to the deck box, got the dinghy pump, and brought it down. With that, we were able to pump water up into the galley sink and then from the grey water tank overboard, and we could do it faster than it was coming in. Once we got ahead of it, we moved on to the other bilges. By lunchtime, we finally had all the bilges emptied, no more water coming in, and definitely determined that, as suspected, it had been coming from the centre tank. That is only a ten-gallon tank, but it is fed from the other two larger tanks. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up—well, that and then having some celebratory beers. The good news is that it was simple to isolate that tank from use. The bad news is that although we have two more tanks, each 25 gallons, they are both the same age and presumably won’t be far behind this one.

Thanks for your time, we hope you enjoyed the read.

Captain Clown Boy / Wonder Woman


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© 2021 Ron Morrison

SAILING INFIDEL: Def. An unbeliever, heathen, pagan, heretic, agnostic, atheist, non-theist, freethinker, libertine, dissenter, or nonconformist of the sailing variety

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