I'm sailing to Catalina
this last weekend with my 12 year old boy. At 15 miles into our voyage I go down below for a beer
and I noticed that the bilge pump
light was on. I look below and there is a couple of inches of black water
with the pump running. I go back up and look over the side and nothing is coming out. Then I remember that I have a bilge
clean filter. I check it and it is clogged. Not a problem, I always carry a spare. I get it installed and check the discharge, dirty water
with no oil
. All is good.
Half hour later, the pump comes on again. Where the hell is this water coming from? I check a sample, it is water, but it is black as the depths of hell. I stop and think, must be the wet exhaust
. I dive under the galley
and start tracing the exhaust
tubing. Clouds of steam meet me as I open the cabinet. With a flash light I can see that it is coming from the far corner behind the stove. What to do? It's obvious to me where the water is now coming from. I can't get to it, because I would have to disassemble the whole wet exhaust system from the engine
to the fitting behind the stove. I empty the bilge
one more time and motor
into Two Harbors and get my mooring
Once I am secure I look in the bilge and it is half full of this black watery crap. This is the most water I have ever seen in the boat. All I can think of is when I started idling, all the exhaust water went into the bilge due to a lack of pressure when the rpm's went down. I should say that after I emptied the bilge for the last time, I turned off the pump so I wouldn't pollute the island. I marked the level of the water and watched it for about 15 mins and it never changed. During that 15 mins I started composing the phone
call to my wife," Yes dear, the boat sank. Yes dear, we have insurance
to cover the environmental clean up. No dear, I won't buy another boat." I was also wondering how quick vessel assist could get to me if the water started to rise. I was fairly confident what the problem was and once the engine
was off, no more water would come in.
Ok, I'm now secure. I start tearing the wet exhaust apart and wedge myself in the cabinet were I can get to the fitting. It is a 1.5" galvanized elbow
. I get it out and take a look. The damn thing nearly crumbled in my hands. 30 years of salt water
exhaust had not been kind to it. I could see a hole above the where the tubing fit about the size of your pinky fingernail. Luckily they had replacement parts
on the island. 2 hours of work and I'm back in business. I did have to leave the pump off for the duration of my stay or face the wrath of the Catalina Island
Company and be excommunicated from the island for a year if that stuff went overboard
at the mooring
The next day, half way back, I pumped out and all was good.
Let me repeat, all that went overboard
was dirty water from the exhaust. The Bilge Clean filter caught any oil
, how a clogged bilge filter can have you rebuilding the exhaust system in an afternoon.
A new fiberglass elbow
will go on this weekend.
Moral of this story? Checked all you damn fittings, even the ones that are damn hard to get to. Damn it!
Lesson learned. A high water alarm
gets installed too!