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Old 04-12-2010, 08:15   #1
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Taking on Water Is NOT Fun . . .

Just found this section of the forum and I think we have a few additions to add!

Here is one such story from our blog about when we were taking on water, you can find more stories of our mishaps here:

TAKING ON WATER IS NOT FUN

I'm not sure what is worse, a hang-on-for-dear-life storm at sea or stepping into water...in your boat.

I'm thinking stepping into water is the winner there.

That is what happened to us last night as we were approaching Buffalo Harbor, NY last night around 9pm. We were motoring along without a care in the world when suddenly, Scott looked at our tachometer (the thing that reads the RPMs of the engine) and said, "Huh, the tachometer's not working".

Considering this is a brand new engine, I knew this wasn't good. So I hopped online and a minute later I said, "When that goes out, usually it has something to do with the alternator...".

Ruh-row.

So Scott stepped down below to check out our battery meters and see if anything was amiss down there when he exclaims, "God, why are my socks all..." and before he could say wet, I knew.

"Check the bilge. Right now...water!"

He did, and it was FULL and I mean OVERFLOWING FULL of water (like, floorboards floating). If you are a boater, you know how awful this is, if you are not - just suffice it to say it brings your guts into your throat, adrenaline rushes through your veins and your heart, my god, it starts pounding.

The beautiful thing is this: neither Scott or I went into panic mode. We just sprung into action, as if this was something that happens all the time. Like a well rehearsed ballet, if you will.

"Check the bilge pump, make sure it's on" I said. It wasn't. This was our first problem. Scott turned it on, turned the engine off and I jumped on the manual bilge pump and started pumping almost as fast as my heart was pounding.

"Check every seacock!" I said to Scott between desperate pumps. He tore through the cabin and came back about a minute later. (Seacocks are valves that go through the boat, to the water).

"All dry. Everything is fine."

This was good. This meant water was not gushing into the boat. Gushing would be bad. Very bad. Phew. Bullet: Dodged.

Once we pumped out all the water and opened up the engine compartment - steam poured our everywhere. Our cabin turned into sauna city. The first instant the steam poured out of the engine room we were nervous. But then we realized it was steam, not smoke. Steam is okay. It was just the bilge water being heated. Sigh. Smoke would have been very bad. We considered this another dodged bullet.

We tried to turn the engine. It started...and died.


Crap.

Again. Same thing.

And there we were - just bobbing around in the dark of night, with the bright lights of Buffalo teasing us in the distance, feeling just a teeny bit helpless. "There is a solution" Scott thought out loud.

We have a water cooled engine, meaning every time you turn the engine, water is pulled into the boat. If you turn and turn and turn the engine without getting it running you could flood your engine and do permanent damage. Luckily, we remembered this. Scott shut off the water intake seacock and we waited. We took a deep breath and tried it again.

It worked!


"I'd rather be watching Modern Family"
Hooray for us. Our boat was full of water and sauna steamy, but by golly it was working and we were heading into port! Happy days!

Once we got into the harbor - instead of cozying up with hot cocoa and an episode of “Modern Family” (Best. Show. Ever) - we sopped up our little water logged boat for over 2 hours. Bonus? We got to clean underneath every. single. floorboard. 5 full buckets later and we were dry. (Remember that heater I mentioned in the last post - yeah. Love it.) Plus, all our carpets got a little wash.

We also determined our problem. I won't go all into it here and I won't get all sailory-technical (because a lot of you are not sailors), but our bilge pump - the very thing that is supposed to take water OUT of our boat, is siphoning back into the boat (only when we are motoring and the butt of our boat goes down in the water) by some law of physics I care not to go into here. Hence why we were unable to see it coming in during all our previous checks. Point for super-sleuths with deductive reasoning: Brittany and Scott!


So here is what we learned:
When things go wrong on a boat, they go wrong FAST. One minute you can be dancing around in the cockpit singing, “In Neeew YoooOOOrk...Concrete jungle where dreams are maAAde of...there’s nothing you can’t doooo....” (annoyingly over-played song by Jay Z. and Alicia Keyes) and the next, you can be pumping your little heart out hoping your boat isn’t sinking. Crazy dichotomy there.
This little problem of ours could have totally been avoided had we been more diligent at checking our bilge. If I or Scott had check even ONCE in the prior 4 hours, we would have seen that it was filling and would have noticed that our bilge pump wasn’t on and turned it on saving us a few hours of mopping up lake water and allowing us to enjoy more episodes of “Modern Family” (did I already mention that this is the best show ever?). Even the tiniest, simplest SOP’s must be adhered to. No questions. But then again, if we didn't flood- we never would have realized that our bilge pump was siphoning water back into the boat. So, yeah. Moving along...

Thanks to my nifty label maker, we will not forget to check the bilge again! Have you checked your bilge today?
Regardless of all this, Scott and I think we are pretty dang lucky (even if we are sitting in a slip in Buffalo with an engine that might need a new transmission - but that is the next post! ). First of all, the lake was calm and flat when this occurred. That was nice. Second, we took on FRESH water, not salt. Salt water would have been a REEEEAAL pain in the ass to clean up. Third, the flooding (as awful as it was) forced us to figure out where the water was coming from and helped us determine the root of the problem (which we didn't know we had) and fourth, we learned, again, that we both totally keep our cool and spring into action (and not panic) when things go wrong. This can actually be the difference between life and death in a far more serious situation. We were never in serious danger (once we realized water was only trickling into the boat, and not gushing) and we just kept cool and dealt with it.

Just like we are now dealing with a (possibly) failed transmission.

But that is for the next post.

Stick with us, kids, never a dull moment!

Love,
Brittany (& Scott)
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:43   #2
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How come the bilge alarms did not go off??


should consider putting LOW and HIGH bilge alarms,,, make sure that the HIGh alarms have a different alarm sound
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:54   #3
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Yeah...we don't have bilge alarms - but are looking into it....now, we just are in the habit of checking the bilges every few hours, which we figure is good to do anyway...but a bilge alarm is on our future project list. Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:14   #4
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Good job on not freaking out. We had a similar experience while on our very first outing on our new boat. Not quite so much water as you, but it was accompanied by lots of smoke which made for a really exciting couple of minutes. I totally understand the feeling of having your intestines in your throat!

We can laugh about in hindsight but though the Mr. remained cool, I was something less than cool. Here's a link if you're interested. Our Life with Ceol Mor: Owning a sailboat doesn't mean you will actually SAIL

I've really been enjoying your blog. Good luck with the transmission issues.
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:24   #5
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Nice post nice blog, thanks.. Had a similar adrenaline rush the other day when both bilge pumps went on offshore. Worked out quickly my drippy stuffing box was going for it niagara falls style - easy fix, tighten and press some grease in there. Did make me a little nervous initially
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:17   #6
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we had same kinda problem in gulf on the boat we sailed for a near year-- seems we had a crack in the hose-- we replaced that and had a much better trip....lots drier....
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:20   #7
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Thanks nicely written. Some how my cap on the water screen came off. No alarm so no idea. The bilge pump failed. picked up the mooring and rushing about almost ran in for dinner ashore. OOps shut off the intake first and big uhhohhh water gushing. My strainer has a by pass for emergency bilge pump so the water pump can pump from the bilge. Valve over hand pump cranking and cap back on. Now I have the bilge high water alarm. lucky.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:23   #8
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Yeah, it obviously wasn't serious - but holy crap did it suck in the moment! And our stuffing box also once let some water in, but luckily the pump was on and we were able to quickly fix it. Keeping water OUT of the boat is the name of the game...
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:24   #9
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Fit a bilge alarm, and a back up if its realy freaked you out that much, and a non return valve in your bilge hose
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Old 04-12-2010, 15:13   #10
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Amazing that yachts costing mega money don't have simple bilge water alarms costing around. $100

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Old 06-12-2010, 08:25   #11
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I bought a float switch and a radio shack buzzer for under $10.00. And test it every time I go out.
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Old 06-12-2010, 10:27   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capn_billl View Post
I bought a float switch and a radio shack buzzer for under $10.00. And test it every time I go out.
please tel lme about this-i need to do something as i may6 be sailing my formosa solo to caribean.....
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:05   #13
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My bilge switches (I have 2 and 2 pumps) are wired on at all times. The only way to kill is to turn off house battery switch. I can also manually activate. Wiring in an alarm is simple, Just wire float and alarm like it is a pump. Also some people like counters to determine how often it comes on. If it acivates to much you know you got a problem. Also in colder climates be sure to turn off in the winter when on the hard or you could burn up the switch(s). Ask me how I know this?
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:15   #14
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My bilge switches (I have 2 and 2 pumps) are wired on at all times. The only way to kill is to turn off house battery switch. I can also manually activate. Wiring in an alarm is simple, Just wire float and alarm like it is a pump. Also some people like counters to determine how often it comes on. If it acivates to much you know you got a problem. Also in colder climates be sure to turn off in the winter when on the hard or you could burn up the switch(s). Ask me how I know this?
you got iced?
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:29   #15
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Lucky guess! I use water witch bilge switches and last winter left pumps on thinking bilge will be kept dry in winter. I was very disappointed with my defective switches when in the spring they did not work. Just like the defective float switches I had the winter before. Can't americans make anything that lasts?
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