Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 08-08-2017, 12:17   #1
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
WE'RE SINKING!

I wrote this in June 2007 and have posted it on another site in the past but thought I would post it here as well. I hope you enjoy and learn from my mistakes.
.
WE‘RE SINKING!
By Jim Ulmer III MAY 2007


This past Memorial Day weekend two buddies and I planned a cruise down the coast to Perdido key Florida, a trip we had done numerus times. This was to be the maiden voyage of Delta Girl, our 1988 Hunter 28.5, after her refit from sinking during Katrina. We had only made it about 20 miles when Gene looked down the companion way and shouted WE’RE SINKING!

Prior to “The Storm” as we now call it, the three of us had secured Delta Girl up the Tchoutacabouffa River, like we have many times for hurricanes but Katrina was no ordinary hurricane. A category 5 storm that hit Waveland Mississippi as a category 4 with 190 mph winds and a 30+ foot storm surge that effectively wiped Waveland off the map. We secured her to trees with long rope to counter the surge and a couple strategically place anchors. But this was no match for this storm!
Delta Girl sank during the surge and settled into the mud in 20 feet of water. A couple weeks later and after all the insurance was settled, we negotiated to buy the boat back from the insurance company with the understanding that we would remove it immediately from the bottom of the river. Upon raising her we were pleased to discover that the mud had protected her from damage. We moved her to the yard and set about gutting and refitting her back to the great boat she was. The refit took about a year as we could only do the work on weekends.

The work intensified as we realized that we could finish in time for the Memorial Day weekend. We hurriedly finished the last projects in time to splash on Thursday afternoon before the Holiday weekend. Gene, Bill, and I departed Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi that evening at about 10pm and sailed to Horn Island, a Mississippi barrier island, to anchor for the night. Fortunately! The seas were calm. The next morning we departed after breakfast and headed east down the coast. The wind and seas were building so we stayed inside the islands for some protection. We had a reefed main and genoa and were sailing close reached into a typical 3 or 4 foot short period sea. By 9am the wind strengthened and clocked to straight on our nose from the east. We rolled in the genoa and dropped the main. We were determined to make the lee of Dauphin Island Alabama, so we slogged on under auxiliary engine power.

At about 10am after pounding straight into short period six foot seas for several hours, Gene happened to glance below and saw 1”of water sloshing about on the salon floor. HEY WE’RE SINKING!

We were dumb founded! All three of us jumped below and were some what panicked trying to come to grips and decide what to do. The water was up to 3” in the span of a couple minutes. It took us a couple minutes to react. We started checking through hull fittings and stuffing boxes but none were leaking. The newly rebuilt engine was idling and in threat of the now 10” deep water sloshing as big a wave inside the boat as outside. Davy Jones had come to claim back his prize!
We all silently thought it’s time to prepare to abandon ship. We had an eight foot hard dinghy and laden with three full grown men had only four or five inches of freeboard in a calm anchorage. This was not going to be comfortable in 6 ft seas. What to grab? We were only 5 or 6 miles from shore and there is a Coast Guard Station not very far away. The only other boat traffic we see is a big barge heading our way in the channel; fortunately the wind has blown us out of his way. We had a brand new VHF radio still in the box on the shelf; one of the projects still not scratched off the list. We were prepared though, we had cell phones and two water proof hand held VHF radios. We should call a MAYDAY.

This is when you realize how unprepared you are for this event! Sure we had played this scenario in our head, “what would I do in this situation”? This is entertaining when sitting in the comfortable arm chair of your living room thinking through the what-if scenarios. It’s easy to compile the solution to problems that YOU create. But, when it really happens you have several factors you failed to take into account. Your adrenaline is spiked, your heart is pounding, your mind is racing, the seas are rough, and the music is playing faster than you can dance. But mostly you don’t know the cause of the problem and this generates fear and panic. How do you fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong?

My mind raced! We’re running out of time! We have to find the problem NOW! We’re going to lose the boat! THINK! WHERE IS THE HOLE! I can go over the side and find it and plug it. But it’s very rough; the boat will beat me to death, too dangerous. We’ve checked all the through hulls, haven’t we? WAIT! What about the speed log!

We had been at the boat yard a few weeks before to paint the bottom and to install a new speed log. This is a daunting task on the Hunter 28.5 because the sounder transducer and the speed log transducer are accessible through a small cutout in the bulkhead under the v-birth. You have to remove a piece of plywood that supports the forward edge of the v-birth and crawl under the v-birth about 18” to access the cutout. The cutout is only about 10” square and you can only get your arm or your head through at a time. So the work of changing the through hulls is mostly by feel.

THAT HAD TO BE IT! Fortunately, we had not reinstalled the v-birth support. I pulled all the gear out of the way and belly crawled to the access hole. The water was now a good 15” deep and sloshing big waves in my face. This was a very uncomfortable position. I’m a little claustrophobic anyway and add all these other conditions; I was one-more-wave-in-the-face away from panic and changing the shape of the v-birth. When I reached the access hole I heard the rush of water and I knew I had found the hole. We had rushed to get Delta Girl back into the water at the boatyard and in our haste, failed to install the retainer nut on the knot log insert. The only thing that held the removable insert in the through hull, as long as it did, was the three o-ring seals. When we started pounding into the heavy seas the water pressure slowly drove the insert out and opened a 1” diameter hole in the bottom of the boat. By my estimate we were getting 100 to 120 gallons per minute of water into the boat.

I reached my arm through the access hole and followed the strong stream of water to the through hull and like the Dutch boy plugged the hole with my hand screamed to my compadres’ “I FOUND THE HOLE!” They each had obtained buckets and were bailing with the speed and efficiency of a 100 gpm pump. This had bought me the time I needed to find the hole. I laid there taking a minute to catch my breath between waves and thank the good Lord.

I need to plug the hole. In order to feel around to find the speed log insert I would have to take my hand off the through hull, so I needed to plug the hole long enough to find the insert and, the all too important retaining nut. Moreover, we need a minute to recover our senses and check our shorts. We need the wooden plugs.

The search began for the wooden plugs that we surely put back on the boat. The last time we saw them was when we were pumping the boat out after raising her. They were floating among the debris of stuff that over the years had accumulated into every locker on the boat. You know “the stuff”, the “we might need that one day” kind of stuff that in reality should have been removed years before. Finally, one of the cone shaped wooden plugs that we had taken for granted was uncovered and passed to me. I managed to pass the plug through the cutout and in one motion retrieve the plug with the hand that was holding back the sea and force it into the through hull. I laid there with my hand over the plug scared that it too might pop out. After a minute I felt around and found the speed log insert and forced it into the through hull and secured the retaining nut. We could finally breathed a sigh of relief and in celebration we pass around the bottle of Knob Creek Kentucky Bourbon, which had survived the Katrina sinking. If it had any Katrina water in it, it was sure smooth and soothed the soul.

After an hour and half of bailing and pumping and not to be deterred we headed on our way to enjoy what turn out to be a very fun weekend, although a little salty damp.

Although we sold Delta Girl a few years ago, In the years since the three of us have sailed many a mile together when family and work would allow. Gene finished a steel sailboat he was building and we have cruised the East Coast, Bahamas, and one trip to Nova Scotia. Many of our conversations since have been in critique of the actions we took and what we should’a, could’a or would’a done different.

Our conclusions were:
  • Firstly! Whether you are superstitious or not, always give Neptune his grog and ask permission to sail on his waters after a relaunch! He got a shot of that Knob Creek by the way.
  • Plan for a sinking every time you leave the dock.
  • Purchase a life raft and put it in an accessible storage compartment.
  • Keep an emergency bailout bag ready to go in a moments notice. If this had happened at night we probably wouldn’t have discovered the problem in time to save the boat (darkness adds more lions, tigers and bears).
  • Go ahead and make the radio call. If we had, at least, put out a PAN PAN people would have known of our situation and if that was the only call we were able to make it might have been the difference between rescue and a very long swim.
  • Have the wooden plugs available, preferably tied to each through hull.
  • Purchase and install a 2000 gph backup bilge pump with stainless screen wrapped around the pump in a ball. Our new bilge pump although too small to have helped much, quickly became clogged with all the debris that was washed out of every nook and cranny left from the storm sinking. The 2000 gph wouldn’t have kept up with the influx but it would have bought us more time. We thought about undoing the engine raw water intake but on investigation this would not have provided much help. An auxiliary inboard doesn’t pump much water and the intake might have clogged and overheated the engine, adding a new dimension to our situation. However, adding a high volume pump to the engine with a clutch would be a viable solution.
  • Keep at least one five gallon bucket on board (it’s amazing how much water a scared man with a bucket can bail). Bill and Gene removed most of the water with buckets.

The biggest lesson we learned was to not take anything for granted. I never checked the installation of the speed log insert. It was my fault, I must have inserted it temporarily after we installed the through hull and out of sight out of mind. When we put the boat back in the water we checked for water in the bilge, no water, let’s go. Check and recheck everything you did, especially anything you did to the hull. I’d like to say we spat in Davy Jones eye once again, but truth is we almost handed it to him. He’ll have to earn it next time.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC01483.jpg
Views:	188
Size:	414.0 KB
ID:	153677   Click image for larger version

Name:	Image012.jpg
Views:	239
Size:	192.0 KB
ID:	153678  

Click image for larger version

Name:	FullSizeRender.jpg
Views:	192
Size:	414.0 KB
ID:	153679  
__________________

__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 20:30   #2
Moderator
 
JPA Cate's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: aboard, cruising in Australia
Boat: Sayer 46' Solent rig sloop
Posts: 9,456
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

When the cashiers' check had finally changed hands, one of the first things I did on this boat was to take the plugs out of the drawer the PO had them in, and secure them around at all the through hulls on the boat. Being a dry boat, the cord is still shiny yellow. :^)
__________________

__________________
Long term cruiser, with Jim, aboard US yacht Insatiable II

"Today's misfortune is tomorrow's adventure." ....Optimism. "You always remember your first gale.".....Experience.
JPA Cate is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 21:22   #3
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Hailing Minny, MN
Boat: Vancouver 27
Posts: 721
Images: 1
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Great write-up! Fun to read and a solid reminder of what sh!t-hitting-fan looks like.
__________________
laika is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 21:36   #4
Registered User
 
Stenn's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chesapeake
Boat: Newport 27-S MKII "Listen"
Posts: 50
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Reminds me of something similar with an old Subaru I was working on, intending to change both CV joints at the same time, do same stage of job one step at a time, on each side....that lasted about as long as loosening axle nut on both sides...then ended up focusing on passenger side to complete as rain approached.....finished that side....packed it in as Florida rain started pounding....

....next day, hopped in and took off straight into downtown Jacksonville Fl to work, up over Expressway bridge, into downtown, up onto Main Street bridge, when right in the middle of the bridge, off comes my driver's side wheel, straight into unprotected oncoming traffic....SLAM!...head-on into woman's grill while I continue down the other side of Main St bridge on my ball joint (you can probably still see the groove I dug in the concrete on the south side of the bridge!)....finally got out of traffic at Museum of Science and History, walked back up bridge to retreave tire and wheel now wedged under another woman's car stopped up on the bridge!

YEP, CHECK YOUR WORK AND STOP BEING IN SUCH A DAMNED HURRY ! Boy did I learn that day, and thank God it was on Main St and not out at sea !!
__________________
Stenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2017, 05:50   #5
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
When the cashiers' check had finally changed hands, one of the first things I did on this boat was to take the plugs out of the drawer the PO had them in, and secure them around at all the through hulls on the boat. Being a dry boat, the cord is still shiny yellow. :^)
Yes! as you can now understand this is a biggie for me now also. I even check for the plugs when crewing a passage on other peoples boats.
__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2017, 05:51   #6
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by laika View Post
Great write-up! Fun to read and a solid reminder of what sh!t-hitting-fan looks like.
Thank you. yep it was a real eye opener and hard lesson learned.
__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2017, 05:54   #7
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stenn View Post
Reminds me of something similar with an old Subaru I was working on, intending to change both CV joints at the same time, do same stage of job one step at a time, on each side....that lasted about as long as loosening axle nut on both sides...then ended up focusing on passenger side to complete as rain approached.....finished that side....packed it in as Florida rain started pounding....

....next day, hopped in and took off straight into downtown Jacksonville Fl to work, up over Expressway bridge, into downtown, up onto Main Street bridge, when right in the middle of the bridge, off comes my driver's side wheel, straight into unprotected oncoming traffic....SLAM!...head-on into woman's grill while I continue down the other side of Main St bridge on my ball joint (you can probably still see the groove I dug in the concrete on the south side of the bridge!)....finally got out of traffic at Museum of Science and History, walked back up bridge to retreave tire and wheel now wedged under another woman's car stopped up on the bridge!

YEP, CHECK YOUR WORK AND STOP BEING IN SUCH A DAMNED HURRY ! Boy did I learn that day, and thank God it was on Main St and not out at sea !!
yes! The three of us joke now that a squirrel ran by about the time I was going to put the retaining nut on, and I had to chase it. A cheap reference to attention deficit.
__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2017, 12:39   #8
Registered User
 
Stenn's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chesapeake
Boat: Newport 27-S MKII "Listen"
Posts: 50
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Re: "Squirrel !" Hillarious ! 😂
__________________
Stenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-2017, 08:04   #9
Registered User

Join Date: May 2016
Location: Prescott, AZ
Boat: American Mariner 24'
Posts: 99
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Great post. Never thought about attaching the plugs to the through holes. Will do it this weekend.
__________________
ClassicalBGP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-2017, 09:33   #10
Registered User
 
Stenn's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chesapeake
Boat: Newport 27-S MKII "Listen"
Posts: 50
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

The thing I don't get about attaching bung plugs to through-holes is, what are we talking about doing when the valve starts leaking,...it's usually a crack in the body, not snapped off completely...or it's a worn or cracked hose going to or from the valve....what's a big round/conical plug going to do unless we're talking about going ahead and just breaking the whole valve off and away from the round hole at the base so we can pound the plug in ?

Otherwise, maybe another equally crital safety item for leaks is some of that new tape similar to duct/Duck tape they're showing on TV, that you can stick right on pipes, radiators, etc. ?
__________________
Stenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-2017, 09:47   #11
Registered User
 
Fiveslide's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Boat: JBW club 420, MFG Bandit, Snark
Posts: 548
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stenn View Post
The thing I don't get about attaching bung plugs to through-holes is, what are we talking about doing when the valve starts leaking,...it's usually a crack in the body, not snapped off completely...or it's a worn or cracked hose going to or from the valve....what's a big round/conical plug going to do unless we're talking about going ahead and just breaking the whole valve off and away from the round hole at the base so we can pound the plug in ?

Otherwise, maybe another equally crital safety item for leaks is some of that new tape similar to duct/Duck tape they're showing on TV, that you can stick right on pipes, radiators, etc. ?
I've had good luck with Rescue Tape. Got my truck another 50+ miles in south Texas heat to a shop when I split a radiator hose. Didn't leak a drop, that tape had been in the truck for I don't know how long and finally got to use it that day. I recommend that product.
__________________
Fiveslide is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 17-08-2017, 10:30   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 1
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Well written, jhulmer. Very exciting!
__________________
Platinum Sails is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-08-2017, 14:38   #13
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Platinum Sails View Post
Well written, jhulmer. Very exciting!
Thank you glad you enjoyed it and it was very exciting. What seamed like a long time but in reality it was only a few scarey minutes.
Jim
__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-08-2017, 14:40   #14
Registered User
 
jhulmer's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Biloxi, MS
Boat: 1978 Cabo Rico Tiburon 36
Posts: 146
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiveslide View Post
I've had good luck with Rescue Tape. Got my truck another 50+ miles in south Texas heat to a shop when I split a radiator hose. Didn't leak a drop, that tape had been in the truck for I don't know how long and finally got to use it that day. I recommend that product.
I keep some on the boat now for just-in-case. haven't had an opportunity to use it yet, so glad to hear it works.
__________________
jhulmer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-08-2017, 14:50   #15
Marine Service Provider
 
newhaul's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: puget sound washington
Boat: 1968 Islander bahama 24 hull 182, 1963 columbia 29 defender. hull # 60
Posts: 3,100
Re: WE'RE SINKING!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhulmer View Post
yes! The three of us joke now that a squirrel ran by about the time I was going to put the retaining nut on, and I had to chase it. A cheap reference to attention deficit.
Your name isn't Doug by chance is it? (Reference to kids movie UP )
__________________

__________________
Non illigitamus carborundum
newhaul is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Sinking Cats Gludy Multihull Sailboats 209 29-05-2010 20:07
C.G. rescues 4 from sinking 48 footer off of S. Carolina Steve Rust Monohull Sailboats 7 26-07-2008 22:41
Report into Sinking of UK Yacht swagman General Sailing Forum 15 13-04-2007 15:17
New theory (and old equations) may explain causes of ship-sinking freak waves learningcurve Off Topic Forum 0 14-09-2006 06:07
QE2B sinking Alan Wheeler General Sailing Forum 2 08-10-2004 14:58


Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 17:25.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.