Friday, September 17


No matter what is happening at the time, panic doesn't help. Ever. Well, maybe once... maybe once in caveman days when caveman first met a sabertooth tiger, he panicked and ran like hell. But since then, calm and rational thought is the best plan. And here's some related advice - always know the answer to the questions "Where is your manual bilge pump?" And, "What is that beeping noise?"

Before I launch into my story I must say (and I never thought I'd say it) I'm glad I was Navy trained and I was glad I was surrounded by six friends who were also Navy trained. I'll explain later.

So it was a beautiful Seattle Wednesday afternoon. Sea Change was going to be finished with her final dramtic change. (I know you were promised before and after pics, but I haven't had a chance to download some of those, so you'll have to wait for the painting saga post). I had arranged for the boat to be put back in the water and wrangled up my friends to help me drive the boat to Seattle. Destination: our new moorage at the AGC Marina on Lake Union in Seattle - our new home. Downtown living... on a boat. It doesn't get better.

About 20 minutes after we left the boat yard in Edmonds I noticed this beeping that was randomly going on and off. "What is that beeping noise?" After checking all of my electronics I realized it was a high bilge level alarm! Holy crap. So I asked my buddy Jeff to take the helm and went down to the engine room to look in the bilge. Holy shit! There were 6-8 inches of water in the bilge running the length of the boat - by comparison there is normally maybe an inch of water just in part of the bilge. So, I'm immediately thinking "Are my bilge pumps working?" Turns out one of the two pumps was not. More advice: test your bilge pumps and fix them sooner rather than later. I was also thinking, "Where the hell is this water coming from?" I was so busy thinking of which valves might be leaking that I failed to notice the water pouring in through the hull next to me. Holy shit again!

So here's where I'm glad I had 7 Navy trained guys aboard. Without wasting a second, everyone started solving problems. I knew I had an installed manual bilge pump behind the couch (if you don't know where yours is, find it now) and I thought I had another portable pump, but I don't (I'm gonna get one). One of the guys manned the manual pump and started pumping. Joe had the brilliant idea to use the ShopVac to suck the water out of the bilge 5 gallons at a time instead of the cup to bucket idea we were going to use. Joe jumped in and started sucking.

Joe at work Posted by Hello

And everyone else made a bucket brigade to get the water overboard.

Steve at the ready. Posted by Hello

The pour. Posted by Hello

Go Marty go! Posted by Hello

By one of my buddy's calculations we were removing 10 gallons of water a minute from the bilge, and level was only going down a little. So, Steve decides to seal the hull with Duck Tape to slow the inrush of water. While everyone else is working on this problem, Jeff is trying to drive steady. This is difficult on a beautiful Seattle day because of the 4 foot swells, wind and rain. Of course, problem #2 strikes and the port windshield wiper pops off! Jeff sends Nate out on deck to get it and fix it.

A beautiful Seattle day Posted by Hello

Notice the shirt blowing over his head and the wiper in his mouth!

The boat is rocking and rolling, Nate is out on the deck, Steve is in the engine room with a roll of tape, everyone else is running around with 5 gallon buckets of water. But no one has a hint of panic. Everyone is just working as hard as they can. It was very calm; in fact most of us were joking about it.

We got everything under control thanks to everyone's work and continued through the Ballard Locks onto Lake Union. I placed a phone call to Manuel (the painter guy) to ask if all the water was normal. "Oh yeah, the wood is all dry and needs to get wet and swell up. You'll probably have water coming into the boat for about a day." Good to know. After tying up and settling in in Seattle I ran into a new neighbor who re-affirmed Manuel's assurance, and told me he has a big ole gas-fired spare pump on the ready every time he puts his boat back in the water.

So there you have it. What I didn't know before, you now know. I did it wrong so you don't have to. My biggest piece of advice is - meet a bunch of Navy guys and keep them on your boat at all times (sounds like a plan to me! - Jessi).



At 5:27 PM, Blogger William said...

Great blog you have here I will deffinitely be back, I have a website that is about restoring wooden boats : complete wooden boat restoration guide


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