Can one ever be prepared enough to leave for 5 months away from what we are familiar with as civilization? While we were having a family farewell breakfast, the minds (well, Anita’s and mine anyway) were racing with questions, possibilities, doubts and scenarios. I was still fixing watermaker filters to bulkheads and wondering if I’d made all the necessary banking arrangements and then it was the right moment to just go!
“Stop!”, I heard. “Why?” I asked. “We haven’t collected the laundry!” So Megan and Garrick were dispatched to collect the laundry and the rest of us said further farewells to friends on the dockside.
Thank goodness for the perfect flat calm that we left in. It gave me time to install tie down points for the toolbox that has been so much part of everyday life for the last 4 months that it was overlooked in the storage plan! Then it was out with the fishing lures and sun screen and the holiday began. For about five hours.
“Can you smell diesel?” “Can you hear bilge water sloshing?” Yes and yes. Oh no. We’d filled up with 500 liters of diesel the day before and to find out that we had a leaking tank would have been a real party stopper. On with head torch and up with floor boards. No signs of leaks anywhere except a possible drip from the valve on the filler pipe. But the bilge sump was half full of liquid! Smelly, dirty liquid. A flick of the bilge pump switch and ….. nothing. Plenty of whirring but no sucking. No problem, use the manual pump. Plenty of pumping, no sucking!
No option but to descend into the bilge and unblock the pumps. Access to the bilge sump is a gap in the floorboard support structure about 400mm x 500mm and the pumps are 1 cm further down than the reach of my arms at full stretch!
To cut a long, dirty story short, the better part of day 2 was spent in the inverted position, clearing out the debris resulting from an intense month of carpentry on board. Sawdust and sundry bits of plastic had found their way to the sump and the bilge pumps were clogged up solidly. But that’s all sorted out now.
And the topless bit? Well, the access to the bilge isn’t big enough for me and my shirt!