Monday, February 19, 2007

November 24, 2006

The other night, just when I thought we were finally done with the battle of bilge, I went in search of a glass of port to enjoy while I read. I didn’t have a bottle in the liquor cabinet, and I knew I wasn’t allowed to touch the bottle that Jay and John had given us before we left [it was a present and a promise - the port needs 5 more years to come into its own, in the meantime we're to take it around the world with us, and enjoy it with Jay and John when we return - pretty cool, eh?], so I went hunting in my deep wine storage. I pulled up the floorboard in our stateroom to discover yet another slew of bilge sludge. Yuck. So we cleaned it, but I didn’t find any port. Now I’m frustrated and really looking for a drink. So I delve into the not so deep wine storage, in the bottom of my hanging locker (closet), which happens to have a head (toilet) hose running through it. No surprise, the stuff in there is wet. But the salt water doesn’t appear to have come from below, as the bottom of the locker is sealed off from the bilge. I figured it came from the cap rail. Until I noticed that one of the head hoses was dripping. Double yuck.

At this point, I’m grossed out, thirsty and in a foul temper. Sten tightened down the hose clamp, and cleaned out the locker, and generally avoided me. Standing at the galley sink, cleaning the outsides of bottles of wine with antibacterial soap, I couldn’t figure out why we would have a leak in the hose heading to the holding tank. We don’t use our holding tank. Like everyone outside of the US, we just let it flow overboard. Which is why I won’t swim in most harbors.

The mystery revealed itself this afternoon. I was standing at the galley sink, dishing up some wet food for Lenore, while she rubbed my ankles and mewed. As Sten finished up in the forward head, I could hear him pumping out the head. Lenore stopped rubbing my ankles, hunkered down , and began hissing at the floorboard next to us. It was sitting askew, as though something under it had shifted, which didn’t make any sense because there was very little under that floorboard. As Sten continued pumping away, I reached down to pick it up, only to find bubbles around the inspection plate on the top of a tank. I called to him to stop, and he came out to look. I asked him what the tank was, and he told me that it was our “black water” tank, which is a nice euphemism for holding tank. Gross.

At some point in the past few weeks, the handle on the valve in our forward head had been switched from the position that sends our waste overboard to the position that sends it into the holding tank. And somewhere along the way, probably in the storm, the hose that allows gases to escape from the tank, had gotten clogged. A few weeks of use was enough to pressurize the fiberglass tank so that it expanded enough to lift the floorboard, and send Lenore into attack mode. There was also apparently enough pressure in the system to back fluid into the hose leading from the holding tank into the aft head and to leak out the point of least resistance, all over my wine storage.

After we fixed the problem, we cleaned up and headed over to the Dingy Club to meet up with Paul and Sonya, and drown our sorrows in a couple rounds of dark and stormies. Since I’ve made so many references to them, and enjoyed so many, it is only fitting to share the recipe: pour 1.5oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum over ice, top with ginger beer, and give a generous squeeze of lime (in a pinch lemon will do, but I wouldn't advise it). Rinse and repeat until your head woes fade away.

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