When it rains, it pours and pours…

When things go wrong on the boat, the situation often gets worse before it gets better.  Problems seem to show up in groups. The more of those problems that you have, the more difficult it is to determine the root cause.

Often times, the moment that you think you have everything under control is the time just before you find out that things are worse than ever.

Such was the case a couple of days ago, when for a few brief moments I was actually convinced that we must be sinking.

It all started when…

I decided to check the aft locker to make sure the heater and autopilot area was in good shape after our passage to Menorca.  Both of those items had seen a bunch of work over the past week and that’s usually where the follow-on trouble occurs.

I had been sitting at the Nav station directly over the fresh water pump and I’m sure that it was not running when I left.  But, by the time I’d made my way to the stern and opened the aft hatch, fresh water was shooting everywhere. Coincidence or not, this was definitely not good!!

Menorca Early June 111

It took about a second to find the source of this pressurized fountain of water.  A small fitting (shown here) that linked the hot water tank to the boats water system had cracked and slid off the pipe that it was attached to.

Highly motivated, I ran below and turned off the breaker for water pressure. 

The day was saved.  Or, so I thought!



Here’s where things start to get worse.

As expected the light indicating that the bilge pump had been activated was glowing brightly, but … the bilge pump was not running!  Why not?? (see footnote for explanation) 

Now, I was really not happy.  I lifted the main floorboard and was happy to see that it didn’t look like more than maybe a third of our fresh water had “escaped”. 

I then moved aft to see how much water was making its way through the aft cabin.  There was more than I wanted to see, and the shower sump in the head was overflowing as the water ran through the bilge to the main pump area.  Not, great but things were manageable.

I decided to flip on the shower sump to deal with the water there, and figured that would give me time to deal with the bilge pump malfunction.

Here is where things get really really bad!

I flipped the shower sump breaker and …. nothing!!  That pump is pretty noisy and there was nothing.  No noise.  What the heck?  Why were all my pumps dying at the same time???

I didn’t have time to worry about that for long, because when I looked back to check the shower pump, I noticed a miniature version of Niagara Falls entering the aft cabin.  There was water literally shooting out of the heater vent, and flowing out around the night light!! 

Holy shit!  I’ve got all my pumps on strike and now I’ve got water flooding the boat from god knows where.  I thought briefly about tasting the water at my feet, but realized I was standing in the head.  I love my boat, but that thought quickly evaporated. 

What was happening?  Where was the water coming from??  Why were my pumps not working???  Were we actually sinking???  What now?

Menorca Early June 114

And, then my moment of enlightenment, and shame! 

When I had flipped on the Shower Pump breaker, I had actually hit the wrong switch!!  (Yes, perhaps it is time for glasses.) 

What I actually did was turn the Water Pressure breaker back on!!  

On my way to saving the day, I had actually restarted the pressurized flow of water in the aft compartment and pumped our entire 40 gallon tank full of fresh water into the bilge!!

Who was it that decided to put those two breakers next to one another??? 

Nice work Jim…

*For anyone interested.  The bilge pump was not running because it’s thermal cutoff switch had engaged.  The pump is in the engine compartment.  We had run the engine for a couple of hours on a hot day, and then the pump probably kicked in and pumped the first 5 gallons or so of the flood waters overboard before cutting out.  Something to work on in the future for sure.

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