First off, I’m sorry for the very long winded post but it has been good therapy for me.
Also, I know that many will say that I have no right to complain, and they are correct. I’m not suggesting that I’m ready to trade my problems for others. I am simply sharing this because it points out that life onboard is not all beaches and umbrella drinks.
It really was a shitty day and I knew it was going to start that way. I just didn’t expect the next 24 hours worth of problems.
The day started as I expected it would.
Problem #1 – Plumbing Issues
The night prior the plumbing for our marine toilet (head) plugged up.
We don’t need to go into the reasons for this problem, but on Morpheus there has always been a golden rule “If you clog it, you fix it!”. In this case, I needed to fix it. Say no more.
And, it wasn’t a trivial clog. This was serious.
I pumped so hard on the flush handle in the hopes of a break through that I worried about things exploding!! That would have been an unimaginably horrible thing!
No amount of pressure would resolve this issue, so I went to bed that night hoping that “something” would happen, but knowing all along that hoping doesn’t make it so.
I knew that I was in for a shitty morning!!
Sure thing, my early morning testing showed no progress. It was time to change out of any clothes that I ever wanted to wear again and find a double set of medical gloves. Once properly “outfitted” I was ready to go to work.
This was an awful job, but I had a pretty tremendous plan that required two strong trash compactor bags, a shop vac, and of course — Duct Tape!!
Lets do it! The plumbing system is complicated with multiple pumps, valves, and narrow pipes. The clog could have been anywhere and I did not want to spend my day poking around playing detective. This was a job to buckle down and get done with ASAP.
So, I disconnected the two ends of the plumbing system. I covered the “inlet” end of the plumbing with my two double bagged trash compactor bags and then using a couple of adaptors and copious amounts of duct tape I connected the “out or pressure” side of my shop vac to the “destination” end of the hose.
My plan was to reverse the pressure and blast that clog right out of my plumbing and into my sealed receiving bag! Genius! What could go wrong???
Thus prepared, I said a short prayer and turned on the shop vac. It wound up into action but other than struggling with the pressure of the now sealed plumbing nothing happened. The force was strong with this clog…
On to plan B. Never ever doubting my plan, I figured we just needed to apply more pressure. The question was how?
I could use my kitesurfing pump (not going to happen), or I could use the high pressure foot pump that we use to pump up our dinghy. I went for the foot pump.
After working through the issues of creating an airtight seal between the 1/2″ foot pump hose, and the 1.5″ plumbing (starting to run out of Duct Tape now), it was time to try again.
The first few pumps had me doubting my plan, but then I could feel more and more pressure building up. I double checked to make sure the other end was still in the bag (and NOT pointing at me) and then went for it, standing on the foot pump for the last time.
Suddenly, the resistance gave way with a bang and there was the sound of rushing water and other “stuff” roaring into those two trash bags! Victory!!!!
Oh, but the smell. Wow. Not good. Definitely not Robert Duval’s “smell of victory in the morning”!!
Shitty Job Done
Problem #2 – Lack of Fresh Water
We ran out of fresh water. This is not usually a big problem. We have a water maker, we just turn it on and make more. But, in this case, the timing really sucked!! My master plan for the head disaster may have worked well overall, but there was still the need to scrub and rinse the area down. On to problem #3.
Problem #3 – Water Maker Won’t Start!
Long story short, the water maker pumps were not priming and thus no water moved through the system and no fresh water was being produced.
I guess I was already in the “clear the clog” mode, so without thinking to much, I crawled back into the water maker compartment and started what would ultimately be a two hour process disassembling and reassembling the 10 hoses and 4 system valves looking for something that was plugging the system. Nothing found!!
This is getting serious and I am in a pretty bad mood too!
I had looked through the clear plastic cover on the input filter to make sure it was clear at the very beginning of this process. It looked perfectly clean. But, who knew that this filter was different than every other filter on my boat and it captures seaweed, etc. on the inside rather than the outside of the filter screen. You can’t see anything unless you take the filter apart!!
Needless to say, when as a last resort I opened the filter, I found that it was totally full of “things from the sea” other than water and was the ultimate cause of this problem.
Yes, this was dumb, but hey I’d had a pretty shitty morning up to that point. Give me a break!
Problem #4 – Owners that don’t know how to anchor, and leave their boats for the day.
This is getting long so I’ll just say that the harbor of Deshaies, Guadeloupe (our location) is known for two things. Its a super windy spot, with a very difficult bottom of sand and grass. Anchors need to be set hard, and you need to deploy lots of chain.
But, the knuckleheads that are always around want to be as close to shore as possible. So, they all go crowd in together and they can’t let out much chain for fear of hitting those next to them. The end result is they leave for a tour of the island in calm weather, the wind kicks up and their boat starts to slide through the anchorage. Of course, things only get worse because as the slide out of the harbor the water depth increases and their anchor becomes totally useless.
We saw two boats drag through the harbor yesterday afternoon in about 20 knots of wind. One was lucky and its anchor reset. The other dragged until its anchor caught the anchor chain of the boat behind it. The boats collided and a flotilla of dinghies manned by owners that did not leave their boats unattended converged on the boat as it again broke free and headed for the exit.
I jumped onboard as three dinghies pretended they were tugboats and pushed the moving boat back and forth dodging others in the anchorage. My goal was to let more chain out for their anchor, but their windless had a hand screw that need to be loosened and it wouldn’t budge. I needed a hammer, couldn’t find one, found a winch handle, used it to pound the crap (remember it was a shitty day) out of that screw until finally the chain started going out.
I tried to control its speed as my fear was I’d pull a Capt. Ron and watch the end go overboard, but it was a challenge. At one point the chain jumped off the windless and started free reeling out. I managed to grab the chain and get a chain hook on it to hold it but at the same time cut the end of my thumb. Not a bad cut, I didn’t feel a thing, but it was good and bloody.
A couple things to think about here. When the owner finally did get back to his boat sometime last night, how did he find his boat? That must have been one very interesting thought process! Second, what did he think this AM when he found blood spatters all over his deck??
Problem #5 – Thirty Plus Knots Of Wind All Freakin Night!!
The forecast was for 10 knots. For a couple hours early we had 6 knots. But, starting at about midnight it was pretty full on. I can’t remember the number of boats that dragged, but it seemed like every hour we’d wake up hearing horns indicating that yet another boat was dragging through the anchorage.
The boat that I bled all over was literally a quarter mile downwind of the anchorage by 2am and stayed out there all night long with its owner onboard. Probably a good call.
The catamaran to our left, drifted quietly out to sea only to return at sunrise when the owners woke to find that they had departed the harbor. (Memories of one of our friends adventure in Kauai many years ago!)
A trimaran ahead of us dragged through the anchorage amazingly hitting nobody on the way though until their anchor caught the last boats anchor chain and the two boats swung together!
And there were more, I just can’t remember the details at this point.
Believe me, it was a shitty 24 hours!