Viva La Bilge Pump!

Since this night I can attest to, that the most important crew on board is the bilge pump. We are motoring, because there is absolutely no wind, unfortunately, because a little while back a seam in our engines muffler box gave out and seawater is gushing in.
Radu discovered water on the cabin floor while making dinner. He took up the floorboard of the bilge and found that the bilge was full of water!! He hit the bilge pump switch and I went to the cockpit and pumped with the manual bilge pump. Within three minutes, the water was pumped out, but then we had to figure out where the water had come from. It was salt water from the taste of it. It could be leaking in from the propeller shaft, the seal could be broken. Radu checked and the shaft was dry.

 

It could have come in from a thru hole. We don’t have many thru holes: one for each sink drain, one for the water maker up take and one uptake for the engine. We checked the engine. The engine is cooled with seawater and the discarded seawater mixes with the exhaust and runs out with it. There is a stainless steel box in the middle of the exhaust pipe, like a muffler, called water silencer. The seam on one side of box was rusty and had opened a bit. Water was spraying out through some holes. Luckily it wasn’t spraying on the engine and we had found the culprit. One does think about the worst in those moments and that there could be a hole in the hull somehow. We anchored last night on a rocky bottom and had enough room between the keel and the rocks… but.
We checked and the water filled the lowest bilge within thirty minutes. Now we are turning the bilge pump on and off every fifteen minutes, to let it rest in between. The bilge pump could probably endure running constantly, but we don’t want to have it die on us. That made for athletic watches, climbing in and out and in and out.
The adrenaline dealing with water in the boat makes us agile and an approach to a harbor at night is always exciting. I am proud of us, we are calm the whole time, assessed the situation, found the problem quickly like pros. One experience more under our belt. And we are not sinking. That’s what counts.

 

I can see the city lights of Santa Rosalia in the distance. I am on watch and it’s in the middle of the night. The bilge pump is doing a great job. Hang in there, little one, little more than two hours to go to safe harbor, when we can turn off the motor, close the thru-hole and end this nightmare…

 

 

PS:  If you are asking yourself if we have a bilge pump with a float switch in board, kind if like in a toilet tank, yes we do, but not installed yet. You bet that we will install it once we get to port. – And we did!! We also took the silencer box out and had all the seams on it re-welded. We might have a box made of fiberglass later on.

The culprit. Rusty seams on the water silencer box. The gap is in the middle, then the water poured out of.

The culprit. Rusty seams on the water silencer box. The gap, where the water poured out of, is visible in the middle.

 

Shiny new seams.

Shiny new seams.

Back in it's place.

Back in it’s place.

Float switch for the bilge pump.

Float switch for the bilge pump.

The bilge pump sits way down there in the middle, now turns on automatically with the float switch on a pipe, for easy inspection.

The bilge pump sits way down there in the middle, on the left is the manual bilge pump. It now turns on automatically with the float switch, mounted on a pipe for easy inspection.