Copyright © 2015
From Captain Tom
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am NOT mechanically inclined... to the point of borderline embarrassment. My good buddy, Kevin Wester, can fix anything and looks at a problem, shrugs his shoulders and says “ yeah, we can fix that” not me though. That said, a journey like this has forced me to take action to be better. The engine room and I are well acquainted on a daily basis and I’ve learned a lot about basic operations / maintenance that need to be monitored and performed.
We have had an issue with our aft bilge light on the dash going off too often, telling me there is water in the bilge that is being pumped out. Fine, as long it’s once in awhile and working properly.
We have been traveling at a slower rate of speed for much of the trip and the boats stern is down in the water lower as a result. Fill with fuel and throw a dinghy on the swim platform, you have a LOT of extra weight and sit even lower than normal. To the point where we have actually had water from our wake coming over the swim platform at times at slow speed.
Recently, the aft bilge light stopped coming on once in awhile... old Tom says to himself, “good, no problem anymore “ Looper Tom - “shit, better get down in the engine room and take a look” Hmmm, water down here... “hey Muddah, turn on the aft bilge switch!”
Water gone now, but why is it here?
A little later, we are up on plane on a glass like surface of the Tenn Tom river-way hauling the mail at 32 mph.... all is well and then BOOM!! from underneath the boat. We hit a submerged log and it rolled out behind the boat in our wake. It is amazing how fast I can yell / talk like a sailor when presented with the opportunity. This is not the opportunity ANY boater wants, but it can happen.
Brought the boat down to idle immediately and talked / yelled like a sailor some more. We assessed the engine room, bilges to see if we were taking on any water. NOPE.... we got VERY lucky and came out of it with no damage we could see. Next was to increase rpms and see if there was any vibration, shaking from the props. VERY lucky again!
Knowing we will be crossing the Gulf Of Mexico soon, the bilge problem needs to be addressed. I scheduled a haul out to have the hull, props inspected and to find out why there is water in the aft bilge. This was done on Wednesday and we were pleasantly surprised to find NO damage anywhere and the water problem an easy fix.
There are two scuppers, (drains), under our swim platform. One was missing and the other one damaged. At low rpms, the water was coming into the bilge via the platform . I had the yard mechanic replace the scuppers and we are back in the water... a BIG relief! Running to Sandestin from Pensacola, not a drop in the bilge...YES!
It’s strange being in Florida for me with Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas decorations appearing everywhere. Getting a bit homesick for family and friends. Today is Sunday and Griff is coming for Thanksgiving today! I don’t know who is more excited, Muddah, or me. Sam is traveling to see his friend Josie for Thanksgiving so we’ll not be able to see him but, it will be GREAT to spend time with Griff.
Sorry for the long dissertation... Happy Thanksgiving to all family and friends!
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.