Things that go fizz in the night! - in position 34:43.35N,076:42.22

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 6 Jun 2009 19:40
We arrived in Morehead City after a long day blatting at full steam. We hadn't anticipated getting that far but other locations along the way were not very inviting, and with the forecast giving a wet and windy night we didn't fancy being anchored off the ICW channel.
The first marina we contacted only had room for us on the outside of the visitors pontoon which would be broadside on to the anticipated wind and considerable chop. Not ideal! We made the decision to motor on around the other side of the city docks to the Morehead City Yacht Basin which was in the lee of the weather. We just caught the marina manager as he was leaving and he helped us tie up and gave us the security code for the washrooms. We could only stay one night as he was fully booked with boats arriving for the 51st Annual Blue Marlin Tournament. The fishing equivalent of a rodeo as far as sheer strength, guts and determination are concerned. Forget small rods and reels and little fishing boats - most of these were big flared bow Hattaras deep sea sports fishing boats with the "dentist chair" on the aft deck. Blue Marlin come in at 100's of Ilbs weight. The fishing equipment adorning each boat was astounding, expensive rods and reels littering the cockpits. Massive prize money too - $1,000,000! But then you have to brave the rough seas in the Gulf Stream to get the Big Blues.
We ate in the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant, (named because of the original landlord's insistence that alcohol should not be served on the premises) which has been established on the docks in Morehead City since 1938. It seats 600, but as we arrived at gone 2000 hrs there was just a handful of diners scattered around the 600 seats. Americans eat early and restaurants are almost empty and shut down by 2100 hrs. We placed our order, and after a slight hiccup with Nikki's main dish (it got forgotten) we found ourselves with two extremely large meals in front of us, and we had already eaten too many hush puppies (a cornmeal dough mixed with sugar and salt, deep fried in breadcrumbs - like a chipolata shaped savoury doughnut) which are served up as a complimentary starter which you dip into mayonnaise. At least our first helping was free. But Phil had ordered some more. Nikki's noodle parmajan with '3 cheese' sauce topping was served up with deep fried shrimps in breadcrumbs. Phil's 3 deep fried flounder fillets also in breadcrumbs with chips proved one fish too many. We were offered "take home boxes" (a.k.a doggy bags) as we were clearly struggling to consume so much carbohydrate. We blamed those naughty 'puppies'.  However, we already had the next night's evening meal boxed up and ready to re-heat. Anything for an easy life. Back on board we turned in for a much anticipated good night's sleep in the quiet of the secluded marina whilst the bad weather enveloped itself around the Cape Hattaras area. The wind whistled around the boat but we were snug inside safely tied to a nice big pontoon.
It was at 0200 when we were woken by the sound of a muted alarm going off somewhere aft. We couldn't quite place where it was coming from until Phil opened the door into the starboard aft cabin to find the carbon monoxide alarm going at full belt. But why? The engines had been shut down hours ago, we weren't running the diesel heaters, the gas was all switched off and weren't plugged into shore power, so why the activated alarm? Despite best efforts it wouldn't re-set, so Phil took the alarm into the galley to remove the battery so he could get back to bed. Then the carbon monoxide alarm in the galley went off, quickly followed by the gas alarm, indicating that whatever was in the aft cabin was now in the galley and spreading. This was alarming to quote a bad pun. Opening the door into the bridge deck electrical locker revealed a nasty smell of chlorine. Things were going from bad to worse. They then went from worse to extremely worrying as the lid to the battery box was lifted, where more chlorine smells were emanating, like a school physics experiment gone wrong. Checking the voltage which should have been around 12.8v we found it only 12.2 and getting lower. We had a major battery problem on our hands in the middle of the night. A careful check showed number 2 house battery was seriously overheating. In fact the terminal post temperature was over 55 degrees, whereas the other house batteries had a normal 30 degrees reading. Not being sure whether the battery would catch fire or explode, Phil quickly isolated all 3 battery banks and completely disconnected the problem battery to cut off the power it was deriving from the other 4 batteries in the domestic bank. It was decided to leave the battery where it was and let it cool down over night so that it could be removed the next morning. Then the torrential rain started, making the night seem just a little more miserable.
Have secured the situation we went back to bed at about 0230 hrs to get what sleep we could before making a required early departure from the berth. We laid in bed blessing the CO alarms - they had already repaid their cost, yet we could never have anticipated the circumstances they would sound their warning under. Anybody with a boat without alarms - have them fitted. It's cheaper than the possible alternatives!! But why did it happen we kept asking ourselves.