Water water everywhere......

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Mon 26 Dec 2016 15:23
Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Reprising the voyage south from Spanish Wells we moved a couple of miles down to the sizeable safe anchorage at Royal Island before making the sixty mile crossing to Rock Sound. Leaving Royal Island and with both engines running ‘Skip’ checked to see which tank to direct the water from the water maker and was amazed to find the starboard keel tank showing empty on the gauge. Strange as we’re careful with water, especially in the Bahamas. We had been using that tank in recent days so maybe we had used it all. So that’s where the new water would need to go. We switched to port tank water pump as there was 15 inches showing in that tank and a discussion ensued as to how we could have used so much water. Did we have a small leak somewhere perhaps? ‘Skip’ then checked the port tank level again and it was going down rapidly! Our water was going somewhere inside the boat but nowhere immediately obvious. Because the engines were running we wouldn’t hear it or the rapidly cycling fresh water pump anyway.  Opening the access hatch to the starboard engine revealed the problem. Or at least it revealed where much of our fresh water was hiding. The level was up to the engine legs! So from having about sixty gallons of water in the keel tanks we now had about a tenth of that amount. The engine compartment was fully opened up to reveal the plastic water pipe to the accumulator (the compressed air cylinder that maintains a steady pressure of water between pump cycles) had burst off the fitting and had been pumping precious fresh water all over the compartment at the rate of 5 gallons per minute.
Having assessed the situation we then spent the whole 11 hours of the voyage with the water maker chuntering away making it’s humble 3.5 gallons per hour of fresh water from the surrounding sea. At such times it would be nice to have a larger capacity unit.  So on arrival ‘Skip’ had to make two trips in the dinghy wading ashore to the nearest street water faucet with plastic containers to part replenish the keel tanks. A replacement fitting was installed on which we’d previously scrawled ‘Emergency Use Only’ - so we daren’t trust that fitting for too long either!
A Behemoth arrives...
Having anchored in Rock Sound just after the sun had set we looked forward to a refreshing cockpit shower. That is until the largest moth – we’ll call it a ‘behemoth’ fluttered into the cabin. Actually you couldn’t really call it fluttering at all and the ‘Admiral’ took some convincing that we weren’t playing host to a visiting bat. This thing was black and HUGE with a wingspan of over 6”. Not exactly something you simply cup your hands over and gently place outside to fly away. It had attitude. It knew it was a king amongst moths and was not up for being manhandled. It was the sort of thing you’d stare through the glass in the insect house at London Zoo and say “Gosh, that’s a large moth”.  If moths have hearing it would have repeatedly heard ‘Get it out of here’ coming from the lady of the boat. It would have been such a shame to bring it down with the insect spray. It may have needed a whole can anyway. In the cockpit Mrs Moth, also black but with slightly smaller wingspan had just arrived looking for her husband. So one inside the boat the other looking for the inside as we’d now turned off all the lights. The spark of an idea came to mind from the images of strange eccentric men chasing butterflies around in meadows using large nets. Butterfly nets. We have a folding fish landing net that we keep although the fish usually try and avoid swimming into it.  So it was retrieved from the cockpit locker, unfolded and waved around in the cabin somewhere in the vicinity of where the moth had perched on the top venetian blind rail. We’re not sure if the moth actually flew out on it’s own or was transported by the net but it was gone and we slammed the door shut for the rest of the evening.
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Our large black visitor
The season’s blogs seem to be more about the boat and it’s little foibles than the places we’re visiting. As any boat owner will testify it’s not a question of if something will go wrong when you head to sea but when it will go wrong. When we cast off from the dock at Titusville we have done everything we can to make sure all is working as it should be. You can then set the stopwatch running and it won’t be too long before an entry is added to the faults list at the back of the boat log. It’s the nature of the beast and has been since man first tied a few tree trunks together or stretched an animal skin over carefully shaped twigs and branches to float off on a new adventure.
So it was while the ‘Admiral’ was ashore at the Rock Sound laundry on a much needed clothes cleaning mission that the starboard head (the one we always use) decided to block up. The resulting blowback out of the bowl was certainly unwelcome and no amount of carefully teasing the pump to clear the pipe was going to work. To be honest we had suspected there were problems of this nature looming which is why we’d shipped two gallons of cleaning vinegar onboard before setting off from Titusville. Without going into the amazing chemistry of seawater mixing with a certain waste liquid, what occurs over time is a build up of calcification in the pipe usually nearest the toilet itself. Think of clogged arteries and needing a bypass – that sort of thing. When the pipe was removed for inspection (luckily before the ‘Admiral’ returned with her bag of clean laundry) what had been a 1.25” diameter pipe when previously cleared (oh yes this isn’t the first time!) was now down to less than a baby’s finger diameter or about 0.5”. Perhaps not a baby’s then but still very narrow. Utterly incredible really. The effective cure is simple and straightforward but rather unpleasant. Thrashing the blocked pipe against the hard toe rail of the boat until the pipe can be seen to be the same correct diameter all the way through. This unpleasant task is best done away from the watching eyes of other cruisers. The toilet now works beautifully and we hope that will be the last issue of this nature for a number of years to come. Clearly we were asking an awful lot of the humble vinegar solution to be dissolving that lot!
We can’t think of anything else that will plague us in the days to come but we’re ready for anything that does. There are no pics to accompany this blog of either of the above incidents, especially the second one so we’ll post a few more of Spanish Wells instead....
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We discovered some nice parts of Spanish Wells we’d missed on previous visits and some beautiful shrubs and flowers enjoying the attention of a Red Admiral butterfly
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The Spanish Wells car ferry ...                                                                                                           ... in action
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Lift facilities for wide beam boats like this catamaran receiving a once over below the waterline & a brand new lift dock almost ready for use. The dock is hoisted by four motors sitting on top of the wooden piles.
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A couple of the Spanish Wells fishing fleet, famous for lobster and conch fishing
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And us busy with our cameras