Boat Jobs Always Expand

The bilge pump has been going off occasionally waking one or other of us in the night since the anchor chain was removed from bow and the wind started blowing hard from the south (beam on) this week. We know the cause – water from “that event” still finding its way from the stern services area to the bilge sump by various routes. At the end of a day of jobs we were just relaxing when the pump went off again. We’d said yesterday that we should look into it and check there were no problems with the stern gland etc so a quick five minute check before supper….

Sofa raised to access the engine
viewed from the companionway

Lifting up the engine cover reminded us there was quite a lot of water remaining in the sump under the engine that had been overwhelmed by the seawater coming up the rudder tube when we were towed at speed.Water trapped here can’t drain into the bilge as an anti-pollution measure, so the Chief Mechanic got out the oil extraction pump to remove a few oily bucketfuls only to find a bolt lurking in the mucky sump once the water had gone. It was shiny and new and presumably hadn’t been dropped there by a mechanic during our pre-departure service last May as it would have been retrieved.

So where from? Whilst Chief Mechanic rotated the prop shaft, watching from above, the First Mate spotted exactly where the bolt had slipped from; the prop shaft/gear box coupling was one bolt short. A bit of fumbling around guided from above and the nut was also quickly retrieved from the sump. More twirling of the prop shaft revealed that a couple of the remaining bolts were also loose. It’s happened before, last time off Brixham a few years ago where motoring with no wind we suddenly stopped making progress through the water. Fortunately the tide was sweeping Temptress out into the expanse of Lyme Bay as it then took Kevin a long time to rig up a makeshift prop brake to stop the propeller turning so he could put all the bolts back! This time, safely moored in a marina, it was a five minute task and all the bolts are now securely fastened once more. Wouldn’t want to attempt that in any ocean swell.

Five sided engine access

Meanwhile fluff was cleared from round the engine cover (or sofa depending on your point of view) and the top of the water tanks – just where all that fluff comes from is a mystery, there are mostly just two of us onboard! And how much water was still aft of the engine area waiting to work it’s way forward? Open up the doors under the aft head sink to investigate… first remove two boxes of spare light bulbs and plumbing bits, then a few dozen loo rolls (the Atlantic Crossing supply) wrapped in bin liners and finally the inside of the hull could be seen. The loo seacock looked a bit rusty. Rusty? It’s bronze no idea where that stain has come from; one to keep an eye on. Tentatively try the seacock it closes but won’t budge open. The Chief Mechanic swaps roles to plumber and works it open and shut a few times before asking the First Mate to try again. This time it moves freely. We mop out the dribble of salt water, rinse this bit of bilge with fresh and mop again, leaving it to dry overnight (or was it that we couldn’t be bothered to put everything back ‘cos it is definitely time to cook supper?).  The last of the oily water is left in the pump in the cockpit (can’t face a third trek round to the oil dump), Kevin heads for a shower whilst Susie notes that the cabin sole really needs a wash down too – one for tomorrow – then we sort out the furniture and cushions and settle down for the evening, a couple of hours and several trips to the oil dump round the other side of the boatyard after we started a quick five minute check. Thanks Buzz FM for keeping us entertained through out!

I will get this not on that bolt


All tightened up once more

Extracting oily bilge water –
this oil extractor pump is a brilliant tool

Meanwhile our extended stay in port has a silver lining in that Temptress’ job list is at an all time low of ten items unstarted and three part done. Even better the one job that has been on the list since 2002 (and annoying the First Mate ever since it got to the top of the list about six months after joining it) -“fill and fair the furler switches”; Kevin announced today with a big fan fare that he has finally worked out how to do! So we might just might tackle that one too before Christmas, possibly or possibly not – what would we do without two purely decorative water proof switches at the top of the companionway?