What an intense shakedown sail! We were about 15 miles offshore, bashing hard into the trades in the Koro Sea; hammers down – 2,800 RPM on both engines; making 7.5 – 8.0 knots to windward; taking waves over the bows and the occasional splash into the cockpit; watching the rig intently and loving every minute of it. I asked Alyssa to go down into each hull and do a bilge check. You know, just in case…. We DID just launch a cat that had over two dozen holes in her hulls… Well, port bilge check went well. I REALLY wish we could have said the same for starboard. Alyssa came up and said to me: “You’re not going to be happy.” Now, I don’t like hearing that phrase at sea. – The last time I heard that phrase was 1500nm offshore on a catamaran delivery and I was informed the mainsail was ripped in half. – Anyway, back to the story. She went on to explain that the starboard keel (which is a hollow waste-water holding tank) was full of seawater and the water was splashing into the bottom of the hull through some rogue holes in the bilge we didn’t see before. She also stated she sighted some cracks in the trailing edge of the bilge (read: NOT GOOD!). We were a couple hours offshore, en route to Taveuni – no place to be in a sinking boat (read: no beaches). So we tacked and flipped Quixotic around and began sailing downwind back into Savusavu Bay, where there ARE beaches to beach her on if she is in fact sinking…
I went down below to assess the situation while Alyssa took the helm. The water level seemed stable so we sailed on back into the bay. We grabbed Pirate Bruce’s mooring again and immediately went to work assessing the situation. I took a screwdriver and chipped all the cracked paint and gelcoat from the aft edge of the bilge (above the keel). It was merely gelcoat cracking and the glass below has NO signs of being compromised – GOOD! I looked in the keel through the inspection ports and the water level was about halfway and not visibly rising – also GOOD! I then racked my brain trying to figure out where the damn water came from. I looked at the holding tank plumbing and couldn’t rule it out as the culprit. I took the inspection plate off the macerator pump and lo-and-behold, the water level started to rise. BINGO! Could this really be the culprit?? Could we actually have a solid hull without any outside water intrusion? We really didn’t want to see any more fiberglass dust or smell fresh resin! Well, I asked Alyssa to pump the Levac head and guess what? Bubbles came out into the water in the keel. BINGO again and confirmed. It was just seawater making it’s way from the open head thru-hull, over the broken macerator and into the bilge. You have never seen two people so elated at a realization that they get to clean waste water!
The Mermaid spent the next few backbreaking hours pumping out all the water and giving the bilge a good cleaning. We also removed the Y-fitting in the waste discharge hose and plumbed the head directly to the thru-hull so this can’t happen again (the macerator looks very broken anyway).
The quote of the day was from Alyssa: “I would MUCH rather play with poo than have to deal with fiberglassing again!” hahaha So True!
Before we left on this shakedown cruise I warned her that things ARE going to go wrong and a few things are going to go wrong in a bad way. This boat was just pulled off a beach in Fiji after surviving a cyclone (barely) and being reincarnated by a team of very enthusiastic Fijians and a Mermaid and ex-Finance guy with more enthusiasm than boat-building experience….I’ll let you do the math. So here we are, a day later and ready to take her out again. Stay tuned… We are headed for Taveuni and then on to Vanua Balavu via Qamea Island. We leave in the morning.
This evening we are having SKABENGA over! Haven’t seen them in over a month so much to catch up on. They just sailed in with five
mahi mahi so you know sushi will be on the table…
Lewis & Alyssa