Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pumps and Prayers

I am going to forgo photos for this post as I believe the Theatre of the Mind is really all you need.

The weekend that I had been dreading was now upon me. I had asked for prayers, sought any information I could glean from any source. My man Richard (the mast climber) had given me some pointers and suggestions, but now it was up to me to cure Corleto of her bowel trouble. Yes I was about to tackle the nastiest of boat chores, the fixing of the holding tank system.

I had discovered that Corleto had a bit of leakage around a discharge pump every time we used the head. It would not manifest itself for several hours, but the tell tale sign of moisture and that distinctive odour suggested that all was not right with Coleleto's digestive system. Surgery would be required. But would it be a simple fix? Or a complete reconstruction of the system, only way to tell was to get in there and get'er done.
My first task was to steam off all of the build up around the pump. I used a hand steamer to do this. That is when I discovered cracks on the santi pipe around the pump. If I was lucky all it would be is a simple replacement of the cracked pipes and we would be done. I began with removal of the pipe from the thru hull to the pump, working backwards toward the holding tank itself.
That first section of hose came off with a bit of coaxing and only made a minor mess in the little compartment.
I could now inspect inside of the pump. This was not good as it was totally blocked by the crystals that had formed over the years. The pump would have to be removed and replaced. It too came off with a bit of coaxing and a couple of F-bombs. Now I had a bit of spillage of a darker, nastier nature. More F-Bombs. I had to cut a section of pipe to remove the cracks. I cut it just a bit short.  More spillage, even more F-Bombs. I quickly plugged the open pipe with a bung.

It was indeed fortunate that the spillage was contained within the small compartment and did not escape into the rest of the boat. I made a quick clean up and disinfected the area right away. Once everything was dry and clean I could perform the next test.
I needed to make sure that this pipe/pump was in fact, the problem. So I pumped some seawater into the system via the marine head. Provided nothing came out of the holding tank at the bottom and all other junctions and pipe joints did not weep, we could simply replace what had been removed. Simple. It only dripped by the bung. EURIKA! We have found the problem.

I decided that for this season, I would not replace the thru hull which was locked shut and was pretty much useless in this system. It would wait until next years haul out. I figured the pump would be replaced at that point as well so I decided that all I would have to do is join the old pipe with a section of new pipe which would connect to the closed thru hull and DING DING DING, I would have a closed system.

I discussed my solution with my crew. She suggested running it by more experienced owners nearby. It seemed like a good plan and a good fix.
Off to the Marine Supply store to pick up a section of santi pipe. I was kinda proud of myself. This difficult dreaded job seemed to be over.

Returning to the dock with a spring in my step and new santi hose in hand, I figured another 15 minutes and it would be done. Now all I had to do was attach the new pipe to both the old one and bridge the gap to the thru haul. Easy, peezy.

When I removed the bung,,,,, Remember, I had asked for prayers,,,,,,,, those prayers were not enough.

A fountain of the foulest, nastiest stuff you could possibly imagine came flying out of the old pipe. I dropped the bung and grabbed another to stem the torrent. I was now looking at an environmental disaster. Surely the Feds would need to send an emergency response team to save the wee turtles.

You see I did not expect, that is, I mistakenly thought, the holding tank was empty. I figured that the earlier spillage was just residual matter. I had been sold a boat full of someone else's ,,,,,,,, stuff.

I gave up for the day.  An early morning voyage to Snug Cove to a pump out station was now a priority.
The staff there were very helpful. Pump out was the first thing I should have done but overlooked before the project had even begun. It was fast and easy, And the killer, the pump out was only 10 bucks.

Meanwhile back at our dock I still had a hose to attach. Even that little task would fight me. Remember that short pipe? Well a big mans hands cannot get a decent grip and the heating method (my hand steamer) is not doing the job. I was frustrated to no end and was beginning to think that my boat hated me.

And that is when those prayers were answered- my crew- Charlene suggested that she help and suggested that I use boiling water to soften the pipe. She of course was right. And she has been promptly promoted to Chief Engineer.

What should have been a 3 hour project had turned into a 2 day boat enema.

Yippy Ky Yay- It's done!

Now Lets go Cruising!

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