the Inside Passage the San Juan Islands

Echo Bay, Sucia Island

Saturday, May 19, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

Limestone rock formations along Sucia's shoreline. 

Coming back from shore with Sally this morning, I was greeted by David standing at the stern of the boat with a grim look on his face and the following words: “there’s a hole in the boat.”  I had only been gone an hour … what could have possibly have happened? 

A bronze through-hull fitting broke, which is exactly what it sounds like – a fitting that goes through the hull.  A series of fittings, actually,with a valve in the middle attached to a hose on one end and the through-hull on the other.  When the valve is open, water will enter or exit the boat through the hose, but only to outside the water line.  If it needs to travel any further (in the toilet, for example), it must be pumped, either manually or electrically. 

The details are fuzzy (they generally are in these situations) but David was taking care of something in the engine room and thinks he disturbed the through-hull while getting out (possibly by standing on it either today or sometime in the past).  While he was finishing the job, he noticed water in one of the bilge compartments. He messed with the fittings and the entire piece broke off.  Water poured in the boat before he could get his hand over it the hole, grab a wooden plug (every through-hull on the boat has a wooden plug tied to it in case of an emergency), and cap it off.  He then spent the morning bailing gallons of water out of the bilge and securing the plug while I stayed out of the way. 

At this point, our options aren’t great.  We have to haul the boat out of the water in order to replace the through-hull and the closest port with facilities is Bellingham – approximately twenty nautical miles away.  With the boat still leaking, neither one of us likes the idea of moving and are concerned that the plug may be disturbed if we have to take on a choppy sea, which has been know to happen more times than we’d like. 

I can’t stress enough how serious the situation is.  Had this happened when nobody was aboard, the boat could have easily sunk.  We have electric bilge pumps, but the amount of water that can enter a boat through even a small of hole is difficult to keep up with … you can only do it for so long.  And now there’s the concern about the other eighteen through-hulls on the boat.  Are they sound?  Or are they ready to give out as well? 

Of course these things always take place on a weekend and the boatyard is closed, so we have to wait until Monday to see when they can lift us and whether or not we can source the parts we need to replace the through-hull.  In the meantime, I went back to shore to offer Sucia the opportunity to redeem herself by hiking one of her many trails while David stayed aboard to monitor the situation and beat himself up … and, ready to throw a few punches myself, this was the first time I wasn’t going to stand in his way. 

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