August 20, 2011.
Friday was one of those days we've all experienced but would love to forget. I was tasked with a few small repairs on an elderly gentleman’s sailboat. I took the skiff with my tools and parts and headed up the river. That's about as far as I got before the day turned to shit.
I rebuilt the boats cockpit mounted manual bilge pump. The pump now works but can't be mounted back in place because we're having trouble locating a weather seal. This pump is mounted in the lazarette with the pump handle extending through the top, without the weather seal, every time it rains the water is free to cascade into the boat. So the pump is fixed but remains unmounted with the mounting hole covered with tape while we search for a seal for this 40 year old application. Okay I'm O for 1.
The owner reported that his electric bilge pump wasn't working either. It lives at the bottom of a 3 ½ foot well directly beneath the batteries. Great, so the batteries have to come out as well. When I opened up the floor to access the batteries I almost shit. The water was right up to the top of the batteries. The water was literally lapping at the bottom of the floorboards. And of course, none of the bilge pumps were working. Crap.
I grabbed the hand pump out of the skiff and went to work pumping like a madman. I only had enough hose to reach the sink in the galley. I would pump like mad for 2 minutes and then I would have to wait for 30 seconds as the water very slowly spiraled down the sink drain. Christ, what does work on this boat?
After 20 minutes I had the batteries sitting dry with only another 3 ½ feet of water to go. I was sweating like a pig and needed a break. Yes, those two ovals are the puddles of sweat from my knees.
The old pump worked intermittently when run straight off the battery. The old float switch didn't work at all and the control panel was a rotted mess. I ordered everything new and started from scratch. The bilge system was actually hooked to the battery by a piece of corroded wire wrapped around the battery post. No terminal end, nothing, just a twist of wire.
I mounted the new pump and float switch on a platform so that I could lower them into the bilge and secure them from above.
Next up was the installation of a new alternator. I took the old one out the other day and the alternator shop wanted $290 to rebuild it. The owner opted to spend $350 on a new one instead. Cool, new is clean and after that bilge I'm due for some clean.
Its faster to wire it and then mount it and that was my plan until I actually looked at the alternator and noted that all the mounting hardware was missing. That's right, no nuts. Oh look and they're little bastard metric nuts. Shit.
A trip back to the shop brought me no joy as there wasn't a metric nut to be found. While the parts kid ran out to purchase the appropriate nuts I went back to the boat to clean up. The owner also wanted me to see if I could determine where the water was getting into his boat. Everything below the floor was wet so it was pretty much anybodies guess, that is until it started to rain. It turned out the water is coming in EVERYWHERE. Besides the manual pumps leaking seal every stanchion base was leaking like a window in a submarine.
To be continued......