Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5, 2012.

Happy Cinco De Mayo everybody. Margaritas and nachos for everyone.

Yesterday we had an older powerboat in the 45 foot range come in with a delivery crew onboard. The boats instruments and fresh water pump all failed during their trip down the bay. The boat has a combination 12 / 24 volt system. The 24 volt side of the system was healthy while the 2, 12 volt batteries were as dead as any battery I’ve ever seen.

The 12 volt battery charger is water stained and obviously is not working. The engines only charge the 24 volt system and the generator has to run to charge the 12 volt side. So they've been plugging in to a dock every night and using an auto style charger to top up the 12 volt batteries every night. They got in late the previous night and didn't apply the charger and now the batteries are dead. Go figure. They don't want to pay for a new charger, they just want to get moving.

We put a charger on the batteries to enable them to start the generator. If they run the generator periodically they can keep the batteries charged and continue on their journey. I'm not sure why but color me surprised when after an hour of charging the batteries the generator didn't even think about starting. Its at this point the captain decided to share the fact that they haven't actually run the generator but he “thinks the survey said it works”.

The abused batteries are not recovering so he opted to replace them with 2 new group 31's. This is when my day started to spin down the toilet.

I was working elsewhere when the new batteries arrived later that afternoon. So at 1530 I grabbed my tools and the batteries and headed down to make the swap. There’s a large set of stairs inside the cockpit so I lifted the first battery over the gunnel and into the cockpit and set it on the top step. I put the second battery next to it and turned to get my tools. I saw the captain lift the batteries and put them next to the opening in the floor.

I should have asked him not to touch them but I just didn't think. What could be the possible harm. It was one of those hindsight moments everyone has that you agonise over later. They were in the midst of washing the boat and when I stepped over the gunnel and into the cockpit the addition of my weight made the boat move ever so slightly. But thats all it took. I watched helplessly as one of the batteries slid off the edge of the wet deck and toppled into the bilge.

I dropped my tools, jumped into the hole and shoved the other battery away from the opening. The battery had fallen 3 feet, bounced off a diamond plate platform and fallen another 2 feet into the lowest bilge. Everything is wet from them washing the boat and the battery is lying on its side in a few inches of water in the bilge. I snatch it out and set it between my knees on the wet diamond plate platform to examine it.

I carefully inspected one side then another. While I'm looking at the third side I realize that the case is split and battery acid is draining out into a puddle that I'm kneeling in. As I put the battery back down it slipped on the wet decking and flopped into the acid. It was like somebody had thrown a shot glass of acid straight into my eye.

None on my shirt, none on my shorts just straight in the left eye. Shit. I jumped up outta the hole and fortunately the guy washing the boat was standing on the dock right next to the cockpit with the hose his still in his hand. I was flushing my eye within 5 seconds of the splash. After 2 minutes I ran up to the shop and used the eye wash station for several more minutes.

Christy then drove me to the hospital in one of the company trucks. The ride would have almost been comical if not for the pain in my eye. We ran into traffic at the last traffic light before the drawbridge. The traffic was caused by a crew pushing one of those long Dragon boats across the bridge on dollies. Christy made a turn to avoid the bridge and the 20 minute clusterf'k that this spectacle was gonna cause.

The new route would add a few miles but it should get us to the highway quicker. At the last light before the highway we ran into traffic from a fresh accident blocking our path. Christy once again changed direction but back towards the smaller streets and traffic of town. After finally getting through the circle on West Street we arrived at the hospital. A trip of less than maybe 8 miles in 35 minutes.

Christy dumped me at the door while she went to park. I wandered into the ER with a moist paper towel over my eye. There’s a long line waiting to sign in, great. A volunteer standing outside the counter asks what happened and when told he immediately took me in for treatment while completely bypassing the line. Awesome.

Pretty quickly my stats were taken and my eye was irrigated. A doctor did a pretty thorough examination. I have some abrasions on my cornea to the side of my line of sight so my vision is unaffected. It should heal in a week or less so after being issued some antibiotic drops we were on our way. The hospital was super efficient and it actually took longer to fill out the paperwork afterword than it did to get treated. Kudos to the hospital.

Having the hose being so close at hand and getting water into my eye so quickly really saved the day. By the next morning my eye was already much better with just some redness and a bit o' pain.

I also noted that when I used the term "masterbation aid" in the last post, hits on the blog went up 40%. Interesting.


Deb said...

OK either you're genuinely funny or I drank too much wine tonight at dinner. That opening picture is hillarious.

(Sorry it was followed by the bad news on your eye tho.)

S/V Kintala

S/V Veranda said...

I might be funny but to be on the safe side i wouldn't do any driving tonight if I were you...

The eye should have been way worse, I got lucky

Sharlyn said...

Holy Cow. Glad everything turned out okay!!

Chip Estabrooks M/V Scout said...

Sink O De Mayo! It took me a moment.

Glad you're OK. I've worn glasses all my adult life and can't tell you how many times they've saved my ass.

Latitude 43 said...

That may be the only time you were happy to be hosed. Glad there is no permanent damage. This way when I meet you, I will not have to call you "Patch", and you will not have to punch me in the head. You would probably miss anyway, as your depth perception would be way off.

I have to replace some 8D's buried in my engine room. Maybe I'll wait until we get down your way. What marina are you working at?

S/V Veranda said...

Yeah, me too Sharlyn

Ya know Chip I need reading glasses to do a lot of the fine work that I do. Something like changu=ing out big dumb batteries, I don't need em' and I'm glad for the break. I'm gonna have to rethink that position.

Its funny, on the ride to the hospital I kept looking at things and wondering if I lost my depth perception would I still be able to put the boat in a slip or approach a fuel dock. Christy is legally blind in one eye so I do all the close quarter boat handling. I'm glad it didn't come to trying to change that. Also, I've never thrown a punch with a beer in my hand and I'm sure when we finally meet we'll be hoisting a few....

Chris Edwards said...

I'm glad you're ok, I was blind for a few weeks when I was young and it was awful; from welding light bouncing off some fog. Oh, and my sisters thought it was fun to move stuff around after I learned where it

S/V Veranda said...

and the song goes "thank Heaven for little girls".

Sabrina and Tom said...

Hopefully you are better each day.....your eye that is!


S/V Veranda said...

I'm back to norbal....