October 18, 2014.
The news is full of dire warnings about the menace that is Ebola. Don't fly, beware of traveling on cruise ships and definitely don't go to Dallas. But no matter how I scan the pages I haven't seen any warnings about Eholda.
I guess its because this terrible malady only affects a specialized few. Thats right, Broken Boat Crap repairmen. Eholda is the overwhelming feeling of “stenchiness” that results from dealing with holding tank replacements. It can be physical, mental, as well as malodorous.
I've been mentoring a young protege for the last few weeks as our time here in Annapolis draws to a close. Today we were tasked with replacing the holding tank in a small Island Packet. The tank has been leaking so it had to go and as long as we were at it the owner opted to replace everything. The tank, the head itself and every hose, oh joy. When I say every hose I mean EVERY hose, even the vent line and the hose from the deck pumpout fitting. Everything. It turned out that 1 of the hoses was 14 feet long and its replacement required the removal of the ships batteries and the stereo and the VHF. Nothing is ever easy.
So Tonto and I gloved up and I pointed out which hoses had to be disconnected. While I crouched in the head to remove the throne Tonto got started taking off hoses under the settee. I immediately knew when the first hose popped off. First there was an “Oh God” and then the small sailboat was filled with the stench of Deaths own cologne. After that first assault on your senses you just kinda get used to it and the job wasn't really too bad, or so I thought.
We were on our way to lunch when I mused how funny it was that the first hose stunk so much and after only a moment we really couldn't smell it anymore. Robin quickly responded with “YOU couldn't smell THAT anymore?” Lol. The sensitivities of youth.
After lunch it was time to pull out the tank itself. Like most IP's the holding tank is located under the settee. There are no limber holes so if you dump any liquid while removing the tank you have to bail it out rather than flushing with fresh water and letting the bilge pump do the dirty work. This tank fit its space like a glove. I had to chisel away the bonding goo and remove the 3 hose barbs to pull the tank from its home of more than 20 years.
|I'm thinkin' that this leakin' thing has been going on for a while.|
Even though the tank had been pumped out there was still an inch of fecal fun slopping around inside the tank. And because the universe has this twisted sense of cosmic humor the only way to pull the tank out was by tilting it up and out with the openings down. Crap. Literally.
Being the good soul that I am I had mercy on Tonto and while he took the tank up onto the dock I bailed and cleaned the settees base. I'm sure soaking up 2 gallons of shit with a handful of paper towels might have made him reexamine his current career path.