Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Poop Story

Sometimes you have to smile and just go with the flow!

 Plan was to head out to Lake Sylvia this weekend, the day after we completed the sale of our Catalina 250 and handed her over to the new owners on Friday Night. Several other members of the HISC (Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club) were planning to meet up on the lake.

Of course, it's Florida, and Summer, So we had threatening storms scheduled for the whole weekend. But anyone living down here knows, we just have to wait 5 minutes and it will change.

On Saturday morning, after a quick trip to the store for important supplies, like a few bottles of wine, some Jack Daniels (Honey - my favorite) and we headed down to Fort Lauderdale where we keep Eximius behind Shawn & Alan's home.

I took with me a few 'project' items, some engine repairs to complete, and Peggy had packed food for the weekend and we had the usual extra clothes, all of the boat manuals (we keep them at home for evening reading).

It didn't take long to get the boat prepped for casting off. It was high tide around 10am, so timing was on the ball. As Peggy stowed stuff below, after connecting up the GPS (we removed it when alongside), I opened all of the valves: Galley sink drain, Engine Raw Water supply, Head water supply and Head sink drain. Turned on the Nav instruments and the GPS & Radar, Vented the Engine compartment, Checked transmission was in neutral and started the engine.

Peggy was still busy below, so I cast off all lines except the midships line to the dock. Quick glance around to make sure all was well on board, and I cast of the last line. Put Eximius in gear and we gracefully left the dock heading out of the channel.

The thunder clouds were gathering, but we only had to wait those 5 minutes. We smoothly exited the canal and turned onto the North branch of the New River, outbound and ready to call the 1st bridge on our route to the Intracoastal.

Peggy mentioned that the head was filling up! Hmm. Not that long since I replaced the valves in the head, perhaps one had stuck open and the water from the head supply was filling the head. Not to worry, I'll close the valve for now and check it out later. Oh Ohhh! you know that's going to bite me later on!

 We navigate through the 11 Avenue Swing Bridge and headed on down the North Fork, the head was still filling up. Peggy took the helm while I went below to make sure the head pump was being operated correctly, looked ok. I turned off the head's raw water supply, back out to the cockpit and I took the helm as we moved on towards the next bridge.

We quickly and uneventfully passed though each of the bridges, I'm guessing the bridge tenders are getting used to our calls requesting the next bridge opening. And we now know about the outflows by Andrews Avenue Bridge and we keep an eye out so that we don't caught out.

After clearing the last bridge, we headed down the New River and north of Sandbar Park, early in the day, and the threat of storms, so no boats on the sandbar today. With Bahia Mar in sight, we headed past the last marker before turning south to hug the East wall of the channel into Lake Sylvia.

High Tide, no risk of going aground, but we keep an eye out for those tell tale ripples where the shallows wait the newby sailors in the area (that was us a couple of weeks ago). We turned across the lake and, now over to the south west side of the lake,

We picked an anchoring spot between to pretty large power boats (multi story). I let out about 60' of chain rode and Peggy backed down hard to check that the anchor had dug in, we were good!

Now to go look at the head. I came to the conclusion that the problem was the Deck Pump Out cover. I had purchased a new cover and tried to install it the last trip out, but the old one was sealed in hard, I didn't realize it, but during my efforts to remove the old pump out cover, I had made a hole it it. During the week, the heavy rains had flooded the deck, that's normal, but because of the hole in the cover, that water had filled the holding tank to capacity, it was completely full and the Joker valve in the head could not hold back all that poop! Ok, very dilute Poop, but Poop all the same!

Having a full holding tank meant we could not use the head! Think about that just for a few seconds! We drink at least 4 bottles of water a day each, plus coffee, wine, Jack & Lemonade, you get the picture. Our solution was to store our waste in water bottles and plan to visit a pump out station on Sunday Morning before returning to the slip.

Peggy shut off the engine and that's when I realized the pressure water pump was running continuously! It should only run when a faucet is opened, but they were all shut! What the heck! I turned on a faucet and nothing came out! Oh! the water tank is empty! No problem we have a spare 25 gallon tank, that will be plenty for the weekend. Turning the center tank supply off and the aft tank supply on, I open a faucet in the head and nothing comes out! The hot faucet is fine (water's not hot) but cold water is dry. What the heck. Then I hear the bilge pump kick in for a few seconds, water is flowing into the bilge .. .this is not good. Opening up the head cupboard, I can see water pouring UP the back wall of the cabinet (thank goodness it's fiberglass) but cannot see where it's coming from. Pulling the top cabin step off so that I can get access to the engine area but no sight of flow there.

After several minutes of looking and feeling around, I discover the fresh water supply hose to the head faucet is disconnected and with the pump running water is just flowing under pressure into the bilge. An easy fix. loosen the hose clamp, put the hose back on the faucet pipe and reclamp it. By the time I had located the leak, we used up about 20 gallons of the 25 gallong aft tank. Now we had a head we could not use and only 5 gallons of fresh water.

These things happen, not much we can do about it but conserve, that would deal with both issues.

As it has been every trip to the boat so far, I have a list of projects to do onboard, so I then spent the next two hours replacing the engine temperature sensors and the fuel level sensor in the fuel tank. Almost an anti climax, but not with out a few well chosen superlatives. I was able to remove the remnants of the Pump Out waste cap and replace it with a nice shiny new one purchased from Catalina Direct. That should stop future flooding of the holding tank.

Finally, time to relax. By this time, 4 boats were at anchor just off our starboard side, two of them from the HISC. Dale Kern from Shoal Mate paddled his canoe over to us and we discussed the things that sailors talk about, including the state of the Poop. Peggy & I were ready for dinner, Chicken & Stir fry, Wine and Jack on the rocks, all the while listening to WLRN our favorite radio station.

After a fitful night between storms, we were up by 8am and planning to find a pump out. Joyce (Spruce Goose) replied to a facebook post that there was a pumpout at 15th street just to the north of 17th Street Causeway bridge. So after breakfast we headed that way. But that pump out was broken - at a Marina! So we turned around and headed back towards the New River, I was sure there were a few on the banks of the river.

 We found a pump out station on the south bank of the river just east of 3rd Avenue Bridge. We pulled over and tied up to the dockside. Peggy did a great job and fortunately was not looking when I nearly fell overboard - One hand for the boat!

This was our first pump out, and I had no clue about the technique nor the fittings. It turned out that the fitting to connect the hose to our pump out point was missing from the shore pump out station. I called the phone number on the PU station, but had to leave a message, not a surprise, it's Sunday! And then a couple of city employees came along and helped out. They were great, they had the missing fitting, and we were pumping the poop out in minutes. Meanwhile they were explaining how Fort Lauderdale was so Boater Friendly.

They did the city proud. Thanks guys. I'll have to add a pump out fitting to my next shopping list a West Marine. After saying thanks to the guys, we pushed off and headed to the first bridge, then quickly passed the others and were back in the channel to our dock. Peggy took the helm and brought us along side. We quickly turned the boat, swinging her stern around while I held the bow at the dock.

Peggy commented that it was not the best weekend, and noted that on Saturday night I was sat on the side of the boat looking almost wistfully at the other HISC members partying while I was in 'come down' mode from a hard days work. But we got out on the boat, we learnt more about how the boat works and we managed with little water and no poop.

I'll take that.