Things The PO Didn’t Tell You – Part 1

Don’t know if I’ll ever rant my way into Parts 2 through x, but I figured I should start this out as Part 1.

In boating, you always blame the PO (previous owner) for odd things and strange configurations you find on the boat, sometimes long after you purchased the boat. In our case, on the first “passage” we made I came below to find the starboard head floorboards awash in ocean. That sounds really bad (and hence we haven’t really discussed it in the blog), and it was a little freaky at the time, but the bilges in a catamaran are narrow and shallow, so it only takes about 10 gallons of water to float the floorboards.

That bilge area isn’t connected to the rest of the hull, where the automatic bilge pump would have just emptied the water, because the shower is there, and we try to empty the shower directly with a separate, manually controlled pump. On that first passage we spent a lot of time looking for the source, and running the pump. And the same on the second passage, and the third… In fact, pretty much any time we were on port tack and moving along at better than 4 or 5 knots. I had all kinds of theories, and spent a lot of time with a flashlight, and a rag, and wooden plugs, and hose clamps, and…

So a couple of days ago we had the right conditions and were getting some water where it didn’t belong. And I’d narrowed down the options, so I took a flashlight and crawled all the way forward into the narrow, tight space right at the bow behind the collision bulkhead. The place that was the last place on the boat where water ought to be coming in. A really fun place to be in a seaway. And lo-and-behold, there was a pretty steady stream of water coming through the bulkhead! Now, that bulkhead is supposed to be watertight. It’s there so that if we crash into something, and put a hole in the bow of the boat, it makes a second line of defense and keeps the water out of everything except the front 5 feet of the boat. But it wasn’t doing that. And if water was getting into that space then the implication is that there is hole somewhere in the bow of the boat:(

On the front side of the bulkhead the bow area is divided into two sections by a “watertight” shelf; the upper section is a storage locker way up on the bow (used for things like fenders, or dock line, or, in our case garbage bags waiting for disposal), the lower section is completely sealed off and should just be filled with air (never water). In our case the storage locker collects a lot of water when spray is coming over the bow (this is expected, the locker does not have any kind of seal on the hatch and has a drain hole). The “watertight” shelf is supposed to keep this water out of the lower section, and, if somehow water does get there the “watertight” bulkhead is supposed to keep the water out of the rest of the boat. It turns out that both of these “watertight” items are more like “water resistant” or even “slightly porous.”

So every time we are out sailing on port tack we have to worry (a little) about extra water in the starboard forward bilge. Enough that if you don’t pay attention for half a day the head floorboards will be floating. How is it then that the PO didn’t ever notice this problem? Or do something about it? Or mention it? Lots of other minor things got mentioned, an item that ends up with you walking around in ankle deep water inside the boat seems worthy of a mention.

It really won’t be hard to fix, and make things “watertight” once again, but I have to get them dry first, and since we remain on port tack with a decent breeze… But, it is a load off the mind having finally tracked down the source, and determining that there is no major flaw, and knowing that it can be fixed once we get a couple of calm days (either underway or once we reach Raivavae).

5 thoughts on “Things The PO Didn’t Tell You – Part 1

  1. So, I’m guessing the starboard hull was built first . . . think I have heard about multihulls that have one side built a bit better than the other . . .
    Perspective: You could be in a CA public high school dealing with teenagers, all their angst and assorted issues . . .or, you could be on the open sea headed to glorious tropical locales and need to occasionally bail a bilge . . . I’m willing to come and bail the bilge!

  2. Splash zone to the rescue! Must be a load of your mind at least having tracked down the problem. Thanks for taking the time writing the blog. Continued safe sailing.

  3. Hey, Donald! We have wondered where you ended up and today Urs sent me this link! Great!

    The whole you describe had been discovered by the (quite good) surveyor – at the time it was a crack not a hole. He poked around with a steel rod so it became a whole. With his discovery the continuous humidity in the front section got explained and it was in line with with having sometimes some (sea)water in the shower.

    The agreement has been, that this crash box issue would be solved in the boat yard toghether with the mast step thing prior to your arrival. So they have not done the job? What do you know?

    We will enjoy reading your blog in future!


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