Water Water Every Where!


Not the story I wanted to be telling just after I returned to the boat, and whilst I’m still recovering from multiple surgeries (not to mention the organ failure)

Sitting on a Zoom call, I can hear the shower sump / bilge pump buzzing away, none stop. I think this is a bit weird and (foolishly) assume that the water sensor has got damp or the float switch has become stuck, and that a quick reset will probably fix things.

I turn the pump off, and then continue with my Zoom call. 20 minutes later I notice that the floor outside the heads is starting to lift!! I quickly pull up the flooring and to my horror I see that the electrics and shower sump are completely submerged and that cold sea water seems to be coming in FAST!

I start removing everything from the pilot berth so that I can lift the floor in there, thinking that there’s a problem with the transducer which was fitted just over a year ago. I get the floor up and that compartment is flooded too, confirming my worst suspicions (I thought)!

I quickly grab an old 2 litre water bottle and cut the top off of it, and use it as a scoop. I start scooping water into the shower sump (having now turned the bilge pumps back on) and it is pumping the water out. I post a quick “SOS” on facebook and within minutes one of my pontoon neighbours (Warren) turns up with a hand pump, shortly afterwards Guy also turns up with a battery pump but by this stage most of the water has been removed. It’s at this stage that I start looking for where the water was coming in from, and to my horror I can see that it’s actually seeping in through the shower sump – at something like 5 litres a minute!

We quickly close the seacock to stop any more water coming in and continue to pump water out into the main bilge area.

It was during this time that I also had to rod the “limber holes” as they were blocked with gunk which was stopping the water from draining down to the lowest part of the ship and being pumped out by the main bilge pump.

We experiment with the seacock thinking that maybe there is an airlock or similar, but to no avail, water keeps on coming in through the shower drain. Looking at the boat from the outside it was more obvious what was happening. There was a stiff breeze (30+ knots) from the West and this was causing Pamela C to lean, lean sufficiently that the drain holes which are normally above sea level were submerged. This coupled with the position of the shower sump below sea level in the bilges meant that seawater was being siphoned into the boat when the seacock was open. Amazingly this hasn’t really happened during the previous 2.5 years of ownership and whilst it happened briefly whilst underway, the shower sump pump was more than up to the task of repelling borders – and with my being up on deck most of the time, I didn’t notice/hear the pumps pumping either.

To fix this, I go and buy a £5 “one way” check valve and install it. This of course takes way longer than it should because … “BOAT” .. but eventually the problem is resolved.

Except … whilst turning the seacock on and off, the handle disintegrated .. so we’re now having to manipulate it with pliers until such time as a replacement can be sourced.

Ahh the joys of boating … fixing your boat in exotic places (such as Portland!)

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