Jul 15

Why is there a waterfall in our cabinet???(!!)

Tag: boat workmattholmes @ 6:41 am
I feel that this event merits a second, more detailed telling. Here’s how it went down from my viewpoint: I’m standing in the galley at about 10pm, all is quiet and still in the marina, and I’m lost deep in thought about why our engine refuses to start (which was a long, unproductive, confusing thought). Somewhere deep in my subconscious I noted a strange sucking, airy sort of sound, but my reverie was deep and this sound failed to warrant my attention . . . So I’m still deep in thought for another minute, when I notice something extraordinarily strange at the edge of my vision. A sheet of water about 2 ft wide has emerged from underneath one of our cabinets, at head height, and is pouring over the drawers onto the settee. On its way from cabinet to settee, it also happens to be passing over our newly installed stereo. And this is no drip. It’s a veritable waterfall. I mean volume. Like the rate at which one could empty a pitcher–quickly. This sight is so astoundingly implausible that my mind refuses to react to it with anything more than a grunting, guttural, medium-volumed “wha??” The situation is clearly dire–I mentioned that it was pouring over the front of our new stereo–but I was just . . . confused. All I could think of, over and over again (like 15 times in 2 seconds), was “where could it be coming from where could it be coming from where could it be coming from where is the water coming from water there what coming from where where what why why?” Or something roughly like that. Fortunately, Jon new exactly where the water was coming from and sprung immediately into action–Jonny said that his exit out the companionway and into the cockpit demonstrated record-making speed and efficiency of motion, as he sprung from the middle step to the dodger handhold and swung himself smoothly into a upright run for the dock. Jon knew where the water was coming from because Jon was the one that turned on the hose full-blast to fill our freshly finished watertanks. The amount of water that comes out of the faucet on our dock could quench a house fire, and Jon had it at 100%. So Jon knew exactly what enormous volume of water was being pumped into our cabinet–via, it turns out, the tank’s vent hose. Which is why Jon won first place boat move while I stood dumbly staring at the waterfall coming out of our cabinet. This is what happened: Jon was watching the level of water rise through the (closed) access hatches on top of the tank. The fact that they were closed was relevant. The vent outlet does not come out of the very highest point of the tank, but is about 1″ down the side. We thought that we were safe because the vent hose was routed to a point about 5 feet above the tank. This would be true if even one of the access hatches had been open–in that case the water would have found its own height in the vent hose while air was pushed out of the open access hatch. But since the hatches were closed, as soon as the level of water rose above the vent outlet, the extra 2 inches of air space above the water was irrelevant, as the air no longer had anywhere to escape to. So we forced that water out of the top of the vent house, from where it proceeding to pour under the doors of the cabinet, into the drawer beneath the cabinet, around our stereo, and onto the settee. We put an inch of water in the drawer before Jon turned the water off. Preliminary investigations suggest that the stereo may be just fine, saved from certain death by the water collection properties of the drawer. Lesson learned: waterproof everything. On a sailboat, even the safest, driest corners of the boat will see water.

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