Store High In Transit (not to be read if of a delicate disposition)


It was one of those beautiful Sunday afternoons where people are out washing their cars or walking the dog or taking a stroll in the forest or just lazing about on their boats. I had been swimming in the morning and had got rather hot so went for a dip in the early afternoon. As I swam alongside the boat, I noticed a brown streak down the hull which I'm sure had not been there before. On closer examination, I saw that the source was a hull fitting and realising where this came from, shouted Matt to confirm that it was coming from the forward holding tank….

Cruising like this is our dream but finding a blocked loo outlet rapidly turns that dream to a nightmare! Now this was going to be a job for the boys – no woman's work here and thank goodness we had a friend on board who was quick to step up to the challenge!

But first a cup of tea was needed in order to work out the best way to deal with this problem. An investigation of the valves under the floorboards then revealed a section of the bilge full of sea water (at least we thought it was sea water from a suspect pipe joint). But why water and not sewage? Matt dived under the boat to check the valve was actually open and yes it was – conclusion a blockage in the pipe between valve and tank! – so the loo had been emptying into the holding tank and out through the overflow, and sea water had been dripping from the damaged hose at the valve – we don't know how long this had been happening, but it was long enough to completely fill a pretty large tank – best not to think about it……….Anyway it couldn't continue like this – so the tank had to be emptied before any pipes could be taken off. The challenge was to empty the tank without the benefit of a drain or pump out connection - there had to be a way! The holding tank is located in the sail locker up at the bow, and the only possibility to get into it was via the small overflow connection. Matt decided this was the best way to try to get some of the effluent out to start with.

I won't go into too much detail, just to say that the removal of said effluent required the manufacture of a Heath Robinson pump, a bucket, a long plastic pipe and many antiseptic wipes. Fortunately they were able to sufficiently empty the tank to enable us to disconnect the pipe to the seacock. With a final good hard blow and a surge and gurgle it emptied mostly into a waiting bucket. – all I can say is thank goodness that the anchorage was not very crowded and we were the furthest boat out to windward! So all's well that ends well and Matt has never been so glad that he lost his sense of smell a long time ago. It certainly had been Stored High In Transit! How did you spend your Sunday?

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