Jul 232016

While I wouldn’t say life has become immeasurably harder, there can be no doubt that it’s harder than it was before now that the boat is in Cape Town.

When ‘Blue was moored in Deneysville, a mere 100km away, it was, while painful, ultimately very easy to hop in the car and check on the bilges. Now that she’s moored at RCYC it’s a whole new kettle of fish.

On the whole the move to Cape Town has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The sailing in Table Bay has been challenging and satisfying.

There has been one negative though – ‘Blue is leaking, and quite badly.

She’s always taken on a little water during motoring, a natural and desirable thing I’m told. In her previous fresh-water life this has never been an issue. A couple of mops of the bilge and a week later she’s been dry as a bone. Not so at present. The stern-gland leak (an unproven assumption still) seems continuous and threatening at the moment. It’s not stopping at all and seems to let in about 15-20 liters per week. Not conducive to an easy nights sleep when the next trip down was only planned for 4-6 weeks time.

Cazzie did a visit yesterday – lots of water again. It can’t wait until August, and so I have a flight booked to see if I can stem the tide and prevent a disaster.

I unsure at present why it’s taking on so much. Logically, the stern gland seems to be the most likely source of ingress. There has been no evidence of leaky through-hulls and the raw water valve seems sorted. So it must be the stern gland right? Heaven forbid if it’s keel bolts that have loosened!?

This hastily convened trip is first and foremost a fact-finding mission. I need to isolate, beyond a doubt, the source. That’s the first step to fixing the problem.

I’ve never worked on the sterngland before and so, if that is the problem, I fear I don’t have the necessary tools to effect a repair. Just in case, I’ve raided the 253 toolkit and have my plumbing wrench ( dont laugh…it is a water leak after all ? Besides nothing else is large enough) and on oversized pair of gripping pliers. I don’t have too much confidence in these but they offer more hope than my bare hands at least. The plan is to fall back on the ubiquitous toilet-pan sealer if these don’t work….not a permanent solution but a stop-gap that may be better than nothing.

Ultimately, if needs be, I can always have the yard slip her.

Because of the fact that ‘ Blue has always been bone dry in the past I’m unsure of whether the auto -bilge setup actually works or not. I religiously make sure the pump runs every time I leave the boat but I honestly cant say I ever remember it tested with a bilge full of water? That’s another item to check!

This is not an unmanageable situation, just a bit harder because of the travel and logistics involved. The pain is especially felt in the wallet……weekend flights are not the cheapest but at least they are there, allowing the hastily planned visit.

I just hope they let my wrenches fly.

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