Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 6, Bahia Marquer, Isla Carmen

Yes, we are still here.  Issues kept us in the anchorage today. More on that in a bit. This morning I was happy to awake and feel normal again.  Dang, that was a bummer of a day and a half there.  I was especially happy about feeling better because today was my day to be the net controller for the Sonrisa Net on the ham radio.  Things went well with the net and then I decided to dig into what I had hoped to be a quick fix project that turned into a whole day ordeal.  I started on it at 8:30 this morning and just finished with it about 15 minutes ago.  It is currently 5:45pm.

Yesterday after either the captain or crew (we won't mention which and in reality it doesn't really matter) did their morning duties in the aft head it appeared that there might be some blockage.  The pump handle was extremely hard to push in one direction and impossible in the other.  Ok I thought, a little blockage.  One of the easiest remedies for a crappy little blockage (pun intended) is to let it set in the head overnight and usually it will break down enough to push it through the next day.  That brings us to this morning.  After the net I was anxious to pump that blockage out of the boat and go about my day.  Nothing doing.  No change from yesterday. Not moving. Chit! (yes, pun intended again).  Ok, so the easy way out was to grab a piece of wire and push it through the through hull in the side of the boat, past the valve and hopefully loosen the blockage.  Pump again and we are good to go.  This does require a swim as the through hull comes out below the water line of the boat.  No big deal. However, it nets us nothing.  Ok, onto a little more aggressive route to the same approach, a drain snake.  Back in the water, insert the snake, Gregg winds the snake from up on the deck, try pump out the blockage and hopefully move on to the rest of our day.  However, again, no go. 

Time to move to the head and attack the problem from inside the boat.  After tracing the plumbing from the toilet to the through hull where it leaves the boat there were a few possibilities.  A) The pump assembly itself, B) the connection from the pump assembly to the hose, C) the 3-way valve to send it overboard or into the holding tank, D)the hose from there to the through hull, or E) the through hull valve itself.  In my head I thought it was most likely 3-way valve between the head, the through hull and the holding tank.  Karma would dictate that it was the 3-way valve because it is the most difficult to get to buried in the bottom of the cabinet below the floorboards below the sink AND being in the lowest spot it would naturally drain any and all effluent once we disconnected any of the 3 hoses.  Ding, ding, ding!  Karma is the winner!  As I disconnect each hose it drains it's rosie fresh effluent water straight from the toilet onto the floor, which is where I happen to be sitting.  So fun!  As I was on the floor of the head imitating a contortionist and grunting, cussing under my breath etc, Gregg was next to the navigation table handing me tools, clean paper towels and spraying Febreeze to mitigate the gag reflex for both of us.

We are now about 4 hours into the project and the 3-way valve is removed along with the accompanying hoses, hose clamps, etc.  The orifices through valve and the hoses is supposed to be 1 1/2".  What we are looking at is about 3/4" in most of the hoses and a hole about the size of a fat pencil in most of the valves or elbows. Hmmm...definitely a problem.  The toilets are flushed with salt water which over time begin a calcification process that given enough time can completely close off the flow. We were almost there.  Most of the calcification was about 1/4 thick or better and it is a very hard substance made up of salt and, well you know, chit water.  Let's just call it some nasty, very hard, crusty stuff.  Gregg and I spent about 2 hours chiseling the "crusty stuff" out of the valves, elbows, hoses and wherever else it resided.  All the while being careful not to break anything because that means no toilet.  

Reassembly took about an hour and a half and then the test...turn on the valves, flush and check.  Check, check and check.  Mission accomplished!  Putting everything away and cleaning up takes another half hour and we sit down for a rest.  It is about 4:30pm. I go back into the head and notice there is a small leak.  Grrr.  So I take off the bottom valve to the head again, more really fresh smelling water again. Remove, clean, replace.  Try again.  Nope.  Still leaking.  Think some more, try again.  After readjusting some hose clamps, mopping up again and a thorough bleaching to clean everything, the Liahona has a working head again.  All day of back tweaking work mixed in with what seems like a frolick in your backyard septic tank and viola...the deed is done.  Not exactly another day in paradise as Gregg might have pictured but there is a silver least we were in paradise.  Although wading in chit probably is not any better here than it is there.  
 On task fixing the aft head

Through hulls for the head plumming.

That, however, is another day aboard the SV Liahona.  Ciao for now.

Bret and Gregg
SV Liahona

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