Know What To Do Be­fore The Flood

Soundings - - Seamanship -

For me, the words dam­age con­trol con­jure claus­tro­pho­bic scenes from the 1981 Ger­man U-boat film Das Boot. Be­grimed men, stripped to the waist in ris­ing wa­ter, strug­gling to plug gush­ing pipes that depth charges rup­tured, all while the pry­ing ocean tries to en­tomb them in their frag­ile bio­sphere. Ad­mit­tedly, this ar­ti­cle takes a rather less epic view of flood­ing be­cause, thank­fully, most of us only en­counter the more hum­drum el­e­ments of pre­ven­tion and prepa­ra­tion. Se­ri­ous hull breaches from ground­ing, col­li­sion or naval gun­nery are spe­cial cases for an­other day. (But I do rec­om­mend the movie if you haven’t seen it.)

Flood­ing is al­ways a se­ri­ous mat­ter, but one rea­son it be­longs in the pan­theon of “things that went wrong that should not have sur­prised me” is that most boats are full of holes. Count ’em: pro­pel­ler shaft, cool­ing wa­ter for the main en­gine, pos­si­bly for a gen­er­a­tor, as well. Dis­charge reg­u­la­tions not­with­stand­ing, a salt­wa­ter head func­tions on wa­ter com­ing and go­ing through holes in the boat. How about a depth sounder? An­other hole. A speed log needs a hole, and so does a me­chan­i­cal bilge pump. Many boats have a salt­wa­ter hose for rins­ing down. Where does that wa­ter come from? A hole. Some rud­der ar­range­ments in­volve a hull pen­e­tra­tion near the wa­ter­line. Should your ves­sel be more ex­trav­a­gantly equipped, there may be in­takes for re­frig­er­a­tion and a water­maker. Am I for­get­ting some­thing? Prob­a­bly, but you get the idea: Even on a good day, each of th­ese holes rep­re­sents a po­ten­tial point of ingress. Just ask a marine in­sur­ance claims ad­juster.

Many holes are fit­ted with sea­cocks that can be closed in the event of a hose fail­ure, so long as you can grab the han­dle be­fore it sub­merges. This par­tic­u­lar line of de­fense against flood­ing raises sev­eral points: 1. Know the ex­act lo­ca­tion and pur­pose of each sea­cock, and be sure there’s quick ac­cess to them. 2. Main­tain sea­cocks so that they are fully op­er­a­tional in time of need. 3. Use at least two high- qual­ity hose clamps at each end of a hose, and snug them up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. (Ac­tu­ar­ies re­ally know about this one.) 4. Re­place hoses on a sched­ule, whether you think they need it or not. Hoses have a ser­vice life. They can de­te­ri­o­rate over time, with no out­ward sign of com­pro­mise. 5. Con­sider clos­ing sea­cocks when leav­ing the boat unat­tended. The only hazard here is that you re­mem­ber to open them be­fore start­ing ma­chin­ery.

For some of th­ese mea­sures to be ef­fec­tive, they must be logged. This level of metic­u­lous­ness may be all too rem­i­nis­cent of the very day jobs we seek to es­cape on a boat, but if you are old enough to own a boat, you are old enough to know that your mem­ory isn’t what it used to be, if it ever was. If a task isn’t writ­ten down, you won’t re­mem­ber it.

Not all hull aper­tures can be fit­ted with sea­cocks. Ex­am­ples in­clude the prop shaft, trans­duc­ers for sounders and speed logs. Since th­ese are all well be­low the wa­ter­line, the in­com­ing pres­sure can be con­sid­er­able. What do you do if one of th­ese lets go? I wish I had an easy an­swer. The only time I had a trans­ducer fail, there was a Trav­elift handy to scoop the boat out of the wa­ter.

The ax­iom about an ounce of pre­ven­tion is es­pe­cially apro­pos when it comes to tak­ing on wa­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.