Monday, August 11, 2014

Boats and Bears and Trains ... oh my

The crew of The Floating Bear moved back aboard a couple of days ago. Alas, that has not led to any appreciable easing of the work load. The DC electrical system is still a work in progress even though the batteries have found their way to a new home in the starboard side lazarette.  Switch panels are held in place with tape and wiring runs are still being unscrambled.  A whole heap of zip-ties are about to be sacrificed in order to bring order, but at least the lights are working.

There are solar panels to hang and wire, and the water system is not cooperating for reasons as yet to be determined. Massive leaks in the cabin windows are being addressed by actually re-bedding them. By all appearances others have made at least four attempts to stop the leaks. That is the number of different kinds of sealer found piled one on top of another. Needless to say the efforts proved fruitless and the windows leak like screen doors with the first drizzle of rain. It must be admitted that trying to remove said layers is nearly fruitless as well.  One long day of effort is required for each of the four windows.  That task has fallen mostly to Deb as I have been banished to spending my days in the lazarette, tied in a knot of wiring.  There is also a debate raging about the new holding tank install.

The fitting for sucking the nasty away is located at the top of the tank. When I asked about it needing a tube reaching near the bottom of the tank for the system to work properly I was assured by a guru of all things nautical that it would not be necessary. I admit to having doubts. Nomad was - and Kintala is - plumbed with that fitting at the bottom of the holding tank. Normal pump type sucking gets the desired results without the need of enthusiastic vacuum / weight lifting type sucking. If a suck pipe needs installed I would rather do it now than after the tank is full of smelly brown stuff. An internet search did not shed much light on the subject of holding tank sucking in sailboats, and far be it from me to question the sage wisdom of a guru of all things nautical based on my scant experienced with just two such systems.  But I still wonder if that tank needs a pipe stuck in it for a proper sucking to take place. (Advice based on the cumulative wisdom of the gurus of all things nautical who find their way to these musings will not be ignored.)

Other challenges go beyond that of just trying to repair the boat and get the systems working properly. The budget burden has escalated to the point of being crushing. Searching for income to offset the outflow is now solidly in the short term future. (Anyone who could use an pretty accomplished airplane driver in the Miami / Ft Lauderdale area should feel free to speak up. I know where one can be found.) The schedule burden has become impossible. The boat was supposed to leave yesterday for a mooring field near to where Grandson Eldest will be starting school scant days from now. I think he is going to need a note from his boat doctor.

At the moment we have no real clue as to what to do other than get up each morning and struggle on. This is family, those for whom all of us would step in front of a train, if necessary, to keep them safe and whole. What is a Bear in comparison to a train?  And, at least with a Bear, one might actually live to tell the tale.


Alex Rooker said...

My best illustration of my thoughts on the holding tank tube- try sucking milkshake from a straw held at the top of the cup. No amount of effort will cause the milkshake to jump up to the straw.

I'd cut an angle at the tube base and have it close to, but not on, the bottom of the tank.

Now for the fellow who can suck a milkshake without putting the straw deeper in the cup, have him explain his physics and personally guarantee that top of the tank poop removal will work.

He'll probably defer to putting the tube down into the tank, "just to be safe".

Bill K said...

Yes the suck tube has to be at the bottom of the tank.

On mine the connection is on the side at the bottom.

Bill Kelleher

seafish1951 said...

Enjoy your blog, I am about 18 months from joining you in this adventure.

Tube needs to be at the bottom of the tank.

Robert Salnick said...

The first comment is the most illustrative. You need either a dip tube or a bottom tap on the tank. Do not install without one or the other

Robert Sapp said...


The vent line attaches to the top, and the pumpout line draws from the bottom. You can either come in low on the side of the tank, or if you come in on top, use a dip tube to reach the bottom. But then, you already knew that.


LatnLong said...

In days of old, holding tanks accepted poop from a top inlet and got cleaned by sucking from a bottom outlet. All worked well with the physics of things, but there was a servicing problem. Changing a lower hose was a sanitary challenge. Some bright person figured out that by putting an internal pipe/passage that had clearance at the tank bottom, but came back up to the top, would made the job less onerous. Check and see it your new tank incorporates this in its design. If so, all you have to do is sort out which is inlet and which is outlet.

Mike B. said...

Hey TJ,

My Leopard Cat has two holding tanks where the pump out fitting is plumbed to the top of the tank. I heard from the gurus too that it "should work" but can tell you it, in fact, did not. As soon as the vent line (also at the top) can pull in air, nothing will get pumped out. Basic physics, gravity, and fluid dynamics applied as expected.

I had to fabricate and install a PVC dip tube that would extend from the fitting at the top of the tank down to the bottom. Cut a 45 degree opening on the bottom so it wouldn't bottom out. After that, I could pump out the boat.

I guess SOP for the Moorings Charters were to dump at sea (or at least a few minutes from the Moorings home base for the boat) using the through hull plumbed to the lower tank fitting. In any case, I think you'd be wise to fix the issue while the tank is still clean...or at least test it out with clean water before you put the system to use.

Good luck.

Phil Gow said...

+1 adding my voice to needing to suck from the bottom. It will really "suck" (not really!) if you don't. Ignore the expert. Just think of him as one of the myriad of people you had surveying and working on Kintala early on during the purchase phase.

Meauxsull said...

We sailors are a weird bunch! Your posts usually elicit 2-3 responses but make the topic "poop" and nine responses so far! Oh, the fun of it all.

Great posts,