Taking on Water
A man overboard, an engine fire and adrift at sea ... what else could go wrong? Plenty.
“You’re taking on water,” Jeff tells me. Water, like fire, tends to make boaters do one thing: panic. But it’s my responsibility to solve the problem. “Go through a checklist of the most common reasons to take on water,” Jeff says. First is forgetting to put in a plug. Second is an open or cracked seacock, or a leaky underwater fitting. Third is an exhaust elbow breached below the waterline, or a hole in the hull.
If it’s the plug or a failed seacock, find something to stick into the hole to stop it. Some offshore cruisers fashion wooden “bungs” to plug holes in case of an emergency — or shape plugs from sticky wax-ring toilet seals from the plumbing supply store. If it’s a hole in the hull, use whatever means necessary to plug it: seat cushions, spare life jackets, towels, shirts — anything to stem the incoming water to a rate slower than the bilge pump can handle.
And always remember this: “The best bilge pump in the world,” Gasiorek says, “is a scared guy with a bucket.”