If you're lucky enough to live to 100, the years between 50 & 75 are your third quarter. That segment in life could be the waning of your physically agile years, so it's a good idea to stay active. It's also a good time to challenge your brain to keep things limber up there - by mastering something new. We decided to go sailing, and this is a chronicle of our journey.


In Pursuit of a Dry Bilge: Kracor Water Tanks (& a cocktail recipe)

My step-dad TC and Don on Heiress (Cape Dory 31)
For my non-boaty friends, a bilge is like a miniature basement; a compartment on a boat that sits in the lowest area - under the sole (floor) - below the waterline. It's purpose is to collect & contain liquids - everything from waves-over-the-boat sea water, to leaking engine oil & diesel, etc.  A wet bilge is normal, so automatic bilge pumps are installed to keep the levels manageable.

A little water in the bilge is normal and acceptable.
But I'd prefer ours (above) to be dry & dusty.
The contents of bilges can be informative, because other than wet marine environment condensation running down the interior walls of your hull, the other stuff boaters find in bilges is often evidence of some looming project (a split in the sanitation hoses, a leaking oil seal, corroded gas tank, weeping through-hulls, etc.) I'll go on record and say it; we want a dry bilge. Our salty, seasoned, sailing friends shake their heads at this seemingly naive & futile goal. But determination works for salmon swimming upstream, and we're determined.  If you're not into bilge water source diagnostics (and if you're not a boater, I don't blame you), scroll to the bottom of this post for a groovy cocktail recipe that has nothing whatsoever to do with bilges or boats. And thanks for stopping in.

Mopping pooled water around the caps of the tank under the nav berth
 After finding tiny rivers of wetness snaking down the sides of the bilge from three directions, we traced those little water maps back to the sources and found pools on top of all three fresh water tanks after recently filling them.  We reduced the level of the water in the tanks by running the faucet, and took the caps off to have a look at their sealing abilities.

One of the existing caps on our Kracor water tanks
One of the existing Kracor water tank cap gaskets
They were probably original to the boat (17 years old), and looked like they needed to be retired. We jotted down the serial number and manufacturer of the tanks, and called Kracor to ask about replacement caps. Steve at Kracor took our call, and he was kind, helpful and very knowledgeable. He deduced the make and model of our boat by the serial number of the starboard tank, because they were custom made for Cape Dory and Robinhood boats. Then he informed us that the openings and caps, which are actually called clean out covers, are manufactured to be splash proof, but *not* water proof, so the tanks should not be filled to maximum capacity. Now we know. (And I wonder; how does that work when we're heeled over?)

New cap & gaskets arrived in the mail; big difference!
 When I explained that I wanted to order replacements for our old and slippery "splash proof clean out covers",  he said we'd save money by ordering them directly from the supplier Kracor orders them from. (How cool is that?) And the company - Claire's Marine Outfitters - recently opened an Ebay store, to make online ordering easier. So, for $14 each, we got three new caps for our water tanks. Yahoo!

Much better = not leaking. :)
 Boaters are all too familiar with the concept of Scope Creep; when your original plan for a project stretches and grows to take more time, more supplies and more money.  Well, of course, once we got the tanks open, and saw the slime on the original caps, we used flash lights to explore the interior of the fresh water tanks.  Too Many Floaties.  :(  So, we began - in earnest - researching all the different ways and products used to clean fresh water tanks. But I'll save that for another post.

Canadian Smoke Jumper (think: pancakes at a campfire)
I found this drink - a Canadian Smoke Jumper - online here, and since Don a) loves Laphroaig, b) loves all things maple, and c) is a fire fighter, we had to make it. The recipe calls for equal parts:

Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Crown Royal Maple Finished Whiskey
Simple Syrup

We erred on the side of sweet-caution, and reduced the simple syrup by half, and will probably reduce it further in the next round. If you like smokey, peaty scotch, and maple scent & flavor - like pancakes by a campfire, you might like this drink.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!


Ariel | CD 36 said...

Good luck in your pursuit of a dry bilge. I know some have achieved it; we haven't. Those tanks shouldn't be a source of bilge water, though, so good for tracking that one down. I think most of our bilge water comes from the stuffing box and the cockpit locker lids.
By the way, you might try regularly coating the water tank cap seals with silicone o-ring grease. Works well on port gaskets, too. You're probably already aware of that, though.
Glad to see you're having fun with Florian! Happy Fourth!

william mccoy said...

Appreciate your Blog, and agree completely with your title "the Third Quarter." The French have a phrase for this which is, Troisieme age, the same concept. I have a little bitty Typhoon but we used to sail a Beneteau 473, always some water collecting down below! Nice photos!

Belinda Del Pesco said...

@ariel - thanks for the suggestions. On our boat, the holding tank is glassed in - between the bilge and the engine compartment, so it acts like a bulkhead between those two areas.
I didn't know about the silicone o-ring grease, so I'll check it out. I'm about to clean and inspect all the port lights later this summer, so your timing is perfect. Happy Sailing to you and your family!

Belinda Del Pesco said...

@william, thanks for stopping by. I hear you on the little bit of water, but when there's enough to slosh around, I get edgy. :)
I've seen pics of your typhoon and she's lovely. Nice blog to you too!