Having waited for the east coast low to wreak it’s havoc, we planned to depart early on Sunday 24 May 2009.
A shake-out sail on the Saturday afternoon did not bode well. A jolly sail was terminated with an overheating engine just as we prepared to drop the mainsail. The engine and exhaust system was saved by the exhaust temperature alarm, which I had installed after the last cooling failure (which had resulted in a melted the exhaust box…), but we still required a tow back to the RMYC marina. After much head scratching I determined that the otherwise perfect raw water pump impeller had failed with the rubber impeller separating from the brass drive bush. Not a satisfactory performance from a (original Volvo Penta) part with less than 30 hours use.
I always carry a couple of spares, and one was pressed into use, solving the problem.
We left the dock around 5:30AM on Sunday morning. The sea-state was still pretty confused after the stormy weather of the previous week and the easterly breeze just stopped us from setting course up the coast for Port Stephens, requiring an offshore tack. It was pretty wild, slicing upwind through a three metre swell and the boat was pretty wet.
About two hours after leaving Broken Bay, I decided to visit the heads. I opened the seacocks and was shocked to hear the hissing sound of water spraying out of the discharge hoses! I closed the seacocks immediately and sat down on the floor with my head in the bilge trying to work out what went wrong. I soon realized that the 25 year old spiral-reinforced flexible hoses had finally reached the end of their lifespan and had split in several places, probably encouraged by all the tugging etc during the recent installation of the holding tank.
Sitting in the heads with my head between my knees, inside the smell bilge, while thrashing to windward in a three metre swell was not a good idea. The dismay at discovering a fault that potentially terminated our trip was enough to turn my stomach anyway, and by the time I got back on deck I felt pretty nauseous.
I broke the news to the crew and was astounded that they all believed we could carry on, using a bucket! I wasn’t having it though and ordered a tack and bear away back to the Pittwater. This manoeuvre was interrupted by me first having to be violently ill over the side, which made me feel lots better but destroyed my record of never having been seasick.
Soon after we turned around the girls “had to go”, a consequence of the copious quantities of water I had encouraged them to drink. A bucket with about 5 litres of urine was soon passed up and this resulted in Melissa succumbing to a bout of retching over the side. Helen formed informed us that she “really rather liked the bucket” which was so out of character for her that we all cracked up laughing.
Back at the dock after a rather nice downwind sail, Peter started disassembling the toilet plumbing while I went off searching for parts.