Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A mystery solved

Checking the bilge for drips

Since we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Stephanie and I have been concerned about a strange noise we've been hearing on the boat.

As you live on a boat you become accustomed to the little noises it makes and why. The sound of the fresh water pumps when you open a tap. The shower sump as it drains. The vacuum pumps of the heads doing their thing. As these sounds work their way into your psyche, you become alert when they run unexpectedly. Why is the shower sump cycling on and off? Turns out the check valve was leaky and needed to be replaced. That vacuum pump has been going on for a long time, better check that the toilet has sealed correctly. Uh-oh, the water pump is on. Where's the leak? You get the idea. A bit like that scene in Apollo 13 where Bill Paxton is scared by every little sound and Tom Hanks reassures him by explaining the source each sound.

So when you hear a strange sound, it's worrying. After all, a catastrophe on a boat means you sink and that can ruin your whole evening. Since Sunday night, we've been hearing a strangle crackling sound, very similar to Rice Krispies in milk. While hard to locate, it's definitely coming from "below". I thought we had a leak in the water system while Stephanie thought the hull was leaking. A thorough examination of the bilges proved both fears groundless. The bilges are dry and no pump has been cycling - we'd have heard that. In addition the water tanks haven't been losing water any faster than our normal usage would predicate.

So while the sound isn't an indication of an imminent (and cold) bath we were no nearer to finding where it was coming from. Sticking my head down every hatch just verified how direction-less the sound is. All I could determine was "outside". Chatting with a few mariners and doing some Googling has come up with a possible source - shrimp. Lots of shrimp clicking their claws under our hull. In fact, we are not the first sailors to hear the noise and panic.

Speaking of leaks, the source of the shower leak still hasn't been found. I've now put a zip-lock bag over all four joints behind the shower controls. It's stopped the leak going into the woodwork - now it all runs down the pipes into a bucket I put in the bilge. I'll give it a few days and then have another look. One of these bags will be wet inside. Then I'll have found the bugger!

1 comment:

Charles said...

my cars talk to me. sometimes they say "I have a nail in the tire - click click click" sometimes they say "i have a leaky radiator hose - sss sss sss" sometimes they say "I have a lower end rod knock - clank clank clank"

but usually, nowadays? they say "i'm thirsty, more fuel"

listen, the noises tell us a lot.