Waking up after our first night’s sleep and we had slept surprisingly well. I had tied the dock lines so I was hoping we were still in the berth not in the middle of the ocean in the morning.
It did take us a while to get to know all the noises of the boat and figure out what was banging outside or what sounded like a helicopter vibrating through the mast. This one took a little while to figure out – turns out if you have some sheets/ropes a little too tight they can act like a guitar string in the wind. Some time was spent in pyjamas in the rain in the middle of the night CRC-ing the boom to stop it squeaking every time the boat rocked.
Probably the most interesting sound we encountered was a crackling sound through the hull which was much louder at night than during the day, or perhaps just more noticeable. It has been described as sounding like you are sleeping in a bowl of rice krispies with the snap, crackle and pop. But what’s causing it?? There are a few theories online, but the prevailing one is that it is the sound of Pistol Shrimp, or Snapping Shrimp, snapping at their prey. Apparently these are extremely prevalent in NZ waters and we even have our own native species. There is a really interesting article here if you’d like to read more!
We encountered a few problems in those early days.
Inside the saloon we found one of the sofa cushions soaking wet. A small amount of water had come through one of the side hatches. It didn’t take us long to find that a small piece of silicon just needed to be replaced.
Wet cushion problem was solved.
A small amount of water looked like it been coming through and down the mast. Touching one of the wooden panels showed that it was wet and had water coming through behind it. Thankfully silicon yet again solved that problem.
Water down the mast was solved.
Later on, we heard the fresh water pump running when no taps were open. It would just come on now and then for a very small amount of time. We had a leak somewhere. Opening up to look in the bilge showed there was water coming from the starboard side. Cadi suggested it’s the galley and she was correct. Tightening up a plastic clip and hose was all it took.
The fresh water leak was solved.
A week or so in, and we couldn’t understand why our mattress was wet underneath. A little bit of Google and we had learned all about the hazards of a foam mattress on a solid board – condensation is the enemy. There are a few ways to solve the problem, from drilling holes in the board under the mattress (which we couldn’t do because of drawers under the bed), to getting an innerspring mattress custom made (which we couldn’t afford – $1500 ouch!). We ended up getting a product called Airflo Cushion from RV Super Centre. Basically it just provides airflow under the mattress, as the name suggests. It’s the cheapest solution we could find in NZ, costing us about $80 for a queen size piece of the stuff.
No more wet mattress!!
And then, of course, the bane of every boat owner’s life: a blocked holding tank. Because the aft head holding tank drains overboard using gravity (as opposed to the front tank which is electrically pumped overboard) we thought we were letting the tank empty while we were out sailing, but of course there was no way of really knowing! Then one day we started seeing sewage seep out of the vent! Oh crap. Literally. At this point we hadn’t had the broken deck access to the waste tank fixed so we couldn’t pump the tank out at a pump out station either. We used the front head in the interim while we figured out what to do! We finally got in touch with a boatbuilder who had the time and was happy to replace all our deck fills. Once we could access the tank from the deck side we managed to solve our problem – we jammed a hose in there and used pressure to remove the blockage – which partially solved the problem. Since then we discovered a miracle product called Zaal Noflex Digestor from General Marine Services at Westhaven, Auckland which actually reacts with the sewage and eats away at anaerobic sludge to drastically reduce odours (no more aft head smell! Yay!) and stop these blockages. The by-product is baking soda, so there is no negative environmental impact. It is rather expensive at around NZ$50 a bottle because it has to be imported from Canada – yes we looked at bringing it in ourselves but unfortunately it is classified as a dangerous good which has many too shipping implications. Despite the cost it is 100% worth it, and we find we get at least a month of use from one container, depending on how many days of the month we are home and using the toilets.
The great thing about living on board your boat is exactly that. You get to know every little thing about your boat because you are on it all the time. I guess this is what homeowners are like too, but on a boat there are probably a few more things that can go wrong! A couple of months in and we know every sound and exactly what’s causing it. Anytime someone stays the night on board we quickly show them what the bilge pump sounds like and explain a few other sounds, as well as giving them a safety briefing with regards to fire extinguishers and escape paths.
We have learnt not to let it get us down when we have problems. We are also learning about how to solve some of these problems ourselves. You can get someone in for each item but it’s going cost you each time and it adds up very quickly. It’s surprising what you can do with a little time, patience and perseverance. An invaluable resource for us has been a book called Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder. It explains every single system on the boat; how to install it, maintain it, and how to fix it. We would highly recommend this to any boat owner. Also a shout-out to the SV Delos crew for getting us onto it in the first place!!