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The Sound of Running Water


ast summer, I finally got around to doing what I should have done a long time ago: I sold my sailboat. Not that I didn’t like Calypso—I had a logbook of great adventures with her—but it was time to make that next step to something a bit bigger. I finally singled out a 1988 Pearson 31 that was located in Brunswick, GA. The boat had been sitting for a while and needed some maintenance. So I spent some long weekends getting the boat ready for the trip back to Melbourne, FL, about a 250mile trip down the ICW. Not that I’m a Capt. Bligh—although some might disagree—but I do like to keep a tight ship. My first priority was to make sure all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were in order. I ended up replacing the head and all its plumbing— including the Holding Tank from Hell—but that’s a whole entire story in itself. I also had a couple of half-frozen through-hull valves and leaking tail stock fittings that needed attention. When it comes to repairing things that can make the boat sink, I get real paranoid and check the plumbing about every 15 minutes for a day or two until the repaired part has gained my trust. I cleaned out the water tanks the best I could and thought I had tightened the ports back on. Things were starting to look ship-shape. By early November, the winds were starting to blow a bit colder and a bit harder, so I knew it was time to head south. With my sailing partner Kathy, we made final preparations but were delayed waiting for the latest cold front to blow through. This gave me some time to do some last minute tinkering, and I also decided to top off the water tanks. Just about the time I was thinking that the tanks weren’t that low, Kathy calls up from below asking about the water on the

94 November 2007


By Joe Cloidt

cabin sole. Oh, fudge! (Only I didn’t say fudge.) Remember I said I thought I had tightened the inspection port on the water tanks? There goes that trust thing already, and we hadn’t even left the dock yet. We finally took off hoping to catch the tail end of the front. In retrospect, waiting another day would have been wiser. We had a good breeze sailing down the Brunswick River. It was cool but sunny, and it felt good to be sailing off on a new adventure. But the weather soon started to deteriorate and after a long cold day, all I could think of was a quiet anchorage and a cup of hot tea in a warm cabin. We finally dropped the hook behind Cumberland Island in the late afternoon but not to the quiet spot I had hoped for; the wind was against the tide so the boat was rocking broadside to the wind. And of course, since I hadn’t been able to keep my vigil on the plumbing all day, it decid-

ed it wanted some attention. I had gone forward to get a sweater when I noticed a foul odor that could only mean one thing; the plumbing for the holding tank was leaking. And just to make it more interesting, between one of my many trips between the holding tank and the toolbox, I noticed we were also dragging anchor. After resetting the anchor and finding that loose hose clamp, I finally did have that cup of tea. But man—what a day! After a restless night, I was up early and eager to push on. But by midmorning, the weather started to close in again, and it looked like rain. We had just passed the channel for the Amelia Island Yacht Basin and its sign that temptingly told us that transients were welcome when the thought of another cold, wet day wrest-ling the wheel just didn’t seem very appealing. The dockmasters quickly got us into a slip just as the first few drops of rain started, and I knew I had made the right decision. At that point, I figured we had seen the worse of it. The weather was going to clear tomorrow, and if anything else was going to break, it would have done so by now. I even started trusting the plumbing again! Kathy made us her usual excellent lunch from the meager rations I stowed aboard, and thoughts of crawling into a warm berth soon followed. The fact that I was finally starting to relax should have been a warning flag. “Hey, do you hear that? Is that water running?” I’m instantly awake, wondering what part of the plumbing did I forget about this time. I start running down the checklist. It sounds like a faucet running, but the pump’s not on, and it’s not gurgling like a broken hose at a through hull, so what the hell is it? I get up and try to zero in on the sound, but it seems to be coming See SOUND continued on page 92