Comeuppance

BY DAN ROGERS - DIAMOND LAKE, WASHINGTON - USA

I’d say this is the worst case of this sort of thing I have ever seen. You might think of it as an anthropomorphic expostulation, on my part. And, you’d probably have me there, on technical grounds. But, I’ll just call it one helluva Boatsnit. This little girl has let the world know just what she thinks about things. And, all this time, I figured that I was the one in charge of things around this boatshop. Nope.

Little Lady Bug and I have been shipmates for a long while now. Almost ten years, if memory serves. We’ve been all over the place. Tens of thousands of miles by highway. Heck, we’ve destroyed at least two trailers, and run through around half-dozen motors in that decade of service. Until today, I figured we understood each other pretty well. Until today.




Even after a major reduction in boats and trailers and engines and the general detritus of being a serial Frankenbuilder; I’ve been short of places to park all the remaining fleet here at the Frankenwerke. Like during every Building Season, shop space gets parcelled out based on the most-needed projects. As the only more-or-less-factory-stock fiberglass boat in the collection, Lady Bug spends most of her winter seasons parked in a commercial storage lot-lately uncovered. I dropped by today. Just to check on things. On my way to town. And, what a shock.

We’ve had some gulley washers this month. No snow yet. Barely down below zero, so far. Lady Bug has been tarped and, I thought, ready for winter. Her companionway hatch is one of my brilliant schemes. And, it has worked for years and years now. Except it leaks. So, I normally pull a small tarp over that portion of the cabin top, and figure the rest is gonna’ be OK for what comes. I do normally crank the tongue jack up to full height so the cockpit can drain when the inevitable snow and ice starts melting in the spring. But, it’s only October and no snow or ice yet.

So, when I climbed up the boarding ladder and peeked into the cabin; it took a moment or two to realize just what it was that I was looking at. Ankle-deep water over the cabin sole. I still only sorta’ have a vague notion of how that much water got into that little cabin. Not unlike what would happen if the garden hose was turned on and left run for a couple hours. Lots of water.

That paper bowl is floating around, next to one of my (until today) better brilliant schemes. A few years back, I stuck one of those grocery store bread pans into the floor as a sort of mini-sump and most of the time, dust bin. As I would bail out the water sloshing around, and get that sump dried out, more or less, more water would mysteriously bubble back into the bread pan. This thing was getting spookier by the minute!

I finally took a screw driver and pried the pan from its now-ancient silicone sealant. Water came gushing up from the bilge like an artesian well. I still can only guess where all that water could have come in. This boat hasn’t been in the water since a single overnight run upriver way back last winter. And, I haven’t seen any evidence of wetness in the cabin until now. But, things get pretty gloomy from here on in.

I told the nice lady who runs the storage lot that I was gonna’ take Lady Bug home and try to get to the bottom of this mystery. Like I was saying, I still don’t know how all that water got there. But, by then, I had a real good
(in this case, bad) idea of where it had gone to. You see.

Way, way back in our history, I put a couple gallons of that two-part flotation foam into her bilge. I think it was even before we romped off to SOTEX for the TX-200. That was 2009, I think. Back then, I was getting ready for most anything that might befall us. All this time, that damn foam has just sat there curdled up between the inner liner and the hull. From end to end, side to side.

I probably already knew what was going on. Sorta’. I’ve got a couple pictures from one of our recent runs over to Puget Sound country. That boat looks real low in the water. But, I just figured it had to do will all the can goods and stuff that I normally haul around. Now, I’m thinking the groundwork for today’s discovery has been years in the making.

That damn foam.

One of the reasons that Miss Kathleen got turned into a motor boat from a sailboat is that ice had blown her keel open and rendered the hull pretty much shattered. There was no likely repair that would allow the hull to carry that ballast around anymore. That’s the absolute last thing I want to happen to my road warrior buddy, little Lady Bug. So, first off I had to find a place here at home for her to spend the winter. I’ll have to rig some sort of heat source to keep ice from forming in places that are beyond reach. So, we got Alice hooked up, and moved her to a sort of hiding place at the other end of the house. Sort of out of sight.

And, I started pulling stuff apart.

This is where my Captain’s Reclining Chair has been mounted for near-a-decade. A drill, screw drivers, and a couple pry bars and it came out reluctantly. As soon as the hole was cleared of foam, water continued to re-fill the open space.

The recliner came out in busted chunks. The foam, in soggy globs.

What’s the hurry? Well, it has most to do with the calendar. Gonna start freezing, right soon. Of course Miss Bug will need to go into the shop for more than makeup and nails, now. She’ll be getting a complete interior overhaul. And, a flurry of attention. Now.

But, back to that anthropomorphic business you were accusing me of, a while back. I’m pretty sure, she just hasn’t had any attention lately. And, now for sure, she’ll be getting a whole bunch of attention.

It seems to me that girls do that sort of thing to a feller, now and then.

4 Comments

  1. I once had a San Juan 21. Reassured my wife more times than I can remember it was unsinkable due to flotation tanks under the berths. It filled up with water after a hurricane while on the trailer after the cockpit drain jammed with leaves. Cleaning it out I thought I’d just open the tank inspection ports, having never actually looked in there. Several hundred gallons of water came flooding out. So much for flotation.

  2. Fiberglass can wik water, and obviously store it. Doesn’t hurt the glass, but makes the boat heavier. I have noticed my boat is much lighter now that I store it where water can’t collect in it at all. Before this discovery I left it on the beach and it would fill with rainwater – and I would simply bail it, and FOUR of us would carry it to the water. Now, two us can manage the boat.

    Try to dry the boat, I bought a fan that gives off heat at a box store, and it will dry out a wet carpet.

  3. I too once had an anthropomorphic expostulation. Fortunately, my doctor was able to remove it with some difficulty and I had to use one of those donut pillows for a couple of months. I wish you a quick recovery.

  4. Epilogue.

    We’re having the first “normal winter” in at least the past half-dozen. Poor Lady Bug was sort of put out-of-sight for what I thought would be a “mild winter.” To put this in perspective, I normally reach up to the deck when she’s on the trailer, and today I can step onto the deck without raising my foot. Well, I could step onto the deck if it wasn’t covered in an iceberg.

    If I thought she was piqued with me last fall with a little rainwater sloshing around in the cabin. Well. Bent up stanchions and rails. An over-stressed mast that has been manfully holding up a tarp. And other untold discoveries yet to appear. That’s what met me when I slogged over to check on things this afternoon.

    What’s worse, I can’t get her out of her hidey hole for the snow berms that are pushed up in the egress. A fine kettle of fish. At any event, I think I know who has first-dibbs on the repair bay come breakup. Sheeesh! Dan.

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