How to almost sink Uproar
14 November 2015
It has been some time since this incident and I have procrastinated writing about it. That probably indicates how impactful this incident has been on me. We didn't sink the boat but sure filled it up with unwanted seawater. I promised to write about the good and the bad. Here goes!
September 25th we sailed our first ocean passage on Uproar from Sandy Hook, NJ to Atlantic City. This was a run of about 75 miles. Weather forecast was for NE winds of about 20 knots and building. The following days the wind was predicted to be even stronger so we thought we had better get moving. Uproar and Whisper left Sandy Hook around 8 am. Our initial destination was Barneget harbor north of Atlantic City so we didn't leave early.
We spent the night just around the “hook” so didn't have far to get to the Atlantic. It did require motoring into the wind and seas before we could turn and burn on a broad reach. This was a bit of an eye opener. Waves were breaking well over the bow and the dodger was deflecting green water. No real problem, Everything seemed fine. We finally got around the point and started sailing. It was a fast reach, we averaged over 8 knots. Great sailing!
Lisa asked, “Aren't we riding bow down?” I had also observed this. Uproar loves to run down the face of a wave in a bow down attitude but the bow comes up after the surf. This time, we were in that attitude between surfs.
Here's what happened: We have a huge anchor locker on Uproar. It is a great place to put full trash bags until the next place we can deposit them ashore. A trash bag happened to be riding there that day. Waves coming over the bow find their way into the anchor locker but there are two anchor locker drains. One is about 4 inches above the locker floor and the other one is about 10 inches above the floor. This is proper as if the lower one gets clogged, the upper one should be clear,.
We also have a roller furler drum below deck. This leaves a large hole in the top of the anchor locker. Now waves can really pour into the locker. The drains should handle this well. They do except for the trash bag that came open with a few days refuse floating around. Sure enough, paper towels and other junk clogged the locker drains. The anchor locker filled up with water that could not drain out.
I'm sure Jeffrey Dahmer could fit three or more bodies in Uproar's anchor locker. I bet there was 700 pounds of water in there! There was no way I could fix the situation at sea! As we rode the waves, I could often see water sloshing out of the anchor locker lid. Yes, it was full to the top! I immediately emptied the forward water tank of its 70 gallons. The bow rode higher.
When I installed the electric windlass, I followed the path of wires going to the bow, running lights. I had to drill a larger hole to get the cables to the windlass. This was not caulked because water should never get up that high. Well, water was pouring in the forward head through a hole the size of a pencil. We noticed the floor boards in the forward cabin were floating!
I turned on the bilge pump but it soon clogged. I unclogged it several times, then it just quit working. By then, no more waves were coming over the bow, the waves had organized behind us. Uproar was still sailing well. I do have a manual pump but didn't use it as the situation was stable by then.
Barneget Bay turned out not to be a safe harbor. I didn't research this before we left. I looked at the chart and saw that we could get Uproar in but there was no place sheltered that would accommodate our 8 foot draft. It would have been a death trap! We decided to press on to Atlantic City. Had I planned on this, I would have left earlier.
Here are some more details of the trip: Sophie puked on me, I then puked, Caroline puked and Lisa turned green. The waves were up to 8 feet at times. Wind topped out at 25 knots apparent. When you are on a broad reach, that's a lot of wind. Uproar loved it. We hit some 10s and averaged about 8.5 knots. So it was at least good sailing, if not soggy sailing.
We entered Atlantic City port at dusk. Two dolphins greeted us at the entrance.
We found the marina and docked safely. We were hungry, tired and wet. Fortunately, the club house for the marina was the Golden Nugget Casino. We were steps away from warm showers and good pizza!
It took two days to rinse and dry Uproar. I had to bucket out the anchor locker which was full to the top. Then I had to remove both anchors, rodes and chains and clean out every scrap of garbage! It took some stiff wire to unclog the drains.
Kudos to Caroline, our guest crew for a great attitude. She said she was enjoying the sailing and had confidence in us and Uproar. Lisa was a trooper, she drove a lot while I was messing with the bilge pump and puking over the side.
We learned some lessons. The wire trace is not completely sealed and trash bags now go into the dinghy!
PS. The picture does not relate to this story!