Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sandy Hook, NJ

Wind: SE 10 knots

The good news: we fixed the macerator pump. I know everyone’s breathing a sigh of relief. It was not without further horror, however. We came back to the boat last night, after gorging ourselves on Chinese food, emotionally prepared to deal with the head problem. Karl ripped apart the toilet yet again, and after some experimentation, cleared out the hoses that went between the holding tank and the pump. The pump was then able to successfully eject at least half the waste. A huge sigh of relief. It was luckily warm enough for me to perch outside away from the smell, allegedly to watch for telltale bubbling from the pump. When I finally saw the bubbling, I think my actual words were “Oh, you blessed machine!”

The drama was not over, however. We didn’t dump all of our waste because you’re not supposed to dump any this close to land, although I don’t know what they can expect when they close a pump-out station for the season. We just gave ourselves enough space to fill up the tank with water and head decomposer stuff, which can hopefully go to work on the solid matter. We’re going to try to run muriatic acid and maybe lye through the tank to do more decaying work. But after the blessed relief of getting the pump working, we decided to try to clear the vent to the exterior, which Karl guessed was plugged. I came in to help, clearing away books and cushions in case of accident. We then ran a bowl full of water through the system, just to try to flush it out, and—guess what. More crap spray, this time right in the cabin. Imagine your worst nightmare, and then a couple of steps below that. That was where we were. It managed to stay somewhat localized, on the hull, a bag of power bars, and some bagged toilet paper I had stored behind the books, but still. There is absolutely nothing fun about cleaning your own waste off the walls. I have absolute and unmitigated respect for any of the world’s plumbers. And for Karl, who has inhabited this inner circle of hell for the last three days.

We also found a huge wad of cardboard wedged in the holding tank. How it got there, I have no idea. I don’t even know how it could have gotten through the toilet. But it can’t have been helping. So now all we have to do is go offshore a little and pump out the rest of our tank, and then go to work with cleaning out the system completely. Today we did a thorough boat bleaching, and I feel much better about life, the universe, and everything. There is still some odor hanging around, but compared to what it was, it smells like absolute heaven. We also may borrow the Canadians’ pump-out system to try to get some more oomph. But we’re going to have to learn how to manage with ours. I just don’t know how to keep it from getting clogged. I’m beginning to understand why the fewer systems you have on a boat, the better.

After the crap debacle, we moved to a mooring closer to the marina. Our Canadian friends (Lise and Marcel—I suppose I should give them names) have been using a mooring with no charge. Evidently the harbor patrol is closed for the season, too, and bad weather is forecast for tomorrow. I made a lovely rotini casserole this evening, with fresh ground beef and mozzarella cheese from the icebox, while Karl went and bought us ice and filled up our water jugs. We also docked to get diesel today—only our third docking experience ever! It went without a hitch. Now we’re supposed to go over to Sea Belle, our friends’ boat, to split another bottle of wine.

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