Tragedy East of Florida

Drewm3i

Member II
I'd be interested in knowing what thru-hulls were located in the forward section of the boat, if they were plastic or had plastic fittings attached and what equipment or stores were in the same area that may have been moving about in a wild seaway risking thru-hull damage. Same question regarding the knotmeter thru-hulls.
There were two transducers under the front berth accessible by a small door. One was a paddlewheer type, the other was flat. The paddlewheel was installed in late 2018, the other solid one (no plug) was older and had its wire cut. It seems odd to me either of these could have failed, but who knows really.
 

Drewm3i

Member II
Indeed. I shouldn't have attempted a late-night post. That pretty much captures the incomplete thought I was going for - the daunting prospect of crawling into confined space in the dark, possibly underwater, and the possibility that the breach might not be the same place where the water is accumulating.
"Capsize for 5 minutes"? All kinds of mayhem could occur.
No offense taken my friend, we all want to know what exactly happened. It just seems to me that if there were no oddities with the steering, it is unlikely that there was anything wrong with the rudder stock or shaft, especially considering my experience with the boat's rudder which was in remarkable condition when I had it.
 

Parrothead

Member III
seacock fail
Well then, that pretty much eliminates a knotmeter paddlewheel or depth sounder transducer because neither of those have seacocks. Do you recall what type of seacocks you had in the forward part of the boat? Any guess as to what might have caused the failure?
 

Drewm3i

Member II
Well then, that pretty much eliminates a knotmeter paddlewheel or depth sounder transducer because neither of those have seacocks. Do you recall what type of seacocks you had in the forward part of the boat? Any guess as to what might have caused the failure?
No seacocks forward of the keel on this vessel. There were 3 or 4 to starboard for the head, sink, and holding tank, and a few under the kitchen sink for the sink drains and engine water intake. Only 6 or 7 sea cocks in all.
 

Drewm3i

Member II
This guy's boat almost sank due to a busted paddlewheel transducer:

From the brief shot in the video it looks identical to the new B&G unit that was on Richard's E-38. If it was, I wonder if a manufacturing defect is at play in these events. :oops:
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
This video tells it ALL. Excellent report from a very seasoned sailor! - with his tail uncharacteristically between his legs.

One take-home I got was that he was able to instantly pull up all relevant floorboards to find the the leak and to later get the bilges completely cleared and pumped out.
I'm very glad I don't have a paddlewheel anymore (epoxy-filled that hole several years ago) - I decided that our GPS services (phone, etc) give sufficiently good speed input.
 

goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Assorted non-sequential thoughts:

I'm glad that Richard is okay and it's too bad his story ended the way it did.

The Zingaro guy's video is interesting. He's never come across as a particularly sympathetic character, but I'm glad he got things figured out. Batteries in the bilge? Seems silly, but I guess that keeps weight low in the boat. I can't imagine why batteries would be placed there otherwise.

Have you ever tried to bail using your manual Whale Gusher pump? Even under the best circumstances, they take a ton of work and move very little water. My handle is tied into the cockpit locker nearby.

Having a plan-B battery not-fixed-in-a-location in the boat (as in the 'solar generator' system I pointed out in a nearby thread) seems like an even-better idea in these circumstances. Fry your main batteries, but still have another energy source to rely on for an electric bilge.

Short of glassing over a paddlewheel hole, I wonder if there is a safer plug alternative. I have my paddlewheel removed and in its place a plastic factory plug that is about .2" thick and has worked fine, but it seems like a vulnerability.

I should also follow through with the (ha-ha) castration my formerly grimey, now clean cockpit scupper balls.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Have you ever tried to bail using your manual Whale Gusher pump? Even under the best circumstances, they take a ton of work and move very little water
Within the endurance limits of a frightened helms person, it can actually more a lot of water. That said, I have only moved out a few gallons that I poured into our bilge to test the functioning.
I note that specs predict 17 gallons/minute. That would constitute one loooong and stressful minute, even allowing for adrenaline. Still, it might achieve its primary purpose - slowing down possible sinking while another person staunches the leak, or launches the life raft.

Aside: I have seen the thoughtful installation of the legendary big Edson manual pump with the 4' handle, with pump access at the level of the sole of a Santa Cruse 52 Cruising boat. The broker said that owners referred to it as the "Oh-my-God" pump! We had a good chuckle, but a serious chuckle. :)
 

goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Within the endurance limits of a frightened helms person, it can actually more a lot of water.
Given my own tests, and not in a frightened but in a very earnest state, I would disagree with your statement.
I note that specs predict 17 gallons/minute.
Cash bounty of $1,000 herewith offered to anyone who can come to my boat and move 17 gallons of water through my (rebuilt, functional) whale gusher pump in a minute. More than one full 5 gallon bucket of water in 20 seconds? Not a chance.
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
[snip]
I note that specs predict 17 gallons/minute. That would constitute one loooong and stressful minute, even allowing for adrenaline. Still, it might achieve its primary purpose - slowing down possible sinking while another person staunches the leak, or launches the life raft.
[snip]:)
- presupposes there is another pair of hands on board to do those things - as there was not for Richard.
Also, there's an interesting episode in the recent 'lightning strike' series of the 'Sailing Into Freedom' you tube channel - Plucky (solo at the time) alternates between (i) frantically searching for the source of a significant leak in the hull where the lightning exited and (ii) frantically pumping the manual 'gusher' pump takes turns - going through in his mind as he pumps where next to look when taking a brief break from pumping. Of course, it happens at night.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Given my own tests, and not in a frightened but in a very earnest state, I would disagree with your statement.

Cash bounty of $1,000 herewith offered to anyone who can come to my boat and move 17 gallons of water through my (rebuilt, functional) whale gusher pump in a minute. More than one full 5 gallon bucket of water in 20 seconds? Not a chance.
I would mostly agree with you, but am still glad to at least have the manual pumping option available.

(I once helped a friend do an install of a float switch and upgraded pump option on a Hunter 31, and the factory setup was hardly worthy of a small day sailor! )
We EY owners are kind of spoiled by the dewatering systems that were installed on our boats. When you look around the marina, only some late model all-out "racing" boats with a mandate for Cat. One Dewatering apparatus have a manual pump similar to what we take for granted in our 'fast cruiser' Ericson's. When EY started doing this around the early 80's, they were ahead of their time in this regard.

Tom, please be careful about that cash offer.... there are a lot of retirees here and most are on fixed incomes. We do not want to lose any owners to heart attacks! :(
 

K2MSmith

Sustaining Member
I have an Airmar paddlewheel speed sensor that looks like the one attached. it is similar to others on the market from what I can tell. I recently serviced it a few months ago - replaced/lubed o-rings etc. I am just a bit puzzled how you could have a catastrophic failure of this part. The inner tube is about 7/8" and has an 0-ring on the end of it. If that o-ring leaks, then you still have an outer o-ring in the cap. You can't overtorque the cap because it has a stop on it. I also have the factory temporary cap nearby and a wooden plug attached to that (two backups). So for this thing to fail to the point where you would get a lot of water, the plug would have to be loose and actually come off - or maybe on the hull interface, this part would have to break or come loose from the hull. (??)
 

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goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I have an Airmar paddlewheel speed sensor that looks like the one attached. it is similar to others on the market from what I can tell. I recently serviced it a few months ago - replaced/lubed o-rings etc. I am just a bit puzzled how you could have a catastrophic failure of this part. The inner tube is about 7/8" and has an 0-ring on the end of it. If that o-ring leaks, then you still have an outer o-ring in the cap. You can't overtorque the cap because it has a stop on it. I also have the factory temporary cap nearby and a wooden plug attached to that (two backups). So for this thing to fail to the point where you would get a lot of water, the plug would have to be loose and actually come off - or maybe on the hull interface, this part would have to break or come loose from the hull. (??)
Good points!
 

gadangit

Member III
I have an Airmar paddlewheel speed sensor that looks like the one attached. it is similar to others on the market from what I can tell. I recently serviced it a few months ago - replaced/lubed o-rings etc. I am just a bit puzzled how you could have a catastrophic failure of this part. The inner tube is about 7/8" and has an 0-ring on the end of it. If that o-ring leaks, then you still have an outer o-ring in the cap. You can't overtorque the cap because it has a stop on it. I also have the factory temporary cap nearby and a wooden plug attached to that (two backups). So for this thing to fail to the point where you would get a lot of water, the plug would have to be loose and actually come off - or maybe on the hull interface, this part would have to break or come loose from the hull. (??)
I have the same, mine being a DST version. I was also wondering where the failure occurred. The post above about smashing through waves has me scratching my head. I guess it must start when somebody does a bad job of putting the paddlewheel in?
 

Jerry VB

E32-3 / M-25XP
In the case of "Lady K", the threads on the thru-hull portion were stripped. When he tried to put the original paddlewheel in it would not hold (threaded a couple of turns and then jumped threads) and his "blanking" plug had the same problem: Flood Repair - Episode 40 - Lady K Sailing

Update: Interestingly, the Airmar installation instructions (pdf) specifically call out installing a safety wire. "Warning: Always attach the safety wire to prevent the insert from backing out in the unlikely event that the cap nut fails or is screwed on incorrectly." I've never taken that to heart; I think I just had a change of heart.
 
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Drewm3i

Member II
In the case of "Lady K", the threads on the thru-hull portion were stripped. When he tried to put the original paddlewheel in it would not hold (threaded a couple of turns and then jumped threads) and his "blanking" plug had the same problem: Flood Repair - Episode 40 - Lady K Sailing

Update: Interestingly, the Airmar installation instructions (pdf) specifically call out installing a safety wire. "Warning: Always attach the safety wire to prevent the insert from backing out in the unlikely event that the cap nut fails or is screwed on incorrectly." I've never taken that to heart; I think I just had a change of heart.
I would bet under the pressure of large waves, the threads can strip and therefore fail. Remember, the plug basically pops into place and then threads on only a few turns until it clicks into place again.

I will never use plastic for something like this again. We do not know if this is what failed on RIchard's boat, but it seems possible given that paddlewheels seem to fail catastrophically more than they should. I also noted how his boat seemed to be going down bow first in the video, which looks to me like a failure in the front of the boat and all the thru-hulls and seacocks were aft of the keel. I'm still sick about this. So glad Richard is safe, but my wife and I poured so much love and labor into this vessel, as did the owner of 20 years before us (and so did Richard with the new sails and other wonderful additions).

This boat was the Ericson model taken to the NY boat show in 1987 and it has been featured in numerous Christmas parades over the years in South Florida. It was also the subject of multiple magazine articles by myself and was on the cover of a local magazine decked out in Christmas lights.
 
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