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Old 04-12-2008, 11:45 AM   #1
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SY QUICKSTEP is now safely in harbour at Safaga in Egypt having lost prop and shaft in 840 mtrs mid passage off the saudi coast and partially sinking whilst the leak was discovered and plugged. Waiting for replacement shaft from cairo to be collected, machined, reinserted (wet probably) and then get on underway towards suez and port said ( Cairo).
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:07 PM   #2
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That must have been a horrific experience - tell us more.
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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Suffice to say SY quickstep was being single handed in a F6 reefed down and making steadily northerly progress 20 miles west of the saudi coast at approx 25dgs North Latitude enroute to suez.It would appear that when going onto the tack having been running the engine sparodically through the day to help the boat point up I had switched off the engine ( hydraulic driven prop with the engine aft and the hydraulic motor midships attached to the propshaft with a bolt and keyway.) The prop was a folding two blade variety and it would appear that they unfolded and continued to spin in the housing, somehow the retaining pin had sheared and the prop vibrated out the universal housing and slowly wound itself out the back and disappeared into 840trs water, I didnt discover this until i went below after settling onto the tack at about 7 knots so i went below to mark the position only to step into thigh deep water throughout the boat. I guessed the problem immediateley and went at it big time

i found that the log was (30mm) pumping in water faster than a hydrant on steriods.. . I initiially capped it with my hand but this was a knee jerk reaction and in the end got a plug in after some minurtes of trying to locate them in the locker which was already underwater.. suffice to say i managed to break the hand pump in half strength of goliath when under stress it would seem..... A jabsco.. and the eletric pump also failed., I cut the inlet hose off the engine to help drain the interior having turned off the stop cock inlet.. this worked for about 4 minutes before blocking by debris from within the cabin ... so plan B failed.... Bucket mark one was used until i was exhausted meanwhile tacking towards land and running off the wind for a gap in the reef to find some shelter .. Another yacht nearby I hailed on vhf and they made their way to me and I closed them in about 40 minutes we were alongside ( bailing ouit non stop) in quite heavy seas and the Skipper Mike Sullivan transferred himself onto Quickstep to assist bucketing out the water. ( took him a while to get his aim right)

The hole was by now plugged using a bung that had a central hole which itself was plugged by a pencil!! The yacht was down severely by the head but my waterproof boixes in the bow did their job and kept us afloat.OH my oath what we use and do in the heat of desperation!! With Quickstep alongside SY TACKS we motored into the anchorage ( 3 hours approx) meanwhle continously bucketing out the water. I had an emergency sumersible pump that i fitted and had began to lift the water out in serious quantities on reconnecting the engine hose and clearing the crap out of the filter.

. On arrival into a semi shelterd location I went over the side at night with bung and hammer hoping to find the shaft suspened in the cutlass bearing but that was not to be. I blocked the shaft access from the outside and "The rest" as they say is history...took about 4 days to get partially dry throughout the boat meanwhile sheltering from the severe northwest winds of 35kts plus in the anchorage laying us onto the reef... eventually having got it together ( and myself also as i was cut bruised and batterred by now) I sailed out from there and headed again tacking into a northwesterly gale towards Safaga where i had been informed by ssb on the "Turkey Run Net" ( many thanks to all of those guys too especialy SY's Augusta, Folly and Casada who between them ran the net and babied me all the way over the Red Sea) that there was a haulout location... 4 days later i was there. and this is where i am at present waiting a new shaft fom Cairo.. I carry a spare prop so its a case of machining it and fitting the assembly..

Thats the story... close call,. many, many thanks to Mike and Kathy Sullivan on the UK registered yacht TACKS for coming to my assistance and standng by me all the way to egypt,. towing me in through the reefs and holding me on their anchor whilst we got sorted out... True traditionalist behaviour of the cruising fraternity. Cant sing their praises high enough....thats the story.. Foodstuffs all ruined, bedding, clothing, floorboards and varnish scandalised... just a huge mess internally really but with drying out and work it will be a s good as ever in no time... I took some pix after the event and will send them to yoiu if you have the interest SY QUICKSTEP ..aka miss waterelogged
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:59 PM   #4
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A frightening experience. I am really pleased it worked out well in the end - even though you will have a load of work to do know getting everything ship-shape again.

Your troubles made me think, in the Coast Guard we always used ejector pumps working on the venturi principal when pumping out other boats. They have no moving parts and swallow a lot of scrap without getting blocked but I have seen nothing like that for yachts. Anyone have a lead on them?

Aye // Stephen
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Old 04-13-2008, 04:03 PM   #5
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@southpacific

Thank you for sharing your experience here.
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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I can't tell you how many times I've read on one discussion board or another the rather smug comment that "there is no more effective bilge pump than a frightened man in a sinking boat with a bucket in his hand."

Smug, I say, because most people quoting that have never had the experience, and it's not a smiling matter when it's you in the sinking boat, is it? Your boat had taken on a lot more water than ours had when the prop shaft slipped out, and there were four of us aboard in benign weather, so I can't compare our experience to yours. All I can say is "wow" and "thank heavens you're a survivor" and "the cruising community is pretty wonderful, isn't it?" You kept your head and didn't give up. That's what I want for a crewmate or skipper.

All that laundry would make me very cranky, to say the least. Washing out all the salt and oil and dirt residue can't have been much fun. You still have your boat and your wounds are healing. Not bad.

When our prop shaft slipped out of the boat, the shaft zinc attached between the hull and the cutlass bearing kept the shaft from being lost. Peter said that had he thought of it, he would have installed the zinc closer to the strut so that it wouldn't have left that 1-1/4' hole in the hull. And since we, and the boat, survived for another day, that's just what he did. And of course then the shaft never tried to go walkabout again.

I am relieved to know you are safe and unbowed. May the rest of your passage be far less eventful.

Fair winds,

Jeanne
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:19 PM   #7
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The lucky thing about all of this is that about 36 hrs prior to this event I had a complete washout and cleaned the bilges and engine compartment of all oil and grease,, so when i was flooded it was with clean clear water, no oil or grease, this helped significantly in getting to the root of the problem immediatley as i could see clearly that the shaft had gone.. so a litle bit of preventitive housekeeping earlier saved a bad situation from being even worse...I now have machined the shaft and will fit it "wet" as soon as the wind drops off..

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Old 05-18-2008, 10:16 PM   #8
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Thanks for the narrative, southpacific. You dealt with a critical situation with a lot of guts and adrenalin and came through in the end. I learned a lot from your story. Although by far less dramatic, I recalled an event which occurred on a ship I was sailing on several years ago, at which time I also learned the value of a tight and dry ship.

On April 16th 2003 we were underway from Dubrovnik to Tarsce on the Island of Sv. Klement, just south of Hvar in Croatia. Our vessel was "Sarita", a solid Solitaire 52 with a circumnavigation behind her, far on in her career but well taken-care of and still wonderful to sail.*

I had agreed to skipper her with some trepidation, as she is a very large boat and other skippers, who had sailed her before, encountered difficulties maneuvering her in the very narrow marinas and harbors of Croatia. She doesn't have a bow-thruster and was reputed to be recalcitrant in reverse, under engine.

The only thing unusual about her was that a minute/hour-counter had been installed to keep track of the number of hours her bilge-pump ran. I never noted down the exact number of hours already registered but they were in the hundreds, well over 500 hrs. I had also never before encountered a bilge pump hour-counter before. When we took over the ship, I did ask what it was and was summarily informed that it was, well, the bilge pump hour-counter. Ya know, you live and learn…

On the way down to Dubrovnik from Trogir, I did notice that the bilge pump had a way of running – quite a bit more often than on other ships, but only from time to time… and I was more worried about the rigging, which was obviously badly in need of adjustment. That was dealt with in Dubrovnik.

We had departed Dubrovnik in the middle of the afternoon (15:00 hours) and were sailing a long, long course of about 285, with a good wind and doing around 7.5 knots, with both the Genoa and the mainsail fully deployed on the port side, when I noticed the bilge pump running. Again.

This time it didn't stop. The counter was counting, the pump was pumping (which is what they are supposed to do, anyway, I've been told) and life would have been perfect except there was no valid reason for any pumping to be talking place, in my estimation.

I waited a while longer. We were properly heeled over and making good time, the water was rushing past, the crew was happy and I was starting to eye the floorboards, because the pump continued to pump. Unable to resist the temptation, I started removing floorboards and began performing a surreptitious investigation.

Within two minutes the entire crew was assembled and watching me carefully. A delightful little stream of water was running with great regularity into the bilge from somewhere aft. The "little stream" was essentially the equivalent of an open water-tap. Lovely. I stuck my finger into the bilge, took a taste of the water and – salty!

Ah!! The propeller shaft seal is leaking! Let us investigate further…

Now we also know why there is a bilge-pump hour/minute counter installed on this vessel! But why not just repair the seal?

I crawled back behind the engine and along the length of the narrow space with a flashlight only to determine, upon arriving at the end of the road, that the drive shaft seals were perfectly sealed. No water was entering the ship from there.

As water was obviously entering aft of all the heads, the galley and the engine, running "downhill" on the port-side from the stern, there had to be a source for so much water and I wasn't liking the possibilities. Had we struck an underwater object and been holed? The engine exhaust hose was located on the starboard side. No water was coming in from there either.

That was the point at which everything went into high gear and the entire crew pitched in and started moving stuff. Within a few moments all the luggage and equipment from the port aft cabin, floorboards, cushions, bedding, mattresses, everything, was torn out and landed in the saloon, in order to follow that stream of water aft. And follow it we did. There were many different rivulets and side arms of this little river. There was water everywhere. We were sloshing in it. The bilge pump kept running and the counter kept counting.

My first officer, Cetin, and I followed those individual streams back further and further, watching them gleam and glisten in the beams of our flashlights but could only ascertain one thing – the water was entering from further after aft than the cabin itself. What was further aft? The cockpit? How could water be entering from the cockpit?

Aft of the cockpit? Aft of the cabin? Aha! There was a rope locker there - a very deep one. All the fenders were stored there. It was so deep a man could stand in there almost upright. Everyone trooped back up on deck, over the remains of the aft cabin strewn everywhere, and Peter, as one of the smaller of us, went down into the locker and started tossing everything out he could find.

Again, a similar scene as down below ensued, as fenders, buckets, hawsers, ropes, a lone broom and other assorted treasures were tossed up and out of the locker. Our cockpit soon looked like a battlefield, despite all attempts to keep things orderly. We were still sailing along at a good clip.

In the deepest corner of the locker it became very narrow and Peter couldn't bend over far enough to inspect the furthest corners. The only answer was for one of the taller ones to go down, head-first. There was a silence and all heads turned and slowly swiveled towards… me. Oh joy! I just leaned, at that moment, that skippers not only get to repair the ship's heads by tradition, but also get sent down into the nether regions of their boats to find leaks as well.

So, down I went. Head first and held by the feet by numerous willing and (hopefully) strong hands. I inched my way downwards and very close to the bottom of the well began to hear a regular gurgling sound. There was nothing much to see until I got way down there and suddenly saw, half buried under some rope, a pipe sticking up, bent like an inverted "J" and connected downwards, towards the outer side of the ship. From its end, gurgled that elusive stream of water. The further we heeled over, the stronger the stream became and with each wave it surged and ebbed in perfect unison with the rolling of the ship.

The pipe was wide enough to stuff a folded over Scotch-Brite scouring pad, wrapped in a piece of plastic shopping-bag, deep into the opening, at which point it was and remained completely sealed. The pipe apparently was one of the former exhaust pipe vents, out of use since a change of engine required only one, but never sealed or thought of after the original hose had been disconnected.

From that moment on we sailed dry and in silence. The bilge pump hour/minute counter was out of a job, the bilge pump took a breather and I slept very well that night until I took my watch at 03:00.

I know that some might ask why we didn't heave-to and look for the leak with less motion of the ship etc to deal with. To that I can only reply that we probably should have but had we done so, we never would have been heeled over far enough for water to enter the ship as it did, the moment we were searching. The leak could only be found while underway, heeled over well to port and with decent waves. Otherwise, we never would have found the leak.

There was, of course never any real danger to the ship, as the bilge pump was quite able to deal with the amount of water coming in. We did, however, have a night of sailing before us and nobody likes the idea of water coming in from sources unknown. Further, all it takes is for the pump to burn out and then we would have had an issue.

We arrived at Tarsce at 09:15 the next morning without further event.

* In October of the same year, she took 10[sup]th[/sup] place in the 1000 mile Ecker Cup from Trogir, Croatia to Dalaman, Turkey.
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:03 PM   #9
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Addendum:

I posted two images on my Cruiser Log blog, of Peter in the locker just before everything started coming up. Unfortunately, only these two pictures were taken. But it does show how deep it was.
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Old 05-19-2008, 03:10 AM   #10
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Nothing like a sinking boat to get the adrenalin pumping!

We could have sunk on our way back to St Thomas from Culebra due to a poorly repaired propeller shaft log.

As soon as we got home, stopped the ingress of water and collected our witts... I installed a 12 volt "School Bell" who's sole purpose is to ring (loudly) should water rise above about six inches in the bilge. I mounted an enclosed float switch low because I want to know early-on if we've sprung a leak.

I am dumbfounded as to why no boat manufacturers and so few owners (that I know of, anyway) do not install simple, dedicated high water alarms.

I'm certainly no expert, but I always keep a proper-sized wooden bung tied (with dental floss) to the nine thru-hull hoses in my boat and there's a $5 wooden mallet within easy reach of every one of 'em, too. Plus, I always store a couple of spare shaft zincs on the shaft, inside the boat, just in front of the packing gland in hopes of preventing the shaft from exiting should the coupling... un-couple. Cheap insurance.

I hope QUICKSTEP is by now underaway again without suffering too many hassels or baksheesh. I know how difficult (and expensive) it can be to get things done on a boat in that part of Egypt. One guy wanted to charge me $85 USD for a paper Racor filter element when we were there!

WELL DONE! to those who fixed the problem and especially to those who came to the aide of a fellow sailor.

To Life!

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Old 09-12-2008, 12:39 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=southpacific;20141]The lucky thing about all of this is that about 36 hrs prior to this event I had a complete washout and cleaned the bilges and engine compartment of all oil and grease,, so when i was flooded it was with clean clear water, no oil or grease, this helped significantly in getting to the root of the problem immediatley as i could see clearly that the shaft had gone.. so a litle bit of preventitive housekeeping earlier saved a bad situation from being even worse...I now have machined the shaft and will fit it "wet" as soon as the wind drops off..

Attachment 412

Hi William, it's been a while since our ships past in the night... I am going to be looking for a crew position, hence my being on this site. I had wondered how you were, many times, and am truly glad you survived what can only be described as every boaters worst nightmare.

I wish you a safe passage once you have fitted the new shaft, and fair winds where ever it blows you.

Take good care of yourself.

BexiestEverSitch, as you well know
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Old 09-12-2008, 03:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southpacific View Post
SY QUICKSTEP is now safely in harbour at Safaga in Egypt having lost prop and shaft in 840 mtrs mid passage off the saudi coast and partially sinking whilst the leak was discovered and plugged. Waiting for replacement shaft from cairo to be collected, machined, reinserted (wet probably) and then get on underway towards suez and port said ( Cairo).
Don't you just hate being shafted like that

Fair Wind Sea Lubber...
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:28 PM   #13
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Near sinkings, thrown overboard, up on a reef....no wonder our friends think we're NUTS.

SP,

Congradulations on getting through an ordeal.

JeanneP,

I don't think of it as a smug remark. I am sure there is a lot of truth in it. I guess it would depend on what size bilge you have.
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Old 09-12-2008, 08:44 PM   #14
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Imagine,

Yeah, "smug" was probably not the best word. I think it's just that it's an overworked phrase that, when used by someone other than the sinking skipper, strikes me as slightly patronizing. Not that I haven't used the phrase myself- in fact, it's probably because I've used it myself that I find it irritating.

Years ago I read a first-hand report of a single-hander, female, who needed rescue because the hose to the raw water intake on her engine had slipped off the heat exchanger and was pouring gallons/minute of water into her bilge. Her problem was that rather than stop the ingress of water she tried to pump it out faster than it came in. She was very lucky to be rescued before she had to abandon a sinking boat.

One lesson to be learned from these reports and two other near-sinking experiences reported on various boards recently, is that soft wood bungs should be attached to each through-hull, saving time should a hose give way or a through-hull break. Storing the plugs in a compartment someplace isn't such a good idea. Though a rag handy could slow things down until a plug was found.

who else grew up with "we grow too soon old and too late smart"?

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