Years ago, there was a great radio/TV show with two guys constantly getting in and out of trouble.
I was recently reminded of one of their episodes where they buy a fishing boat. Next day one calls up the other and says:
“I got some good news and some bad news.”
“OK give me the good news.”
“The tide has come up.”
“OK now give me the bad news.”
“The boat hasn’t.”
I kept thinking of this as I was manually pumping out my sailboat. There had been a bunch of rain for the last couple of weeks, and knowing I had a leaky forward hatch, I should have checked on her before this. But the holidays and family got in the way and when I finally stepped on board, she seemed a bit sluggish. I immediately checked the bilge and found the water almost up to the floorboards! I figured the switch for the automatic bilge pump must have gotten stuck, so I flipped it over to manual. Nothing happened, so I got to work with the hand pump. When the water was down to a reasonable level, I went to check the bilge pump fuse. The fuse block was covered with green corrosion. When I touched it, the whole thing crumbled apart in my hand!
Knowing what the problem was, I hotwired the bilge pump directly to the battery and it came on immediately finishing the job of pumping out the boat.
A little bit of background here: the boat is a 32-foot Bruce Roberts “Spray” which I converted from a ketch to a schooner. She has twin roller furling jibs, with lazy jacks on the Marconi main and gaff-rigged foresail and is a delight to sail. I bought the boat from a fellow down in Florida, who was a really nice guy, but a total nutcase when it came to boats. This one was built in 1968, and at some point, the cabin was gutted, and the interior rebuilt by someone who had flunked woodshop in high school. Then someone who had taken too many drugs back in the 1960s got loose with a paintbrush and a bunch of fuchsia and chartreuse paint among others. This didn’t bother me because I was more interested in her sailing capabilities, just planning to use her as a daysailer here on the lake.
Another strange thing: There were at least two 110-volt outlets in every cabin including the head! The wiring all looked new and very professional, so I hadn’t given it any thought. Now I realize that it must have been installed by an electrician used to wiring houses or computers or anything besides boats! He had put the fuse block in a confined space six inches above the two 12-volt batteries! (When batteries are charged, they produce some sulfur dioxide, which is a damp environment becomes sulfuric acid. This reacts with the copper in the fuse block to produce copper sulfate which is a crumbly green powder).
I should have been suspicious when I bought this great sailing boat for such a low price, but now I know enough to dig a bit deeper and to thoroughly check out every detail before I have my own “Good News and Bad News.”