Sunday, January 17, 2010


Talk about horrific. I don't know what happened or how I managed to forget that the holding tank (bladder) had about 3 or 4 gallons of urine and poop in it when I hauled it 3 years ago, but late last week it dawned on me that this was the case. I was planning on my next steps for the recore and was measuring the underside of the foredeck to setup a bracing framework and it hit me... Had I had it pumped before I hauled the boat in 07? Ohhhhh Noooooooo. I opened the hatch underneath the v-berth and sure enough, the bladder was not empty. The good news was that it was not full and it has been so cold that it was frozen. The bad news was that the bladder was frozen flat about 20" wide by 6" high, and the only access to that compartment was about 10" wide by 10" high. I really didn't want to have to cut it out through the top of the v-berth bunk, so I rested my hopes on being able to fold and wiggle the bladder out through the access hatch even though it was frozen. There are 2, 1-1/2" lines into the bladder (1 from the head and 1 to deck pumpout) that I couldn't free up so I cut through them with a hacksaw. When I sawed into the first one I heard a loud 'pfffffffffft'. A second later I was overcome by one of the nastiest smells I have ever been subjected to. Just awful. I can't even imagine what it would have smelled like if I had waited until a warm summer day. Armed with an urgency that can only be found in the desperate, I ripped through the rest of the first one and quickly cut the second one before I backed my head out. I found a pair of rubber gloves in the galley and duct taped them over the cut hose fittings and stepped out for some air and dry heaves. To make matters worse, I was now faced with somehow getting the bladder out of an opening smaller than the bladder. Sadly, I seem to run into the square peg round hole thing more than I care to admit. So I decided to blow some heat into the compartment with my milwaukee heat gun to soften up the stew in the bladder so I could hopefully fold it up and wriggle it out. Probably not the best way to keep the smell down but it did the trick. Being as careful as I could, I folded and tugged the bladder out of the compartment without rupturing it and causing me to abandon this restoration project entirely. Once I got it out of the boat I promptly took it outside the shed, cut the rubber gloves off and turned it upside-down in a snowbank and let nature take its course.

That was enough for today. Time for a long shower. Before I tackled the holding tank project I did manage to get the final pieces of woodwork off of the companionway.

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