Twice in my boating career I've had a real surprise handed to me by the Goblins that hide away in boat bilges!
Let me tell you how Bilge Goblins most frequently manifest themselves: When you are working around open hatches in cramped quarters. You will have either the last correct part available or the only tool that can do the job in your hand. A Bilge Goblin easily and unseen reaches up and "grabs" that item, and then bounces it with the finesse of Michael Jordan, ricochets it off a nearby, but nearly impossible-to-hit surface, and slap-shoots it into the farthest reaches of your boat's bilge netherworld, into the only place with standing, thick oil.
The first ambush occurred when I was selling a boat. Needless to say, I have a big ego when it comes to how I take care of my boat. I am very proud of the fact that I inspect everything, repairing or replacing anything that needs it. Then, I decided to sell, and I found a buyer! The sea trial came, and we checked over the boat, blew the bilges, and started its gas engines. The trial was great! The buyer loved it! So the surveyor came. After a few minutes, he came to me and said, "Boy are you lucky! Look at this!" And he pointed out a cracked fuel line fitting which was going drip, drip, drip, drip ... right into the bilges. Gasoline! What a blast we could have had that day! Clearly, the Bilge Goblins had been working on that line...
Well, that was years ago, and now I have a Diesel boat, and I take great care of it! What could go wrong that could be so serious?
Ha! Don't underestimate the Bilge Goblins!
There we were, pulling into Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island. Dead slow we went, for it was just dark, and I wanted to cause little wake. I reversed my starboard engine, and the shift felt a little funny, but it was always stiff anyhow! Of course, I should have been turning in a right-hand circle. But I wasn't ... I was still going forward, but now I was heading for the dock, aimed right for some boats. I reversed my port engine, and the boat started going left, and it dawned on me that the starboard engine was still going in forward gear. "Honey", I cried, calling my wife. "Shut down the starboard engine!" I had started up from the flybridge, and that was where the engine switches were "on".
After she had killed the engine, I was able to stop the boat, but we had gone at least 50 yards one way or the other in the process. We discovered the flybridge controls still worked, and we were able to get anchored.
Then I went into the engine room to see what had happened.
Well, it seems that the builder "did" have separate controls from each helm to have maximum redundancy. But the end of the sheaths on "both" cables on each was secured with "one" pair of screws and clamps. In other words, if the control cable fastening failed on one helm, it would soon fail on the other. And these clamping screws had gotten loose enough to let one helm's cable slip, but not the other, YET.
The Bilge Goblins had reached up and deliberately loosened the screws, thinking I was docking --- they couldn't see outside --- and causing the cable to slip. Well, I re-secured the cables, added lock nuts to the screws, and it was fixed, and the shifting was even easier than before.
I keep trying to exterminate Bilge Goblins, but I can't seem to! I guess that I'm going to have to redouble my efforts to avoid them, unless I really want to have a big unplanned event in my life. And I've got to remember they're always lurking, ready to wreak havoc every chance they get.
Especially when we get over-confident, and under-vigilant, or are just plain unprepared for the unseen Goblins of the deep!
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Last updated 9/10/97 by SCR