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post #447 of Old 04-11-2013
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Avoid the strobe, fix the friggin pump!

Not my BHM, but a someone else's!
I was talking to a couple who are cruising on a beautiful 50 foot sloop. They were motoring about 15 miles offshore at night. He saw a strobe off the bow in the distance and assumed if was a helicopter flying low. Soon, the strobe passed him immediately off Starboard and the boat came to an abrupt halt. The strobe marked a large fish trap which the keel had snagged. The trap's cables also managed to pull the prop shaft loose, causing a flood in the bilge. While the manual bilge pump worked, the auto did not "because it has a filter that is hard to get to and was clogged". His wife frantically operated the manual pump while he found and patched the leak. After a long night spent with the Coast Guard, the boat freed itself and was towed to a yard. The boat had minor damage to the keel and substantial damage to the drive train. After repairs, the voyage continued, and I met the couple about a thousand miles from the incident. I asked the skipper if he had improved access to the Bilge Pump filter. To my amazement, he said that he had not addressed the issue yet. In other words...he continued the voyage without an automatic Bilge pump!
The primary lesson I take away is steer away from any unidentified lights at night. A ten degree deviation probably would have made all the difference in this case. You simply can't trust your eyes at night. Interestingly, this guy is a retired airline pilot. I would assume he would have known that far better than me.
Regarding the bilge pump....Well, I hope that lesson goes without saying.

Last edited by L124C; 04-12-2013 at 11:14 AM.
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