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I'm in agreement with the grounding strategies, but let's talk for a moment as if grounding were not an option-
1. If you haven't already, buy a package of wooden bungs and tie the appropriate size bung to each thru-hull with a length of twine. That way, the appropriate damage control item is already in place if a seacock or thru-hull fails.
2. A Forespar foam damage control plug. I bought one of these from my local chandlery. It's essentially a large, red Nerf cone. If you drag on a rock, or hit a floating object that causes a gash in the hull, you can jam the cone lengthwise into the gash. You can cut it up as necessary to fit small punctures. You can jam it into thru-hulls, etc. It's very versitile.
3. A "belly band". Keep a tarp or an old sail onboard with grommets alone the edges, and lines run through the grommets. If you incur a puncture that the Forespar plug just can't seal, you can jump overboard, and place this tarp or fabric over the hole. Water pressure will shove it right into the hole. You bring the lines up to the deck and tie it off.
You can add Marine-Tex around the perimeter of the hole from inside the boat to really seal it up, or if time allows, you can smear Marine-Tex around the perimeter of the hole from outside, and then slap the belly band over the hole.
I rode nuclear submarines for 11 years and you wouldn't believe how crude some of our damage control equipment was. Marlin, wood plugs, "strongbacks" (cut sections of steel pipe with rubber backing), and "Band-It" kits. Marlin and wood swells when wet. This stuff works but it requires that you be imaginative and quick.
I envision an actual "procedure" on a sailboat would go something like this:
1. "Thunk". sound of inrushing water.
2. Call away the casualty. Immediately wake up those down below.
3. Immediately engage the bilge pump and start the engine, steer a course to land.
4. Get someone on the manual bilge pump as well.
5. Locate the source of the flooding.
6. Assess the best method to stop the flooding and implement it:
a) Wooden bung/Marlin rope.
b) Forespar foam plugs.
d) Belly Band.
7. Inform the CG or nearest maritime authority of your situation and position.
8. Don PFD's and the dink or liferaft for escape if necessary.
Assuming that you're successful in plugging the leak, post-casualty procedures might go something like this:
1. De-water the boat as much as possible.
2. Update the CG or maritime authority on your position and status.
3. Work carefully to improve or secure the integrity of the repair.
4. Station a watch to monitor the breach to ensure that the repair holds.
5. Continue by fastest means to the nearest safe port to effect permanent repairs.
Now before some seriously religious world-cruiser jumps my arse for my very imperfect casualty plan, this is just something easy off of the top of my head for local, recreational sailing NOT, NOT, NOT, blue-water sailing. Also, these steps are meant to be taken simultaneously if possible, and the order is not completely representative of their priority. If you're singlehanding, well... you're going to have your hands full trying to do all of this by yourself.
I didn't mention an EPIRB because the OP is just locally cruising around or daysailing and may not want to invest in an EPIRB. An EPIRB isn't going to save your boat anyway and is often an excuse to just give up, and sit around in a rubber boat, waiting for the cavalry to come and get you.
Be resourceful, be determined, don't give up the ship.
S/V Old Shoes
1973 Pearson 30 #255
Last edited by Ajax_MD; 11-30-2010 at 06:16 AM.