Oh No! I'm Sinking!

Monday, 4 March 2002.

At about 10:00pm, I was exchanging eMails with a friend in Southern California when I happened to notice a stain on the carpet in front of the sink. I thought little of it, since I had just washed some dishes and occasionally spill some water in doing so (hey, the sink is really small). I continued my conversation.

Several minutes later, I happened to glance back at the area in front of the sink. To my absolute horror, I noticed the stain had grown considerably. Overcome with panic (sinking is just about the worst thing which can happen to a liveaboard), I promptly discontinued my eMail conversation with a very brief explanation of something terribly wrong, and leapt to the floor.

The carpet was wet. Very wet. I tore open the cabinet beneath the sink and removed the garbage bag, noticing the bottom of said bag was also very wet. I set it aside and began to look for a leak. All fittings seemed in tact, with nary a drop of moisture; no cracks in the hull were apparent. So what was leaking?

I got up and checked the water level in the bilge (removing the stairs to do so). The bilge was nearly empty (as usual). So although I may have been leaking, I was not in immenent danger of sinking.

Back under the sink, I removed every item, checked for moisture, and set them aside. Nothing seemed peculiar, and then my knee sunk in to the still-growing wet spot on the carpet. I saw tiny bubbles.


I pressed my hands in to the wet carpet, and rubbed together my fingers. They were slick. Either this was unbelieveably polluted bay water, or it wasn't water at all. And then I saw another wet spot on the carpet.

The new wet spot (some three feet away) was directly beneath a jug of liquid laundry detergent. GENERIC liquid laundry detergent. Was this the source of my horrifying scare? Upon further inspection, yes it indeed was.




I had inadvertently set the jug on top of a grounding fitting. Over time, the sort-of sharp edge of the fitting had punctured the jug, and this particular night it decided to leak all over my inner hull.

After an hour or so of clean-up (I used nearly every rag I have to sop up just about a quart and a half of generic laundry detergent), I called it quits. The carpet could just dry on its own and be extra-clean in two spots.

And the generic laundry detergent didn't even work very well. In fact, instead of resembling Tide (as I was led to believe by the packaging), the generic stuff was far less viscous and considerably lighter in color. Anyone think maybe it was dilluted? Hmm.

Now I only buy Tide. It works well, and doesn't scare me no matter where I store it. I recommend you do the same.

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