WHAT TO DO IF-you have a leak on board?


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XL down2Forty years of the Sailing Newspaper is also forty years of our practice section. We have selected five quizzes with the best practical tips that have come to us from you readers over the years: in this first installment we start with the one on how to behave on board in case of a leak.


QUEST: You are sailing upwind at a speed of 5/6 knots in calm seas. Suddenly a dull bang downwind and you discover a leak at waterline level. Effectively the collision with an unidentified object produced a gap of about 5/7 centimeters by 3/5 centimeters at the height of the locker under the cockpit bench (thus easily accessible). The leak is on the waterline and taking on water, not dramatically but it needs to be plugged quickly and carefully, what do you do?

ANSWER: “The size of the leak and the calm sea allow me to draw breath, it is a manageable emergency situation and not a serious one. I calm the crew and bring the breach upwind by distributing the crew so as to hold the injured part as high as possible. I make up my mind about the course to take to reach the nearest landing. I distribute tasks to crew members according to their experience and expertise. Everyone is required to wear a life jacket and all available safety devices are kept on hand: dinghy, flares, Epirb, etc., hoping not to have to use them. The Harbormaster is to be notified of the potentially dangerous situation. If necessary, the bilge pump is turned on while a crew member checks the water level.

Stay_afloat_open-Kopie1That done, we move on to repair the leak. How?
1) If I have turafalle paste I should be able to plug the gash without too much trouble by intervening from the inside.
2) Alternatively, I look for the softwood wedges that I always carry on board. With pliers, I try to remove the uneven edges of the flaw and close it from the outside, inserting one or more wedges with a mallet. If necessary, I can insert waterproof rags to get more insulation.
3) If unfortunately I cannot find wooden wedges, I make do with salvaged materials such as waterproof rags: parts of a life jacket or wedges made from interior furniture.

Re-entry upwind, holding the falla upwind as long as possible. The plugged leak must be monitored visually, if it starts to enter water again, repair operations are repeated. Always ready to radio for help, should the situation become critical the crew’s spirits are kept high with the promise of a nice hot meal as soon as they return to port.”



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