Descent to the underworld - Sail Magazine

Descent to the underworld - Sail Magazine

cockpit lockers.

On another

occasion, while on an

extended bareboat

charter, I was incredulous on

discovering that the cabinet behind

the vanity mirror in the boat’s head

was not a closed compartment.

Instead it opened directly into the

void behind the hull liner. Because

the cabinet shelving did not reach all

the way back to the hull, whenever

anything toppled off the back of a

shelf (which occurred every time the

boat heeled to starboard) it shot

directly down into the bilge. We

therefore called this cabinet the Bilge

God Express, and during the

course of our charter we had

many titillating conversations

along the lines of:

“Hey! Anyone seen my toothbrush”

“No, not recently. Have you looked

in the bilge”

Or...“Hey! Who stole my shampoo”

“Not me, meathead! Next time check

the bilge first.”

For the most part the Bilge

Gods are merely

mischievous rather than

wantonly dangerous in

their habits. Still, given

the importance of the

bilge in relation to the

rest of a boat, it is

best not to take this

for granted. After

all, the last

thing you

want is for the Bilge Gods on

your boat to start filling

their domain with large

quantities of water.

I remember one

boat with a very

serious Bilge God problem, an

aluminum sloop that I

encountered in a busy

anchorage in the Virgin

Islands. The owners, a young

French couple, had just relaunched

after an emergency haulout and were

still marveling at the bizarre nature

of their predicament. It seems they

had spent many months anchored

out in a particular harbor,

and when at last they

decided to move on they

found their bottom was

very foul. In they jumped

with masks and snorkels to

scrape it clean, and when

they were done and came

back aboard they discovered,

to their horror, that the boat

was taking on water. They

quickly searched for the source

of the leak, found nothing, and

were on the verge of panicking when

the flow of water suddenly stopped.

Greatly relieved, they donned masks


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