Joe Boater Hoses It

Oh Joe! It’s your first live-aboard and the Columbia 26 is low on amenities. The water tank is not hooked up so you are refilling gallon jugs to have a supply of water on board. You have a hose with a plastic nozzle. This has worked great for rinsing the boat down and filling your jugs from the docks water supply. You are usually very diligent about turning off the docks valve and wrapping the hose around the dock box when it’s not in use.

One chilly morning in mid-January you go to the coffee shop to organize your taxes for the past year. You leave the companionway open because the sun will begin to heat the boat as it rises. You spend a couple hours drinking coffee, organizing papers and jotting down numbers. Its grand fun but eventually the caffeine makes it impossible for you to sit down any longer. You head back to the boat in the beautiful late morning sun.

As you approach the marina you notice a misty haze around the cockpit of your boat. As you get closer you see that the boat is bow down with several inches above the water line. Uh-Oh! You run the last 20 feet to the boat and see that the hose was inside the cabin, jetting water directly into the boat!

It is very easy to deduce what has happened. You left the hose in the cockpit the previous night and what’s more, you left the water pressure on. Over the night, the water in the nozzle froze, expanded and split the cheap plastic along its seam. When that beautiful warm morning sun shone, it melted the ice. The pressure and the split seam on one side created a jet force that made the hose arc from its safe place in the cockpit into the open companionway, completely inside the boat, and….. sinking it. You run to the water shut off and close the valve. And on another thought, you unplug the shore power. You spend the next hour or two bailing and pumping out the boat, thinking about the what-ifs and inspecting the boat.

Joe feels pretty lucky and pretty stupid. The Columbia 26 has a full plastic liner, so wood damage is not an issue. He arrived just before it got to the level of the electronics and everything down low was stored in plastic bins that floated in the rising water. Once the boat was emptied of the estimated 150 gallons of water and dried in the sun, there was no damage to speak of, except his ego. He is from the Northeast, so he should’ve known about freezing hoses. Joe didn’t have an automated bilge pump on board which may or may not have kept up with the inflow. Joe has learned a valuable lesson about pressurized hoses and boats. The plus is that the lower inside of the boat is very clean.

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