Battle of the Bilge

It was a battle for the ages. An instant classic. We suited up in our white bunny suits, armed ourselves with TSP, scrubbers of all shapes and sizes, water pumps, ShopVacs and all the swearwords in our vocabularies and got to work cleaning the bilge.

And that was one naaasssty bilge. Dang girl, what have you been doing all these years?

Our bilge would make the Exxon Valdez blush

35 years of goop, tools, drainage from the food cooler and all things nasty needed to be removed. So we rinsed, sprayed aggressively with an industrial hot water pressure washer, poured TSP and pumped overboard into a barrel. Repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Up the ladder, down the ladder. Run to the pressure washer so that it doesn’t explode (Emmanuel had to MacGiver the rental every hour so that it would work) and scrub again. Up the ladder, down the ladder.

Boatyard styles and the ladder aka stairmaster

Both of us were crammed near the engine at one point, imagining that if you were a child who grew up on a sailboat, your nightmares would be of the bilge-boogeyman. He comes to get you and spills black diesel goop water all over the teak in your cockpit like the jerk he is.

It was the most challenging weekend we’ve had, physically and mentally. Moral was low at points but we kept moving and pushing through the weekend. Along with cleaning the bilge (90% done!) we removed the hot water heater and the old stainless holding tank and all sanitary hoses. I will spare you the delight of reading about removing the leftover erm..waste..that was in the holding tank, but we were able to hit all the swear words in English and French by the time that task was done. I *shudder* recollecting that process.

In all of this, we had some hilarious moments together; I was ‘fishing’ in the bilge pulling out old tools that had been dropped and teasing myself that I can’t ever seem to catch any fish, and look what I caught!

Fishy come fishy go!
Fishy come fishy go!

Moments like those when you share some serious laughter are highlights of these weekends for me.

The weekend marked our biggest endeavour to date, and it feels great to have tackled it. It feels like we are reaching a turning point, and the work from here out is moving towards improving and rebuilding, and that thought is energizing. The weekend also marked the end of our sober January – and we celebrated by testing out a bottle of sparkling wine on Sunday night along with a frozen pizza before falling into bed exhausted and bruised.

The battle was waged and we still aren’t sure who came out on top, but it was a valiant fight. Respect your bilge.

MUSIC: the soundtrack for cleaning our nasty bilge; Wyclef Jean – The Carnival 

A man possessed. Sprinting to relieve the pressure before the hot water tank explodes.
A man possessed. Sprinting to relieve the pressure before the hot water tank explodes.
The first drink after sober January. We earned it.
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4 Responses
  1. Christine

    This post resonates so well with me. The part about finding the humor in the ridiculousness of the given situation… I love that. I think it’s one of the best features of having a boat. The bildge cleaning itself… well, I am glad your pictures did not show up, because I fear that the same exercise lies waiting for us in the not too distant future and quite, frankly, if I saw all the gory details of your adventures, I might find some way to be otherwise occupied and miss out on all the hilarity. Somethings are better entered into naively and with blind optimism.

    1. Saxony

      Hi Christine!
      Thanks for the comment – the pictures should be there now. I recommend you look with a healthy dose of that blind optimism – a fabulous trait to have. 🙂 We finished off the final part of the clean this past Saturday and it is such a great feeling. Both arms up in celebration and a victory march was had through town that evening. If you have a moment let us know how things are going on your end, we would love to hear!

  2. Christine

    OK, I still have my courage. The scenes of your battle were not too gruesome… and with this music, it makes me think of “Brazil”… a poetic sort of filth.

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