When sailing across an ocean, one looks for certain qualities in the vessel they choose for the journey. She should be structurally sound, be of a shape and design that will not easily capsize, offer adequate space for the occupants and their provisions, and keep water on the outside.
Many sailboats meet these criteria and Blue Moon is no exception, so when you are 1,000 nautical miles from the nearest piece of dry land and you hear the automatic bulge pump kicking on every half an hour to drain water from the bottom of the inside of the boat, you take notice.
Another oddity was the high rate at which we were using our fresh water stores. Initially, it seemed like we were simply not being careful enough with our consumption, but once we took note of the regularly-cycling water pressure pump and bilge pump, it was time to do some detective work.
Finding a leak on a boat can be surprisingly challenging and often involves a process of elimination. To begin with, we open up the floor panels in the main salon to expose the lowest part of the bilge where any water that enters the boat eventually accumulates. Then we taste the water in the bilge; not a pleasant task, but it helps determine whether the leak is fresh water, salt water, or something else. Our fearless captain Salty Russ took a draft of the swill (I swear he seems to enjoy it) and deemed it to be fresh water. A-ha! Mostly likely this is where our excess fresh water consumption is ending up. But from where is it leaking?
At this point, one can picture an hours-long montage of images of the crew pulling up floor panels, removing wall panels, piling bed cushions up in the main cabin, and sticking their heads, hands, and a fancy little endoscope in every corner. A desire for a dry boat and adequate drinking water can be very motivating. Marye Ellen commented that the chaos looked much like it did many times while we were at the dock preparing for the race. She was right!
Eventually, we did discover the source of the problem. The water heater expansion release valve was leaking about a cup of water per minute! The fix was a bit of ingenuity by Tim. He scavenged a one way check valve from another part of the heater to isolate the heater from the main fresh water system. Brilliant!
About an hour later, most of the boat was back in tidy order, tools were put away, wet areas were cleaned up and our water woes were behind us. hopefully for good!