Which Deck Plate is That?
This might happen to you one day. I’m glad in retrospect that it happened to me, and right at the start of a trip I was leading. That’s because this is how it always happens - at exactly the wrong time, and it has to be fixed right now! I never would have set this up as an instructional opportunity on purpose, but it worked very well that way.
The start of the trouble was simple enough. We were prepping the Catalina 42 Betty for departure, and I asked a crew member to top-off all the water tanks. There are a series of deck plates on Betty. 4 of them are for filling the water tanks, 2 for pumping out black water in the holding tanks , and one for filling the diesel fuel tank.
As you can imagine, our crew member was mortified when red diesel fuel came spurting up out of what she thought was the starboard aft water tank deck fill. When she realize what happened and came to tell me, she looked like she felt she had sunk the boat, and our trip.
There’s a Straightforward Fix
It turns out that though time consuming, the fix is actually very straightforward. Click on the thumbnail below to play the video segment and see how we fixed it.
Here’s the fix.
Get ready with a plastic bottle, and start the engine.
Don’t let the water fill the bowl to the top! Engine off, drain, and repeat.
Dispose of the waste fuel-water properly.
It took about 2 hours to drain about a gallon of water. We left for our Anchoring At Catalina weekend, kept checking the bowl in the Racor fuel-water separator, and drained a little more water after each time we had the engine on. At the end of the 3-day trip, we had all but a tiny fraction of it out.
That was a great outcome, and a real test of how well the fuel-water separator works.