Sunday, December 4, 2022

Floyd and Me


It's early evening in the late seventies, and I'm up off watch, helping the chief to fuel the boat. Chief Henry is busy monitoring fuel tank levels, and opening and closing the proper valves, and I'm taking care of getting the potable (drinking) water on board. 

The Valley Transporter, being an older boat built in the mid-fifties did not need to carry huge amounts of potable water. We had a good sized free standing tank in the forward hold, and another small built in tank under the engine room stairs. This was adequate for a couple of weeks, as all it was used for was drinking and cooking. Showers, laundry, toilets, and boat washdown were all done with clarified and filtered river water, so that served the bulk of our water needs. Modern boats have gotten away from this practice, and tend to use filtered and treated potable water for everything.

Anyway, this was what Henry had me doing. It was easy, all that needed to be done was to hook up the fill hose to the fitting on the head deck, and check the levels in the two tanks every now and again.

The tank under the engine room stairs would fill up first, the vent overflowing onto the deck near the engine room door. All that needed to be done was to close off the fill valve, and the rest of the water would go to the bigger tank up forward.

A little explanation is necessary here. When you fill a tank, whether it is free standing or part of the hull, there has to be a vent. As you fill the tank with liquid, the liquid is displacing the air in the tank, and that air needs to be able to escape somewhere. A vent pipe is fitted near the top of the tank for the displaced air to escape through. If the vent is plugged, you will rupture or deform the tank.

You never fill a fuel tank to the point that it overflows through the vent, but that's the standard method with a water tank, just leave the hose hooked up and the pump running till water comes out of the vent.

This brings us to the whole point of this tale. The forward tank was near to full, and Floyd wandered up to the head deck and sat down on top of the starboard capstan. He sat there, and we yakked for a little bit about nothing much, just passing the time.

The vent line for the big tank was a two inch line, and it came out of the deckhouse up high, and in a direct line with the starboard capstan. Due to the way the piping was run, the vent would make a loud gurgling noise a few seconds before the overflow happened...

It gurgled, and I said to Floyd, “You might not want to be sitting there, Floyd.” He grinned, and said, “F#*% you, mother f#*&$^!” I stepped aside, and the vent line erupted, and that fat stream of water would have reached past the capstan if Floyd had been elsewhere. I gave the high sign to the tankerman on the fuel flat to kill the pump as soon as the overflow started. He did, and the stream tapered off, and Floyd looked like a drowned chicken, not a dry spot on him.

“Goddam! Goddam!” he kept moaning. “Well, I tried to tell you, but you just had to be a smartass!”

1 comment:

  1. Hahah, that was a funny one, Tom. Thank you. Poor Floyd.8’ll bet he felt a bit silly after that. ValP


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