Inspection by the Florida Water Commission & Pumping out Overflow

Whoot! Happy Valentine’s Day! There are few things more romantic than waking up to the smell of raw sewage…

Oh, wait. What?

Yeah, it was that kind of morning. Let me back up just a bit. Last night I was out taking photos of Paris paddleboarding all around the place. The sky was pretty, the water was calm, it made for nice photos. Patrick noticed that there was a police boat going by, stopping at the other boats in the anchorage. (I actually had the camera in hand, taking photos and didn’t think to take a photo of the police boat? What kind of person AM I?)

Paris-paddleboard

One thing that I’d heard/read about was that at times officials will want to come on board and inspect your boat. This could be customs or whatever. I’ve always been SO paranoid. I don’t know why, its not like we’re the type to have anything illegal on board anyway, but the thought of anyone needing to go through every nook and cranny just… ugh. It’s a big ass boat. I’m not looking forward to the day that happens just for the mess of it!

Anyway, they got to our boat just as I had served dinner (these kids eat dumplings like they’re going out of style). Patrick was already on deck waiting for them when they pulled up and did the whole “Hey, how’s it going? Do you have your registration? How many people are on board? How long have you been here?)

The first ‘issue’ (it really wasn’t one, just also wasn’t quite straight forward) was that our boat is registered in Delaware, but sitting in Florida. The rule is that you have to either register it in Florida or leave within a set period of time… UNLESS your boat needs repairs to be seaworthy. Once your boat is repaired, you have 20 days to leave Florida before having to register. Since we just splashed after our haul out about 10 days ago, we are still well within that window, it just took explaining. Once Patrick did, the woman asking just said, “Oh, cool. So it sounds like you know what you’re talking about.”

They asked if we had any weapons on board (no)

Then one of the guys asked if he could come on board (we said yes) and he wanted to check the head to make sure we weren’t pumping out over the side and rather were pumping into the holding tank. This shouldn’t have been a problem, except we were close to needing a pump out already (there are pump out boats for free in the Florida Keys, you just have to get on their schedule so they’ll come to you and pump out your holding tanks). Once he flushed our toilet a couple of times… our tank was full and started over flowing into the bilge in the salon. Yuck. This pretty much like having  a nice fresh septic tank spew into your dining room. MMMMMMmmmmmmm. Yeah. (More on this later)

They also wanted to make sure that we had all of the right safety equipment on board:

  • Life Jackets for each person (not a problem, because this boat was a charter boat before we got it and there are like 20+ lifejackets on board. They’re mostly old crappy ones, but we have them. We also have newer ones that are in constant rotation)
  • Plus a Class 4 Flotation Throwable
  • 3 fire extinguishers (we have extras because we found some at WalMart for $10.)
  • Flares (shit! TOTALLY forgot to get new flares) We got a warning.
  • Registration for the dinghy (something we also don’t have because we’re just planning on leaving Florida anyway) They basically just said if we stayed to get registration, but that it wouldn’t matter in the Bahamas. They also reminded us to be sure that we always had lifejackets in the dinghy for each person, which we can be bad about if we’re close to shore anyway. I need to get more on top of that!
  • And, unique to us, they were a little concerned about Jazz because he looks younger than 18 (although he turns 19 next month) and he’s not our child. I actually found it a bit reassuring that they thought to ask.

They were so pleased that our toilet was set to pump into the holding tank instead of pumping out the side that I think they gave us a little more grace. They said that we were the only boat they’d come across that wasn’t discharging over the side and seemed pretty peeved by it.

They wished us good luck on our journey and headed out to the next boat.

When we went back down below, the smell was unmistakeable. Shit.

No, literally. Shit. It was the smell of raw sewage in our living space with no breeze to even make it a little bearable. Whoot.

We had no way of taking care of it at that point, because Patrick needed a part from West Marine before he could fix it and pump it out.

So now we’re back to Valentine’s Day and the great, smelly clean up.

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Patrick used his great mechanical skills, a spare Jabsco water pressure motor that had been on the boat when we got it, one of our new batteries, some hose and creativity to create a temporary ‘pump out’ contraption. It still wasn’t pleasant, but we got it done. Also, when discussing this issue with other boaters, the “Composting Head” recommendation came up a LOT. I think we’ll be researching that as the year goes on.

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I know its obviously not what anyone wants to be doing on ANY day, and its certainly not the choice event to celebrate the day of Lovey Dovey-ness… but I have to say that I was feeling pretty incredibly lucky to have this man in my life. He was up first thing in the morning and working towards this fix. He was able to fix it for next to nothing, without complaint and get things taken care of again. I feel incredibly lucky to have this man in my life and I don’t need a special day to know that! All in all, it ended up as a pretty wonderful day!

Cruisers, if you’re reading this… please let me know if you have any blog posts you recommend for learning about real life experience with a composting head AND the process of changing over IF we decide to add that to our list of “To Do” things! Thanks!

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