Every boater’s worst nightmare has to be pumping out oily muck from the engine room. I have done it. Now twice.
The first time I was completely unaware and cheekily had a friend do the pumping without mentioning the black stuff. Coffee and biscuits were of course provided. Thankfully the friend was equally cheeky and fielded canal-side inquiries with a sly nod to workmen just along the towpath and a suggestion of gasworks a little further out of town!
The second time was very recent and I was absolutely desperate. No working bilge pump for several months had left our home very low at the back and with a significant list into the bank that we think may be due to the entry of oily bilge water into the ballast below our floorboards, which we are still squeegeeing out!!!
Having spent a day locating the correct gauge tubing and another day messing around with wires and connectors I fixed our wee red contraption and began pumping with trepidation. I honestly explained my predicament to neighbours with profuse apologies and was told to continue and get rid of the lot because the tilt was so concerning. I duly did this and created an unsightly and embarrassing oil slick that I tried unhappily to sink with washing-up-liquid to no avail.
I am not proud and am clear that this is a sordid solution to an unhappily imbalanced boat but I did receive some good advice… A pair of (very unfriendly) boaters confronted me about the mess upon the canal with suggestions of very expensive oil absorbing booms. The lady also mentioned that you can obtain mats from garages that will sit in your engine room and absorb oil but not water. We will be purchasing said mats from
http://www.syntecchemicals.co.uk/oil-absorbing-mats-pack-of-10-p-117.html in the coming months and hope to keep our engine room (soon to be re-wired) clean and tidy henceforth.
Hopefully this will keep us from being chased off the canals or at least from being called names by people who have an uncanny ability to keep things apparently cleaner and tidier than we!