Have you ever seen a really dirty bilge? Have you ever been inside a bilge?? Well, some of you have had the pleasure of partaking in bilge maintenance, but for those of you that haven’t, let me tell you…
Our boat was built in 1980 and it unfortunately needs a little more TLC than some of the newer boats out there. Since we have been running the air conditioning quite a bit lately, the condensation created is around three gallons per day and it all travels down into the bilge. We decided to clean the bilge for one of our first maintenance projects to get rid of some of the mildew and old ‘funk’ that has been in there for a while.
Peter wanted to get right down there and get the dirty deed over with, but alas, his muscles are just too big!! He can reach farther than I can but he just couldn’t reach all the way down to the lowest point of our bilge. We tried using gargantuan tweezers (one of those tools we kept for the one time we might really need them!) but just couldn’t get them to grasp the rags and sponges well enough. Kitchen tongs weren’t going to work either.
The best access panel for the lowest part of the bilge is in our aft head. I decided to see if I could somehow reach father than Peter, maybe just by flexibility, and it turns out I could actually fit my head AND shoulders all the way INSIDE! Getting in there was one thing, getting out was another. I discovered arm leg and back muscles that I didn’t know I had. While hanging into the opening in the head, my torso was twisted out into the aft cabin and I hooked my feet up into a cubby on the front of the bed for leverage. Peter was trying to be a good helper but with my whole body in the way he couldn’t shine the flashlight where I needed it to go. I couldn’t use a headlamp either because I could barely fit my head in there. Turns out headlamps can also be worn around your neck and angled upside down so when you are inverted into the abyss of your bilge with no room for a helping hand you can still see what you are doing.
Bilge Deep and upside down is just one of the new ways we are discovering to keep us flexible and burn some calories while living on the boat. It’s hard work, and it’s never done but the trade-off sure is worth the effort!!