Monday, August 12, 2013

Plastic Bag and Barnacle Attack

The title of this post sounds as scary as an attack by killer tomatoes or, perhaps, a land shark candy gram, but plastic bags and barnacles can be quite a nemesis for boaters. On Wednesday last week, our air conditioning started giving error codes and then quit altogether. The codes indicated that we were not getting enough water into the system to run it so we pulled apart the strainer and cleared it of barnacles (sorry, no pictures, I was busy scraping barnacles with a plastic knife). Problem solved? Unfortunately, no. So, we scheduled another haul out for the weekend and were lucky enough to get just enough water through the system to run the AC in our stateroom for a couple of days.

The culprit was evident as soon as the boat was out of the water:
Not the best picture of our stowaway plastic bag. The workers pulled it off before I could grab another shot.

The water intake for our air conditioning with barnacles as an unwanted accessory.
If you've never seen a barnacle, here is a super close photo. The outside area is hard like a shell and it grows with the organism inside. The photo is slightly misleading, the barnacles on our boat were no bigger than the tips of your fingers.
The bag was removed and everything was power washed and scraped.
Staff at our marina have heard that this is the worst year for barnacles in twelve years. Staff at the haul out facility said they have seen boats with brand new bottom paint come in covered in barnacles. (FYI - boats in the Bay are typically painted with a bottom paint that deters growth. Depending on the paint, how much the boat is used, and other various factors, this process is repeated every couple of years.)

So, how often do you have to remove living organisms from your house so everything will work properly?

On a positive note, I captained the boat out of the slip for the first time. I was more comfortable than I expected to feel and will continue to learn. The next step is docking and will require many deep breaths on that day.

Along that note, so many people have shared stories with us about the arguments and yelling between spouses while docking, leaving the slip, anchoring, etc. (some even say that divorces are caused because of it -- aren't boats supposed to be fun?). Communication while the boat is moving can be difficult. In a car, you can simply apply the brakes, pull over, and discuss how to drive the car. There are no brakes on a boat. If it isn't tied to a dock or successfully anchored, there is very little to keep it from moving. Decisions that must be made quickly and differences of opinion or understanding are not a good mix. Doug and I have been boating together for 13 1/2 years and had to learn how to communicate on a boat. While we aren't experts, our mutual understanding makes us good partners. We often discuss how we think the boat will react to the wind and current before pulling out of or into a slip or new situation and will debrief after both good and bad events. Is there an aspect of life with your partner that has taken years of communication trial and error?


  1. Those look so nasty! I assume AC is back up and running. Thankfully we had some cooler temps. A BIG congrats on getting out of the slip. I don't see how either of you do it, but I know y'all have done it for years and it's so comfortable for you both. 13.5! :)

    1. Yes, the AC is up and running again. Phew! Sometimes I'm not sure how we maneuver the boat -- a bit of experience with a dash of luck I guess.

  2. That is a great/gross photo of the barnacle! I'm glad your AC is back in action!

    1. Doug thought of and took the barnacle picture - so I can't take credit. It is a pretty cool photo, though.