What would you do - prop shaft breaks, drops, engine room is flooding

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Stee6043, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    I am very interested to hear some stories or opinions from you guys on this.

    Brief backstory - I hit something submerged on Monday, broke a prop shaft, bent a rudder, bent a prop but the shaft remained in place (the prop shaft slid aft and hit the rudder, staying put). The very first thing I did was check the engine room for water, of course.

    But as I've reflected on what could have happened I get a bit of a knot in my stomach. Had the shaft dropped out of the boat I imagine the amount of water coming into the boat would been more than the bilge pumps could handle. So in this case, what does a guy do with 5 souls onboard 8 miles from port?

    I feel like the decision that has to be made is between 1.) attempt to slow the water intake or 2.) high tale it to port on the remaining good engine. Obviously in either scenario the co-captain is hailing the Coast Guard, getting PFD's, etc. But you really have to commit pretty quickly with water levels rising in the engine room.

    For this example let's assume you don't have a dinghy.

    I feel like I may have failed in this worst case scenario had I picked option 1. Once I confirmed there was no water coming into my boat I wanted to jump into the water to see what happened. But I couldn't. From where I left (Milwaukee) to where I hit the object (Sheboygan) the water must have dropped 15 degrees in temp easily. It was not more than 50-55 degrees. I could not get in and get under the boat, there was no way. In addition, had it been warmer and had I been able to enter the water, the opening for the prop shaft is quite a ways up under the boat. That's not exactly an easy swim with a plug in hand, maybe dealing with current and adrenaline running like crazy.

    Could you successfully plug that hole from inside the boat? Me thinks not based on what I imagine is high pressure water and what I know is rather difficult access (right up under the engine). But every second you're screwing around trying to plug the hole you are not driving toward port.

    I hope some of you will share your thoughts or maybe even your real world experiences on this. I've ordered up a couple of "cone shaped plugs" to keep on the boat. I'm still not convinced they would have helped had my situation gone worst case but why not have 'em.
     
  2. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    This is where the column of water would be coming from. You can see my broken shaft end. I'm not even sure there's enough room to push one of those cones in from the inside of the boat, let alone get it to stay under pressure.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Sublimetime

    Sublimetime Active Member

    844
    Oct 22, 2007
    clifton nj
    420 da
    454
    I'm speechless. God bless you all.
     
  4. ZZ13

    ZZ13 Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    Lady's Island, SC
    2001 400 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins 450 Diamond
    Stuff anything you can in the hole that would slow water. Towels, maybe a big fat cup. Get creative real fast. You can use the broken shaft engine as a bailer if things get really bad. Close the seacock, take the lid of the strainer and use the engine to pump out water as needed. With five people on board you can use one person as the spotter to start and stop the engine to pump out the water as needed. Meantime keep moving forward on your good engine.

    I just made all this up and have never done it so smarter folks may shoot holes in it.
     
  5. ttmott

    ttmott PhD in OCD GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
  6. my3sons

    my3sons Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 24, 2009
    NY (Lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    Glad all are safe. One never knows.
    I carry a couple different size “nerf plugs” a 7 mm suit for cold water a shorty for A little warmer water, a 50cf bottle and a 50’ hose.
    For your situation, I’d start by trying to wrap a towel around the shaft and stuff it in the log. Plastic wrapped around it with gorilla tape? Just need to slow the water down so the pumps can handle it till you’re hauled.
    I also carry several rolls of rescue tape, but must admit I’ve never had to use it for anything so not sure about it.
    Other Ideas?
    FC713AB4-4220-47E1-8386-7964D86221C5.jpeg 924202B6-86C5-433E-9336-1B21576656C9.jpeg
    edit: goes without saying that while I’m doing that, admirals on the radio, breaking out the plb’s and taking off the inflatable pfd’s and getting on the good offshores.
    We don’t always have the dink, but we always do when we travel, and there’s a big knife in the aft side locker to cut the NYLON tie down straps in a heart beat if necessary.
    FD729D43-5BFE-4E0B-A3E4-5FCD4180797C.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  7. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    I have those Staplug cone plugs, as well. Never had to use them, but I feel confident that they have a good chance of fixing most "fixable" holes. The water pressure isn't as high as you would think. Take off one of your seacock hoses and open the seacock to get an idea. A couple toilet bowl wax rings are another good thing to keep on board - you can smoosh those into really odd shaped crevices.

    The key (and this is easy to say, not always do) is to stay calm. You get more done (better and more efficient) by going slower.
     
  8. dtfeld

    dtfeld Water Contrails GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 5, 2016
    Milton, GA
    410 Sundancer
    2001
    Axiom 12 MFD
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    Good news your all fine!!

    How about paper towels/TP stuffed in a plastic bag...then stuff the paper/bag into the hole. Possibly a paper towel wrapped up in tape? Even if you cut the flow in half you can increase the time you have.

    I would not get in the water or let anyone else get in. With the boat rocking and no safety or breathing gear, chances are you'll be injured or exhausted pretty quick making a bad situation worse.

    After I got the situation under control the best I could, I'd send a distress call via DCS if you have it and/or make a Mayday Call on Ch 16. Even if I think I can make it to port, I'd still make a distress call and make a Pan Pan call on Ch 16 in case things take a turn for the worse. In both cases, I would remain in contact with the CG until everyone safely on shore.
     
  9. my3sons

    my3sons Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 24, 2009
    NY (Lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    I’ve heard of the wax rings before! I’ll have to add them.
     
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  10. firecadet613

    firecadet613 Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2007
    Indiana
    '07 V358
    T- VP 5.7GXi
    Thanks for posting this as a follow up. I've been thinking about this since reading about it earlier this week.

    We routinely cruise miles offshore....I just bought two of the cone plugs and will pickup two wax toilet rings... aside from that, not sure what would be better. No way I'd be jumping in the water to try and fix it from under the boat.
     
    Stee6043 likes this.
  11. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    IL
    281
    V8
    First things first. Life jackets for everyone.
    Then point the boat toward shore and start heading in that direction.
    Third, use whatever you can to plug the leak. All you have to do is stop a catastrophe.
    Once the leak is slowed, get on the radio (assuming you don't have help to do that while your stopping the leak).
    Then back to the leak, looking for a better solution which will be enough to get you home.

    I lost a thru hull once. Didn't even realize it. I heard a pop when I powered up, but it sounded like a deck chair moving. Then I noticed the bilge pump light come one. Then off, then on, then off, then on. Then did my "oh chit." Open up the engine room to see water coming in around what remained of the transducer -- luckily the shaft was still in the hole and keeping the incoming stream manageable. Pull it out and "there she blows." Put it back in. Call the marina to have the lift ready. Drop the wife off to meet me at the marina restaurant -- order me a double. Meet the lift operator in the well. Give the guy a shake and head to go drinking. Interesting experience to say the least.
     
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  12. my3sons

    my3sons Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 24, 2009
    NY (Lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    Sometimes not trying to stop the water might be the best option. Many years ago a dock neighbor hit an unlit buoy In the Buffalo outer harbor after dark. He knocked a hole the size of a basketball in the hull right at the waterline. When he saw what he did, he hightailed it right to the launch ramp at the marina and grounded it.
    Repair yard came for it with a hydraulic trailer in the morning.
     
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  13. Steve S

    Steve S Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 5, 2007
    Northern IL.
    2000 400 Sedan Bridge with twin CAT 3116's

    2000 340 Sundancer - SOLD!
    210 Monaco 1987 - SOLD!
    Twin Caterpillar 3116's 350 HP straight drives
    Mark,

    You might want to look at these "Hook" knifes to replace your "Big Knife". I used to carry one during my skydiving days. They will easily cut thru webbing, lines etc BUT make virtually impossible to cut yourself. Last thing you need in that situation is someone cutting an appendage and bleeding...

    http://www.paragear.com/advancedSea...eywords&SearchSpecificField=0&SearchContent=0
     
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  14. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    These responses have been awesome. Really good stuff.

    I would have never thought of using the engine as a pump (via the strainer). Brilliant.

    I ordered up two of the "nerf" cones today. Maybe some toilet bowl rings are in my future. :)

    It's also good to hear most would not attempt to plug the hole from under the boat. Manage it from inside the boat.

    Keep 'em coming!
     
    firecadet613 likes this.
  15. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    So this was another thing that woke me up at 3AM the night after this happened, and kept me up. I do have a dinghy but I use Weaver snap davits. If the water were coming in fast enough (or if I didn't check, didn't notice it was filling?) and my platform were to get low enough that the davits were under water there is no way I could release the dink. The pressure from the dinghy trying to float would make it impossible to release those suckers.

    For as calm as I remained during this whole ordeal (which, in the grand scheme, was nothing to get excited about once I confirmed we weren't sinking) I spent a lot of time afterwards thinking about all of the ways it could have gone so much worse.

    After insurance covers the repairs I can see myself justifying a new davit system to address nightmare scenario #23 described above :)
     
  16. sbw1

    sbw1 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    West Michigan
    This is listed in my signature
    This is listed in my signature
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    I can't add much to the solutions except to say that it is somewhat unusual to have the shaft ripped out of the boat from hitting something. Most shafts I've seen have the anodes placed in strategic locations so they prevent the shaft from coming completely out of the hole. So, if it is in place, the other suggestions of slowing the flow should get you to a port. I'm a believer in the wooden plugs of various sizes and a rubber mallet, and some rescue tape kept in a handy spot in the bilge.
    As far as hightailing it home goes, you can forget that. You can do about 6 knots on one engine. Trying to do more risks breaking the other shaft. So....slow the leak; call for help; head for a nearby port; and, if you are sinking, ground the boat in shallow water with you life jackets on and wait for help to arrive.
    Curious about what you may have hit and the depth of the water. Were you in open water or in skinny water?
     
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  17. Steve S

    Steve S Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 5, 2007
    Northern IL.
    2000 400 Sedan Bridge with twin CAT 3116's

    2000 340 Sundancer - SOLD!
    210 Monaco 1987 - SOLD!
    Twin Caterpillar 3116's 350 HP straight drives
    Not sure how far from shore he was but there is a 2 mile wide x 8 mile long area with unmarked posts and nets south of Sheboygan. I will lay odds that Jeff hit one of those posts. There are notations on charts but we always swing wide out into deep water to avoid them.
     
  18. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    There was nothing on my shaft to keep her from slipping out. I guess I don't know how this would have gone but if the prop were to be completely removed AND the shaft broken, it would have had nothing to stop it from coming out. Maybe this would never happen?

    Photo of the shaft after the prop was removed:

    EDIT - they only stopped removing the shaft to confirm they kept the boat high enough to get the new one back in. She slid right out.
    [​IMG]

    I made about 8kts after the damage was done, one engine. That was with about 15 degrees of rudder.

    I was in 110 feet +/- of water when I hit whatever it was I hit.
     
  19. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    I did see those net posts marked on the chart. I was well outside the boundaries according to Garmin. I saw loads of those posts marked with flags and bouys and was nowhere near 'em. Do you still think it's possible I got one? So strange.
     
  20. Steve S

    Steve S Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 5, 2007
    Northern IL.
    2000 400 Sedan Bridge with twin CAT 3116's

    2000 340 Sundancer - SOLD!
    210 Monaco 1987 - SOLD!
    Twin Caterpillar 3116's 350 HP straight drives
    Jeff,

    Yeah, at 110 feet of water you should have been well clear of those posts.
     

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