Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Bad and the Ugly

Well, we're Rookies so it had to happen... The "Rookie Mistake".  And things were going so well...

We had a great couple of days here in Delcambre, but Bruce was ready to move on.  I had yet to see the Tobasco Factory on Avery Island, but I guess it was not meant to be...

Delcambre Lift Bridge
Bruce and I said our goodbyes to Katherine and Jim at North Pier Marina and motored slowly back up Bayou Carlin to Le Blanc Oil Company to fuel up.

The channel narrowed alarmingly but the depths held.  I had to make my way amongst fishing boats anchored out fishing in the runoff from a shrimp processing plant across the canal...

The fuel truck was offloading
I brought the boat alongside the fuel dock nicely, maybe even looked like I knew what I was doing...

We had to wait forEVER while this fuel truck transferred over two thousand gallons of new fuel to the station.  Well, at least we'll get fresh fuel!

We talked to the guys around the station, one of them had been there on the day the Lake Peigneur Tragedy happened.  He said that the water on this side of that lift bridge was higher than on the other side because there wasn't room for all the water to go through so it damned up.  Crazy times!

So anyway... it was finally our turn to fill.  Bruce was worried that it was a high pressure hose and so he was just barely pulling the trigger... But even though the fuel was pumping VERY slowly, it still bubbled up in the fill hole... Something wasn't right.  It's like it isn't venting.  Great!  Another boat project...

But wait... horrid realization... OH NOOOOO!  That's the WATER TANK!  No WONDER it isn't going in... We topped off the water tanks just before leaving the dock!

I thought Bruce was going to die!  He is ALWAYS so careful!  I guess we got to talking to the guys at the station and (the water and fuel fills are just across from one another on the deck) just absentmindedly got going...

Well, I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that we went back to the dock at North Pier Marina, where we were welcomed again (with open arms and hugs, no gift basket this time) by Katherine and Jim...  We will be staying another day...

Bruce, with Jim's help, spent the day pumping the diesel fuel out of our water tank and flushing it until it ran clean from the vent.

Bruce used a spare water pump and some extra hose we had onboard, along with some length of wire to rig up the nifty little system on deck.  It's a good thing the diesel is colored, that made the job so much more easy.

We think (hope) that with some soapy tankfuls and copious amounts of fresh water, we can eventually flush out the aluminum tank.  Maybe the plastic fill hose may need replacing, not the end of the world... Mike at the fuel station gave us some additive to use as the last step, right after a gallon of vodka in the tank... He said that the shrimpers are always putting fuel in their water tanks and use this stuff, so I'm hopeful...

So what did I do all day while Bruce was doing his self imposed penance?  Why... I went with Katherine to tour the Tobasco Factory!

Did you know that ALL of the world's Tobasco products are made right here at Avery Island in Louisiana?  I did not!

The process is amazingly simple...  After the tour, we shopped in the Company Store and I got some Rasberry Chipotle and their new Sweet and Spicy sauces. I had to have them after sampling them...  They also had Tobasco ice cream and soda... I'm not so sure about those...  Well anyway, it was a fun way to salvage what could have been a very bad day...  Wish us luck that it won't take TOO long to get the diesel smell out of our tanks...
The Tobacso bottling plnat

Small bottles on the conveyer, filling and capping

The peppers are stored for 3 years in barrels

Then they are stirred for almost a month with the vinegar


  1. Aaack! Nightmare scenario! Hope you get it resolved quickly. Maybe also a charcoal filter on your drinking water faucet to take care of any last residual diesel in the water? Also makes me wonder why all the fill caps are the same color? If the diesel cap was yellow and the water one was blue, the way the jerry cans are, would it be easier to avoid this kind of error?

    Anyway, I've always had a soft spot for Tobasco, ever since learning that they opened the factory for their neighbors who needed a place to stay after (I forgot which hurricane, Katrina?) for free, just because they were neighbors.

    1. Well we're working it out slowly. It's going to take some soap and some flushing and maybe some Vodka... And our caps are going to be different colors from now on... I've got the nail polish just waiting for a dry moment. Bruce is over it, and we're still having fun!

      The new Tobasco sauces are GREAT! Try them! Thanks for hanging out!

  2. One thought I had is that you might want to put a good filter on the tank outlet (actually, between the pump and the faucet) to catch any stray diesel or soap particles.

    1. Yes Carolyn, I think there's a store here in Houma where we hope to find a charcoal filter. We will try to get it in before the water goes into the common hoses. We're still cleaning out the tank at this point. It's a process. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Oh no, oh no....

    I feel so bad for you guys! We've heard of this happening on power boats as well. As well as all other possible scenarios. Diesel in the holding tank or horrors, gasoline pumped into the diesel. I don't know about sailboats; but every fitting cover on our boat is stainelss. The freshwater, the pump out and the diesel are all the same. The diesel cap is a little bigger. And lucky for us it is in a completely different location along the gunnel.

    Thank you for being so brave and writing about your booboo. I know there are those who would say how the heck did that happen; but we all know not a one of us is perfect or on our game all the time.

    My husband has been boating for 20+ years and is an excellent captain. But we had a really bad grounding three years ago. $40,000+ damage to our boat and an $8,000 tow bill. We still shiver to talk about it; but with time comes healing.....

    This too will be something you talk about; and will never repeat....

    1. Marie, thanks for your kind words... You know, I did consider not writing about it, but when Bruce gave me the go-ahead, I went for it. I really try to be honest about things here. Certainly I don't tell EVERYthing... but if someone can learn from our "booboos" then it was worth it.

      We aren't perfect... we'll for sure make every "rookie" mistake. Today we left a port open when the torrential rains hit! Another newbie mistake and we've been sailing for years and years! It happens to everyone... We'll get it sorted out.

      Thank you for reading and thanks for your comments!

  4. Hate to hear this ... but a good lesson for me and your readers! Hope all is back to normal by now.

    I've never lived anywhere but Louisiana, and I've yet to make it to Avery Island! You're showing me parts of Louisiana that I've never seen ... =)

    1. It was a fascinating area and I'm SO glad we stopped in Delcambre for the tours. And yes, paint your fill caps!!!

  5. I'm glad you got to Avery Island, but I wish it was as the result of having the time and not needing to take the time.

    Fair Winds!