The waterman job continues quite busy. The last two days we have been moving an awful lot of water from one ballast tank to another, as the deck team have finished cleaning/maintaining the one, and need to work on the other. The only way to do this directly is by opening up the manholes of those tanks (both in inconvenient places down in the food store), and sticking a pump into the full one, and a long waterhose (firehose thickness) between the two tanks.
So the first problem is getting the manhole covers off. These are large heavy metal plates with a rubber seal and 18 nut/bolt s on each one. We have a nice electric wrench thingy which gets them off quite quickly. We started opening the starboard tank manhole, but water came gushing out around the edges, meaning the tank is very full. There is a bilge entrance right next to the manhole, so we figured we could just drain the water into there, and then have the Engine Room pump out the bilge into the main bilge and then into the sea next time we sail.
But they told us that their main bilge that they would pump into is already pretty full and they didn't need another ton or two of water in it from us. so we got a small emergency pump and used that to pump from the small bilge into another spare bilge. This was taking forever though, as it's
quite a small pump.
Then we checked the plans, and saw that the other manhole for this tank is further forward in the ship, and the bow of the ship is really quite high at the moment, and so that manhole would probably not be overflowing if we opened it. But... that manhole is at the bottom of the lift shaft in Hold Two... So we went though to there, and got it open. Indeed it is fine! So we had to get the watertight door between the food store and hold two open, put a safety chain from the lift to the crane deck and then get the electricians to isolate the lift so no one else tried to use it and drop the lift on us. Then we rigged up the hose between the two tanks and started the pump. It went quite well but SO slowly.
The book-exhibition teams needed the lift to take the day's books up (it was about 3.30pm by then). We had moved enough water that the other manhole was free from overflowing, so we opened that one again, moved the pump across, and started pumping again. Then we had to close up the manhole in the lift shaft again, and get the electricians to restart it, and remove the safety chain from the crane deck. All this time we were moving the ballast water, it made the ship list to Starboard, so we were having to use the freshwater transfer pump to move fresh water about and correct the list with freshwater. Most of the day I had to spend down in the food store to keep watch on the pumps and all while the other waterman was doing other stuff about the ship. While | was down there I extended a watch strap by a few notches for someone as well, and started work on updating the "Waterman's Bible", our handbook for all things watery (last updated 3 years ago). So quite busy.
Yesterday again we were doing more pumping all day, and also had to close up the manholes at the end. Because of the shape of the tanks, and where the water is, we actually have to list the ship a bit in order to get the last of the water in the tank we are emptying to run down to where the pump is (as we can only lower the pump to directly below the manhole, and cannot move the pump without ourselves going into the tank, and that requires a "Enclosed Space Entry Permit" and mountains of safety checks and paperwork.
Another problem yesterday we went through was that the nice big fast pump we have requires itself to be actually submerged in the water to keep itself cool while pumping. So when the water level fell below the height of the pump, we would have to switch to a slower smaller pump. But I managed to rig up the smaller pump without a hose so it would be hanging at an angle constantly splashing water all over the big pump, and keeping it cool. So all quite complex and fun. We were finished at about 10.30 pm. Very long day.
Today is my off-day, but I am taking a few hours of watch for my former deck-team leader, as she is going out today, or something like that. The schedule today is even more complex than the water situation! One of the watchmen is going out to play football, and so she is taking some hours for him, and so on. I was also invited out for lunch with some of the Indians on the ship, to a local family. Apparently Indian food!! Very exciting. I miss the food from India so much. It was SO lovely there. If anyone feels like opening an inexpensive vegetarian Indian restaurant in Larnaka in a few years whenever I go back you will have one regular customer for sure!