My brother is an exceedingly smart man but of the “absent-minded professor” type. He owns a twenty-six foot wooden sloop called the Itatae. He has spent untold hours, days, months, over the years maintaining and renovating it.
One year he spent much of the spring readying the Itatae for the season. He launched it the day before I came to visit him. We had been out late that Saturday night and as we returned to his house we passed the cove where the boat was moored. Only about three feet of the mast was visible above the water surface.
In all his preparations my brother hadn’t checked the packing in the casement where the propeller shaft went out from the bottom of the boat. It had dried out and then popped with the pressure of the water and the Itatae sank.
A few years ago after a heavy rainstorm my brother noticed some water in the bilge. So he started the bilge pump and threw the end of the discharge hose over the gunnels into the water. However once the bilge was empty, the pump automatically shut off, the hose then acted as a siphon and siphoned the surrounding ocean into the boat. The Itatae sank again.
This year my brother spent an estimated two hundred-fifty to three hundred hours readying the boat for the season. “She looked the best she ever has,” he said. Then in preparation for a sail with visiting friends, my brother decided to top-off the fuel tank which he hadn’t done in a few years. However…
The fuel line had rotted through and when he topped-off the tank over twenty gallons of fuel oil spilled into the water around the fueling dock. The Coast Guard was summoned; the fire and police departments arrived as well as a Hazmat crew. The area was cordoned off, fuel-soaking booms deployed and a Hazmat area defined and contained. The Itatae did not sink. This time.