So what is a bilge?
If you look at Oxford Dictionaries definition it first states that a bilge is on the outside of a boat. Further definition for bilges states it is ‘the lowest internal portion of the hull‘. It finally tells us bilge means ‘Nonsense, rubbish’! How prescient!
Basically, if you open up the floor of a narrowboat, you get to see the bilges. That is, sections of the boat below the waterline.
Is There a Question?
‘So what’s in one?’ I hear you ask. Well, you might think nothing but you’d be wrong. This is where water collects. It’s OK, don’t worry! We’re not sinking. Water can get in by various legitimate means; condensation, rain, splashsing in from the canal or spillage from the galley (we’ll come to the galley in another post). There are also other, less legitimate means for water ingress; water can leak from a disconnected pipe (I’m thinking sink if you’re lucky, toilet if you’re not), the stern gland (don’t ask) and maybe even oil from the engine!
‘My good God! What type of boat are you running here?’ I hear you gasping. Don’t panic, this is all normal or so I’m reliably told by people in the know. The thing I want you to take away from this little discussion is that water in the bilge or bilge water isn’t clean. In fact it can harbour bacteria and emanate noxious smells, hence you can see bilge quickly becoming a derogatory term.
You have to get into the bilges or at least gain access to pump out the noxious waters (I said pump, not syphon). You can get manual and automatic bilge pumps that remove said waters. I’ll let you know which type of pump we have (if any) and what we upgrade to if we have to.
So, I’ll be periodically cleaning out my bilges (let’s face it, there won’t be a lot of people queuing up to do it for me) and by necessity, be cleaning the bilge as a narrowboat needs blacking every two years or so, the contents of which I will be sharing in these blog posts – basically, a load of old bilge water 😉
A soon as I get a picture of our bilges, I’ll post it here.