September 27, 2017: A bit of ocean in the basement

I spent over two hours on Wednesday engaged in a strenuous, ultimately futile activity I had NOT anticipated!

Walt and I met the morning sunshine in the Anacortes Yacht Club Marina at about 7:15 am, and shortly before 8 am were walking the mile to a rental car agency with two shopping bags of laundry, accumulated over the course of 23 days of boating. Though the weather was lovely in Anacortes, we could hear ferry whistles blowing out on the water, indicating that fog was hovering along the ferries’ routes. We drove the rental car to the Everett Marina after making a quick stop for a fast-food breakfast, used our portable jump-starter to coax the Prius, parked in the long-term lot, into life, and Walt then drove the rental car to the condo building while I followed in the Prius. We arrived before 10 am–this was the first time I’d seen the 1920 Clough Mansion, in which our condo occupies 1320 sq. ft. on the second floor, since June 15, and it was good to see the building looking beautiful after a very expensive, very necessary paint job completed not long after we left for the summer! I took the laundry directly to the basement and put one load into the washer, then went upstairs to our condo and began to sort and dispose of mail while Walt left in the Prius for a meeting in Seattle.

When I went to check on the laundry shortly before 11 am, the clothes that had been in the dryer were gone, but there was a good deal of soapy, gray water on the floor around the washer that seemed not to be going down the drain in the middle of the floor. I’d seen this happen once before not long after we moved into the mansion, and at that time I had mopped up the water, put in another load of clothes, made SURE the door of the front-loader was firmly closed, and had no more trouble. So when my first laundry load was ready, I put it into the dryer, put a second (small) load into the washer, and started the cycle. While the washer ran, I began to clean up the water on the floor, but more and more began to accumulate, and I couldn’t identify the source. I lifted the grill covering the large drain hole, and saw that, indeed, water was NOT going down. I found a plastic pitcher, took the plastic trash bag out of the wastebasket, and began to scoop up the water accumulating above the drain with the pitcher, pour it into the wastebasket, and empty the wastebasket, when it was about half-full, into the washtub near the dryer. I made decent progress over about 45 minutes, and the lagoon in the middle of the floor was slowly shrinking.

I removed my large laundry load from the dryer, put in the second smaller load, and continued to “drain the swamp” for another 45 minutes. I took breaks to fold dry clothes, to rest, and to eat a banana to sustain me through my labors! I had been bailing for another half-hour with minimal success when I noticed that water was beginning to bubble up through the drain after I poured it into the washtub–oh, no! I looked in the hallway outside the laundry room and saw that a sump at the bottom of a pipe was full of sudsy water–not a good sign! So I sent Walt a text message asking about the existence of a wet-vacuum somewhere around the mansion and went up to the first floor, knocked on the door of a woman I had heard talking on the phone (Kathy, who was pleased to see me after my LONG absence), and explained what was happening and asked for ideas and/or assistance. She brought a plunger downstairs and we tried to clear the drain, with no success; we removed the grill and Kathy pulled ugly lumps of mud out of the drain and a pipe leading into it, and this didn’t help either. We went into the large workshop (also part of the huge basement) in search of a wet-vac and saw that a puddle of water was forming on ITS floor and water was trickling into it from under a locked door. We decided that it was time to let our Condo Association president know about the situation and see about calling in a plumber, since the sewer lines were evidently broken and/or blocked somewhere and there was nothing more we two could do. I e-mailed the president (Walt will take over that position as soon as we’re back in Everett), Walt arrived after attending his meeting and doing some shopping, he called a plumber when he saw what was happening in the basement, and he let the other condo owners know that they should make MINIMAL use of water until a diagnosis of the problem(s) could be made by a professional.

We finished sending e-mail and sorting paper mail, and drove back to Anacortes, having done all that was possible under the circumstances. I was sad about the watery messes, but we had discussed the need for plumbing help with down-spouts, drains, water and sewer lines, etc., at a Condo Association meeting in the spring and it was decided that we could wait a little longer before taking on that expense; now, we can wait NO LONGER (repair estimates are being gathered as I write). I came back from being at sea for most of five months, and brought some of the ocean along!

After unloading our provisions and storing them on Braesail, Walt and I drove the rental car to a nearby restaurant and had a fine seafood dinner outdoors on the second-floor deck overlooking the water: clams and mussels for Walt, and a  baby shrimp salad for me. We drove back to the ramp to the yacht club docks and Walt dropped me off; he returned the car and walked back to the boat; and I put away the groceries and the laundry. After Walt’s return we both did some reading and writing while munching nice, soft cookies, and finally “surrendered ourselves to the arms of Morpheus” after a long day, wondering if the gorgeous weather we’d enjoyed all day would continue, or if the radar reflector Walt had just bought would be needed during our journey south.

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