We had earmarked today to do a thorough engine and desalinator check and the first problem we encountered is that there are two alternators on each motor – the original and an aftermarket high capacity job. The belt tensions on the factory issued units were so loose it’s hard to see that they could have actually been effective in any meaningful way. The problem I mention is that someone in his infinite wisdom manufactured brackets for the supplementary unit that looks like they came straight from the drawing board of Stupid Bloody Johnson – the Sir Herbert Baker of Ankh Morpork…
It is damn near impossible to get to the bolt that you need to loosen off to allow the belt tension to be adjusted. There is strong visual and physical evidence that at least one person has attempted to do so in the past as the bolts on both motors have been so thoroughly rounded off that none of the spanners or sockets we have on board have any purchase – and naturally (I mean the world, despite its problems is still turning) they are located in such a way that you can’t get to them to use either a vice grip or similar last ditch piece of bastard tooling. Gaarrrgggghhhh!!!
I am reasonably sure that this is why the belts are loose – whoever might have tried before simply gave up and let them run like that, there are after all two alternators on each motor. But it’s just not right… things on boats should work. So a simple half hour check up has now stretched to 6 hours of some seriously profane language, skinned knuckles and a collective total sense of humour failure. Out of sheer desperation for some good news we decided to flash up the motors to see if they would actually start. I was suitably impressed when both motors fired up at the very first turn of the key without the slightest hesitation. It was a great relief as you never really know until the moment you turn the key which of that bloody Gremlin family have decided to squat in the engine rooms.
Avi and Hugh have once again been sent into the village with a shopping list for some fresh victuals, propane gas (there are six tanks on board from three different countries, and yep, they are all empty – of course) along with some other bits and pieces. They deserved a break, both had been in the engine rooms for hours and trust me on this, it is seriously warm in there, and coupled with awkward angles and not all that much space to work in it’s not the best place to be on the boat. I think young Hugh is just beginning to discover just how much they don’t teach you at a sailing academy… but credit to the kid, he is not shy to get his hands dirty, is cheerful, polite and easy to be with, he reminds me of some other kids I have mentored over the years… no names mentioned but they know who they are.
Jean Yves will be arriving sometime after pumpkin hour tonight for a couple of days, it will be good to see him again – I think it has been seven years since we said good bye on a crystal white beach in Zanzibar. So much water has passed under various bridges since then… time, that thief of souls who steals a bit of your life from you every day.
The first aid kit on the boat appears to be the one that would have been supplied by the factory when the vessel was launched, it’s one of those generic car kits that has a couple of bandages, some eye drops and a few safety pins – not quite what should be on board for an extended sea voyage. I sent a list up to Jean Yves and asked him to get a script from his doctor for what we really need – I just hope he does not get stopped at the airport… there are some items in that parcel you can’t buy over the counter.
Self sufficiency at sea is part and parcel of long distance sailing but few people who do not sail give it any thought. A bad burn or a cut or laceration requiring stitches when you are two thousand miles in any direction from land does not leave you with many options, other than to deal with the situation as best you are trained and are capable of doing. There is no quick trip down to the casualty unit at the local hospital to have it sorted out. It is often a case of one person volunteering to play doctor with the rest of the crew crowding around with ghoulish fascination to watch what is going on and generally compounding the situation with comments along the line of ‘damn, that’s going to hurt’ or there will be some other idiot starting to tell some unlikely story of a particularly messy incident.
Mid ocean can be a lonely place as the routes yachts take do not always coincide with the regular shipping lanes, being able to make do out there is a necessary skill, and non sailors would be very surprised at just how inventive people can get when push comes to shove. Whilst making do can become necessary, we would rather do the best we can while we are still tied up with access to whatever we might need. If anything is not quite right or is in the least bit suspect we either service, repair or replace it now rather than having to say somewhere out there ‘damn, we should have…’
Jean Yves did arrive sometime after midnight and it was great catching up after all these years, both of us telling each other that we look exactly the same as we did all those years ago – damn but sailors can tell lies… He arrived in a hire car – one of those new little retro styled Fiat 500’s, nice enough little runabout – if you are a Japanese dwarf… it is a two door model and there are four of us, I reckon we can teach the taxi industry back in South Africa a thing or two.
We headed off to the local mall and started to accumulate a few bits and pieces – small things, like a pressure cooker, 4 new pillows, some fishing and dive gear and about four or so bags of groceries. Nothing strange about that but only after we opened the boot to pack this lot away did we discover that essentially there is no boot. Basically two medium sized sport bags and it’s full. Somehow we got most of it in and dumped the rest onto Avi and Hugh who were crammed into the back seat. Of course it was seriously warm and it was not long before we who get to sit in front had to contend with a nonstop deluge of winging and whining about Noddy cars… Ah well, it was only for an hour or so as JY decided to take us for a bit of a drive along the coast to see one of the really nice hideaway beaches that you often see featured in travel brochures. Very picturesque it was as well.
Prior to going on that drive however Jy stood us to lunch at a Chinese restaurant he knew of. It’s one of those huge 250 plus seat places that runs an all you can eat buffet style menu. It was almost a surreal experience, the amount and variety of food on offer beggared belief – it was all there, sushi, a huge variety of fresh seafood that you could select and then some dude cooks this up for you. Roast duck, pork. Chicken and damn near anything else you could think of – including an extensive desert section… and the price? Something like 8 euro’s per person. For those of you back home that’s around R120, and there really is no limit – except physical – to what you can eat. My brother and nephew would do their collective nuts there.
This morning we decided to make use of the good weather and took the boat out for a bit of a shakedown sail. Everything worked as it was supposed to except… We uncoupled the 220v shore power before we left with the battery monitor indicating there were 600 plus amps in the bank. After less than two hours they were completely drained. We had hoped that by topping them up and recharging them we might have got away with it but unfortunately Big Jeremy was – as usual – quite right in his assessment when from over 6000 miles away he pronounced them to be well and truly ‘Fu**ed’. It is now Siesta time when most of the commercial establishments close for part of the afternoon and then re open at about five pm. We will take a drive into town and see if we can source a new bank of the correct type of house batteries. We will know by tomorrow what the delay will be.
Until then, Y’all stay safe and keep well.