Friday, January 16, 2015

Taking it easy ...

The plan for today was to ease back into life on the boat. Deb is still sore from having America's health care system prove to itself that she did not have a life-threatening disease. I am suffering from the post-daughter-post-grand kid visit blues. I admit to being more suited to life on the water than with the steady drum of a house full of children quickly overwhelming my senses. That doesn't mean that being far away from them doesn't make the heart hurt. It will take me a few days to remember the smiles without remembering the good-byes. In any case, the goals for today were pretty modest: get the dink leak fixed, launch it and get the motor running and, maybe, do a little more clean-up work in the inside of our little floating home. 

 (Ed Note: The dink leak deserves a special comment. When you have water working its way into your inflatable, don't automatically assume it's a leak in the body of the dinghy. If you have one of those drains in the transom that swivels open and closed, take it apart and replace the diaphragm. The diaphragms on them are incredibly flimsy and tear easily. It's worth a couple bucks and 10 minutes of your time.

I am on record as having nothing good to say about the little Merc outboard that shoves the dink on its way. It has been a constant pain since we first brought it into the family. It has never responded well to sitting and now it has been sitting for a month, untended, unused, and unloved. No telling what kind of fit it would throw at being called back into service. Anticipating the worst I turned on the fuel, eased though four pulls with the ignition off just to limber things up, set the choke to full, took a breath, and gave the cord one more genteel yank. The Merc fired up and settled into an easy idle like it had been running all day. I'll be a son of a skeptic, one freaking pull! No one can ask more of an outboard than that it start up first pull and run like a top.

Feeling pretty good about the world, our reworked Bimini frame caught my eye. We hurried to get the solar panels mounted before heading to cold country, and some of the support tubes I added were just wrong; odd angles, weird aesthetics, funky looking … wrong. Gazing at them in the glow of Merc magic the fix to making them right was obvious. Even more surprising, it actually worked out mostly as envisioned. The only down side was working in stainless. Tubes needed re-cut, a task plus when one is hacking up a lung while cutting with a hack saw.  Also, I don't much care for the Allen head lock screws that are supposed to hold the tubes in place. They are okay so long as the loads are all in compression, but under tension? Under tension I am much happier to see blind rivets instead. That way, pretty much no matter how hard the wind blows, tubes can not be pulled out of fittings, thus letting the Bimimi flap its way into the wild blue. But that means drilling stainless steel tubes and installing stainless steel blind rivets, neither of which is particularly easy when one is working with hand tools in the small cockpit of a cruising boat. (Wood workers have no idea how good they have it when it comes cutting, drilling, and fastening.) Though the job was pretty “easy” it still took the better part of six hours, with wrist and arms now complaining about wrestling steel all day.

Deb, being barely a week out of surgery, was going to take it even easier today. A small load of dishes needed done which is a pretty easy job, so long as the drain actually drains. Kintala's didn't. Deb, knowing that I was elbow deep in steel bits, just dove in and started taking the drains apart. The first I knew about it is when she came up the companionway ladder to show me a drain line completely blocked with some evil looking, vile smelling …. something. A couple of hours later she had the drains fixed and the dishes done, finishing up about the same time I was putting the last rivet in place. So, tonight, Kintala's Bimini frame is much improved, her sink drains are much improved, her dishes are clean, and her crew – in spite of being a bit worse for the wear – is pretty much back into the swing of all things cruiser.

Tomorrow we are going to take it easy. I may even get back to estudiando un poco de espaƱol.


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