Sunday, June 23, 2013

Timing is Everything

I've been installing the Single Sideband radio over the last couple of weekends. It's not a small job to find suitable locations for the control head and speaker, receiver and antenna tuner, then get all the wiring done in a seaman-like manner mainly because space for these items is very much at a premium.  It also turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected to get the copper foil for the ground plane installed from the antenna tuner to the keel. But everything is installed and wired except for the connections to the batteries, which I will not do until we replace the lead acid batteries with AGM's in a couple of weeks.

While that work is being done, we're also varnishing the cap rails. I really didn't want to go down that road but the teak was at the point where it had to be done, or else. So we got them well sanded and two coats on, with three or four more to come. I am resigned to the fact that they'll need a coat every six months or so.

Anyway, yesterday I went to pump some water through the aft head, which I do every time we arrive at the boat, and it wouldn't go. I checked the thru-hull valves,  both intake and discharge were open and functional. Then I poured fresh water into the bowl and pumped it through, and it was absolutely normal.  So I knew the problem was on the intake side, and I double checked the ball valve and checked outside the boat to make sure there wasn't a plastic bag or something blocking the intake thru-hull. Nope, all looked good. So the next step was to shut the valve and pull the intake hose off and check for a blockage there. I pulled it off the ball valve, expecting to find some seaweed or other flotsam, but it was clean, so I tried pumping again and it still wouldn't go. But I knew the problem was somewhere between the ball valve and the pump so I disconnected the other end of the hose, where it connects to the head pump and found the problem. It was a fish stuck tail-first in the intake of the head. The poor duffer was in up to his gills and jammed pretty tight in the hole.  So I pulled him out and Lisa threw him back in the water, where he flapped his flippers feebly before sinking out of sight. After I put everything back together we were sitting in the cockpit speculating on how bad timing can ruin a fish's day. He must have thought he'd found a really neat little hidey hole and backed himself into it, where he was enjoying life and watching the world go by out his front door. Imagine his surprise and consternation when I pumped the head and he found himself headed bassackwards up the intake hose to the head, where he jammed like a cork in a bottle. I was astonished that he was still alive and I bet he was glad to see me, but my guess is that he was pretty banged up and probably didn't make it. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

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