11th December 2020
Portimão Marina, Portugal
Venn diagrams are great for showing when different properties overlap. Venn diagram themselves would sit in the middle of a Venn diagram about information and diagrams. At the centre of a Venn diagram between sleep, killing and cuteness, there would be a cat*. If Ruffian were to sit in the middle of a Venn Diagram, then the interlocking circles would be Stupid, Technical and Hard Work.
The number of coincidences that had to be put in place for Iain to prove his stupidity while running errands were really quite monumental. First, he had to lose his left shoe over board; second, he had to purchase a replacement pair of shoes exactly the same as the old ones; and third, he had to be so anal that he liked the idea of having ‘right shoe redundancy’ – just in case his spare right shoe went in the same direction as his lost left one.
With all these coincidences in place and us fighting the clock before shops closed for the siesta, Brock was loaded up for an afternoon of chores. Zipping up river Brock was tied up, unloaded and then Iain’s particularly stupid mistake became clear. In his rush, instead of picking up a pair of shoes he’d brought his new right shoe and his redundant old right shoe. There was nothing for it but carry on with 2 right shoes and hope that no-one noticed that Iain now wanted to walk in circles, leant one way and hobbled as if he were bizarrely wearing 2 right shoes.
This was all a precursor to the hard work of modifying our square IKEA mattress into a curvy boat shaped one. After a night of it lying flat and expanding in the marina office, we took to it with an electric carving knife and a whole heap of gusto. Foam wasn’t so much flying in every direction as falling like stones. We’d opted for the ‘firm’ option but this was more like the marble option. The foam was unrelenting and unyielding, we just hoped that with time it would turn into the magic ingredient that we needed for a good night slumber.
The technical mattress work started as soon as we got back to Ruffian. Fiona took on the thankless and painful task of manually sewing it into its cover. No easy feat when the space you have for it is smaller than the mattress itself and the only curved needle you have looks more like a sabre than an instrument of fine seaming.
Finally putting the mattress in-place we setup for a night of slumber, what we got was a night of pins and needles. Our new purchase was nothing like our old saggy sleeping companion and as we woke and regained feeling in our arms and hips we felt we’d bought a slab of marble rather than soft comforting foam.
The technical work and stupid actions continued on Ruffian as the winter jobs were being ticked off. Iain was set to tackling the interface between the VHF and instruments. He was knee deep in NMEA, SeaTalk and SteaTalkNG protocols, and getting more and more technical. Finally, having decided exactly what he needed to do, he traced the cables and, thanks to the legendary Ken & Judith (Ruffians previous owners) just had to connect a couple of simple wires together. What could be easier.
Wanting to do a proper job, connecting the wires was going to involve a soldering iron, solder and flux. With the wires coated and connected, excitedly Iain ditched the soldering iron and flipped on the VHF. Perfection, the VHF was getting its position and Iain was victorious. In his excitement and, stupidly forgetting what was around, he extracted himself from the chart table by putting his whole weight through his hand onto the still smouldering soldering iron. Burning flesh and potty mouthed words filled Ruffian and his victory was somewhat less victorious.
The hard work continued by tackling the final non-working shower pump. This time however we had no excuses, no constraints (apart from our intelligence and competency) and no get outs. This job is challenging because the shower pump nestles under the black water holding tank pump, which is next to the deck wash, and is surrounded by plumbing and all that plumbing is held in place with sharp edged hose clamps waiting for the unwary, and all placed in a very small locker.
Trying to be clever, and not wanting to move the black water holding tank pump, Iain thought he’d be able to dismantle just a few things at the bottom of the locker. Slowly, very slowly, screws came out, bolts were removed, hose clips unscrewed, plumbing taken out and pumps extracted. He had indeed managed to take things out from the bottom up, but the job would have taken a 10th of the time had he done the normal thing and gone from top to bottom.
The with non-working shower pump finally in his hands, and the aroma of the holding tank wafting through Ruffian, the pump was quickly in bits. With some liberal cleaning, a good telling off and a hard look the pump purred into life. Now it was just a question of reversing everything he’d spent the last 8 hours undoing. Unfortunately, what couldn’t be undone were the cuts, bruises and aching limbs that he’d suffered after taking the stupid bottom-up approach.
The mattress, VHF, shower pump and everything else we have touched this week have had a tinge of stupidity, have been highly technical and have been hard work. The most important point however is that at the centre of all this is Ruffian and she’s looking more shipshape with every job that gets ticked off the winter jobs list.
* A cat called Frank, as Frank would be a great name for a cat, eh Fiona?
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