The impact of Covid.

Goodbye for another day.

25th February 2021

Portimão Marina, Portugal

Lockdown has impacted many people in many different ways. Parents have become teachers, working from home has been normalised, and, if you’re the neighbours of a conservative politician, then you’ve made a fortune. Ruffian is feeling the impact of lockdown. We’ve felt naughty, felt trapped, tackled jobs (that we, ahem, Iain) didn’t want to tackle, but we’ve always got our eye on the bigger picture and soon we should be free again.

As we hired a car, we didn’t so much feel naughty as feel like Noddy. As is our modus operandi, we booked the smallest cheapest car in on the books.  So, we were surprised when we checked-in and were asked if we wanted to upgrade it to a cabriolet. As much as driving around in the sunshine with the top down and tunes pumping appealed Iain’s sensible head took over and we declined. However, as we then walked out and pinged the remote, the lights on the smallest convertible in the world blinked.

Iain slid his non petite frame into the most camp car ever, rolled the roof back and sat there like Noddy with his head high above the windscreen. Pulling away the camp Noddy look reached a crescendo as Girls Aloud pumped on the stereo and Fiona whooped with joy.

The Noddy feeling was quickly replaced by a naughty feeling. With an empty gas canister in the car, we drove around empty roads with one eye on the sat nav and one ear on warning signs of police roadstops. It would be one thing to explain why we were driving around and quite another to explain why we were driving around with gas.

At every turn we felt naughtier and naughtier, people are allowed to be ‘out’, but no one was. people are allowed to walk, but no one was and people are allowed to run errands, as we were, but because it’s been so long since we’ve been in a car, it just felt so wrong. Driving around the Algarve was like driving through a post-apocalyptic world. The roads were empty, every non-essential shop was shut, every gate was barred and car parks empty. As we finally retuned to Ruffian, chores complete (and with full gas), relief flowed over us as we were no longer feeling naughty by not doing naughty things, which weren’t actually naughty.

Being trapped on Ruffian we were getting to the end of the jobs list and the final jobs involved Iain’s nemesis, plumbing. He can happily play electrics and engines all day, but he shudders at the thought of push-fit fittings or barbed hose connections, Fiona on the other hand takes it all in her stride and just thinks of it as ‘another job’.

On the plumbing list was to reconfigure the watermaker output. When we’d installed it, we decided to fill the water tank via the its breather tube. This had created a problem because as water went into the tank, air couldn’t get out. This threatened to blow up the tank, upset the watermaker, and, if we vented by simply opening the on-deck filler cap, it we risked filling our tanks with salt water.

We didn’t have a solution to this problem and so first we had to map out where all the water pipes went, which tanks they connected and what the implication would be if we cut them. The whole boat was taken to bits as pipes were traced, fittings found and finally a sketchy schematic was formed. After hours we had a solution and now just had to get out those push-fit fittings and barbed connections; Iain shuddered.

Like all plumbing jobs the thought was much worse than the application. With liberal use of the heat gun, gutsy use of cutters and simple brute force, all the connections were made. We had a route into the tank without having to tap holes and the air could get out in its usual route. The proof however will be when the watermaker is gently pumping, the tank is slowly filling and the air escaping; that will have to wait until we are finally free of the marina.

With all the winter jobs now complete Fiona found jobs that weren’t on any list that Iain was aware of. Our last days in the marina were to be productive. The sewing machine whirred, as mast halyard bags were knocked up, ropes were meticulously cleaned as all green banished from the boat and whipping was replaced keeping rope ends small and tight. With these last jobs we really had an eye on the bigger picture of being able to slip out to the open sea.

The impact of lockdown has really enabled us to finish all our jobs and as our time in the Marina is drawing to a close, fingers crossed that this time next week, our view will have changed, water will have slipped under the keel, we’ll not be feeling naughty and not be feeling trapped.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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