Monday, March 2, 2009

Toys and Tools

I’m positively exhausted. Yesterday, Harley wanted more fuel. Not an unreasonable request from a hard working motorcycle. I thoughtlessly didn’t turn on the reserve tank before he passive aggressively stalled. Then the battery didn’t have juice to turn over the pouting engine . My friend got off the bike and walked over the bridge acting like she didn’t know me. I pushed Harley over and down to First and Clark, while car drivers played their favourite game, let’s brush a biker. When I called a taxi, my friend returned. We got my truck with the tools, the reserve gas tank and the new Harley battery. On the side of the road I installed this and let her drive the truck to my sailboat while I drove Harley over Second Narrows. I thought of a friend who told me he’d love to have my ‘toys’. He has no idea how much learning and maintaining go into tools. His idea of life is a limousine and room service.
The sailboat is 30 years old. It’s crossed oceans and is forever a work in progress. Right now it’s more work than progress. I also lived on it for many years. After sailing back from Hawaii last summer it begged me to put it out of it’s misery. With tender loving care I ground and epoxied superficial steel wounds while continuing the process of ‘laying on hands’, something machines truly respond to.
Last night I thought I’d get the Dickinson Diesel Stove working again. Not surprisingly, I had no need for this in the tropics so didn’t care that it didn't work. Last night, I installed a new 3 psi fuel pump. That got diesel fuel to the stove. However whenever I lit the stove it merely smoked excessively and would not flame. With eyes watering and no visibility onboard despite all hatches now being open, I considered the chimney. On top, I found it half closed, opened it fully and went back to lighting the stove. Aha, a happy little flame. Eyes red, she returned to the boat.
The little flame then burst into a forest fire flame which had me thanking Tim McGiveney, my surveyor, for insisting I install new fire extinguishers. “It’s supposed to do that?” she asked. I nodded noncomittally while turning off the fuel and crowding her for the exit. Without fuel the stove eventually went out. After that amazing pyrotechnic exhibition it refused to flame. After dismantling and cleaning carburetors and pumps the only explanation could be a clogged fuel line deep in the bowels of the boat.. It was 1 am and electric heater and candles would have to provide sufficient warmth for a night at sea. So far, instead of a boat trip, we’d not left the dock.
Today I got a warmer and heavier duvet. This was after I made my way through the propane stove system till I got flames for the essential morning coffee. Admittedly I was highly motivated. The boat has been kind as the head continues to work. The hot water system proved beyond my comprehension this time and while I ensured I had electricity to the depthsounder I concluded the fault was with the computer component. I have a hammer, drill and wrenches but the computer components require a little more delicacy. Without a depthsounder , we’d not be going off yet to anchor in some cozy cove.
I also finally found a 2009 Tide and Current chart at Martin’s Marine off Lonsdale the third marine store I’d gone to before finding this essential. To get back out to sea I will have to go under Lion’s Gate and that necessitates knowing the currents if I don’t want my boat to become a whirling dervish.
I was rather thankful later to fill my tanks from the broken dock water system I repaired so I could have another cup of coffee. It only required me soaking myself quite thoroughly. After that I surprised myself by finding where the navigation light wiring had rusted, replacing it and adding a new bulb to the port system in case I have to run at night . She’d remembered how to use the propane stove and had hot dogs prepared for lunch. “It’s so peaceful. It’s just like camping,” she said insisting she didn’t mind that we were still at dock beside tugboats and not anchored in some cozy cove watching eagles. She went back to reading her book bundled under the new duvet while I continued to ‘mess with the boat’ .
I’ve often thought it would be great to be rich. I imagine sitting about being fed grapes and having beautiful young people working those long fans they had before air conditioning. In my fantasy, as politically incorrect and appalling as it is, I’m smoking a big Cuban cigar. The very rich people I’ve known haven’t done things like that. For one they already have air conditioning. Further, knowing them I’ve learned that keeping one’s money is hard work. Poorer people are forever wanting to take it. Worse governments,lawyers and accountants are always scheming . Even the rich dictators in foreign countries with American backing have to watch their backs for other rich dictators with American backing who want to take their money. They both have to watch out for the Americans who now want them to be democratic despite how bad this is for their dictatorships. Maybe if my mother wasn’t forever darning socks and Dad wasn’t forever fixing old cars to save on buying new I’d have taken up a life of limousines and room service too.

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