Monday 4 March 2024

Petrella: for the simpicity of a bucket

Weather looked lovely for Sunday morning. After a bleary start but an easy drive, Dad and I made it to Plymouth for 0930 to find blue skies and a dead calm, but a promise of wind (and showers) later. There had clearly been some weather across the last couple of weeks though, as the snubber on the stern line had failed. QAB is hard on snubbers.

The original hope had been for a couple of hours sailing in the Sound, but on getting to the boat, we quickly noticed we had a problem with the forward heads. It's a standard Jabsco, a marine toilet with a very basic hand pump that sucks water into the bowl and then, at the throw of a switch, reverses and flushes the contents out.

Unfortunately, it was pumping out, but failing to pump in.

So the promise of a couple of hours sailing turned into a morning, and then an afternoon, of servicing the heads. Without much success. Amusingly, what we first thought to be a hairline crack and therefore likely cause of our pumping woes, turned out to be a stray dog hair.

We had a service pack, with requisite o-rings and replacement valves amongst the ships spares, and Dad, armed with a screwdriver, attacked the project with the requisite enthusiasm. Being an engineer's son, I'm not allowed to drive the screwdriver unless he's not about, or the job requires work at heights, or, in extremes, access to particularly cramped spaces involving an unseemly degree of flexibility, contortion and acrobatics. 

Otherwise, it's Dad domain and my role is reduced to occasionally handing him said screwdriver, holding a torch, or working out where he put the spanner he was using.

I'd like to say the operation was a success. But valves and o-rings duly replaced, the pump unit spewed water out of all its seams, anywhere in fact, except into the bowl. A disassemble and reassemble and a short while later, the same result. And so went the morning into the afternoon.

By the end of the day, we were back to where we'd started, albeit with new valves and o-rings. We did, briefly, clear what appeared to be an airlock in the intake and have water pumping in, only for the seal on the pump to fail again, and for it to spray everywhere but where it was supposed to go.

Then, after leaving it briefly to stand, the intake failed again. So we're left with a forward heads that can pump out but can't pump in. Which is vexing.

Oh for the simplicity of a bucket. Which is what we might be reduced to if we can't find somebody to fix it before we're away to Fowey for the weekend in a couple of weeks time.

In other news, I did use the time between handing Dad his screwdriver and looking for his spanner, when I wasn't needed to hold the torch, working on an arrangement for our stern spring. It's an idea I've stolen from an older gentleman in Brixham, after watching him take his lovely 36' Hallberg-Rassy out and then later bring her back in single-handed.

Anti-chaffing hose to make a fixed loop at the working end, a length of pipe to provide some rigidity to the affair, then a bowline mid way along the length. The idea being that, on coming back in, I can easily and quickly drop the working end over the pontoon cleat, then the mid-length bowline over our mid ships cleat, which will let me hold the boat to the pontoon by motoring ahead against it whilst we secure the remaining lines.

No comments: