Dec 27

Getting our hands dirty

Tag: boat work,preparation,victoriesjonny5waldman @ 3:15 am
Let’s start with some basics: Like most sailboats, Syzygy has a whole bunch of holes in her hull below the waterline. Syzygy has 8 of ’em. Two of em hold instruments that measure depth and speed. One of ’em lets exhaust out of the engine. The remaining five have seacocks (aka valves) on them, so that we can let water in or out of certain pipes and go about our lives like normal civilized people. One lets water into the galley sink. One lets water out of the galley sink. One lets water (as coolant) into the engine. One lets water into the toilet (so we can flush it). And then there’s the last one, the most glorious seacock. It lets shit out of the holding tank. So our first task, here in San Carlos, was cleaning and, for lack of a better term, “servicing” the seacocks. It’s a task you can only do when the boats on land, and it’s a task we wanted to do before putting Syzygy in real water, since you’re essentially screwed if the seacocks leak or don’t properly close. It’s also a chore. The seacocks are big old bronze things, with short stubby arms that rotate 90 degrees. Let me be more precise: if they’re in good shape the arms smoothly rotate 90 degrees. If they’re old and corroded and full of caked-on, calcified shit, they rotate most of the way there, with a lot of force. So Jon and I rolled in to San Carlos after midnight Sunday night (Matt’s flying/bussing in tomorrow), and slept on the beach, which turned out to be much frostier than we expected. We slept well after 15 hours of driving, and woke at first light, eager to finally start getting our hands dirty with all kinds of satisfying repair jobs. After quick breakfast burritos, we headed over to the marina office, arranged to have Syzygy moved to the work yard, and immediately set to removing the seacocks. Three hours later, at 2pm, the marina closed, since it was Christmas eve. Jon and I had only removed 3 of them. The next morning — marina still closed on account of Christmas — Jon and I got to work cleaning the seacocks on the beach. We discovered that sand + rags + muscle = kinda-like-sandpaper, and polished up two of the seacocks pretty good, greasing up the open/close mechanisms until they were smooth. The shit-laden seacock was another matter. Its inside looked like a giant clogged artery, and it took an arm and a leg to close it all the way. We scrubbed and scrubbed with bronze wool and a couple of bronze brushes, but to little avail. Then we improvised. We poured hot water into a cut-open milk jug (Jon brought a propane camping stove), dropped the seacock in, and scrubbed the inside with pieces of coat-hangers. Voila: if you’re looking for a gallon of piping hot shit broth with a full-bodied shitty aroma, there’s no better way to go. And, lucky for us, if you’re looking to take 10 years off the life of a seacock, our method’s not so bad either. So here it is: the priceless shot of Jon, getting his hands dirty, making memories that dreams are made of. Jon playing with shit

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