Heads Up

We have had a very productive week. It stated with a bit of a disaster though: the heads (toilet) broke down. It wouldn’t flush. We initially assumed that it was blocked, and I set about trying to unblock it. Given the nature of our system hardcore unblocking liquids of the sort available in shops are not suitable, so I researched various methods of dealing with the blockage that wouldn’t kill all the fish for miles around. First of all we tried vinegar. Nothing. Then we tried vinegar and baking soda. This seemed to help a little, but didn’t fix the problem. So I took it apart. A deeply unpleasant job, although I feel like I now have a real understanding of how it works. Strangely, there still didn’t seem to be a blockage. This was worrying, as the pipes are long and if the problem was near the other end it would be a real bugger to fix.

There was a certain amount of deja vu in this situation too. We had a similar problem about six months ago, and had eventually bought an entirely new heads. The old one had been so old (possibly original) that we had been entirely unable to find any information regarding it’s repair. The replacement is a Jabsco compact manual heads. A really popular make, with fantastically detailed and useful troubleshooting support. Which I probably should have looked at first. After dismantling and cleaning the pump I checked various diagrams to make sure that I was reassembling it correctly, especially the position of an oddly shaped piece of rubber. Only the piece of rubber didn’t quite match any of the pictures. That was until I realised that it was inside-out. It was the ‘joker valve’, and it had inverted. It was with a weird combination of annoyance and relief that I realised that this was the problem in it’s entirety. On the one hand, fixing the heads actually only involved undoing two screws, pushing a piece of rubber back the right way, and rescrewing said screws. On the other hand, I had wasted two days and a lot of cleaning products trying to unblock something that wasn’t blocked. It could have been done in five minutes. However, if it happens again…

Not all the work this week was retrospective though. The rest has given us a real sense of moving forward. For his birthday I bought Keith a marine sound system. It is designed to be built into the boat, but Keith felt that this would rather spoil the aesthetic (it is very plastic and modern, Teka is neither). He solved this is an ingenious way. He built the system in to a chest. It is still wired in to the boat, but no blooming great holes had to be cut in to the wood.

Our friend Bob, who is helping us learn how to sail, came over, and he and Keith put the mainsail back on. This is a double whammy of fantastic. It will allow us to do some much more serious sailing, and it has virtually doubled the size of the inside of the boat. When me, Keith, and another friend (Paul) brought in the sails at the start of last winter, we endeavoured to fold them as neatly as possible, and we did rather well. But they are still huge.

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The mainsail back where it should be

We were visited by Keith’s family again, too. Once again, they were hugely helpful. They brought with them the paint which we are going to use to redo the hull. It’s a Deluxe one which Keith has had recommended to him by those who know. We’ll let you know if it is any good. Keith’s dad also helped scrub the bottom of the tender. We felt a bit bad as there were a lot of fish eggs. The harbour is teeming with life, though, so hopefully we won’t have had too much of a negative impact.

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Father and son tender scrubbing

It was the other job which I am most excited about. I feel like I am constantly complaining about the lack of space. It’s not that bad, but it is a problem. Although it won’t be any more! Teka properly sleeps seven, but we removed a bunk a while ago in order to have space for storage, computers, books, etc. The plan was always to build a proper cabinet, but there always seemed to be something more pressing. But we did it! Keith and I measured and designed it. It is a total bugger of a shape, with not nearly enough right angles. The hull curves along the back, and then it narrows quite suddenly. See picture one for a diagram which was almost entirely not what it ended up looking like.

Keith and Bob went on an adventure to Homebase and bought the wood, hinges, and so forth. Keith and his dad measured, sawed, and generally carpentered it in to shape. It’s pretty much done now, just needs a lick of paint. I’ll post a pic next week of the finished thing.