12 January 2012

Water, Water Everywhere...

fix #1(some hose clamps is good)
...And nary a drop to drink, quoth Jane this morning simultaneously impressing me with her store of maritime poetry and tidily summing up our situation.  We were anchored in Marsh Harbour with a still broken (or, more accurately re-broken) hot water heater.  You are, of course, wondering how a busted water heater could deprive us of potable water.  At least I hope for your sake you are, because I'm about to explain.  The hose that sends heated water to our faucets sprung a leak.  This caused the water pump to sense that water was being "called for" just as if a faucet were open so it kept pumping water out of our water tanks and into--and immediately out of--the water heater until it emptied itself out into the bilges.  "But, isn't the water pump noisy?" you ask.  "Didn't you hear it working?  Didn't it make you suspicious?"  Why, yes, it is noisy but not as noisy as the engines, wind, water, and stereo combined.  By the time we heard the pump it was pumpin' nothing but air.  Well, I'd only fixed it once, thus far, so it stood to reason it wasn't fixed fixed.

Downtown Marsh Harbour
Luckily we were in Marsh Harbour, the third largest city in the Bahamas, having given our friends, Danielle and Michel, a lift from Treasure Cay.  They are headed back to Canada (I know, right?) to temporarily resume their regular lives.  They'll be back in late February and they take with them our deepest condolences.  No, really.  On the other hand, they do have water, albeit in its frozen state. 

Life without water--potable or otherwise is... interesting.  Europe went without reliably potable water from the time of the fall of the Roman Empire to the Enlightenment and survived only by imbibing things sanitized through fermentation of one sort or another.  Imagine being tipsy for an entire millenium.  Historians will doubtless debate whether science begat coffee or vice versa.  I'll refrain from going into detail about all the things we can't do without fresh water, or at least do in the manner to which we have become accustomed.  Suffice it to say that it's enough to inspire the inner MacGyver of even the most mechanically challenged.  I was pretty much absolutely sure more or less that between the many plumbing fittings I inherited from Steve and Rene' and the large selection of plumbing fittings at the hardware store, I could cobble something together.  I had once before already, and that fix lasted for a good 36 hours or so. 

fix #2 (2 hose clamps aren't nearly enough)
By 04:36, I was working on the fix to replace the fix that I'd rigged up the night before.  That one (fix #2), failed immediately but I was very reluctant to give up on it as I accidentally stigmatatized myself in the process of fashioning it.  (Cleaning a stab wound without water is, incidentally, one of those interesting things).  By sunrise, I thought I might have got it fixed for good, but of course without water there was no way to test it.  All we could do was wait until the several marinas in Marsh opened for business and buy some.  

To pass the time, we turned on Cruiser's Net.  Cruisers's  Net happens mornings at 8:15 on VHF  channel 68, but we're usually out of range.  It's a by-cruisers, for-cruisers news and weather program for the Abacos hosted by Betty aboard Tar Heel.  That's it, just "Betty on Tar Heel."  Weather, courtesy of Barometer Bob.org, is at the top of the show as it is of paramount importance to the cruising community.  Following weather is "Community Events."  This week, Hope Town on Elbow Cay is sponsoring a regatta to benefit the volunteer first responders.  They're also holding a bake sale next week.  The beneficiary of this is not specified, but pink ribbons are mentioned.  Grabbers on Guana Cay holds their weekly pot luck on Wednesdays.  Dinner starts at seven; cocktails at 6:30.  Bring a dish to pass.  The Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club is pleased to announce the completion of a floating dinghy dock attached to the public dock, built with volunteer effort by club members to replace the dinghy dock that was lost during Hurricane Irene.  After community announcements, businesses are invited to plug themselves.  Pirates' Cove on Guana is featuring lobster, grouper, Philly steak sandwiches, and of course their "You Hook it, We Cook It" special. Your catch plus two sides, $7.99.  Nippers will hold their usual Sunday pig roast.  Next up is "Requests," cruisers have an opportunity to ask for information, resources, items, etc., from the community.  Someone needs to know where to get their American phone unlocked; someone else needs help with their immigration papers.  Next to last on the agenda is "New Arrivals," for cruisers who want to announce themselves.  Finally, there is a recap of the weather  and that's the show.  This is community building for the habitually wayward.  Listening, I more than forget about our drought; I'm happy for it.  We'd have no reason to be in Marsh Harbour at 8:15 in the morning otherwise and wouldn't be privy to this endearing sample of that quintessential human activity: coalescence 

Cruisers' Net ends somewhere near 0900.  By that time, Harbour View Marina is open (they have the best price on water).  We fill up our tanks.  It is the moment of truth.  With hope and apprehension, I flip the fresh water pump switch and wait for my latest concatenation of plumbing bits to not spring a leak.  None forthcome.  But all is not well, yet.  My handiwork needs to withstand the pressure of 150 degree + water over time.  We decide to leave the harbour and chug slowly home.  If it fails, we'll turn around and come back, calling the boatyard on the way, (since I've twice threatened to quit and once to commit suicide, we decide I'd better give up while I'm ahead). A little over two hours later, we pull into our slip at Treasure Cay Marina.  I run my hand along the length of my "patch."   It's dry as a bone.  Looks like it's fixed fixed.  
fix #3 (6 hose clamps seems to do the trick)

Here's to you, my inner MacGyver.  We raise a mango daquiri in your honor.

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