23 April 2013

Heads Up

So how many times has this happened to you? There you are, transiting the 8th (or 11th or 5th depending on which list you consult) wonder of the modern world with people you've never met before and people you barely know. You've planned and prepped for days to make a good...no, a stellar, impression. You want people to look back and remark, even years later: "Do you remember that time we crossed the Panamá Canal in that boat 'More Joy to All'.. or, 'Lots of Joy for Everyone', or whatever it was and it was so awesome? Man, those guys sure knew how to throw a canal crossing party! I've been through the canal 9 times since then on other boats and none of them were anywhere as much fun as that More Joy Something boat."

an una-door-able situation
And thanks to all your planning and, yes, very generous spending, you pull off an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime event.  Flawless, really, except for one small technical difficulty: the head door comes loose from its "hinge" (by design, a piece of plastic covered wire running its length) causing your translucent door to dangle precariously and leaving the unlucky occupant to wonder at how he or she could have misunderstood so egregiously the operation of a door. But they are an exceptionally hardy bunch and all is forgiven, if not forgotten and, after all, the rest of the transit does go beautifully and you arrive at your anchorage and your anchor sets perfectly on the first go and all is well.

...Except for the door, and really both head doors, since the one that fell off you'd cannibalized from the other hull, so it, too, is sin una puerta. What to do? You've no idea; your best attempt at a fix resulted in awkwardness and embarrassment on the part of many. Well, you could ask the rigger to fix it. In fact, you already had before your crossing. There just wasn't enough time. But since he's coming back to fix your rig anyway, why not? Because he's a full-fledged, fourth generation shipwright with 200+ years of experience and charges a reasonable hourly rate for all that know-how which, you suspect, is a lot more know-how than you need for this particular project, that's why not. No, just a handyman with a little creativity who could take a look at the problem and come up with a very permanent and, if at all possible, somewhat aesthetically pleasing solution and who will charge a handyman rate for doing so. Not that you're cheap, it's just that you happened to have stumbled into a hobby that costs more than collecting antique spaceships.

You wonder how in the world you'll ever manage to secure the services of such an individual in a predominantly Spanish speaking city when the bulk of your Spanish vocabulary is geared toward effective communication in restaurants. Fortunately, there exists an instance of the very pinnacle of cruising culture--a cruisers' net. So along with finding out who's just come, who's leaving, who needs linehandlers or tires, who has a "treasure of the bilge" to sell, trade, or give away, there is a section for help needed or offered, the perfect place to put out a call. And so you do. And within seconds another cruiser responds, offering to take a look at the problem.

He comes over a little while later, inspects the offending bits, remarks on what a bizarre and pathetic excuse for a hinge your door has been hanging on all these years, points out that whoever tried to fix it previously probably actually made it worse (you remain silent regarding the identity of the culprit) and comes up with a solution involving a few heavy duty, normal hinges and tools which he--not you--owns.

Over the next few days, he comes back at least four times to see your project through its several phases. He knows exactly what he's doing and everything works just the way he said it would. 

See, isn't that better?
He doesn't charge you a dime.

He asks to borrow a couple of jerry cans for a fuel cleaning project he's working on which you are very happy to be able to loan him. You have a few old charts that you hope he might be able to use, anything to reciprocate, though you know you can't match the value of his time and materials. 

He'll be transiting in a couple of days--going to where you just came from--so there's little chance you'll ever be able to return the favor. But he's not concerned in the least; he knows that in the cruiser community, what goes around, comes around.

Thanks, Neal. May Aeolus smile upon your travels.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ian. I want to hear more about the crossing! And of course where you are off to next...