S/V Hello World's Travel Log

What we do...

June 8, 2013

Note to mother-in-laws of the author – you might want to skip to the next post.

People often ask what we do on a boat all day while we’re cruising and not working. It’s a question I often ask myself – we get back from a few months off and I have not much to show for it beyond a few books that I’ve read and pictures from hiking or otherwise amusing ourselves.

The last person to ask me what we do all day was my boss. It was my going away party and I may have been slightly overserved when I answered that we read, we paddle, we work on the boat, and, because apparently this was not a good enough set of activities to justify the three months off on which we were about to embark, I added, for good measure “and we have lots of sex”. To my boss. Therein ended the conversation, both of us fully embarrassed and probably one of us slightly confused.

I’ve never been good at answering conversations when I feel like I’m on the spot, and apparently this was one of those times. Funny that I ended up as a trainer and stand in front of people all day long answering their questions.

I write this as I am sitting on the salon floor surrounded by buckets and bowls and cups of water. We winterized the boat to leave it in Alaska for the past 8 months and to that end, we added RV antifreeze to all of our water lines. I got the feeling they don’t make boat antifreeze, we just take the sloppy seconds from the RVers of the world. Probably because most people on boats are smart enough to sail to southern latitudes where they are not in need of anything to keep their pipes from freezing and bursting. We, however, are not so smart.

RV antifreeze is this unholy pink stuff whose only saving grace is that it is non-toxic. Putting regular ol’ automotive antifreeze in your waterlines seems like a bad idea if you want to actually drink out of those lines someday. So at the end of the summer last year, we filled up every last line we could think of with it. Leaving the task of getting it out of those lines to be dealt with next year. Well, next year is here and we are systematically flushing the lines. This seemed like an easy task when we started, and after a quick runthrough and making sure there was no pink tinge left in the lines, we started making lemonade and adding Nalgenes of water to the fridge to cool off. It was only when we consumed said beverages that we realized that clear water does not necessarily equate to antifreeze-free water. And an even bigger revelation: RV antifreeze tastes so chemically repulsive that it’s best to spit it out into any of the nearest receptacles. So more flushing ensued.

Today’s job has been to flush out the watermaker lines. This may seem like an easy task, until you look at a diagram of the lines that looks like a pile of spaghetti running through our boat. The watermaker itself is a magical device. Officially it’s a reverse osmosis system, but really, it makes fresh water out of salt water and keeps us from having to go into port to fill our tanks very often. You can imagine that this contraption is fairly complicated – there are membranes and high pressure pumps. Booster pumps and multiple filters, charcoal and otherwise.

As a sidenote, if your high pressure pump ever stops working, I would recommend not carrying it in your luggage back to a repair shop in your hometown. TSA does not take kindly to small, extremely dense devices with wires coming out of them. Apparently high pressure pumps look somewhat like bombs. I managed to get ours through one TSA checkpoint, in Sitka, but it was unwise of me to leave security and attempt another pass in Juneau. Maybe TSA agents in capital cities are a bit more jittery about these things.

So here I sit, with our repaired high pressure pump (which, once repaired, I chose to ship back to the boat instead of try my luck with Seattle TSA), flushing out watermaker lines. Our watermaker makes about 5 gallons of fresh water an hour, and I figure I’ve filled up about 7 three-gallon buckets-worth of water, bowl by bowl, in the flushing. All punctuated by my occasional taste test, a nauseating reminder that I am not yet finished, and continued flushing. These are the types of things we do while we’re cruising, I mean, when we’re not busy having sex.


Capt Denny said...

Ah yes, the watermaker, aren't they fun. Not even going close to all the sex thing.

Ken and Susan said...

Girl, you are hilarious!

Anonymous said...

a couple tablespoons of clorox will instantly remove the antifreeze after taste.