Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tales of Woe

It has been a trying week on Papillon.  Annoyances, both petty and otherwise, have occupied our precious time.  And what is the best way to get rid of a grievance?  Why, to share it, of course!  And so, dear reader, I share with you our tales of woe.  Well, I plan to, anyway.  Grievance #1 is that the internet has been down for four days now, so this post shall languish in the ether until who-knows-when.  I write this in the hope that, someday, you will drive home in your hover car to your spacedome in the clouds and your loving Replicant spouse will inform you that Papillon Crew is finally posting again.  Oh, happy day!

But on to the actual issues.  Our second problem was a bit of a puzzler.  We gained a series of Close Neighbours.  By this I mean, other boats who anchored way, way too close to Papillon.

We all remember using a compass in high school math, right?  Poking a neat hole in the page and drawing a circle.  Fun!  Well.  That is exactly how our anchor chain works.  The anchor sits at the centre (that would be center for our American friends), and the boat draws a circle around it.  Especially now, since we sent our anchor chain off to be regalvanized, so we are currently on a thick nylon rode instead.  With no heavy chain dragging along the bottom, we move precisely around the perimeter of a perfect circle, because, you’ll recall, our bow always points into the wind.

So we have our circle.  And everyone else has their circles.  And the important bit is, we all sit on the same side of our own circle at any given point.  Like so:

Wind from the north...

and the southwest...

And the east.  Happy, happy.

It isn’t complicated, is it?  When we have all done our jobs right, it looks good, even though our circles overlap.  However, if someone gets too close, and makes too small a circle, it looks like this:

So far, so good.


And we have a problem.

Our close neighbour was a Dutchman.  I dislike national stereotypes, so I will risk redundancy and say he was a stubborn Dutchman.  Erik and I spoke to him a couple of times to explain that, as we were having work done, our cockpit was wrapped in plastic, we had no wheel, and essentially no way to move the boat if trouble occurred.  We came within fifteen or twenty feet of each other.  We tried to intimate that perhaps he would be happier a little further away.  To no avail.  Stubborn Dutchman was not moving.

And so, one morning when Mr Dutchman went off to town, we moved closer, and closer, and closer.  This is what it looked like In Real Life:

Kind of Close.



The photos stop there because I had to hastily drop my camera, put out another fender, and call Erik to help push the boat off us.  Yes, we actually laid hands on that boat and pushed it away.  Thank goodness the winds weren’t stronger.

And if that weren’t enough, we had this happen with two other new boats in the next 48 hours.  Those people were less stubborn, and beat a retreat before we touched.  Hurrah.  Altogether annoying, but no one was hurt, and nothing was damaged, so let’s call it a win.

Our third issue... well, there is no sugar-coating it.  It is made of fail.

Our endless paint job continues.  At lunch, the workmen borrow our dinghy to go pick up lunch.  This job is usually left to one of the junior members of the crew.  About five days ago, we were reading to the kids in our cabin when Junior Workman appeared in the hatch above us, looking panicky.  He said something in rapid Spanish.  Erik stared at him.  More rapid Spanish.  More staring.  A slow, disbelieving response from Erik.  “Si.”  Erik shot through the hatch like a bullet.

“What happened?” I cried, popping up after him.
“Junior Workman lost our motor in the anchorage.”  He grabbed two scuba tanks, his gear and the handheld GPS, and they were off.

That's some unhappy paddlin'.

Yes.  Somehow, despite being attached correctly and locked down, the outboard motor worked itself free and dove into the harbour, cracking the transom in the process.

Five days and a brutal ear infection later, there is still no sign of our motor.  Because, if your outboard is going to mysteriously jump off, it is not going to do it in ten feet of clear water.  It is going to do it in 45 feet of muddy, arm’s-length-visibility murk.  Erik and a crew from the marina have methodically worked a grid pattern, to no avail.  We’ve finally put up a reward and let all comers enter the feeding frenzy, because it would still be cheaper than the spine-chilling price of a new outboard down here.  Even if we do retrieve it now, there is no guarantee it will still work.

Decorating the cowling in happier days.

All this in addition to living in a work site.  The windows and hatches have all been covered in plastic, dialing the airflow and light below down to nothing.  And did I mention that we are working down our third and final water tank with – although this is the rainy season – no rain in sight?  Ah, me.  What a week.

So send me your good juju, ye people of the Hovercar Future!  Let’s finish this paint job, get a new-but-used-hopefully-not-stolen-from-another-poor-cruiser motor, and head down to clean waters for a couple of weeks of swimming and recuperation.  Then, more jobs!

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