Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Scavenger Cruiser

Last October, we were sitting in a cafe in Neiafu enjoying that great rarity: food and drink we didn't make ourselves.  As I took a sip of my coffee, Erik suddenly bent down and plucked something off the gravel floor.

"Look," he said, holding up his prize, "a zipper car!  And just the size I need!"  He put the precious car in his pocket and patted it happily, grinning from ear to ear.  I smiled and kept on drinking my coffee, because what just happened was such a completely normal thing.  Even if anyone else in the cruiser-filled cafe had seen it, they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow.  Because cruisers are scavengers.

We are scavengers because living on a boat is like living on a space station: if you didn't bring it with you, then you don't have it.  So when you see something you'll probably need, you grab it, irrespective of whether it is in a shop or under your chair at the cafe.  Even if you stay near boat-friendly ports in the first world, chances are almost vanishingly small that that port will always have everything you need in stock and available at less than an astronomical price.

So we all walk a fine line between overfilling the boat with things we don't need now but might potentially-maybe-someday have a use for, and running lean and risk not having something we need when we need it.  We don't always get it right; sometimes we've given things away that we could have used six months down the line.  But, on the whole, we've found a good balance.

When we sailed out of Whangerei last week, we noticed that our depth sounder was acting funny.  Every few seconds it would jump to a new number.  36 feet.  172 feet. 09 feet.  54 feet.  32 feet.  And while the bottom of the Hātea river isn't perfectly flat, I don't think it is as bumpy as all that.

This is not good.  Depth is important.  Because, you know, it is good to put out the right amount of chain at anchor.  And, surprisingly enough, running aground isn't any fun, either.  I groaned - were we going to have to haul again and order a new unit?  Dollar signs and calendar pages flashed before my eyes.

Like Mary Poppins' bag, magic lockers hold more than you think..
"Hmm," said Erik.  "You know, I think I might have something that will work."  He rifled through one of his magic lockers... and came out with a new display unit.
"Where did that come from?"
He shrugged.  "Someone left it on the giveaway pile at the dock in Cartagena.  I thought it might be useful."  He held up the "new" S400DL next to our old S200DL display unit and nodded.  "Yep.  I bet it will work."

It only looks like Erik is defusing a bomb.
Some comparing, soldering, hacksawing and die grinding later, he was proven correct.  The new display worked perfectly with our existing transducer, and we have an accurate depth sounder once again.

"You know," said Erik, "I also picked up a knotmeter from that table in Cartagena.  I wonder if I can get it to work with our paddle wheel?"

I'm sure I'll find out before long.


Michael Robertson said...

Windy and I refer to it as free stuff. Hey, free stuff! is said after we gain access to a Jacuzzi for resort guests, find a decent screwdriver on the side of the road, or discover time still left on a Laundromat dryer. Michael

Kate said...

Nice one Erik!

Mitchell World Tour said...

While in Iceland someone had left a fleece behind, I watched and admired it for two whole days...I was really chilly! Obviously, the owner had moved on. It had been picked up from the floor of the washroom, hung up on a hook and finally lay on top of the counter. I mentioned to Mark that if it were still there when we left, that I might just own it. A good washing and it would be good as new, but... I left it behind, I guess we are just too new to this travelling thing. I wonder how things will change as we continue our journey. Free stuff sounds pretty good to me!

Amy Schaefer said...

If that fleece were really abandoned, I would totally have taken it. Mmm, warm fleece.