Saturday, July 22, 2017

_______________________ ONE STEP CLOSER ________________________

It has been a bit of a slow train coming, but a week or so ago after I had reinstalled the fuel tank the engine was finally hauled aboard with a chain block and placed on its brand new rubber mounts. Since then it has sat on its engine beds as I have waited for a very busy diesel mechanic to make some decisions regarding propeller shaft couplings etc. Long story short - new billets of steel have had to be ordered and milled into shape on Terry's lathe and then fitted and checked. Everything is taking a lot longer than I had planned; but Shipmates all aspects of sailing tend to be slower journeys.

On Monday the new propeller shaft with its new couplings will be aligned and connected to the gear box before everything is bolted in place. I have installed a new water lock exhaust box in the port cockpit locker and purchased most of the peripheral items that are required to allow the motor to work. These include, exhaust, fuel filter, drip tray, remote stern gland greaser, new temperature, oil pressure and engine hour gauges, engine controls, various fuel lines, engine cooling lines and electrical wiring. The alignment of the engine and the wiring will be completed by my diesel mechanic Geoff and his son Ben. I will complete the rest of the work.

Yesterday I had a tidy up of the cabin and, usual story, found tools I have been hunting for all week and a few others I forgot I actually had.

When the installation of the motor is finished I will complete the fairing and fiber glassing of the keel. Despite having erected my protective transparent plastic tent around the hull I have been waiting for a break in the cold, wet and very windy weather to do this. It is Winter here in New Zealand and both Islands have been hammered pretty hard by stormy weather.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

_________________ A TRANSPARENT PLASTIC TENT ____________________

Yesterday was a great day out on the water. There was nothing quite like sailing down the coast with David and Alice on 'Chez Nous' to remind me why I am doing all this work on 'Mariner' and to reinforce my resolve to bring this work to a satisfactory conclusion.

Now that it is the middle of winter in New Zealand and I have a some fiberglassing to do on the keel I have taped a clear plastic tent around the boat to keep the cold, wet weather out and enable me to work on 'Mariner' without weather interruptions. A good working temperature above 10 degrees is required for a successful fiberglassing outcome and the plastic tent does raise the temperature to that of a small tunnel house that a tomato grower might use.

The somewhat jigsaw like aspect of the work on 'Mariner's diesel is also piecing itself together in a slow but worthwhile manner. Hopefully the many simple changes that I am incorporating on the advice of my diesel mechanic Geoff will ensure trouble free motoring for many years to come.

Now that we are on the downward face of this large wave of work I am really, really looking forward to a nice winter sail - a windy, boisterous trip somewhere ending in a cozy, snug anchorage and the sound of the kettle boiling on 'Mariner's little stove - bliss.

Monday, July 17, 2017

_______________________ A WELCOME BREAK ________________________

Christine waved us off today when I helped my good friends David and Alice sail their 'Whiting 29' sloop from its mooring at Tutukaka to Whangarei. Their yacht 'Chez Nous' will be hauled out, scrubbed, antifouled and a few issues regarding electronics dealt to. I was very happy to have a break from my work on 'Mariner' and to help a mate who will be working on his yacht in the same boat yard as my yacht 'Mariner' for a week or so. David has offered to help me with the big fiberglassing job I have ahead of me and I will help David with the antifouling etc on this first haul out of his new boat.

Heading down the coast in a Northerly breeze. We left at 8.30am knowing we had to get under the Hatea rivers lifting bridge before 4pm, which is the winter lifting cut off time.

I was quite impressed by 'Chez Nous' auto pilot. It steered the boat well as we ran downwind. Although I love to steer my own boat ( I never get bored helming my boat even if I am at the helm all day) I can see the advantage if I was single handing and wanted to put the kettle on for a cuppa or put up the spinnaker.

David and Alice use their new boat extensively which is easy to do in Northland NZ if you are careful to dodge the winter storms with their Antarctica feed temperatures and the ferocious summer tropical cyclones - dodge these bullets (easy to do) and you have a great all year round cruising ground.

The only other sail we saw on the way down from Tutukaka was the 'R. Tucker Thompson' heading back up north to her mooring at Opua in the Bay of Islands. The 'R Tucker Thompson' does day trips and charters in the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Here I am showing off my new head gear - a beanie I purchased from Wooden Boat Magazine, complete with its distinctive logo. It has been a good buy, as it keeps my head and ears toasty warm. Also, way, way, way back in my ancestry I am directly related to the Scottish Gunn clan among whose antecedents is one 'Olaf the Black' a marauding Viking - so a black Beanie with a Viking ship logo is kind of apt LOL!

Heading up Whangarei harbour we motor sailed most of the way so we could keep our date with the lifting bridge.

 Through the bridge with an hour to spare.

To greet us as we arrived at Ray Roberts Marine was the trav - lift that will lift 'Chez - Nous' later this week and my yacht 'Mariner' (boat on the left in the photo above) awaiting the rest of the motor restoration work and the fiberglassing I have to complete on the hull.

Safe and secure at the lift out berth. It was a great sail and a blessed break from working on my boat and reminded me of why I am spending so much time and money getting 'Mariner' ready for next season.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

____________________ THOUGHTS ON SOLITUDE _______________________

I think many people will identify with what this article is saying about solitude - being alone, but not lonely. Those who from time to time sail alone (or participate in any other self chosen solitary activity) will identify with the sentiments and ideas expressed in this article:

"  ..................    echoing Plato, Arendt observed: ‘Thinking, existentially speaking, is a solitary but not a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about … when I am one and without company’ but desire it and cannot find it. In solitude, Arendt never longed for companionship or craved camaraderie because she was never truly alone. Her inner self was a friend with whom she could carry on a conversation, that silent voice who posed the vital Socratic question: ‘What do you mean when you say …?’ The self, Arendt declared, ‘is the only one from whom you can never get away – except by ceasing to think.’

.................  but, Arendt reminds us, if we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think. We risk getting caught up in the crowd. We risk being ‘swept away’, as she put it, ‘by what everybody else does and believes in’ – no longer able, in the cage of thoughtless conformity, to distinguish ‘right from wrong, beautiful from ugly’. Solitude is not only a state of mind essential to the development of an individual’s consciousness – and conscience – but also a practice that prepares one for participation in social and political life. Before we can keep company with others, we must learn to keep company with ourselves. "

The full text of this article ( Click the link below ) is a very, very worthwhile read. It explains much - as does many other thoughtful article on the 'Aeon' site on which this article is published ( You can subscribe for free ).


Monday, July 10, 2017

__________________ A CURE FOR TOADS ATTACHMENT _________________

Last month my daughter sent me a birthday card with this wonderful picture of a rampart Toad. She knows I love Kenneth Grahams book 'The Wind In The Willows'. The card reminded me that I had blogged about Toad and 'Attachment' in 2008. Below is the slightly edited text of the 2008 blog posting (Edited to accommodate the birthday cards image). I have added at the end in bold type what in spiritual terms I now consider a cure for attachment.

"I was thinking today about an event in Kenneth Graham’s book ‘The Wind In The Willows’ concerning Toad of Toad Hall which is a wonderful example of the human behaviour of desire and attachment. A Toad can teach us many things. Toad is everyman and everywoman.

In the story Toad persuades Ratty and Mole to take to the open road in his Canary Coloured gypsy caravan.

----- “There you are cried the Toad… there’s the real life for you, the dusty highways, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities, here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow Travel, change, interest, excitement ….. “

Toad is besotted by his new interest and to humour him and because they have a lot of affection for their old friend they agree to go along. All goes reasonably well until the gypsy caravan is run off the road and wrecked by a large (beeping, poop - pooping) motor car. As Toads friends Ratty and Mole scream “road hog” and “villains” in the direction of the car and then tend to all the carnage and the bird in the birdcage sobbing pitifully and calling to be let out, Toad is nowhere to be seen. The friends search and he is finally found. Toad has had a road to Damascus experience of the motor vehicle kind. He has done a complete flip flop, a complete turnaround, an incredible conversion. They find Toad sitting in the middle of the road staring into the middle distance.

------“Glorious, stirring sight! Murmured Toad, never offering to move. The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here today – in next week, tomorrow! Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped – always somebody else’s horizon! O bliss! O poop – poop! O my! O my!.......”

Toads obsession with canary coloured caravans is now an obsession with motor cars of the big brash 'poop, poop' kind.
For those of you who don't know the story, the rest of the book deals with Toads escapades in motor cars, his imprisonment, the invading of Toad Hall by the Rats and Weasels, the escape of Toad from prison and the retaking of Toad Hall by Toad's long suffering friends. Toads behaviour is typical of Toad, it's vintage Toad. He is never satisfied for any length of time and if the book had been twice the length I am sure it would have involved more sudden conversions of Toad to all manner of interests and obsessions. Toads problem is the universal problem of desire and attachment and all the chaos that this delivers.

Attachment is one of the causes of life’s difficulties. Attachment causes suffering and it arises because of our never ending craving for the things of this world. Not only the material things of this world but cravings for people, thoughts, feeling, career, objectives etc, etc.
There are allusions to attachment in the New Testament when Jesus says not to store up treasure that will rust and decay, or that thieves will steal. Rather store up treasure in heaven i.e. spiritual treasure (love, forgiveness, reconciliation, sacrifice, faith, trust etc). Jesus is a wise man, he knows that only these spiritual things have ultimate value. There is a call in the New Testament to “be in the world, but not of it”, in other words, take part in the world but do not be driven by non spiritual values. I think there is also talk in the book of Acts of how the members of the early church eschewed materialistic values and held everything in common, focusing on the things of the spirit. The New Testament of the Bible is a good place to read about enduring spiritual values.

Buddhism perhaps details how to walk a spiritual path in a specific way. One aspect of the spiritual path it talks about is attachment when it defines the Second Noble Truth i.e. Life is difficult because of attachment, because we crave satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying. It is not the objects or people that we crave that are the problem, it is our attachment to and our identification with the objects that causes an inner clinging that entangles us.

Most of us know both intellectually and experientially that the shiny baubles don’t cut the mustard in terms of finding satisfaction, rest or peace. On a higher level are relationships of love, friendship and involvement with community. But ultimately these do not satisfy either because they are tied up with problems of craving and the problems of continuing change and flux. Nothing ever stays the same. A good introductory book that talks about these ideas is “Awakening The Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das. Not forgetting the unforgettable read which is Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows"

We find satisfaction, rest, peace and freedom from attachment by committing oneself to a Spiritual path..... and a Spiritual path implies Spiritual Practise... and Spiritual Practise implies Transformation leading to Wisdom. This is the great insight of all the great religions. The Spiritual path transforms us ..... it leads to wisdom and to heaven (Christianity) and Nirvana (Buddhism). 
I suspect that 'Heaven' and 'Nirvana' is simply seeing reality as it truly is - that is, seeing human relationships and the physical world without the imposition of our clinging and, or cloying attachments and rapacious egos. This is why both Traditions are always referring to the fact that 'Enlightenment' / 'Heaven' is here already, right in front of our eyes - but seen from this ego / attachment free, point of view. The fruits of transformation are  freedom from attachment and the demands of our rapacious egos. This is the true peace.

Various forms of: prayer, ritual, icons, contemplation, meditation, pilgrimage are all useful transformative tools...... but it is helpful to remember that these tools are only useful if they are worked out in a context of community and combined with other acts of free will. This is because the deliberate acts of free will that facilitate transformation: love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, insight and wisdom require people ........ and Morality.

Morality is an interesting word. Much is made with great intensity by westerners regarding meditation and contemplative prayer, often forgetting that only two of the eight fold paths of Buddhism talk about meditation. The other six talk about basic morality. Contemplative prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition is weighted in a similar manner. The path is essentially one where morality and spiritual practise are inextricably interwoven. Morality is the grist to the mill of meditation. Contemporary sentiments may see 'Morality' as being rigid and rather pejoratively 'Old Testament' ....... but the fact is that just as Spiritual Practise requires discipline so does its context......  which is leading a moral life of goodness and love..... and this Shipmates is something this old Toad of a Blogger regularly needs to practise.

Monday, July 3, 2017

_______________________ DIESEL ENGINE BLUES ______________________

I once heard a mechanical (as in engines) tale, or is that a myth (of course in the sense that myths do not contain a lie rather they contain a fundamental truth(s) - [But the fundamental truth(s) contained in myths, is Shipmates another story indeed.]

Where was I - ah yes. I once heard a tale that mechanical things cooperate together in a rather supportive way that enables the whole mechanical outfit to continue running. The truth is: mess, change, alter, bugger up one component and you precipitate a domino effect.

I have precipitated a domino effect. The long story, short, is that the effect of removing the engine and dealing to its fundamental problems has had 'down stream' implications. Apart from the work that has been done on the corpus of the engine I am now installing new: engine rubber mounts, engine bearers, propeller shaft, fuel tank connections, exhaust water lock box, exhaust piping, exhaust sea cock and exhaust manifold. I have also had to remove and realign the propeller strut and deal to a range of other small items and adjustments.

My feelings about this situation are a bit paradoxical. I am happy that the whole carboodle is being dealt to in a way that should give me at least another 10 years good service but alarmed that among other retail outrages new flexible 50mm ID Lloyds rated exhaust hose costs $100 per metre - yikes! (and a bucket load of other expletive deleteds).

One difficult job is going to be removing the somewhat 'stuffed' bronze exhaust sea cock at the stern of Mariner. I will have to cut a large hole in the stern sheets of the cockpit and install a largish hatch to facilitate its removal (swinging room for pipe wrenches). How the hell I ever got the bloody thing installed 40 years ago has disappeared from my long term memory.

One little ray of sunshine has been my ability to get right inside the port cockpit locker when dismantling the exhaust system. It's only because I have lost a bit of weight that I was able to clamber inside and deal to all of that.

The piece de resistance to this little tableau shipmates has been the weather. Basically it's been simply pissing with rain, which despite my efforts with a makeshift cover has found its watery way into the bilge. Bugger.

But. No matter shipmates. I have been here before and risen again like the mythical phoenix - and remember, despite contemporary definitions -  myths contain truth(s).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

____________________ REINSTALLING THE MOTOR _____________________

Today 'Mariners' reconditioned diesel engine and all the associated bits and pieces arrived back on a trailer ready for installation. Unfortunately when we fitted the propeller shaft we found that it was binding in the strut bearing. So I have had to remove the propeller strut completely from the hull and realign everything again - a lengthy job that took all day. Hopefully we can make a start on the engine beds, mounts etc tomorrow.

The engine is a single cylinder, sea water cooled 11HP Italian Arona Diesel made by Fiat. It has a V-drive gearbox which means that the motor sits back to front with the fly wheel towards the stern and the gearbox to the front of the boat.

The fuel tank now has a good sized sump welded onto the base of the tank. This will make it easy to regularly drain off any water, sludge or contaminants from the tank.

I purchased this engine over forty years ago in 1976. Geoff the diesel mechanic who has been doing the reconditioning said that when he pulled the head off the engine to clean the waterways around the cylinder head etc he was surprised at the good condition of the motor. He made the comment that a modern marine diesel wouldn't last as long as this old cast iron model - I find that encouraging. I know that I am taking a bit of a punt doing a recondition rather than re-powering with a new engine, but the costs are a bit prohibitive. Perhaps this old girl will see this old bugger out; I certainly hope so.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

________________________________ EEL _______________________________

George Holmes canoe yawl 'Eel'

Google emailed me today asking me to desist from Googling "Canoe Yawl" as I've worn out the fonts for this combination of letters - yikes!

 This (above) is Eel (built circa 1896) - today - still going strong..........

.......... and here is a Canadian version. I think the cabin trunk has been raised slightly which would give more sitting headroom, but isn't as aesthetically appealing as Eels lower cabin.

Monday, June 12, 2017

_____________ DOING SUMP THING ABOUT THE FUEL TANK _____________

Shipmates, it was suggested to me by Geoff the diesel mechanic that the best thing I could do for 'Mariners' engine would be to put a sump on the bottom of the diesel fuel tank. The idea is to drain the sump regularly to get rid of any water and other fuel contamination that may occur. When this excellent suggestion was made I sighed an audible sigh as I have taken the diesel tank out a couple of times before and know well the gymnastics that are involved.
In the above photograph the old bugger is lying on his stomach under the cockpit exactly where the diesel engine sits. The fuel tank is at the back of the engine bay behind the engine. I took this photo to give Terry the Stainless Steel fabricator some idea of how the tank is fastened at the back with its long metal straps. I thought that I might modify the fastening system but have decided to 'leave well alone' and simply repair, sand, repaint and re-use the existing system.

When I cleaned the tank out I readily saw the sensible logic of having a sump installed. There was a cup of vile looking sludge in the bottom of the tank. Regularly adding diesel additive to the tank and draining the sump every month or so should keep the fuel clean and keep the engine reliable. The fuel tank has now been removed and is in Terrys workshop awaiting modifications. Tomorrow I will clamber into the engine bay yet again with a vacuum cleaner, a wet rag and bucket.

Shipmates, if you are aged in your sixties and need a workout that involves contortionary stretching of an extraordinary nature then remove a small diesel engine from the small dark cave beneath the cockpit of a small yacht. The head banging; shin, knee, knuckle barking, sweating, back pain and profanity come at no extra cost. Speaking of cost 'Mariner' has now been out of the water for a month and I have just paid the first haul out and yard rent fees - yikes!!

I have been working hard every day. Sometimes the amount of work that needs doing seems never ending - But as my dear wife reminds me: "Don't worry, you'll get it done, you've got time, don't forget you're retired! " - Quite right.

Friday, June 9, 2017

______________ PORTISHEAD - BETH GIBBONS - MYSTERIES _____________

God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime

Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I'll be there anytime

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime

Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I'll be there anytime  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

________________________ JO HARDY, ARTIST _________________________

I first met Jo Hardy in 1971 when we were both in the same art class at Christchurch Teachers College. She was obviously a talented artist and it wasn't long before she left the college and enrolled at Ilam School of Arts. Our paths crossed from time to time over the years as she also moved to Northland in the 1970s. I remember her well in Quinten Macfarlanes classes sitting painting her canvases on the floor. I smiled when I found a photograph (below) of her in her late years painting on her knees. Today we viewed her retrospective exhibition at the Whangarei Art Museum.

Jo was a quirky and very original personality with a touch of the iconoclast about her. I remember her telling me jokingly once at training college that she would love to become a school principal for one sole reason. She thought it would be interesting to ride to school each day on a Norton Commando 750cc motorbike dressed in a long black coat, completing the journey outside her office each day with a long smokey burnout. Instead she became a fine and prolific painter. I attended a few of her exhibitions over the years and they were always sellouts. I always found her paintings full of symbol and metaphor combined in both personal and universal themes that were often confronting, political, perplexing, humourous, never boring and always painted with lush colour and fine technical skill. 

Jo wrote opinion pieces for the local newspaper 'The Northern Advocate' from time to time. It would be interesting and humourous to read her own review of her own retrospective exhibition (which I am sure she has already written - or painted a picture about!) when we meet again.

" Whangarei Art Museum – Te Manawa Toi is honoured to present NOT NOW APOLCALYPSE: Jo Hardy Retrospective from the 29th of May – 20th August 2017.

Hardy attended Ilam School of Arts and spent several years exhibiting in Christchurch, she then moved to Northland in the late 70s where she continued to paint more than 600 paintings. Hardy also fell in love, married, became a mother, a gardener, a writer, a member of a rural community and, in 2003, was widowed.

Hardy underlined a freedom of consciousness; borrowing aspects of reality and using them as metaphors in a parallel painted universe. She believed we each invent reality as we go along; painting is one of the ways to do it.

“I am interested in portraying both what is and what is not. My pictures are a deliberate record-keeping of fleeting minutiae, memories, dreams, attempts to depict that which has no fixed visual form and narrative fiction.” – Jo Hardy, 1998.

Hardy’s paintings are lyrical narrative works painted with acrylic on canvas. She worked on her knees on the floor, as if at prayer. Slowly, with care and precision, she built up thin wet layers of coloured washes, tickling them up until they glow.

Before Hardy passed away from cancer in late July 2016, she gave her blessing to the Whangarei Art Museum to curate and develop her retrospective exhibition bringing 50 years of art making together in one space. Her retrospective includes a large selection paintings as well as some exquisite lithographs that were produced in the 80s and 90s at Te Kowhai Print Trust – a community printmaking facility based at the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangarei. "

Monday, May 29, 2017

_______________ BANKS PENINSULA - TURANGAWAEWAE _______________

The word Turangawaewae in Te Reo (The Maori Language) means "The Place Where I Stand". This is a reference to where a person has their formative years. It is the geographic place that has formed them. The area of Banks Peninsula and the city of Christchurch in the province of Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand is my Turangawaewae.

I was prompted to do this post because of the very good series 'COAST NEW ZEALAND' which is currently showing on TV1 here in New Zealand on Monday nights.

This link is to a 'Coast New Zealand' episode that focuses on Banks Peninsula.

To get the link to work Shipmates, just click on it and then sign up which only involves typing in your email address and a password (You can then watch 'TV1 On Demand' ad infinitum.

Moving from the left in the picture - The mighty Waimakariri River, the city of Christchurch with its esturary opening out to the sea and the unique Banks Peninsula formed from two ancient volcanic cones. This is where I lived, had my being and was formed not only by the social fabric of the society that I was raised in, but by the very landscape itself.

The sea, the peninsula, the estuaries, the plains and the distant Southern Alps - they all paint a picture that is part of my story.

We all have our own precious, formative story. We all have our own Turangawaewae.

Friday, May 26, 2017

__________________ 'MARINER' - A WORK IN PROGRESS _________________

 I have stripped the deadwood of its fiberglass covering. When the timber is dry it will be re-fiberglassed.

To dry the timber out along each side of the keel and deadwood I have set up a fan heater at either end of a long plastic tunnel. It gets warm enough during the day in the tunnel that if I had the inclination I could plant and harvest some tomato plants.

This is the stern fan heater. I have had both fan heaters going constantly during the day for about a week now. I will use a moisture meter to give me some idea of when to apply the fiberglass.

My good mate Bernie gave me this stainless steel spring loaded boom vang. He had two and said I would be helping him out by taking this one off his hands. It fits so well it could almost have been made specially for 'Mariner'. One good aspects of these rigid vangs is that you can dispense with a topping lift if you want to. Bernie won't take any money for the vang, only saying "...... Just buy me a beer".  So I will buy him a couple of dozen (which he will insist I help him drink a few of) and stuff a large donation to his yachts rum ration locker in his back pocket when he's not looking.

Today the modifications to the bow fitting were completed. On the left is an extension piece that fits over the existing bow roller flanges, incorporating the existing roller and providing another roller further forwards, keeping the now self stowing anchor clear of the boats stem.
On the right we have added two tangs above the bow roller complete with a removable captured pin. This allows mooring ropes etc to be held securely without them slipping off the roller. The whole fabrication matches the existing sturdy bow fitting being made of quarter plate stainless steel.

I am well pleased with the alterations to the anchoring system ably designed by Terry and fabricated by Victor one of his very skilled engineers.

For those shipmates who know the literature, Victor is the son of Paul Farge who sailed on 'Kurun' with Jacques-Yves le Toumelin from Morocco to Tahiti, being the first part of Toumelins' famous circumnavigation which featured in his book 'KURUN Around the World (Rupert Hart-Davis 1954). Needless to say I had a good old talk with Victor about his late father whom I knew well.

'Mariners' new self stowing 'Delta' anchor is held in place by a couple of bungy cords rather than pinning with a bolt. In very hard windward weather where there may be the possibility of burying the bow in solid green water I will stow the anchor on deck tied to the samson post.

Today the diesel mechanic Jeff turned up with a new set of engine beds, mounts and propeller shaft. We had a good chin wag about the engine which may be ready to install next week. Things are looking up.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

____________________ MEMORIES OF MAGGA DAN _____________________

This morning I helped Jeff the Diesel mechanic remove 'Mariners' propeller shaft. He arrived this morning with some good news about the motor (It's in good condition) and a truck full of tools.

This whole propeller shaft removal marlarkey wasn't easy. Before we had progressed very far the shaft got stuck in the strut bearing. We had to cut the upper part of the shaft to remove it. The lower part of the shaft that was frozen in the strut bearing was removed with a long steel shaft come battering ram and a sledge hammer. None of this work was a pretty sight to behold.

Jeff confessed to "a bit of a buggered shoulder" as he handed me the sledge hammer for my turn and after a lengthy session I confessed to "a bit of a 'tweaking' going on in my post quadruple heart bypass wired up sternum" and handed the sledge hammer back to him. But after us two old buggers had endured an exhausting time sharing the sledge hammer the work was completed and the offending piece of prop shaft fell out of the strut.

This afternoon I completed the cleaning of 'Mariners' oily bilge and wiped down every inch of the inside of the hull. When I arrived home my work clothes were only fit for the rubbish bin.

This cleaning job had me thinking today about the 'Magga Dan' and a holiday job I had one Christmas holiday period in the dry dock at the port of Lyttleton in Christchurch NZ in the late 1960s. Some of the work was down in the bowels of the dry dock scraping barnacles off ships, while other work (Which I found a bit scary) was in the bowels of the ships themselves cleaning out the bilges.

The bilge jobs required working in the cramped space between the ships floor and the bottom of the hull. It wasn't possible to sit up straight and as we pulled long electrical leads with our lights we shoveled oily sludge into a bucket. Crawling through the small holes in the ships web frames from one compartment of the bilge to the other was an unedifying and claustrophobic experience I never want to repeat. I remember the lights going out once for a brief time - not a good moment.

I can't picture in my minds eye any of the ships except for the 'Magga Dan'. When I found a photograph of her on the internet she looked pretty much as I remembered her. I probably remember her because we were told she was a "Russian" ship and this period of time was at the height of the Cold War in Europe. But when I looked up the 'Magga Dan' on the internet for this posting I see that she is in fact an Australian Antarctic supply ship!! Yikes! and here's me thinking all these years that I had almost been fraternizing with the KGB.

The 'Magga Dan' was on her way to Antarctica (At least that part of the story we were told was true). Our job was to clean out one of the 'Magga Dan's large boilers. This was a better job than bilge work as it was possible to stand up in the boiler when working and was a lot less claustrophobic. We spent a few days chipping rusting slag off the insides of the boiler returning home each night looking like Victorian chimney sweeps.

Memories shipmates, memories.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

_____________________________ SAM I AM ____________________________

A floating boat is a moving living thing. A boat on land is like a big stranded fish; beached and immovable by the wind and waves. My yacht 'Mariner' lifted out recently by the boatyards' Trav-lift is a solid immovable object going nowhere fast.

The landlubber boat knows the fun's up for a while so she sulks a bit and conspires to a bit of non lethal companion way ladder tripping, the barking of shins, the scrapping of knuckles and the banging of heads. The landlubber boat tries hard to look neglected, grimy and slightly worse for wear. It's the boats way of making sure that the skipper gets on and does the requisite work. The floating interruptus of ones boat is not something to be taken lightly.

If Sadie is the cleaning lady then I guess Sam is the cleaning man. Call me Sam. Sam has been cleaning solidly now for three days. What have I been cleaning I hear you ask? Well Shipmates any part of 'Mariner' that you can see in these photographs is either waiting to be cleaned or has been cleaned within an inch of it life. The engine bay and the bilge have been the most difficult to clean because the engine had dumped a lot of oil in these areas at some stage. This oil mixed with a certain amount of water from the dripping stern gland had on a few hard chance sails spread the dark oily mixture liberally throughout the bilge up to and beyond the waterline level. Yep, great stuff, but Sam the man has been up to the challenge and I may get my own back one day by installing an electric boat engine - see how you like that my little one cylinder 11HP Arona Diesel with leaking sump seals.

A few days ago Sam the cleaning man extended his cleaning skills to those of an agricultural mechanic of sorts by helping the local diesel mechanic remove the engine. The cleaning of the engine bay I can assure you Shipmates raised the term 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' to new heights. The frustration of finding myself jambed into a confined space with an evil smelling cleaning rag elicited fantasies of running out onto the close by walkway and giving 'Mariner' away to the first gullible person. Happily the feeling past in the afterglow of receding pain as I applied ice to the head bumps, plasters to the cut fingers and dug out the congealed oil in my eye sockets with a spoon.

Today was the beginning of the downwards cleaning slope. If you ever come across a downward cleaning slope then beg, borrow or steal it with both hands and stash it away for a future cleaning day - they are worth their weight in old rags, kerosene and sugar soap.

Today I cleaned the small forward cabin with its toilet area and now have only the bows of the boat with its chain locker left to clean. It should be relatively easy work. I was pleased with how the toilet area cleaned up this morning. Sam was pleased as well. He has been a tower of strength and as robust as a pair of 'Pams' brand 'Easy on and Off' yellow stretchy cleaning gloves.