Got water? We oughta!

Operation Waterfall: On Monday I went and bought a glass fibre patch kit from the chandlery in Covent Garden (“If it’s not a silly question…” “...why is there a chandlery in the middle of London? Everyone asks that.”) and Melissa picked up some plumbers’ tape. However when we got back to Hendrik we realised that what we’d thought was sandpaper ideal for roughening the surface ready to accept the glassfibre patch was nothing of the sort, so repairs were rescheduled to Tuesday.

On Tuesday I discovered I will never work for Lotus. The glassfibre kit was full of lovely 50’s diagrams of a supremely capable middle-aged handyman in a flat cap gently stippling the resin onto the glassfibre patch, ensuring good coverage and breathing God’s own well-ventilated air. The reality was dizzying fumes from the resin, practically no room to work in, drool sneaking its way past the torch in my mouth, and absolutely no way to see or get the resin brush round to the most critical part of the repair on the bottom of the tank. And then the resin started to harden in the mixing cup, so I settled for pouring it into the palm of my glove and smushing it on there as best I could. The second layer went even worse, as the patch started to pull apart and clump into big balls of resined glassfibre strands and now if you went into the hold you could be forgiven for thinking you’d foiled some kind of illegal bird’s nest soup forgery ring.

Then we went up to the deck and tried to clear the noxious fumes out of our lungs, a process eventually aided by a meal at the Japanese restaurant down the road. Which was good.

And after 24 hours’ hardening/stinking out the joint time last night we had another go at filling the tanks. The good news is that most of the water now makes it into the tank, but there was a significant trickle around the edges of the patch. So for two hours Melissa and I alternated turns at holding a small tupperware box under the trickle, transferring it occasionally to a bucket, and emptying the bucket. In the meantime we also got some other useful stuff done like reconnecting all the cold water pipes in the captain’s cabin.

There was, in retrospect, some difficulty with timing. We’d heard that someone on the mooring with a 6000l tank needed 9 hours to fill it, and we ran a test on how quickly the hose would fill a 1.5l bottle of water. Both figures agreed on about 6 hours to fill our 4000l of tanks, so it was a bit surprising after only two and a half hours when the copper marker pipe popped up to tell us the tanks were full. We switched on the compressor and it immediately started making much stronger pressure than it had before, after which a couple of minute’s wait gave us working taps again, and in the captain’s cabin a sink, (cold) shower, toilet and fitting for a washing machine for the first time. No more scrabbling about on a cold deck in bare feet with full bladders for us!

Unfortunately we hadn’t been planning on completely filling the tanks for one obvious reason: when the tanks are more than three quarters full, the water level is above the crack, so until half past midnight we had to keep emptying out the tupperware, as well as running all the taps we could to try and get the water level down- yes, it was wasteful, but as the other option was letting it run into the bilge and then pumping it out anyway, we chose the lesser evil. And the majority of it got used on the washing up, which had been piling up for days. And recommissioning my old Brita water filter. And soon, testing the dishwasher.

One last thing we discovered last night is that the little black cat who visits us every night WILL get in through any opening she can. Portholes stay closed at night now.

- posted by James O'Brien on 26 April 2007, 11:24 in