Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rule #1 in the Laws of Boating: Things on Boats Break.

     Like the law of gravity or the laws of physics, this rule in the law of boating is consistent and unstoppable. Things on board boats always break. This immoveable and often frustrating force ensures that Dad has a "fix-it" list going at all times and can usually be seen plodding around with tools of all sorts in his hands. The jobs may not always be strenuous or time-consuming, but just as the sun always rises, the jobs are always there.

     On top of this rule, I have to mention that Dad jinxed us last week. While having a family discussion over which island to visit next, we ruled out going to St. Martin because it is overly commercialized and has been described as "just one big shopping plaza." One potential reason for going there would be to purchase any parts needed for the boat because it has prime marine facilities and is a duty-free island. But Dad ruled this reason out, saying we don't have anything big to fix and haven't in quite some time. Mom and I responded with an "Uh oh. You just jinxed it." I think we've become a bit superstitious living on a boat, but when things can go from fine to distaster so easily it's bound to happen.

     So I can't say I was entirely surprised when yesterday, as Mom pushed the "Up" button on the windlass to lift the anchor in Manchioneel Bay, the windlass abruptly ground to a halt, an important piece suddenly breaking and making it impossible to use. Ten minutes later saw all of us on the bow hauling the sizeable main anchor up by hand in the hot midday sun. We weren't entirely sure we could get it up in the first place, with it being so heavy, but after finally getting the anchor into the bow locker we relaxed to look for a mooring ball and discovered that a flood of charter boats had taken them all up! We felt strangely vulnerable and trapped, not being able to put down an anchor anywhere and being blocked from mooring balls by the crowds of charter boats. So off we went, quickly stowing things and closing hatches below decks, accross the Sir Francis Drake channel to a marina in Nanny Cay.

     That afternoon, Dad spent a few frustrating hours in the local marine store and then on the satellite phone searching for the right part to repair our broken windlass. For a while the search seemed hopeless and we wondered if we'd ever anchor easily again, but luck prevailed and he was able to order the part from a store in the U.S. So it looks like we will be able to use the anchor again soon, but will have to stick to mooring balls for the time being. There are so many fidgety devices and parts on boats that it's no wonder things are always breaking. We are just lucky enough to have a captain who's incredibly capable when it comes to fixing things. So thanks to the fix-it man...though we know it frustrates you having to pick up those tools every few days, we really do appreciate your ability to fix just about anything!

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