Everything but the kitchen sink!

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Fri 22 May 2015 20:09
12:58.3S 38:30.9W

We were back in Salvador for a few days to finish the second edition of Scottish Canoe Classics before heading south.

I was doing a bit of cleaning as the potatoes had taken advantage of our trip to Chapada Diamantina to turn into a big smelly mushy mess. In the process I nudged (yes nudged, not yanked or whacked hard with a hammer, or anything like that) the kitchen sink drain pipe and it fell off! When this happens on a boat, it isn't the mild inconvenience that it would be in a house, no, on a boat, this is a major disaster as the boat rapidly fills with water. Panic over once the seacock was turned off.

The sink has always leaked a bit, annoying but not enough to prompt us to change the pipe, one of the few things on Caramor we haven't renovated. When I tried to reconnect the pipe, it was too short. A previous owner, it would appear, had bodged the plumbing with a left over piece of tubing.

Optimistically I set off for Marcelo's shop 'Bahia Boats'. Hanging above the door was a roll of the right diameter pipe. "I'll have a metre of that please" I said to the lady behind the till. She looked around the shop. "Yes, it's high up, isn't it? but there is a ladder over there and I can get it if you like" I offered. She picked up her calculator and typed a number. "It's very expensive" she said, "I'm sure you can get it somewhere else."

I went round the corner to 'Dumar'. Despite our best efforts, we hadn't ever managed to buy anything from them. Immediately inside the door, was a coil of the tubing. I grabbed hold of it and refused to leave until they had cut me a piece. The friendly staff looked very put out.

Triumphantly I returned to Caramor. I held the pipe in place while Franco screwed in the sink hole. I heard a crack. "STOP" I shouted, too late, the lugs on the fitting had sheared off. "I didn't tighten it that much!" protested Franco. On close inspection they did look perished.

Kitchen sinks are not essential but they do make life easier. Replacing fittings on an old sink in Britain wouldn't be easy, in Brazil it could be mission impossible.

We raided the chandleries: nothing. We went to the local builders supplies store, more a tiles shop. A skinny taciturn man, possibly the owner, interrogated Franco: "Are you Argentinian?" but the store-man was very helpful and found a sink hole with the same thread. Unfortunately it was too big and to cut the steel would be a big job.

Time for drastic measures, we marched to the taxi rank. "Take us to a plumbing megastore" we demanded. It was a long drive but the large brick building looked like the real McCoy. The taxi driver said "I'll wait for you", but when we came out two hours later, he wasn't there.

Inside, the store was similar to B&Q. The plumbing section was bewildering; sizes and fittings were completely different to what is available in Europe.

Miraculously we found sink holes that were nearly the size of ours, only they wouldn't connect to our pipework, we needed a middle section. We couldn't find what we needed so I asked a store assistant wearing a t-shirt which said: "Here to help". "I want the bit that screws onto this." I said. "What is it for?" she asked. "It's for a kitchen sink on a boat". "That's not a kitchen fitting, you can't buy it" she replied. "Oh yes I can!" She marched me to the Manager's office. "That's not a kitchen fitting, you can't buy it" he said. "It fits onto this" I thrust my smelly pipework at him "and all I need is the piece that screws onto it". "You'll have to try a different shop." he concluded.

The friendly assistant lunged for the sink hole. I grabbed it, ran out the door and hid in the bath section.

Outside it was raining elephants and monkeys, we waded to the bus stop through an inch of water. The bus route was not the most direct, it was rush hour and large parts of the city were flooded, at one point we had to turn around and try a different route.

We got back to Comercio quarter at 20:30, just in time for an acarajé, a street snack which consists of a bean dumpling filled with dried prawns, various sauces and tomato (no tomato for Franco) salad. Not to be confused with a jacaré which is an alligator.

Next morning Franco went off valiantly in the pouring rain to Bahia Boats, in search of either a reducer or a Y-piece and some piping. Marcelo has a section of his shop dedicated to second hand parts, this is where we were able to source a winch to replace the one that had jumped overboard in Cabo Verde.

New old second hand winch

He came back with two perfect connectors for the sink holes, and a rather bulky T-piece connected to a brass valve with a reducer at the end. As I battled the boa constrictor pipework into the tight space in the kitchen cupboard, we reluctantly agreed it wouldn't fit. Next day was Saturday and everywhere was shut.

On Monday Franco set off once again, this time in search of an elbow. By noon he still wasn't back. He returned empty handed but looked rather pleased with himself. He had ordered, with Marcelo's help, a made-to-measure stainless steel Y-piece, turn around time 24 hours.

Beautiful Y-piece

While we were waiting we made some new friends; Audrey and Sebastien in 'Galopin', Bretons who have just sailed over from Senegal and Nicky and David, fellow Ocean Cruising Club members in 'Baloo' who have been in Brazil four months and are heading for the Caribbean.

From left: David, Nicky, Kath and Franco aboard Baloo

All packed, including the kitchen sink, we set sail for Itaparica where we celebrated the first year of our voyage.