Tue 7 Jul 2009 23:01
08 July 2009

Alcoutim, Portugal

I have been guilty of teasing the folks back home about my wonderful life
on the ocean wave, by posting amusing comments on Facebook. This morning,
the Wheel of Hubris turned and made me see the light. Sadly it was not one
showing me the way to self-enlightenment, it was a little red light
telling me the bilge pump had failed. For landlubbers, the bilge is a dark
place in the lowest part of the ship where the water collects. Ours is
right underneath the engine, so it’s got oil and diesel floating in it, as
well as some old shower water that’s been festering in the darkness for a
while. Usually all this loveliness is out of sight and out of mind and the
automatic bilge pump spews it into the ocean when it reaches a certain
level. But not today. The little red light was telling me that the bilge
was full of manky old water that hadn’t been pumped out and furthermore,
some eedjit was required to descend into the darkness and fix it. This is
one of those jobs that can’t be deferred because water filling up inside
the hull is very undesirable. As I wriggled my way into the cramped
recesses of the engine room, a hideous image suddenly came into my head of
Russell Duke, peering in and grinning at my discomfort, which made the
task even more horrible. The only way to reach the pump is to squeeze into
the engine room, lie along the engine block, shove your head right down
till it rests on the inside of the hull and then to stretch your hands
into the black, slimy water. This position is extremely uncomfortable
because all the hard bits of the engine dig into your body and everything
has to be done at your fingertips. And ‘assuming the position’ is only the
start of the process. Then you have to feel round in the water until you
find the bilge pump, bring it to the surface and find out why the little
darling isn’t pumping. I still have no idea why it wasn’t, but after I’d
cleaned it up, scooped the muck out of the sump and put it back it worked,
so that will do for me. Now I am covered in indentations and bruises from
where I lay along the top of the engine, swearing in the darkness. If
anybody wants to know what sort of engine is in Volare, I can answer by
showing show them my manly chest, which now has the word ‘YANMAR’ clearly
imprinted on it.