Thursday, September 25, 2014

Missing Sweet Pea, Part IV

So many weeks passed where the only sustained time I spent on the boat was grinding my knees into the no-skid deck coating while trying to turn a wrench that I forgot what working on Close Enough even felt like.

Now that we've been a few hauling cycles without being towed in and without alarms going off, it feels like maybe I over reacted and over dramatized the ordeal. The circuit of gear- out front, up the bay, the west side- is becoming familiar again. The pleasant soreness of wrists, back and legs from a good day's work has taken the place of sore knees, skinned knuckles and overdriven adrenal glands of endless attempts to identify, understand and act on mechanical malfunctions.

There was, however, one final, smarting chapter in the seeming eternity of problems. Even with the rebuilt water pump, late day dismantling and inspection of every portion of the raw water system and the all consuming analysis, when I went out to haul the boat still would not cool off normally. I tried thinking positively. I tried bending the temperature needle back to the left with my positive thoughts. I asked my brain trust what would be the problem. It was not a matter of catastrophic overheating, but just not cooling off the way I was used to.

Sweet Pea had no temperature gauge. Or raw water cooling.

There were also at that time staggering multitudes of what I thought were jellyfish eggs, but turned out to be called "salps" everywhere around the island. Harmless enough sounding, "salps." After a long day of hauling at idle and watching the temperature gauge every few seconds, we opened the strainer and found that virtually every single hole in this colander-like contrivance had one of those salps wedged in it. I have never been so excited to see a strainer full of salps in my life. The excitement came from the thought that after missing the peak month of the season and having spent large on new parts, after blowing so many hours taking apart and putting back to together again and again, maybe, finally I had found the last link in the chain of problems.

In my excited state, I ran to the rail to rinse the salps back where they belonged and dropped the strainer basket. This item's primary design flaw is that it does not float. I watched it, reached for it and missed. The tantrum that ensued crystallized and telescoped a month of despair and frustration into one sinking, shining stainless steel moment. I cursed myself hoarse in seconds, kicked whatever was handy and sort of managed to dislocate my jaw.

Since we were on "super moon" number two for the summer, I figured Megan and I could go out at dead low tide and reach through a foot or so of low tide harbor water and fetch back the item and be on our way for the day. The eel grass and kelp proved formidable and divers unavailable. Despite many sweeps of the area where I dropped the basket, it was nowhere to be seen, although many false positives were caused by silver beverage cans on the harbor floor.

Fortunately, Hamilton Marine had a basket in stock. Unfortunately, they did not deliver to the air service. Fortunately, Megan's brother was passing through Rockland and took the basket to the flying service. They had no flights until the afternoon, so I had an opportunity to put out legal fires and save myself aggravation for the following week. Extra-super fortunately, we went out on a lovely afternoon and filled the holding tank in a couple of hours.

We've since hauled through the cycle a few times and all is well. It was a long time coming.

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