So with this latest plan in mind we need to use this time in St Maarten to get the boat prepped for a few longer sails and to make sure that everything is in order for the stricter rules of the US.
First on the list were our life jackets that were out of date to say the least! Sim serviced them putting new gas cylinders in and making sure they were in good condition. We had fun setting the out of date ones off - a good lesson in familiarizing ourselves with the release toggles. All the out of date vests inflated which was reassuring and held the air for a good 24hrs before we deflated and repacked them. Now if god forbid, we ever have to use one, we know exactly what we are doing and that they really do work.
|Geoff shows Sim his hookah|
That is one little job done. Next is the trickier job of changing the packing in the stuffing box which is the material around the shaft as it fits through the hull of the boat to stop water leaking in. Ours is old and can’t be tightened any further. When we motor there is a considerable trickle which can amount to gallons of seawater in our bilge! Not good when you want to keep a steel boat dry! We also need to grease our “Max Prop”, another underwater job with the grease gun. None of these jobs are easy whilst in the water. Chatting to Geoff from ‘Izzy R’ it was suggested that the use of a hooker might help. I have to say I couldn’t see how and was not keen on the idea but Sim got fairly excited. Geoff continued that if Sim felt inclined he could try out his and if he got on ok could then borrow it. I glanced across at Izzy, Geoff`s wife to see if she knew about this business but her serene face gave nothing away. If she was bothered, she was hiding it well. As it turns out a hooker (spelt hookah) is a compressor come dive tank that sits on your boat with a hose to a demand valve - similar to scuba gear but without all the fancy bits. Apparently I had nothing to worry about. We gathered along with Jon from ‘Imagine’ and Dave from ‘Banyan’ for a Hookah party on ‘Izzy R’ to show Sim how to use it the following morning. Jon bought his new toy along - the ‘’Waveblade’’, to prove to the rest of the party it was a worthy and useful piece of equipment. The packaging says that this 12v vibrating tool makes easy work of removing barnacles and other unwanted crusty bits from below the water line. The pastel packaging, along with gloves and carry bag made it look like some sort of kitchen device – it almost resembled my hand blender. Sim put it to the test while hooked up to the hookah. Verdict – It won’t make smoothies but it does remove barnacles easily, only, if its weed you want removed you are better off with a regular scraper.
|Izzy, Jon and his tool|
Sim is a convert to the hookah and now wants to get one – it will make cleaning the underneath of the boat a breeze. In the mean time ‘Izzy R’ have leant us theirs so that Sim can do the two underwater jobs without having to constantly come up for air. The Waveblade he might pass on....sorry Jon.
|Sim testing out the hookah|
Aside from all this work (really it is work) we have had fun joining friends in the various bars around the lagoon and enjoyed the firework display to celebrate the official opening of the new causeway bridge across the lagoon.