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Barry's Blog # 34 – I spoke too soon

"Baz! Has this ice melted?" Aannsha asked as she gazed down at the ice coated cooling plate in our fridge.

My heart sank a little. It was only last week that we thought that we'd put the non-cooling fridge issue behind us. I stepped over to take a closer look. Yep, there was obvious meltage at one end of the cooling plate where it had been solid ice when I'd looked earlier that morning.

Our fridge is defrosting!

A week ago a technician had injected a blue liquid into the fridge cooling system hoping that it would seal up wherever the small leak was. And it seemed to fix the problem, within 12 hours of his visit the cooling plate had a thin but even coating of ice crystals and the thermometer was dropping degrees by the hour. It felt good that at least one job on A B Sea had a simple and not very time consuming or expensive solution.

At the time of the first meltdown it had been a Saturday and the fridge technician had not been able to get to us until the following Monday, by which time all of our fresh meat and most of the vegetables had to be thrown out. It was a slight provisioning setback as we had returned the rental car and now had no easy way to get to the supermarket to restock. It's not feasible for us to walk to the supermarket, it would be a 3 hour round trip. There's no public transport that passes the marina. A taxi would be an option, but logistically tiresome, not to mention expensive. We may have to hire a car again once the fridge is fully functioning. The upside is that there's not much left in the fridge that can go off.

Musical lockers

There are plenty of storage spaces on board A B Sea but they are not all created equal. Some are very large and spacious, others are just a convenient little nook. Some are easy to get things in and out of, while others require, what feels like, taking apart half of the boat. Therefore whenever we are deciding on where something should be stored there are multiple factors to be taken into consideration. In no particular order here are the questions that we ask ourselves. Is it a fully dry storage space or can it be affected by water ingress or water sloshing in the bilge? Can the thing we want to store there actually fit through the opening? How often will we require access to the item that's stored? Does the actual fibreglass hull of A B Sea form part of the floor or sides of the storage space? If the answer is yes and the stored object is heavy (like spare anchors) will it have the potential to shift around with the motion of sailing and potentially damage the hull? If the stored object is super heavy and requires two people to lift it (dive compressor), how easy is it for two people to get access without needing to be a Cirque du Soleil contortionist?

You may well be asking where I'm going with this. I'm going scuba diving, not literally, just in my head. Since we moved on board 12 weeks ago all of my scuba diving equipment has been living in a suitcase which has been stored in the separate shower cubicle in the princess suite. And since we purchased all of Aannsha's scuba diving equipment in Murcia a few weeks back, it has been strewn across the bed in the spare aft cabin. Both of these things bother me because I like to know that everything has a place and that everything is in its place. What can I say, I'm a neat freak and the spare cabin and the shower cubicle were definitely not the places for scuba gear!

An executive decision had been made to store the 40 kilo scuba compressor in one of the large cockpit lockers. Easy access for two people, not banging against the fibreglass hull, used quite frequently, dry locker etc. And I really wanted all of the scuba 'related' items in the same place. The issue with that cockpit locker was that the compressor was cozied up with foldable trolleys, boxes of boat spares and cleaning equipment. They had to go and the best place for them was the cockpit locker on the opposite side. However that locker contained our life raft, guest lifejackets, mooring lines, snubber line, spare engine oil and assorted bits and pieces. So the musical lockers game began and went something like this. Guest life jackets stowed (until we have guests) under the spare aft berth. Spare engine oil stowed under the starboard helm seat. Snubber line stowed in the anchor locker. Boat cleaning equipment moved from compressor locker to life raft locker. Boat spares moved to storage under the seat in the saloon. The compressor locker was then filled with both sets of scuba gear. That just left the now empty suitcase that had been the temporary home for my scuba gear. If you have been keeping up with previous blogs you'll know that the only space big enough for our backpack style suitcases was the foreward sail locker. That meant emptying all the stuff from the top of that locker to get the fourth and final suitcase nestled in with its brothers and sisters at the bottom, which meant the (very) large bag of canvas cockpit privacy screens now had to be moved to the small aft locker where the four aluminium scuba tanks and lead dive weights live. Are you following along? There will be a test later!

The end result is that the shower cubicle is now useable for its intended purpose, our scuba diving gear is conveniently located all in one place and the spare cabin is empty. So many liveaboards use their spare cabin as a garage to store miscellaneous items and when they have people come to stay they then have to find somewhere onboard to put those items. Aannsha and I have agreed that for the sake of our sanity the only thing allowed in the spare cabin are the cockpit seat cushions which are brought in nightly to save them from getting damp when the dew falls. It's working so far.

Always something to do

Another small job completed this week included securing our passerelle to the lifeline stanchions. Easy peasy you might think. Our passerelle is made of aluminium and it folds in the middle. When folded it is too small to reach between two stanchions. OK we'll secure it in the open position. Wait, does the folding bit face inwards or outwards? Definitely outwards because any waves that may hit it must apply force to the folding middle section in a way that keeps the passerelle rigid. How are we going to save the fibreglass side deck from getting bashed by the aluminium? Easy, just rest the two ends of the passerelle on some pool noodle cut offs. Wait, it needs to go the other way up because the passerelle handrail post holes protrude too much and they'll damage the deck. OK turn it over, but now we also have to turn it around so that the force of the waves is correct again against the folding mid section. OK that looks good, let's tie it down. The action of the boat sailing through the waves will apply movement forces in every direction you can imagine. It must be secured in a way that does not allow any movement. OK how's that? Perfect. Hang on a second, we need a little something between the passerelle and the stanchions, there's a gap of 3mm (0.19 inches) and if you're trying to sleep that relentless tink, tink, tink will drive you insane. Let's use a bit more pool noodle and secure it with cable ties. OK perfect, I think we're done here.

And so it goes. It's sometimes frustrating but also kind of fun figuring out solutions to new problems as they crop up and I'm sure that more experienced sailors would look at some of our solutions and ask 'what were they thinking'. But we are learning every day and every day that we find new solutions is another day closer to actually setting sail. It's so close now I can actually smell the sea. Oh wait, I'm in a marina right next to the sea. Pffft details.

Thanks for reading and take it easy.

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