Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Home Improvement

In our previous blog we went on a search for the meaning of “home”. The thing is, just when you think you understand what home means in a general sense, someone shows you another perspective…..

But for now, we are out of our carry-with-us home and are staying in an apartment at Boat Lagoon Marina while we do home improvement: for which Ketoro is now out of the water and on the hard-stand.

So many at home in SA are doing home improvement, so we thought we would show you what home improvement on a boat means, in our case…
Remember the cockpit roof (bimini) that was black with mould?
This is Ketoro with no cockpit roof, removed for scraping, repairing, re-painting. The boat was extra-hot with that roof gone. The boat was extra-wet with the roof gone too.

While the roof was off, we found water in one of the previously-dry inside lockers. Finger-test: fresh water. Aha…. Rain: traced back to a now-exposed small crack on the chart-plotter cover (instrument at the helm station), we found it had run down the inside of the electrical panel; so this is the fan drying out the electrical wiring and connections!
This flap-down board (above) also houses the HF and VHF radios, which went in for service, were repaired, but on checking …. Well, in fact, they were not repaired. They are away again, and will no doubt at some stage be returned in working order!

There were also plenty of sunny days, and these were used to get all sails down for repair and integrity checking; Rolf had to go up to address issues that were preventing our storm-torn genoa sail from coming down.
Hot days were also used to clean out the big front lockers …
We removed the water and fuel tanks from the lockers, so they could be cleaned and have inspection hatches cut into them (process underway here): in future we will actually be able to see into the tanks - a bonus, as their gauges are often not working.
A great mess was made of the trampoline area… Do you see the sign Tyra in front of the boat? Great coffee…. Great air-conditioning… a great break and hide-out!

Other jobs? This is our cabin, showing engine under the bunk and the auto pilot and rudder system behind the headboard – all now serviced and problems addressed.
The pic below shows the bilge (under-floor compartment) showing three of Ketoro’s approximately 12 holes below the water-line, which are used to conduct sea-water to or from engines, aircons, toilets, water-maker etc. These holes, of course, are kept well sealed, but in 6 of these, the seacocks or through-hull fittings (like the one above) were rusted, and no doubt would have stopped functioning or started allowing water into the boat half-way across the ocean if left much longer.

This mess is our saloon!
The missing cushions are either at the upholsterers for repair where they have been used too often as grab-handles, or stored in a friend’s house nearby: kind souls lent us a spare room! The lid is off the locker to work on batteries and aircon.
And of course the usual rust issues…

 Sent us on the bike out in the rain to the shops…
And the tool section at Super Cheap sent Rolf into tool euphoria!

 On the outside, there was scraping and anti-fouling (painting the undersides to diminish growth on the hulls) and scrubbing and new props (these no longer make the grade).
Of course, all of this home improvement has been done to get Ketoro fit and ship-shape for our 2013 trip across the Indian Ocean again: and it is clear that home improvement in this case includes the equivalent of doing the home electrics and plumbing and servicing the car.

We have added a further 35m of anchor chain for deep anchorages at some stops on the way and we checked our grab bags: these are containers that are equipped with necessities if we have to hastily leave the boat and jump in the life-raft. Well, of course we had grab-bags that we packed before we left more than 3 years ago; now was the time to unpack the two bright yellow containers….
Summary: food out of date, now exchanged for fresher (and more put in: we would have been very hungry from day three...); safety flares out of date (of course); batteries, although dated 2015 and sealed in packets, were leaking and useless; small mechanical water-maker and meds and first aid ok…. But no knives, no fishing equipment, no torches…! I think these had been gradually removed for daily duty over the last two years. Thankfully we have not required the grab-bags before now and their deficiencies will be dealt with before we set off from Thailand.

A lot of time has been spent doing research for the trip, for which we have compiled screeds of notes on alternative routes and spread-sheets with weather data, safety and security contact details (radio, phone, e mail). To compile this lot took us trawling through books and the internet.
Of course, great heed was paid to sites such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “Travel and Living Abroad” pages, where up-to-date info was gained on piracy and pertinent country data. Whilst this was often quite depressing, there was an occasional gem that lightened the moment, like this extract from the http://www.fco.gov.uk pages:


Balcony safety


There have been 13 incidents of young people falling from balconies so far this year. Three of these cases resulted in death while others have been seriously injured.

We've joined forces with the Association of British Travel Agents to help prevent balcony incidents among young people in popular holiday resorts. 

We learn from all we read, so of course balcony safety will play a prominent role in our planning and preparation from now on, and assumes great importance when we drink a sun-downer on the balcony of our apartment at the end of the day, avoiding a balcony incident while enjoying the view over the marina towards Ketoro (home on the hard-stand), from the apartment (home-for-the-moment).
As we also plan quantities to provision for the trip, we are most grateful that it is the balconies that are the problem, and not the sundowner drinks. Cheers!