Monday, December 3, 2007

A needle pulling thread

Sometimes, even the experiences of a cruiser in the Caribbean devolve from porpoises and flying fish into the mundane tasks of everyday life....well, maybe not the sort of tasks that would be required while say living in an apartment in NYC, but the mundane tasks that life on a sailboat necessitate. Example: laundry. Now, I know what you're thinking....most of you reading this post do indeed have to contend with doing your own laundry, but most of you also have washers and dryers, or at least access to a Laundromat, whereas I merely have a bucket, some detergent (bio-degradable of course) and clothes pins. I know, I know, the view as I attempt laundry al fresco is scenic, but I'm sure that my sloshing soapy water all over the cockpit as I attempt to squish away dirt from the clothes, wring out the water and then transfer articles from said bucket to our lifelines to dry can't be too pretty. And did I mention that the bucket holds about five items at a time? I've done a "load" just about every day since we've arrived, and we still have two full bags of dirty clothes.

Another task that requires tending to is the repair to the UV cover on our genoa that we managed to shred on our trip down from NC. Yesterday was the day earmarked for this project, and things actually started off rather auspiciously. In less than an hour, we managed to wrestle the genoa off of the forestay and onto to deck and from there into a sail bag and into our dinghy. Keep in mind that this thing is about 600 square feet and weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 75lbs. Once we got the sail into the dinghy, we lugged out our sewing machine from 1950 (more on that in a bit) an extension cord and a variety of sewing supplies and off we went in search of a place to make the repair.

When we arrived at the marina, we carried the sail and related accoutrement to an area nearby which offered an overhead light, a small tin roof and more importantly, a picnic table to sit at and an outlet for plugging in the sewing machine. We then got to work getting the sail out of the bag and the machine set up. Suddenly, I heard Kevin let out a little yelp..."the machine is giving off a shock", he says, "There must be an exposed wire conducting current." Now, I admit, I'm not the handiest gal in the world. I have no idea what would cause a sewing machine to emit live current, but as Kevin fiddles around with the machine, I'm caught up in the thought of what I'll do when he electrocutes himself. Do I jump on him to knock him down and try to separate him from the current? No, I think that would just cause me to get shocked too....maybe I could use something to knock him to the there a 2x4 around?

I'm shaken from my reverie by the arrival of La Rhumba, which is the party barge that cruises our anchorage, transporting drunken tourists and blasting the least desirable mix of cheesy Spanish and American music I've ever heard. The night before, La Rhumba had buzzed by Cielo at one in the morning blasting "Who Let The Dogs Out", waking both me and Kevin and causing me to marvel that recordings of that song still exist. At the current moment though, La Rhumba is playing the much more tasteful Donna Summers’ “Last Dance" a favorite of DJ'd weddings and party boats everywhere. By the time I've finished watching the afternoon crowd stumble off the boat, Kevin has located the bare wire that was causing the problem and attended to it with electrical tape.

Perhaps now is the time that I should explain a bit about our sewing machine. When we first decided to buy our boat, Kevin started researching sewing machines, promising that we'd be happy we had one on board to make sail and canvas repairs (turns out he was right). I'd never used a sewing machine before (maybe in Home Ec in Middle School, but if so, I've blocked it out), so I didn't really care to much about what we bought. Kevin, on the other hand, spent hours on-line looking for the best machine. What he found (on E-bay, no surprise) was a Pfaff 130, dating from a time prior to the division of Germany post World War II. (we know this because the machine is stamped with a "made in Germany" stamp, whereas newer models that we've seen clearly state "Made in Western Germany"). So, it's an OLD machine...and perhaps I should also mention that it cost us a whopping $75 when a new machine capable of making sail repair would cost over 10 times that much. I suppose then it's not surprising then that there are some exposed wires hanging about.

In the end, the machine actually worked just fine...and it only took us 6 hours to get the repair finished. During that time of course it poured down rain--and since we didn't get started until after 2:00, it was pitch dark by the time we finished. Add that to the fact that neither of us has ever repaired a sail, and you can imagine that there were a few explicative let go. At one point, I thought perhaps Kevin mistook me for Jesus Christ as as he spent about 20 minutes muttering His name over and over again. When we finally finished however, though cold, tired and a bit wet, we were quite proud of our efforts and of the money we'd saved by making the repair ourselves. Money that will be well spent on the many drinks we'll most likely consume any time we need to do additional sewing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last two posts are gems! But I miss an account from Elizabeth Ann of the night she found herself hugging the cockpit after Cielo was slammed by wind gust...a little "he said, she said" on that one. With all that experience on the sewing machine, you'll be ready to join the "crafting duo" when you return. : >)

December 4, 2007 at 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I remember, you opted out of home ec in middle school swearing you'd never need it. Indeed you were right, as your choice of partner seems to bear out. I agree that we all want to hear more about the swinging by the harness experience, or maybe not.

December 4, 2007 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger kyle said...

This is my complete lack of surprise that Kevin spent hours researching the best sewing machine online.

December 27, 2007 at 5:22 PM  

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