Kai, one of my daughter’s very good friends, and I drove down to the boat Sunday morning with plans to do some maintenance and boat chores. Kai is interested in the boating life style and had asked several times to come along with me. It was fun to have his company as he talked about his studies in college, his aspiration to become a video game developer, as well as some of his opinions about a plethora of topics. It seemed that in no time at all we were pulling into the p...arking lot next to the Captain’s Lounge at the Bridgton Harbor Marina and Yacht Club. We went inside to use the bathrooms and before leaving for the boat I was pleased to introduce Kai to Jim and Tim, two of my friends who live aboard their sailboat in the marina. Arriving at the boat I pointed out to Kai some of the things I always do when as I board the vessel such as checking the mooring lines for chafe. Inside I gave him a quick tour after which I got the lazaret key and opened up the aft cabin companion way; that is the ladder and hatch that leads down to my bunk and the workshop located abaft of engine room. I have a larger than double sized bunk along with a built in seat next to it, a dresser drawers, some book shelves and an nice teak wood surface on top of the drawers that I use like a desk; all this is in my cabin. Climbing up topside into the cockpit I opened up the lazaret and rummaged around to get to the deck scrubbing brush and a bucket. Leaving those in the cockpit I went back below to the V berth cabin up in the bow where I keep some of the various polishes that I use. I got the clear vinyl plastic cleaner and polish bottles out along with several soft rags. Grabbing a small red bucket from the head I also picked up a bottle of Joy dish soap and took them topside to give to Kai. Giving him the instructions for how to clean the clear vinyl windows on the dodger (that is similar to the windshield and roof of a large truck) and leaving him to that task I went about removing the canvas covers from the two forward hatches, one over the V berth cabin that is forward and one that is over the solon located slightly to the port, amidships. Going back below I opened up all the hatches to give the boat a good airing out. With Kai toiling away up topside I got busy with the number one task on my list; fix the toilet in the head. It had been filling up with sea water when it shouldn’t have and I had to shut off the two through hull valves just to prevent the boat from sinking. Collecting up a couple of box end wrenches that fit the bolts and nuts on the toilet pump and a flat head screwdriver, I got to work taking the pump apart. Let me explain a little about marine toilets so that you will have a better understanding of what I was about to get involved in. In your bathrooms at home you have a toilet with a tank on the back that fills up with water every time you flush it giving you the necessary quantity of water for the next use. This works well for you in as much as your water and waste disposal is provided by the city water and sewage utilities. In addition your domicile generally stays level and does not tilt or roll about, unless of course you live in California where occasionally an earthquake will empty your toilet tank on your bathroom floor. On a sailboat, which tilts and rolls due to wind, waves, and the wakes of passing boats or ships, having a tank like the one you have on your porcelain throne would be problematic. What we sailors do is pump sea water into the toilet from beneath the boat and then pump that and whatever else we have deposited in the bowel into a holding tank that has to be emptied every so often, or if we are out to sea, we just pump the sewage straight into the ocean. As you can imagine the pump gets a lot of use and for $85 you can buy a marine toilet pump repair kit to fix it when it fails to perform its duties in the required manner, which was the reason this task had become a priority for me. Now you must understand, my entire bathroom on the boat, which is call a “head” (and never a John) is about the same size as a small bathtub. In this miniscule space is a sink, bathroom counter, cabinets and the toilet. It also functions as the shower, which makes cleaning the head pretty easy if you don’t mind wiping the water off everything you have spayed it on while conducting your lavations. However it is not conducive to doing any kind of mechanical work because there is only room enough to stand at the sink or sit on the pot. No room for a 6 foot two inch, less than adequately flexible man, to fit enough of his body parts behind and beneath the toilet to make the undertaking comfortable in any way. If I position myself so that I can see what I’m doing I can’t reach what I need to. If I wiggle about so as to reach what I need to, I can’t see what I’m doing. In addition, the contortions I must endure to accomplish one or the other are very painful. Be that as it may, I persevere and remove the pump with only a few R rated expletives and take out the joker valve, which on inspection it appears obvious what the problem is. Now a failed joker valve is bad news, but on the other hand it is good because if replacing it is all it takes to fix the pump then I’m getting off easy. The distorted joker valve, see picture, is twisted into an “s” shape and gapping open which explains the leaking problem because the joker valve works as a “non return” valve preventing liquid from flowing backwards and normally is closed tight. So, with fingers crossed, I replace the distorted joker with a new one from the repair kit, contort myself and reinstall the pump by brail if you will. I can understand now why some creatures have their eyes on stalks as it sure would have been handy at a time like this. Now, with everything in order I open the two seacock’s and give the pump several pulls after switching the pump selector to “flush”, and then a few more pumps after switching the selector to “dry” as you can see in one of the photographs. Watching and waiting I was gratified to see everything seemed to be functioning well and the toilet remained dry. Collecting up my tools I stowed them in the workshop and looking at my watch I realized that it was way past lunch time so I suggested to Kai that he finish up what he was doing and we go get something to eat. After eating at Subway we went to the grocery store to pick up a few lunch items for my sailing trip with my daughter, Marina, which we were planning for Monday. Depositing the purchases in the back of the car I drove over to Duck Creek marina and boat yard so that Kai could see some of the yachts out of the water. He seemed to enjoy taking that side trip and admittedly I enjoyed showing him another aspect of the nautical life. Returning to the boat Kai got busy scrubbing the decks with Joy dish detergent and Oxiclean to get the mildew and oil stains off the decks and cabin tops. While Kai was working topside I went below and busied myself with stowing gear, rearranging tools and spare parts, putting the V birth cushions back in place, and generally making everything ship shape. Joining Kai as he finished up I gave him the keys to my car so that he could drive home in as much as he had school to attend in the morning. The boat was looking good so I rode my bike up to the captain’s lounge and visited with Tim until about 2000 hours when I returned to the boat, ate a few chips and drank a glass of milk before crawling into bed to read for a bit. It was a good day and we got a lot accomplished. Putting aside my Kindle that I was reading from I remove my glasses, switched off the light, pulled the covers up and fell asleep to the sound of water lapping on the hull and the gentle rock of the boat.
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