A Day of Quiet Accomplishment
05 January 2012 | Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
I haven’t mentioned it, but we’ve had one more system issue aboard. Our hand pump to pump our forward holding tank overboard wasn’t working. We thought it wasn’t very effective at the end of the season last year, but without a tank monitor, we couldn’t really see if we were getting the tank emptied. Once back in the U.S., we never use that. In U.S. waters you have to have your holding tanks pumped out at a proper facility, and just about every marina has a pump-out facility.
As we headed out to the Bahamas, we tried to pump out our tanks in the deep water of the Gulf Stream. The new tank monitor showed that nothing was getting pumped out of the forward tank. Because we were concerned about that pump, we’d bought a rebuild kit before we left. Monday Bud started to take the pump apart to rebuild it. The kit contains a diaphragm and two valves. What Bud found when he took the pump apart was that the metal frame of the pump was actually eroded. Undaunted, he cleaned the pump body up and repaired the erosion with Marine Tex. He was able to get the screws out of the old valves, but when he went to replace them found that the screw holes were also eroded. We managed to find slightly larger ones and Bud drilled and tapped the holes. Today he put the pump back together and tried it in a bucket of water. It works!
The damage was bad enough that we are going to try to find a replacement pump in Nassau. If we can’t find one, we hope this holds together for the season. At least it looks like it will work for now.
While he was doing that I was working on making conch horns. The shells from the three conchs Jon and Arline caught had been soaking in bleach since Monday. Arline and I had cleaned them yesterday and let them soak again overnight. Today we finished cleaning them. Once they were rinsed and dried, I took our hacksaw and cut the tip off of each of them. I then used our Dremel tool to cut out the whorl of shell inside the openings I’d made. I used a grinding stone bit to polish the hacksaw cut to make a smooth mouthpiece. Finally, I used Marine Tex to fill in the holes that Bud and Arline had knocked in them to get the meat out. After a bit of practice I was able to get a good solid hoot out of all of them. The biggest one, which is not as pretty as the others, sounds the best. The prettiest one is the hardest to blow, as the outer lip of the shell gets in the way of the mouthpiece. I’m keeping at least two of them for now, but I think the big one will be the official boat conch horn. Now we can join in the Bahamian cruisers tradition of blowing a conch horn to signal sunset. There are conch horns for sale everywhere, but a purchased conch horn just wouldn’t be right on a cruising boat.