Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 7, 2014.

A local boat brokerage is run by a crew I like to call the Dudes. There’s the Head Dude, a couple of lower echelon dudes and then then guys at the bottom of the barrel, the dude scrapeins'. Needless to say, dude, is a big part of their lingo. There’s “this dude, that dude, duu de, oh dude” and on and on. We do a lot of work for the Dudes as they receive boats with issues and we repair them to make them both sale and sailable.

The Head Dude is a great guy and a big part of his boat selling schtick is selling the cruising lifestyle as well as selling the boat itself. He sells the romance of sailing.

The Head Dude has this longtime buddy, Pinhead, thats a bit of a fuck up. Pinhead envisions himself as being a competent mariner, a delivery captain, a boat repair god as well as a damn capable glass and paint guy. A more accurate description of Pinhead would be an alcoholic crackhead with reliability issues. Yes, hes a drug addled fuck up with limited skills.

Pinheads got no real income stream and the Dude being a good guy tries to send a little work his way every now and again. But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I first met Pinhead a few years ago when he was refinishing several nicks and scrapes in the paint on a damaged hullside. He had finished the repairs and primed the areas. I asked when he was going to shoot the paint and he informed me that it was already done. There’s like 28 shades of white and paint matching by eye can be extremely difficult. Its a skill. There was no skill on this hullside. The boat looked like a Dalmatian. I thought it was only primed and he was telling me that it was done. Eeessh.

Fast forward a few years and due to issues Pinhead isn't allowed near brokerage boats anymore. But The Dude decided that he'd entrust his own boat to Pinhead for its maintenance needs. The Dude owns a catamaran that needed a little work done on both engines raw water pumps. The starboard side just needed the impeller changed while the port side needed the pump removed and the seal replaced.

After Pinhead completed these 2 repairs the Dude and some friends went out to enjoy the bay. The starboard engine shut down followed shortly by the port side engine which also just stopped. After sailing back to the dock The Dude gave us a call.

The starboard engine room was completely black. The soot from the engines exhaust covered every square inch of the beneath the quarterberth engine room.
This is after one of the dude scrapins started cleaning the engine room.
By the time I got to the root of the problem I looked like a filthy chimney sweep from Mary Poppins.

It seems that when Pinhead changed the impeller he didn't bother to go looking for the missing vanes from the previous impeller. I found them all jammed into the heat exchanger. There were so many pieces that it had to be the remnants of more than one impeller.
You can't leave those old impeller bits hanging around.
This beaver dam of impeller bits led to a brutal overheating. Opposite sides of the heat exchanger blew out where the heat exchanger bolts to the mixing elbow allowing hot exhaust gasses to spew into the engine room until the engine finally died. The heat exchanger is fairly rotted with corrosion and this excessive heat probably just accelerated its demise. While the starboard engines failure is sad enough the port sides failure will go down in boat lore as a Pinhead Classic.

The bolts that hold the raw water pump are difficult to access. Pinhead told The Dude that while trying to remove them he rounded one of them off. So he had to cut the last nut off to remove the pump. It really was his only choice but its his tool of choice that makes it fun. I might have used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel or maybe a Fein Saw with a metal blade. Pinhead decided to go with the old standard, the Sawzall. You know, that big reciprocating saw that you might use while building a deck. Combine a tight space, an awkward position with limited access and a wildly stroking, 6 inch blade....what could possibly go wrong.

After completing his “repair” Pinhead fessed up and told the Dude that while cutting off the nut he had nicked the corner of the engine and put a “pinhole” in it. But not to worry, it was a tiny hole so after scrupulously cleaning the area he had mixed up a little JB Weld and patched it up.

Evidently it wasn't quite clean enough so while the dude was out with his friends the patch leaked and the engine pumped all of its oil out into the bilge. While I dealt with the starboard engine my boss went after the port side. He saw that the JB Weld repair was leaking so he poked at it with the tip of his knife and the whole “repair” popped off revealing the pinhole. I heard “Oh my God, you gotta come see this”.
Thats quite the "pinhole"

A Sawzall, really?
It turns out I could stick the tip of my pinky into the “pinhole”.

The engine needs to be welded. Before committing to that we did a temporary repair, refilled the oil and fired the engine up. We did get her running again but she has the worst knock I've ever heard. So now at a minimum The Dude needs a multi-thousand dollar heat exchanger/ exhaust manifold on the starboard side and at this point we haven't even looked inside to see whats knocking so badly in the port engine. There is going to be some major disassembly to create access for a welder to repair the block, unless of course the engine needs to be pulled to address the knocking.

So there’s some expensive sadness in The Dudes immediate future. I really feel bad for him. He might have been killing 2 birds with one stone. Trying to save some coin by having Pinhead maintain his boat while sending a little cash his friends way. Either way, sometimes a dude just can't catch a break.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


September 3, 2014.

            So I'm sitting in traffic waiting at a red light waiting to turn to port.  There’s 2 lanes dedicated for port turns and 1 lane for going either straight or to starboard.  I'm the fourth vehicle in the left lane amongst a shit ton of cars.

            The light changes to green and the first 2 cars in my lane move along.  The guy in front of me is just sitting there.  After a few seconds I give one of those polite little bips on the horn.  You know, kinda like “pardon me my fellow traveler, the traffic in front of you has departed and I'm not sure why this wasn't obvious to you but perhaps now you might endeavor to get along as well so we all don't have to sit through this fucking light again”.

            I can see his eyes rise up to the rear view mirror and then drop back down towards his lap.  Either he and his penis are deep in a very important conversation or hes texting.  He either didn't notice that the light has changed and the cars in front of him are long gone or hes just an asshole.  Either way, the lights green dude, lets get moving.  So I lay into the horn in one of those prolonged blasts as are the people behind me.

            Its about this time that I realize that one of the cars in the lane next to me has stopped abreast of me.  I look over and its a uniformed cop in a marked car.  Right at this moment the genius in the car in front of me sticks his hand up through the sunroof and flips me off while still clutching his cellphone as he pulls away.  I turn my head and pull my sunglasses down on my nose and stare over them at the cop.  He kinda smirked at me and pulled ahead of me as we made our turns.

            He then proceeded to pull Mr. Cellphone over.  While being fortunate to witness Karma dishing out a dose of cosmic justice I still had to gloat a bit.  As I slowly rolled by Mr. Cellphone I gave him another bip on the horn and when he looked up I held my hand to my head and gave him the international sign for “call me”.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014.

Yeah, I know, its been a while. Things are going really well here as we make our transition back to dirt life. Christy has been busy with house hunting and the girls weddings while fixing other peoples broken boat shit has kept me out of trouble. Mostly.

Recently I had to add 50 amp service to a customers catamaran. The owners will be living aboard here in Annapolis this winter and decided to add some serious auxiliary heat so additional amps had to be made available to them. I installed 3 outlets for radiant heaters and added an auxiliary heater to their new marine reverse cycle system.

This boat has always been a pack rats wet dream so I was really glad to get the bulk of the work done before the owners scheduled move aboard date. Unfortunately, the new electrical panel wouldn't be arriving until after they and the balance of their crap were on the boat.

A few days after they moved aboard I showed up with the new panel in hand to finish the installation. I took as many tools as I could carry down to the boat and knocked on the hull. The only answer was a barking dog inside the boat. I made another trip to the truck for tools and after piling them on the dock, once again rapped on the hull with no reply. I phoned my boss who assured me that he had talked to the husband, who was at work and that the wife knew I was coming. While I was on the phone I made my final trip to the truck to grab my vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum in hand I started to step aboard when I heard a voice behind me say “What do you think you're doing?”. It was the wife. She was a boat length behind me walking down the dock. I turn and start to explain who I am as she backs away while rifling through her shoulder bag. I have an appointment, I'm wearing a clearly marked company shirt, hell, I've met the bitch before and she's digging through her bag looking for a weapon.

Fortunately for our hero its only a can of pepper spray. I explain that I'm here to install the panel that we've been waiting for while the trigger happy bitch is deciding whether or not to blind me. After a beat or two something clicks in her tiny brain and she realizes that I’m supposed to be here. She tells me how lucky I am that she didn't spray me. I reply with “you're lucky you didn't or you'd be installing your own damn panel”. She points out that “people just can't be too careful”. I'm still holding the vacuum which I raise to eye level and point out that yes, after I stole her valuables I was going to tidy up. With the introductions done, I loaded my tools aboard.

The boat is piled high with garbage bags of stuff and there is barely enough room to stand inside the boat.
The starboard hull is packed waist deep.  The V berth on that side is packed to the ceiling and the head is chest deep.
I laid out my tools on the cockpit table and got to work. Shes satisfied that I'm not the devil and evidently we're now best friends. As I start to work she gets down on the only open spot on the floor and starts to play with her small dog. She's got this extended baby talk thing going on. Nummie, nummie, nummie, biddle, baby biddle nummie..... For like five minutes. Now I realize why she needs the pepper spray because shes driving me crazy. Then, out of nowhere she announces “we've been together since 1986”. Math pops through my head pretty quick and I know there’s no way that the dog is almost 30 years old but I can't help myself and I say “Wow, he doesn't look that old”.

She fixes her dull witted eyes upon me and says “No, my husband and I have been together since 1986”. Okay, good to know. Maybe she prefers to communicate in random blurts so I reply with “Wouldn't it have been horrible to have witnessed the Hindenburg disaster?”. I know that shes wondering whats wrong with me while I’m wondering how long the umbilical cord was around her neck during the birthing process.
At least the conditioner will be a snap to install.  The access is great once I move some stuff.
She was making lunch here in the galley when I left.  How, I don't know.

After a short while she announces that her chore for the day is to wash the boat, including the cockpit. So now I have to bring all my tools inside the already claustrophobic boat. Its so tight that in order to open my drill box, I have to close up the Fein saw, etc. So the boat is closed up, its over 90 degrees, I can't turn on a fan because I’m cutting fiberglass and I don't want to blow glass dust everywhere. Its easily over a hundred inside the boat and I’m starting to sweat. Profusely.

So the dog and I are both trapped inside the sweltering boat and I realized that if PETA showed up they would rescue the dog. Isn't there any group that champions the rights of Broken Boat Shit Fixers? Wheres my PETA? And then the dog started to lick me.

I'm standing at the panel and this foot tall dog has started to lick my shin and is working his way around my leg until he gets to the calf where he switches legs and starts on the other one. The sweat is rolling down my back, traversing the crack of my ass, running down my legs and Fido is lapping it up like its prime rib. Bill au jus. Its salty, its cynical but it needs a little something....I dunno, maybe some pepper spray.