This one requires a little explanation. First, there is a basic rule in sailing that the stronger the wind, the more you reduce sail area to prevent excess heeling and to keep the boat under control. Conversely, the lighter the wind, the more sail area you want to spread to keep the boat moving. For winds under ten knots, we have this big blue and white sail (see photo above) called a “genaker”. To try and give you an idea of it’s size, imagine someone took a hot air balloon and cut it in half. Or maybe a third, since it’s not a full half circle. But no matter, this thing is HUGE. to keep it under control, a long “sock” of light material slides over the whole sail to turn it into a long cylinder about 65 feet long and maybe a foot in diameter. It really is like a long, lumpy, uneven, nylon sausage. Even in sausage form, this sail takes up a lot of room, and is typically stored in a large locker under my side of our berth. To launch it, we take off the bedding and slide the mattress over to Laura’s side to expose a wooden cover that I can remove to get to the head (the top) of the sail. We then open a hatch and start hoisting the sail up through the hatch until it is hanging from the top of the mast ready to deploy.
Okay, enough about the genaker for now. Earlier this week, my project of the day was to continue working on the new holding tank. The holding tank holds really bad stuff that you don’t want to discharge into the water, and must be pumped out at sewage stations. Our existing holding tank was small, and would hold perhaps six or seven flushes. That’s it. The new one is 20 gallons, and is much larger. Also, the existing hoses were 25 years old and smell had started to permeate the rubber. Time to replace these, also. For obvious reasons, you want the absolute best, odor-proof, sanitation hose you can get. Good quality sanitation hose costs close to eight dollars a foot, but it is the wrong place to pinch pennies. This is one application where you want the best money can buy.
In nautical terms, a “head” can mean the bathroom on a boat, or the potty. In this instance, I mean the bathroom. So the head is just aft of our cabin, and the holding tank (both the old one and the replacement) is located forward of our cabin in the pointy part of the bow called the forepeak. This means the hoses that carry the poo-poo are routed under our berth, through the lockers that are underneath. Remember why you want really good, odor-proof hoses? Under our berth are three large lockers. The middle and largest one is where the genaker is stowed, the forward one contains extra hoses of various types for plumbing projects, and the aft locker contains extra vitamins, and our medications, a seal-a-meal, collapsable luggage, a small fan, and other miscellaneous stuff.
The first task in removing the existing holding tank was to get rid of the old hose. To do this, we had to empty the hanging locker on my side of the boat, and all three of the lockers under my side of the berth. PLUS, I needed to check the place where the hose went under the sole in our cabin, so I had to empty the locker under the sole of all the extra line, spare parts, dinghy pumps, and wire that I store down there.
A photograph of an area hard-hit by a tornado never completely conveys the impact of the total devastation that has occurred. Likewise, no picture I could take really showed the level of disarray in our cabin with all of these lockers emptied. We had stuff everywhere. Not just in our cabin, but we had things strewn in the aft head, the aft cabin, the salon, I mean EVERYWHERE. Hanging clothes were stacked on the salon table, boxes were here and there, the mattress was sort of folded in half on Laura’s side, and over it all was this big genaker somehow expanding to fill every spare cubic foot of space of our berth.
The good news is we got the old hoses and the old holding tank removed. The new hose is a larger diameter than the old, so I need to do a little work before I can install the new hoses. But by now, it was getting late in the afternoon and I had a friend coming over to help me brainstorm a problem I was having with my new pantry drawers. (This is a separate story for later, but it came out well). Also, we had to sleep somewhere that night, and the bed was a wreck.
We spent the next hour putting stuff back in place. The old hoses and tank were unceremoniously carted off to the dumpster. I should add that in the five plus years we’ve had the boat, we only used the holding tank for pee-pee, so it wasn’t absolutely foul. Maybe only a six or seven on the “yeach” scale.
I come back from the dumpster to see Laura just finishing making the bed. The boat looks pretty good, especially considering the absolute mess we had an hour ago. Most things were stowed back in place, the floor was clean, and I could see most of the surface of the salon table.
So Laura looks at me and says, “Honey, have you seen my pillow?”
I don’t know if any of you ever lost a pillow from your bed, but this was a first for us. We looked all over the boat and struck out. The only places we didn’t look were under the berth in those three lockers. To get to those would require tearing the bed apart again, and neither of us were up to it. I think that somehow, while wrestling that genaker back into place, I somehow managed to get it wrapped up with her pillow and stuffed in to the locker. That’s all I can come up with, anyway. In the meanwhile, Laura is using a pillow from the salon to sleep on until we can get enough energy to start emptying lockers again.
We will probably work up enough energy to resume this project this week. I’ll let you know if we find her pillow.