Twas the night before Mission

Thursday 7 September 2017

Beachfront Resort Anchorage, Luganville

The morning dawned still and warm with the heat and humidity building through the day.

Today’s list of tasks included fixing the prop-brake, along with the leaking hose clamps on the exhaust water cooling system.

What is a prop-brake, I hear you ask … well everyone knows that the propeller goes around when the engine is put into gear and we drive from place to place. We prefer to use the wind, but sometimes there just isn’t enough, or it’s from the wrong direction, or we need to maneuver in confined spaces. But when the engine is off and we are travelling under sail alone, the propeller keeps rotating, because of the passing water, and this wears out all the moving parts – for nothing. The solution? A “brake” on the prop shaft to hold it stationary, because shoving the gear lever in reverse just doesn’t have the desired result.

Yachties down the ages have been quite inventive when it comes to solving this problem, using a range of mechanisms including screw drivers jammed in strategic places, light string and multi-grips. The trick is to make sure that whatever you use, it’s removed BEFORE putting the engine into gear, otherwise it can get a bit nasty down there. Some sailors even profit from the free-wheeling prop shaft by attaching a power generation system to charge the batteries, indirectly gaining electricity from the wind.

Chimere came with an ingenious devise using car brake pads fitted either side a disk plate attached to the shaft itself. Pull a rope under the chart table and the brake pads clamped each side of the disk pad by way of a steel cable; much like the front wheel of a bike. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work, but corrosion and slipping cable clamps had rendered it unserviceable.

That’s where our new Dutch friend Deep, (partner of yesterday’s emergency dental patient Mallika) off a nearby yacht has been able to exhibit his super powers. This man is not one to give up easily and after three hours of upside down fiddling, unbolting and adjusting I am very happy to report that we now have a fully functioning prop brake again. As for the leaking exhaust hose clamps, well I bought more this afternoon and after reattaching with lashings of sticky stuff I’m hoping there’ll be no leaks tomorrow when I fire up Perkins.

Whilst in town I ran a few errands, including changing more Aussie to Vatu, buying new exhaust hose clamps and starting on the grocery shopping.
Back aboard Chimere in the late afternoon the first thing was to fit the new hose clamps and then start the process of cleaning up and packing away all the tools and hardware items.

Deep popped back to share some free navigational software and to say his final good-byes on behalf of him and Mallika. It’s been great getting to know them and I look forward to keeping in touch. If you want to check out their website it’s and their yacht is called Yemaya

This is the last night before the start of Mission 4. This time tomorrow we will have quite a crowd on board. I think it’s 12, with 2 or 3 more staying ashore and then joining us early Saturday morning prior to our 6:00am departure. I suppose I really should know the exact number, and I’m sure I will by mid afternoon tomorrow. All I know is that I need to have as many bunks as possible available for allocation. The boat also needs to be clean and I’m required to have a safety and awareness presentation rehearsed … seats upright, tray table, seat belts …

Who gets which bunk is always a complex calculation requiring an algorithm whose variables I’m not at liberty to divulge. I will say, however, that if you are in the “senior” demographic, with qualifications in something like, say, dentistry, or medicine, then you are more likely to receive “most favoured treatment” …

Cleaning the fridge is a job I’d been putting off, knowing that the tuna head and various portions of its body were still floating at the bottom in a soupy cold red liquid. Whilst I never saw a photo of the fish I can attest to its size having now seen its head; a treasured part of the animal in local circles apparently (that’s why it’s still in the fridge).

Next on the list of “Things to Do” was sorting through the food stores and exercising my legal right as skipper to gain access to the Mission 4 food “sarcophagus” right below where Mission 3s food stash was stored. Hoping beyond hope that “food robbers” hadn’t gained access and made off with the chocolate, muesli bars and other tasty treats … otherwise known as “rubis kai kai”. I started out with good intentions, but then got hungry and put it off till tomorrow.

Having washed and re-packed the tuna, I couldn’t resist eating a raw slab in soy sauce and lemon juice as an entree to my tinned spaghetti, toast (using freshly baked whole meal bread; a gift from Mallika), grated cheese and lemonade. This batching sure has its perks !!

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Twas the night before Mission

Rob Latimer

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