The Kettering Experience

Sue & Chris were in Tasmania on holiday from Queensland so we considered fixing the tiny drip in the toilet before they came out sailing. However, being experienced sailors, we were pretty sure that a tiny drip could become a horror story so decided to wait a day.

After a beautiful day sailing with our guests, we levered ourselves in to our tiny bathroom and searched for the leak. We rebuilt the entire pump unit but that did not help so decided it was due to back pressure in a blocked pipe. We pulled the main discharge pipe off and got soaked. It appeared that the valve that keeps the sea out was no longer working and we needed a new one. Remember that we mentioned horror stories in the previous paragraph!

To change a leaking valve you have to lift the whole boat out of the water and have someone who knows what they are doing. Luckily we had briefly met Jon – who was to become our “fairy godmother” – at the wooden boat festival in Hobart. We rang him and said “Help!” to which he answered “Ring Angelo and come to Kettering”. We rang Angelo who said “no problem” as Tasmanians do and then rang the marina for a lift out. The marina was fully booked but, when we said “Jon sent us”, a two hour gap appeared which Angelo said was “no problem”.

On the way to Kettering we stopped off at Bruny Island for three hours of wet, cold, foggy sailing with Janeil and Simon. Simon enjoyed the Tasmanian summer and spent all three hours at the tiller. After we anchored Janeil and Heidi thawed him out and he fell asleep.

On the appointed morning Jon came round to look at the problem and said “bugger-it, you can’t put a new valve in there. You have a Blake valve from England and nothing else will fit”. He cancelled Angelo and rang Bruce who built his own boat thirty years ago and included five Blake valves. Bruce came over and took a look and explained that the valve could be reground but the boat needed to come out for longer than two hours. Jon and I visited Emma in the marina office and they extended the two hours in the (full) marina to two days!

Once we were out of the water Bruce took a look at the dismantled valve and asked if we had a UK bank account as only a new Blakes valve was going to help and you don’t find them in Australia. So we are out of the water for a maximum of two days and need a valve from the UK. The horror story had happened as expected. But…

We were in Kettering. Bruce fished his spare Blake valve out of his boat (one of only two Blake valves available in Australia) and lent it us. Jon made a new teak spacer plate to fit under the valve and lent us the big tools we needed to get the old valve out. Alan lent us the “gunge”, spanners and paint we needed to complete the job. Bruce inspected and approved the new valve and we were back in the water as planned and the boat was waterproof.

The old hosing was ripped and bent at the ends so we bought some nice shiny new tubing and then wasted two days trying to get the f’*+?=ng stupid tubes on to the b/&%$rd fittings. Eventually Bruce advised that he had tried the white tube years ago and it was impossible to fit. Callum also told us that he and his son had given up with the §h”t white stuff. We changed to Plan B and used a combination of cut down old tube and new bendy stuff.

With everything rebuilt we checked the toilet and the pump still leaked! Horror Story Part 2. We ordered a new pumping unit to be flown in from the mainland and replaced old with new. After a few tries we finally had a non leaking toilet.

We pumped the toilet in to the holding tank and then tried to pump the tank empty. The pump-out wouldn’t pump and blew the fuse so we took it apart and ordered a service kit from the mainland. The serviced pump still would not work so we took it out and reinstalled it a few times. In the process we discovered that the original wiring and fuse was wrongly dimensioned so now we can fix that as well.

Somewhere under the rainbow

The above sounds like a bit of a disaster but there were compensations.

  • we were lent Callum’s carpet lined berth.
  • we were invited to a Barbecue at Jon & De’s fantastic house.
  • we were invited to drinks and snacks on board Anne & Ivan’s beautiful wooden ketch “Laurabada”.
  • we were twice guests for dinner on Bruce and Thelma’s stunning wooden boat “Tui of Opua”.
  • Janie & David finally caught up with us.
  • we had two great dinner parties on board Artemis.
  • we learned loads from everyone and
  • we have a whole set of new friends.

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