Bulletin Two - Great Sanitary denoeument
Things have not yet gone quite as planned. After the flood of good wishes that followed the first Bulletin, it would be nice to report that we are safe in the fine anchorage opposite a celebrated (but quite cheap) restaurant in the Summer Isles, even now sitting with glass of the finest New Zealand sauvignon blanc chilled just right for the prevailing warmth, awaiting the first course of scallops with lemon and ginger, watching cavorting seals and dolphins; serenaded by the nightingales so typical of the area; all in a setting of silver sands, azure blue and limpid waters.
No, dear friends, we are not - we get ahead of ourselves. First the boat must be conducted to Balvicar boatyard to be hauled out of the water by a monstrous, creaking machine and chocked up so that she can be painted. A simple 2-hour trip - if only it had not been blowing a gale. Despite the howling tempest, it was decided by a panel of experts (The Navigator) that we would give it a go, ignoring Broontrooser's querulous twitterings about the “Dorus Mor”, that dreaded passage from Loch Craignish to the Sound of Jura. The brave captain's forebodings were overcome by the thought that the quicker we went, the quicker we would be ordering the first pint of the frothing ale in the “Galley of Lorne”, and even better, the “Misnish Arms” in Tobermory, so we left harbour into the teeth of the gale. As we approached the dreaded passage in seas that could be described as a little tempestuous, causing Broontroosers to repeat his mantra “It used to be a lifeboat”. Even the navigator commented that so much water was being flung over the top of the boat that she could no longer see out of the wheelhouse windows - that two of the three windscreen wipers had been carried away by a huge wave and water was leaking through one of the back windows, never before exposed to crashing waves. A fleeting glimpse through the spray of large combers playing leapfrog and crashing about in total chaos decided the crew that withdrawl, or “running away” was the favoured course of action. So we turned round, rolling like a fat pig and set out back to harbour. The only person displeased by this was the old boat, which had been cavorting about, headbutting waves and creaking with wild delight. As we entered the marina, we noticed a reception committee had gathered at our berth, members of which helped us moor with unusual solicitude. It subsequently emerged that the crew of a large yacht entering the loch as we exited had reported to the marina office that “a nutter” was exiting through the Dorus Mor and maybe the coastguard might be alerted? Since this event, we have been treated in an interesting manner by the marina staff (who smile at us in the sort of way nurses do at demented patients).
Next day, the seas were calm and the Dorus Mor serene, so the boat has been out, painted by Broontroosers, who also paints himself for good measure, and conducted to the fine port of Oban to await the return of the Navigator from meetings in London and the arrival of Princess Sha Sha from Suffolk.
Now then: To the real meat, so to speak, compared to which seagoing is a mere sideline. I speak of course of the Sanitary System, and in particular the thrice verdammt pumpout pump, a vital part of the whole system, without which the boat would eventually fill with ordure.
Long-suffering readers will know that the problems facing a sanitary engineer on “Deneys Reitz” are deep-set, long-standing and complex. There are parallels with the global financial system here, as Professor Alexandrov (“The Prof”) will doubtless confirm. To elaborate: The problems in the financial system have many roots, one being the breakdown of consensus about Keynesian economics and its replacement by market fundamentalism as the prevailing creed, leading amongst other things to the deregulation of the financial markets and so on - readers probably can fill in the gaps themselves. So it is with the sanitary pumping, performed by a complex system capable of shifting vast quantities of previously mentioned ordure into the ocean in short order. At the end of last season one long-standing fault was detected by the persistent and often smelly Broontroosers - one of the valves in the pump chamber was not properly seated, thus leading to intermittent failure (Just like the financial system).
This was a breakthrough in understanding of the system, leading to replacement of vital parts of the valve complex. Thus, Broontroosers assumed (like Gordon Brown after granting the Bank of England independence??) that having done one thing he had fixed all the problems. So a re-assembled pump lay in the bowels of the boat for the winter, the assumption that it was fixed giving Broontroosers warmth and comfort over the long chilly dark days.
On reaching Oban four days ago, he decided to test the system before we and Sha Sha got to work with serious intent, thus filling the tank. So he spent some of the time generated by Totty's absence in London to give it a whirl. Wonderful! The pump performed brilliantly, the sounds of swishing liquids in the outlet pipes being music to the ear. So he pumped - and pumped- and pumped.....and pumped. Then he stopped. Had the system defeated him again??? What he bloody hell was it all about??
When the Navigator returned she was greeted in a peremptory fashion and instructed to immediately go out on deck to observe whether a satisfactory flow of brown stuff was emitting from under the waterline, forming the usual odiferous cloud in the water.
Instead of this she reported strange phenomenon - no stuff coming out under the waterline - but a vigorous flow of clean water pouring from what appeared to be an overflow pipe every time Broontroosers pumped. Time to ring engineer Watty Watts. “Ho”, said Watty, “That's the overflow, you must be pumping water into the tank - have you installed the pump upside down?” said he, hardly able to contain his mirth (actually shrieking with coarse laughter). “££%%$$**&” said Broontroosers, having discovered yet another novel way of sinking his own boat. There followed the usual indescribably horrible process of dismantling the pump, installing it right way up, followed by failure to pump anything and incandescent rage. But at 3am this morning, surrounded in his mind by a faithful band of supporters, Positive Thinker, Philosopher, Linguistic Geographer and Mechanical and Hydraulic genius Watty Watts, the solution suddenly came to him. He had a Vision of the pump chamber and in it one of the valves was installed the wrong way round! After 2 hours more smelly toil and the 430th dismantling of the pump, all was well and the tank emptied ready for the arrival of Sha, who won't have to use the “Porta Potty” after all. (Little does she know the traumas experienced on her behalf). The triumph was reported to Watty, who said that until now he believed that there were only two ways of installing a pump, the right way and the wrong way. Now he was wiser, as Broontroosers had discovered at least 5 wrong ways, said he chuckling kindly. There is now a sign pinned to the side of the boat: “SANITARY ENGINEER; NO DISASTER TOO BIG, NO COCK-UP TOO SMALL”.
But, dear friends, like Gordon Brown, Broontroosers has saved the world, albeit on a slightly smaller scale!! No more sanitary problems, only mundane gales, huge waves and lurking rocks. June Barnes, our Sanitary Sage is now redundant.
Wait for the sequel to this gripping tale: “The Lavatory Strikes Back”.
Behind all this drama, Met Ace Bartlett foretells the possibility of abating winds, so maybe, just maybe, the Big Trip to the West can start tomorrow. Watch this space for more marine mishaps.......