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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Gadget Gods Were Smiling


Today Bill saved us five thousand dollars! One of our last moment purchases before we left Seattle 17months ago was a used dive compressor. We love to dive and the thought of being able to fill tanks along the way ourselves seemed like a great idea and would be a fantastic luxury. We had no idea where we were going to put it but the bid went in and we “won.” The seller shipped it our way while Bill ordered a rebuild kit and downloaded an owner’s manual. Two days later we picked it up at our mail drop and hauled it’s 30”x15”x17” bulk back to the boat.

Once aboard there was no obvious place to store it. We already had the parts and pieces of dozens of other pending projects crammed into every remaining inch of locker space and by this time we even had piles of lumber and still more project supplies tied down on the cabin top and deck. The only place left for the compressor was the back deck. We stuffed it into a big open ended blue plastic bag our new main sail had been shipped in, tied to the back rail and off we went.

Jump ahead to a long hot summer in the sea: the dive compressor is still tied to the back rail. It’s now been sitting barely sheltered from the elements for thousands of miles - Seattle to Alaska and back, a six hundred mile off shore from Neah Bay to San Francisco, through two and a half months dilly dallying along the coast of California and then almost eleven months here in Mexico –through rain and salt spray, heeled over in the wind, through Coromuels, Chubascos and months of dissolving UV rays from above.

I am tired of worrying about it, tired of stepping around it and frustrated with trying to clean up the thousands of tiny blue bits and pieces of shedding plastic bag. By now I have fine-tuned a fantasy of silently shoving it over the side and exclaiming in dismay that we’ve been robbed. I know I can’t fix it myself and am completely convinced that it will never be resurrected. Bill on the other hand I think just wishes it would disappear or better yet rebuild itself and spontaneously begin filling tanks.

I’m sure the procrastinators out there will be able to relate to the problem: days have passed, opportunities slipped by and the job just keeps getting pushed aside and pushed aside. There are only two cures. 1. Time itself steps in and renders the whole thing a moot point: the kid is now five and doesn’t need the pretty knitted baby blanket anymore or the house burns down and that dryer vent simply no longer needs to be reattached. Or 2. A deadline looms and you are forced to bite the bullet and get the job done.

So, here we are the summer season is winding down. It is finally cool enough to begin thinking about boat projects again and our thoughts have turned to our upcoming passage to the South Pacific. We are making lists and reading cruising guides. We are thinking about what we need to buy before we leave and are talking with friends who have been there before us. The conversation keeps coming back to the world class diving we are all anticipating and to conversations about dive compressors.

For most divers having your tanks filled is sort of an incidental. You go out on a dive boat where the crew fills your empty tanks or you drop off your empties at a shop and pick them up filled like you pick up your dry cleaning. But for cruisers like us the truth is that if you don’t have your own compressor you simply don’t dive. It is always more important to have a filled tank on hand in case of an emergency than it is to drift that wall or do that amazing reef dive. You can’t afford to find yourself with three miles of fishing net wound round your rudder with nothing but empty tanks aboard waiting for the next dive shop you find.

It finally came down to #2! Time was running out and the discussions had come round again to renting a car with some other boaters and driving to San Diego for the sole purpose of buying a couple of $5000.00 dive compressor. It would be the epitome of procrastination to make the drive and spend the money without at least trying to get the used compressor running. Amazingly once the oil reserve was filled and the gas tank topped off she started after only a couple of pulls. Walla’ a working dive compressor and money in our pockets. A few tweaks, a new charcoal filter and a notation on our “to buy” parts list for some replacement oil filters and we were rocking and rolling.

Bill lavishly emptied a tank cleaning the bottom and replacing our prop zinc before hooking the tank up to the compressor and in just 20minutes we had a full tank. Oh one more thing, if you own your own dive compressor you are guaranteed to make friends in every anchorage. Hmmm, some cruisers make money filling other diver’s tanks, me, maybe I can make a trade for some shiny stainless or a scrubbed hull????


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