Thursday, December 2, 2010

Boat projects and exponentially growing complexity

This is so typical of boat projects. They tend to grow exponentially. Today's job, get the Barefoot maintenance crew to top up our fridge coolant. For this one all we should need to do is complete the following sequence of steps. Dinghy to the dock, talk to the fridge guy, dinghy him back to our boat, attach gauge and hoses to filler tank, fill the compressor and dinghy the guy back to the dock. Simple enough.

Turns out that when we got to the stage of attaching the gauge it showed that we were nearly completely empty. One of the hoses was leaking and it needs to be re-crimped onto the fitting or there's no point doing the top-up. Lucky for us there's a fridge repair place just down the road.  It's getting a little more involved now (about 2x the complexity) but still easy.

Call the cab, take a 5 minute drive to the fridge repair place, explain what I need to no fewer than four people despite having the part in hand as a prop to assist in the charades. They don't have the right hose. The place that does is all the way into town. At rush hour. Now we add about another 2x additional complexity to the project and it's looking like it's not going to get done today.

We get to the place in town and they have the hose but can't/won't simply crimp the hose to our fitting as we have crappy fittings that don't have these special grooves that prevent the hose from slipping off under pressure. I'm sure it would have been fine for the length of time that we need it to work for (heck, it's been working this way OK for at least the past couple years) but I'm having a hard time understanding the pigeon-English and the guy's pretty insistent that it can only be done his way. So, he gives us the new fittings and sends us off to the other end of town (still in rush hour) to the machine shop to have the guy there weld the new fitting end (with the special grooves) onto our valve fittings. This doesn't cost a lot except time. And time is critical because the other shop, the one with the hose, closes at 4pm and it's now 3:25. If we don't get this done today then at best we're not going to be able to chill the fridge until mid-morning tomorrow.

Up the hillside to the machine shop we zip (the streets and driving style here deserve a blog post of their own). As with most businesses, this one is in some guy's backyard, behind a crumbly single-storey concrete house that's had a dozen paint jobs (you can still see each one). We wait around while the guy hacks off the bits, welds some stuff, grinds some stuff and welds some more stuff. All of this is done while shuffling his feet and dancing to the reggae-jazz-christmas music that he's got playing somewhere. Going in the price is $25 EC for the pair. Coming out (30 minutes later) and the price is now $35 EC for the pair. Whatever. There's no point arguing over what is no more than the equivalent to $4 back home.

By this time it's five minutes to four and there's no way we'll get back to that other shop before they close. This means I've got to come back into town tomorrow to finish the job. Unless I want to spend an additional $100 EC on yet another return ride into town I need to use the local buses for the trip tomorrow (the $100 was justified today to attempt to get it all done in one day, as it was there's no way I would have found the machine shop on my own so that alone justifies it). This easily pushes the whole thing up by another level of complexity (another2x). And we're not done yet. I'm really hoping that we're through all the surprises. Can it get any more complicated? We just won't know until it's all done.


  1. This could almost be a typical Saturday morning in "anywhere," Canada except for the language and lack of your own wheels - HA! Let's hope today is the day that it gets done and done right, eh? Hope this doesn't interfere with your wanting to get south to Grenada while the winds are good.
    Patience . . . one of those attributes we all need to work on.

  2. House and car projects can get out of hand too but not the way the smallest thing seems to either take forever or cost much, much more than you'd imagine (or both) when it comes to boats. We saw this happen time and again with our last boat in Vancouver. The language and location do make it a bit more challenging here but it's mostly just about boats. The main thing is that you can never overestimate a boat project. :)

  3. Temperature projected for tonight -28c, currently tonight -29c. There. Feel better yet? :) love Grandpa