Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Best Boat Fan


When we re-started our voyage about a year ago with our new boat Phoenix, we had spent four months sweltering in Baltimore fitting her out for cruising.

Then we called it. Time to get back to cruising. There will always be time for projects.

Project time has rolled around every few months and this past week was one of them.

We were motivated because we have a series of guests who will be joining Phoenix over the next few months. Starting with my daughter, Zoe, today! I am so damn excited.

Most importantly we had to install 12-volt fans because the heat here is so incapacitating that all you can do between 2 and 6 in the afternoon is place your prone body under a fan, prop up a crossword puzzle and then let is slowly glide out of your hands while you fall asleep.

Any project on a boat is challenging. It might seem like exaggerating, but it doesn't feel like it when I say that doing something like wiring four DC fans into your boat is like re-tiling your bathroom floors and walls. While you are and your partner are living in it.

Every boater knows this song, but allow me to sing it. You pull everything out of one half of the boat and shove it in the back half. This grants you access to some of your tools and some of the areas you need to be working in. Then you shove half of what you just moved back to front, but re-stack it to leave room for the project areas. That opens up the other tools and work areas. And now, since we are wiring, which requires access to all the recessed areas, you empty out the spaces in the middle of the boat, squishing some into the head, some into the anchor chain locker, some into the cockpit and, by this time, you would really like to shove some choice pieces into various orifices of your partner.

The chaos of projects. One small project was finally hanging that green Byzantine-style mirror we bought months ago in Crete.
The settee had to be emptied, the shelves are cleared.
The hanging closet had to be emptied to get at the electrical panel.
The mattress in the masterberth was folded back to get more tools and to get better access to the secondary electrical terminal blocks which you just barely see.
You perform acrobatics to get by each other, stub your toe, swear, pretzel yourself into corners only ever meant to stow an empty duffel bag, and then ask for a screw driver. "Not that one!" 

You're finally in position and you realize it's too damn dark. You ask for a headlamp. You wait in your claustrophobic dark trap and wonder what's taking so long. It's because five boxes were stacked onto the cubby with the flashlights. You put it on and the batteries are waning. Swear again. To hell with it, at least it's better than before.

But now you realize you can't see a thing because the wire bundle you are working on is so close to your face and you've grown more nearsighted than you have admitted so you didn't prepare yourself with reading glasses for projects like these. Swear again.

You ask for reading glasses and wait again. Breathing and wondering what it is like to be buried alive in a coffin.

Ahh, the glasses. You set up the screw through the ziptie against the wood and start to screw. The screw slips. Of course. And drops. Somewhere behind your head. Swear again. You fumble, feel the screw, lose it, get it, fidget it into the ziptie and this time you put a lot of pressure on that screwdriver.

The screwdriver end slips out of the screw and into your finger. Loud swearing. Uncreative swearing. Repetitious swearing.

"Be careful," comes from somewhere in the world where there is air, light and good vision.

You wait to be handed another screw, breathing, now seeing the wooden bulkhead clearly with your glasses, if a bit dimly with the weak headlamp.

If you've ever worked on boats, you've had this exact experience. And I bet you used those exact, uncreative swear words.

Actually, I must say that Jennifer and I worked tremendously well together. This is not just back-peddling, it is an acknowledgement of how hard it is to work together, and yet how easily Jennifer and I can leave that behind us as soon as I crawl out of the coffin, breath fresh air and we look at our neatly tied and labeled wires and compliment ourselves on what great shipwrights we are.

We worked for two days on miscellaneous projects and spent three days installing the fans.

The rewards were "fan"-tastic? Now we have fans in both berths, one in the galley and another to cool whoever is napping on the settee.

A fan for the fans who spend a night on Phoenix.
The geeks might like to know that we installed two-prong sockets and plugs for the fans, so they are easily removed in case of future damage or for any other potential DC device.

The best boat fan. A Bora by the company Caframo.
I rarely recommend a particular product, but the Bora fans by Caframo are truly great. I did a lot of online research and in-store comparisons among various fans. These are the quietest, most elegant, and they move a lot of air. They have three speeds and use 0.25 amps. Caveat emptor: I bought five of these fans in 2010 and three of them were inoperative. This time I bought four and all four of them worked.

But before I pass up another bad pun; sorry I just can't help myself ... What I really want to say is that the very best boat fans are the ones who come to visit you.

Exit, stage left. (Dodging the rotten eggs and tomatoes.)

2 comments:

Nirmala Singh-Brinkman said...

O.M.G. What an ordeal! And in the sweltering heat too! Ach!

Anonymous said...

hey guys
had lost track of you.
no postings since july?
hope all is well.
just finished a long voyage
all the best,
mike
sv Lavida