Un­charted Waters

Why ask for help when you can do it all your­self?

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Mov­ing a 62-pound Nord­cord re­frig­er­a­tor from your boat’s cock­pit onto a skinny finger dock? What could go wrong?

It was the week­end. The two-year re­vamp of the Betty Jane II was vir­tu­ally com­plete and, in tri­umph, I jumped into her cock­pit, ready for a lit­tle cruise maybe or a re­lax­ing af­ter­noon spent dock­side, put­ter­ing on small left­over projects. You know, like fi­nally se­cur­ing the screw-in deck plate over the fuel sender on the port fuel tank. Or fig­ur­ing out all the pro­gram­ming op­tions on my new, high-fa­lutin’ stereo.

But then, whaz­zat! I heard a strange bump, bump, bump com­ing from Betty’s in­te­rior. The sound stopped me dead in my tracks, at least for a mo­ment. Then, with mount­ing angst, I threw open the sa­lon door, lunged in, made my way to the gal­ley, from whence the bump, bump, bump seemed to em­anate, and soon set­tled my eye­balls on the ob­vi­ous cul­prit.

Yikes! The thing I’d been dread­ing since I’d bought Betty in 2016 had ap­par­ently taken place—the soul of her 30-year-old Nor­cold un­der­counter re­frig­er­a­tor had ei­ther de­parted for that great reefer roundup in the sky or was in the process of do­ing so. A pud­dle of wa­ter on the gal­ley sole of­fered mute tes­ti­mony to this, as did the hu­mid warmth I smelled when I opened the door.

Man oh man! I couldn’t help fac­tor­ing the cost of a new fridge into my tapped-out fu­ture as I fid­dled with the Nor­cold’s con­trols, try­ing to nix the bump, bump, bump. No dice. Then I flipped the per­ti­nent switches on Betty’s elec­tri­cal panel. Nada!

There was one last ray of hope. I de­ter­mined to ex­tract the reefer from its un­der­counter home so I could check the com­pres­sor and other com­po­nents at the rear. Maybe there was a bad elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion, or a leak that I could eas­ily fix.

I loos­ened some screws, pulled the Nor­cold out and again came up with noth­ing, a find­ing that trig­gered a gloomy at­tack of self-pity. Gone was the day I’d so lov­ingly en­vi­sioned. My plans for that lit­tle cruise? Trashed by Fate’s fickle finger. The left­over projects I’d an­tic­i­pated? Can­celled by the sea gods. And the im- me­di­ate fu­ture? Over­hung by the need to get an old, croaked re­frig­er­a­tor ashore. But how to do this?

As I dis­com­bob­u­lated both AC and DC hookups, I held a con­fer­ence call with my­self. “Now, I could,” I opined, “see if I can find some­body around here to help me get this baby off the boat. But then again…”

An idea popped into my head that has of­ten popped be­fore—it’s a bad idea but, I gotta say, an en­dur­ing one. It goes some­thing like: “Bill, you’re one hel­luva guy. Why bother traips­ing around ask­ing for help from ev­ery Tom, Dick and Harry when you can sim­ply get ‘er done all by your­self ? With way less has­sle. And way more fi­nesse.”

Of course, I heartily agreed. And after lift­ing the big, un­wieldly, box-like reefer aloft, I car­ried it in my arms through the gal­ley, up the gal­ley steps, through the sa­lon and across the cock­pit, where I tried trans­fer­ring it to my tightrope-thin finger pier with­out wast­ing a whole lot of time snug­ging Betty up close with stern and spring lines.

This was a bad idea. More to the point, do­ing the split, with one foot on the boat, one foot on the pier and me and a 62-pound mon­ster sus­pended above the drink, proved overly chal­leng­ing. So, I back-tracked briefly, snugged Betty up close, ac­com­plished the trans­fer to the pier with a great heave-ho, jumped onto the pier my­self, lifted the reefer into my arms again and set off for parts un­known, with sight­lines for­ward to­tally ob­fus­cated.

Can you be­lieve—I made it! After al­most dump­ing both my­self and my charge into the depths when I glanced off a short, stocky pil­ing I’d for­got­ten about, I low­ered the Nor­cold into a dock cart with a dra­matic, ego-sat­is­fy­ing thunk.

“You pulled that thing off the boat all by your­self ?” ac­cused my friend Jerry while pass­ing by only mo­ments later. “Are you nuts?”

Well, yeah, maybe.

By Capt. Bill Pike

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