I’ve noticed that, throughout a lot of my blogs, I often write about the fundamental rules of boating. Rules such as Thou Shalt Not Buy A Boat Because It’s Not Worth It Trust Me and Why Did Thou Buy a Boat Anyway Art Thou Stupid? and See I Told Thou.
But one rule I don’t think I’ve covered is Thou Shalt Not Have Nice Things.
I’m quite surprised I haven’t written about this yet because it applies to absolutely everything. Nice clothes? Don’t bother, coal doesn’t really come out in the wash. Nice shoes? YEAH IF YOU LIKE COAL-COLOURED SHOES. Basically, there is no point buying anything nice because: Coal. And if it’s summer and the fire isn’t on: Dog and Mud. And if you’re not stupid enough to have a dog: General Boat Grubbiness.
But it’s not just grubbiness that’s the problem. Our boat is also like the Bermuda Triangle of new appliances. It seems that whenever we want to treat ourselves to something new that will make our lives easier or more pleasant, Albion looks at that thing and says, “Nope!”
Take, for example, our shiny new fridge.
Look at it! Beautiful blue ethereal light, radiant with peace and coldness. Like the very apparatus with which God himself creates a snowflake.
Our old fridge was not beautiful and shiny. It was beige. And beige in the way that I don’t think was beige to start out with.
It was also absolutely fantastic at doing the exact opposite of what a fridge was supposed to do. You could put food in it and, just 10 minutes later, the food would be perfectly warmed. Leave it for 30 minutes and your food item would be deliciously collapsing in on itself with rot. The fridge became affectionately known as the Mould Box.
So we replaced it.
I won’t lie to you readers, the installation process of the shiny new fridge was not without its stresses.
But, eventually, the new fridge was in and cooling the hell out of our Co-op pizza.
Sounds good, right?
Turns out we underestimated the amount of power the new fridge would draw from the batteries. The old fridge had run off the gas so had never been a problem and we’re getting so much power from the solar panels these days that we thought the new fridge would be fine. We figured we’d just hook it up to the gas once winter came around.
Sadly this was not the case and, judging by the fact that the lights wouldn’t turn on, the water pump was out of action and we couldn’t get the engine to start, Shiny New Fridge had drained the batteries completely.
But then we realised that the inverter was still working and that the batteries weren’t completely drained at all. In fact, to our relief, everything seemed fine.
Except for the entire 12v system.
Instead of simply draining the batteries like we thought, installing (and uninstalling) the fridge had obviously caused something to go very wrong with the 12v circuit and we couldn’t find a single blown fuse to explain it.
Which is a worse problem!
We thought perhaps the low batteries might be the issue so we attempted to hand start the engine to top them up.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to hand start a Petter PH2W engine (if you have then, wow, niche, and also please please tell us how) but it is IMPOSSIBLE. In theory you have to crank this cranky thing round and round really really fast and then, when you’ve got to optimum fast cranky spin, you flick a levery contraption and the engine comes on.
In practise, the cranky thing takes the weight of seven elephants to turn and the lever does absolutely bugger all.
After several goes, Ed had lost most of the skin on his hands so we decided to give up.
Literally powerless, I invoked another Rule of Boating: If you just go to sleep for long enough, everything will work out fine.
Lo and behold, curled up with the dog in bed, I awoke to the beautiful sound of the engine spluttering into life and the beautiful vision of Ed emerging, triumphant, from the engine room.
“How did you fix it?” I asked, wondering what year it was.
“Unplugging the fridge loosened a connection in the 12v circuit so I just wiggled it until everything worked again,” explained Ed.
So there you have it, an entire morning of stress that could have been saved if we’d remembered the most important boating rule of all: When in doubt, wiggle it.