Or, as I like to remind anyone willing to listen . . . I do not travel the world in the off-season, nor loll on chaise-lounges in some sunny clime . . . . No, I ruminate for years in a tedious and momentum building kind of way; whilst at the wheel steering the COLUMBIA III up long remote channels or over coffee in the winter months alone and gazing perspicaciously out my window upon a misty coastal morning . .. . Ie: I had an idea that scurried about the edges of my mind for years and this winter i catapulted into action . . (read “trudged”).
The COLUMBIA III is divided into 5 water-tight compartments: forward (or the collision bulkhead), chapel area, main engine room, aft accommodation area and the lazarette in the stern. The three central high volume zones have 2 separate bilge pumps and a high water alarm that rings (very loudly) the general ship’s alarm if water levels get unusually high. (I won’t tempt Murphy but generally a rare occurrence . . . ) But, astute reader that you are, you’ll be wondering why the other two zones have no pumps and no alarms. Me too!
In addition to the lack of pumps or alarms in all the compartments, there was no annunciator panel in the wheel house that would notify the Master if one of the pumps was operating. Generally, its nice to know if a pump is running as it might alert the Skipper to a problem before it gets out of hand. An example of this was when my desalinator burst a water line and was spraying salt water in the engine room . . . the bilge pump took the excess water away but I only realized the problem when I noticed the discharge water getting pumped over board. An indication of pump operation in the wheel house would have alerted me sooner.
So after years of abject procrastination, (an affliction I am all too familiar with!) I decided to rectify this problem and I planned a remedy.
Here’s the “concept diagram” from the Mothership Adventures Research and Development Department . . ..
And a rough schematic to make sure I knew what I was doing . . .
Then a pictorial view so I could wrap my brain around the physical layout of the number of terminals I’d need in the little display unit . . .
Then a rough prototype in cheap plywood to determine how small I can make the unit and still fit everything into one place . . .
Then I transfered that idea into a varnished mahogany frame with strobing alarm and circuit breaker for system protection . . .
And a small brass plate to hold the circuit breaker in place . . .
and a custom designed face-plate created in town at an engraving establishment . . .
and 9 red and green LED indicator lights wired up at my kitchen table . . .
and then I forgot to take any pictures but I had to thread 200 feet of data wire from one end of the ship to the other to connect the pumps and high level bilge alarm float switches to the wheel house. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this (I installed 17 connected smoke detectors throughout the ship a few years back) but it’s a lot of work to inveigle rolls of wire through water tight bulkheads, under floors, under bunks, over ceilings, behind steering gears and wheel house wire bundles . . . .
and a small metal plate so I could fasten the whole unit against the wall . . . and 24 wires connected to the terminals . . .
And the final installation mounted in the wheel house.
So now I wander through the wheel house and glance at my little “achievement” and ponder, “I wonder what it’s like to be a normal human. Perhaps I should take up watching televised sports instead.”