How many Jedis can Obelix swallow?

Eager to find out, we organised Azur’s birthday party at the marina, with no other plan B than using Obelix and the marina lounge for shelter in case of extreme weather. Needless to say that as the week-end approached, and, with it, its sub-optimal forecast, the weakness of our plan B kept me up all night, worrying about how to handle all these kids’ energy on a rainy day, and coming up with ideas of activities that could be done in the rain, keeping kids warm and entertained. Parents were also warned to bring rain jackets as we would hold the party outdoors not matter what (no way I would stay indoors for two hours, in a confined area, surrounded by thirteen kids!).

Fortunately the sky gods were with us and not a single drop fell between 2 and 4pm, which allowed us to make the most of the marina settings and offer our thirteen Padawans, aged 5 to 10, a rather unconventional program.

We started with trolley races on the green, which took an unexpected turn when us parents raced each other and the excited kids begged us to be next to jump in our trolley given how much faster we were going compared to their friends. However the fun was cut short due to both our limited level of fitness. Then we took a walk on the wrong pier to look for Obelix (I had mentioned to Zephyr we might have moved the boat for this), and after finally spotting the boat from behind, the kids ran to the correct pier for a brief visit of our floating home. One Padawan required a bit of convincing to jump onboard observing that it ‘moved’. After taking a few pictures as proof, we invited the kids back on the green for a scavenger hunt where they had to collect clues, drawings by Azur carefully slid inside ziplock bags and behind which I had written where to meet next: the marina lounge. We then had the much expected afternoon tea where a Yoda green apple and an Ewok coconut were safely guarding the rest of the Star Wars-themed snacks that Thomas had spent his Friday off preparing. Red and green grapes light sabers disappeared in a flash, the somewhat overcooked Wookie cookies didn’t deter the kids, and there was a queue to paint jumbo marshmallows with chocolate sauce and turn them into edible Storm Troopers. When everyone was sweetened-up, we had a crazy pinata session outside the lounge, with a pinata so full it was already bursting open and needed to be taped before proceeding, followed by fair and square distribution of the lollies, and finally opening of the presents.

The entire afternoon was a great success which didn’t warrant any of the worrying of the night before. A worthwhile investment considering Zephyr comment “I can’t believe how quick two hours can go”, and Azur who had “his best birthday party ever” and has been busy since, building his Star Wars lego kits while wearing his new Jedi outfit.

The evening was spent winding down in front of a movie: Star Wars episode III.

Open heart surgery (part II)

Magic happens when I’m out dancing!

In the last few weeks, while I was indulging my parallel life as a dance addict (3 classes and 3 social dancing events of salsa, bachata, kizomba, tango and african dance in the last week alone), Thomas has been hard at work, coordinating and finalising the install of our new marinised Lister Petter engine. And on Sunday, when I was out (needless to say dancing, to wrap up a frustrating week-end of domestic chores, and witnessing a couple of failed attempts at adjusting the throttle control which took almost a day each), he texted me saying “it’s done!”. Of course I shared his excitement from a distance, nevertheless I had to hear it for myself, so, when I got back at 10:30pm, I didn’t wait for the morning and switched it on to check. Then we could celebrate.

I feel guilt and shame (emotions I now know to be on the lowest end of the spectrum of human consciousness according to Dr. Hawkins, as quoted in a workshop at NZ Spirit Fest) for my lack of involvement, but hey, at least I wasn’t much in the way, and nor were the kids who were at a holiday camp for the best part of last week.

Here is the new engine arriving a couple of days before Thomas’ birthday all suitably wrapped up, and all the action I missed as I was snorkeling in Kelly Tarlton’s fish tank in an attempt to tame my fear of sharks:

It took a few extra weeks to find time between the mechanics and us to:

  • adjust the mounts to fix it to the boat
  • connect the new dashboard
  • change the fuel lines entirely (which involved cutting new paths for the bigger pipes and switching to two returns instead of one, allowing us to run on one tank only should the need arise)
  • clean the hardly accessible fuel tanks (an entire Wednesday night squatting on the floor equipped with a dish brush circlipped to a wooden stick, a funnel, a bottle of kerosene and a Alemlube pump, and head torches, transferring all the fuel from one tank to the other, trying to dilute and ‘vacuum’ all the dirt at the bottom, and repeating the operation for the second tank)
  • get new fuel filters, from a friend who, bless serendipity, happens to be one of the biggest clients for this brand of engines and add some spares
  • manufacture and install a bracket to mount the new fuel filters
  • fix the electricity (the first time they tried to start the engine the engine battery wouldn’t work while the switch to emergency paralleling blew a fuse)
  • switch and adjust the two alternators
  • manufacture and install a new exhaust
  • add priming pumps on each fuel line
  • adjust the throttle control (final tweaks done last night while I was out dancing, again, to make sure the idle position was at reasonable low rev)
Overview of the mess when working on the fuel lines…

It’s been a long time coming, but after three months of forced sedentary life, the gaping hole in the engine room is no longer, and Obelix is all set to go out to sea again!!!

Who’s keen for a celebration sail on Sunday?