Saturday, March 25, 2006

Salt

So the sea is salty. So what? Everyone knows that. I knew that too but until living on a small boat at sea I never appreciated the pervasiveness of the salt and how it affects one's life.

Upon return from Yucatan, Tarwathie's topsides were encrusted with salt. There must be nearly a kilo of salt crystals clinging to the fiberglass.

The canvas is encrusted with salt.

The portholes and hatch covers are barely transparent, being covered by a white film of salt.

Moving parts with tight tolerances jamb with salt. The button that controls engagement of the transmission is stuck. The burner knobs on the propane stove are stuck. Those knobs turn shafts that pass through bushings. The salt must crystalize in the small space between the shaft and the bushing. Imagine our West Charlton fire trucks if we tried to use them with salt water. In a short time every valve, every control lever would be firmly stuck. The design would have to be much different. I wonder how the design of fire boat equipment and controls differs from fresh water equipment.

Our clothes are saturated with salt. Some of them got soaked in salt water, but even the clothes still in the closets and the drawers somehow pick up salt from the air. Since salt is hydrophilic, wearing salt saturated clothes makes one feel damp all the time. The sale absorbs moisture from the air. The cruising books warned us about that but it is still hard to comprehend. One book suggests washing clothes in salt water then hanging them up high like a flag to dry in a stiff wind. The flapping in the wind is supposed to shake out the salt crystals from the fabric.

I better appreciate the fate of seamen, especially those from the 19th century and earlier. With their rough canvas clothes and all that salt it must have been truly uncomfortable.

All the above applied until last night. Last night we had the first rain we've seen since mid December. It was a good soaking and it washed away all the exterior salt. Fresh water is very welcome. Today however, Libby wiped her finger on the interior wood paneling and came away with, you guessed it, salt crystals.

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