To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Gender Equality

This is a small, fussy thing that hardly counts as a job. But it's what we do while waiting for warmer weather. Boat jobs break down in the "pink" and "blue". Cooking, cleaning, curtains and pillows tend to be pink jobs. Anchor chains, engines, carpentry, plumbing is traditionally blue. Except, of course, some of us are terrible at carpentry and plumbing. And others of us like wrestling with hundreds of pounds of muddy ground tackle.

The old fitting (in Figure 1) looks similar to the new fitting, but is totally the wrong gender for the job. Totally wrong gender. To see why, we need to digress into the yin and yang of male and female, source and sink, anchors and mud.

When we bring up the anchor, all of the ground tackle is—generally—a muddy mess. The anchor sits in the bow roller where a little mud adds character. But the chain sits down inside a locker forward of the V-berth. The primal ooze of the Chesapeake can develop a bit of a funk if you store it in a warm, dark place.

The solution is to wash down the chain before storing it. Red Ranger comes equipped with a clever set of valves in the engine room that allow us to make two choices for the bilge pump operation.

  • Source. We can draw water from the bilge or the main water input manifold ("sea chest" or "water box"). Bilge water is in (hopefully) limited supply. The water box, however, is open the bay. Indeed, you can see the bay through the strainer.

  • Sink. We can pump the water overboard or we can pump into the deck sprayer spigots.

Clearly, the "normal" configuration (which we check every time we leave the boat) is the Bilge-to-Overboard configuration. That's what you use to prevent sinking. We have two automatic pumps to make sure this path always works.

In the deck-sprayer configuration, there are two spigots: one on the foredeck and one in the cockpit. After adjusting the bilge pump values, the foredeck crew (Cindy Ann) can then wash down hundreds of pounds of muddy chain and anchor while wrestling it aboard. It's a nice thing to store clean chain.

Folks comment on this arrangement. Anchor hoisting is traditionally a blue job. He hoists, she drives the boat to keep it in position over the anchor. But on Red Ranger, this is a pink job. I guess it's because we think of it as a "cleaning" job not a "wrestling with 100's of pounds of chain" job.

So what's that shiny steel fitting with the black cap in the picture?

That's a garden hose fitting.

What did it replace?

It replaced a garden hose fitting.

"So how can it be totally wrong?" you ask.

Here's the subtlety. Garden hose fittings have a system to them. Male fittings have water coming out. Female fittings allow water to go in. Every hose sprayer is female. A spigot sticking out of a wall on a house (or a boat, for that matter) has to be male for this system to work.

Electrical outlets have the opposite gender orientation. The female fitting is the source of power and all the appliance power sinks are male. [Don't read too much into it. A female source of power is just a safety issue not a natural law of the universe. Really. Nothing more to it.]

For some reason, there was a female—inlet oriented—hose fitting in the cockpit. The only way to use it for deck washdown purposes was to somehow hook up a hose backwards or insert a male-male adapter. And of course, this one-use-only adapter would have to be kept somewhere close by since the cockpit female outlet is the only "wrong" fitting in the system. We know that every one-use-only adapter will get misplaced.

Also, the inlet assembly was all plastic. One wrong move inside the lazarette and the plastic was cracked. When I heard the crunch of plastic, it was one of those "oh crap" moments. You know how it goes. You were in the middle of finishing one job and now you have a new job on the list. This is why the job list never seems to get shorter.

The proper use for that kind of female fitting is when you want to use dock water directly for your boat's internal fresh-water system. Rather than use your own tanks (and pumps) you can run a line from a female inlet to a pressure regulator and then into the freshwater system just after the accumulator tank. With a couple of valves you could turn off tank water and turn on dock water. We don't have this and (at the present time) don't want it.

[But if we did want it, the inlet would go between the winches on the starboard side. The water line would follow the scupper drain down under the cabin sole and then forward to the water manifold under the nav station.]

Now the fitting is all steel, less breakable and the proper gender for it's designated job.