It’s now a month since the fire, and glory be – we have power again! It’s still somewhat temporary until we get our full complement of 8 batteries and our heavy-duty inverter, but for now, we’re up and running with 4 batteries in the same configuration as previously and we can give the noisy generator a rest, have running water in the bathroom, and keep the fridge on permanently. Happy days!
In hindsight, we should always have had the batteries and electrical equipment housed separately. It was a hard and expensive lesson to learn, so this time we’re being extra careful in making sure we get it right. We decided the new battery house should be located as close to the rock face as possible, where it’s sheltered from the majority of the bad weather. We also wanted a tin roof (for collecting rainwater) and solid wood walls to reduce the fire hazard. And automatic fire extinguishers (we now have two installed, as you can see from the photo above).
Hans and his family have worked like Trojans cutting and delivering wood, and within a week the structure was finished
It may not be the prettiest building (an oversized dunny or doghouse come to mind), but as long as it’s weatherproof we don’t mind. And truth be told, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Bruce saying “I’ll be in the doghouse if you need me” – which causes me a ridiculous amount of amusement, as you can imagine. We still need to do some additional waterproofing by filling gaps with silicone and/or expanding foam. And sometime down the track we’re also hoping to commission some local artists to paint colourful marine murals on the walls to make it a little less…dunny-ish.
However, getting it all up and running hasn’t been without some trials and tribulations, the worst of which was transporting the batteries, a 50 kg wooden door, 140 L of fuel, food, and other supplies back home from Sorong in our little boat.
Usually, the weather is pretty benign in this part of the world, but not lately. Since the storm that caused our fire, we’ve continued to have really unsettled weather, with squalls and rain most days. Our trip into Sorong was a bit rough, but not too terrible, but coming home was the worst we’ve experienced so far. There was a big NE swell running that was beam-on (coming side-on for the non-mariners out there), and because we were laden down we didn’t have much freeboard. We’d covered everything with tarps but the spray was soaking us through, and I ended up clambering down the back of the boat to bail like crazy as the waves attempted to swamp us. Those clear covers that we’ve been planning to fit would have come in very handy about then. As it was, we had to slow right down, and it took us an unbearable 5 hours to get home, completely drenched and miserable. Not happy, Jan.
Two days later and the wind was again punching in, this time from the west, so we moved the boat around to the back beach where’s there’s a bit more protection. Unfortunately, we haven’t installed a mooring round there yet, so we just had the anchor to rely on and it’s not the best. So sometime around midnight, in the pouring rain and wind, the boat dragged onto the beach, and there we were pushing and heaving to get it afloat and re-anchored. Completely drenched again. Hmm, the resilience reserves were definitely running a bit low now. “Let’s live on an island,” he said, “it’ll be fun, he said,” is our latest refrain, muttered through clenched teeth. Don’t get me wrong, this adventure was a joint decision, and in no way am I blaming Bruce for the latest run of events – it’s just severely testing our metal at times. Nobody said this would be easy, I guess. But then the sun comes out, and we’re back to paradise again…
Not only is the battery house finished, but the framework for the workshop/kitchen is also underway.
At this rate – if the rain holds off – it might even be finished before we head back to Australia in 6 weeks’ time. We’re so grateful to Hans and his family for all the hard work they’re putting in (again), and it’s great to see so much progress in so short a time.
And despite the rainy weather, enjoying a real coffee again, made with my new Aeropress and coffee beans that Rob sent me, is a simple and sublime joy.