The Tale of the Zodiac

In a recent incident involving a broken propeller, I had deliberately sacrificed our poor inflatable tender to protect the hull of our yacht from impacting an oyster-covered pier.

The tender wasn’t doing us any good at the marina, so it came home to live on the balcony of our flat. Every day I would pump up the poor flaccid thing, add soapy water, draw circles around the biggest bubbles, and then patch them. As the days (and expensive patching kits) passed, it soon became clear that this wasn’t really sticking-plaster territory. The gashes were so big that I was having to patch my patches just to cover them. A more drastic solution was needed.

Taking it to Zodiac for repairs would cost almost as much as a new tender. However, we had been noticing adverts for something called “Tuff-Coat“, which was a repair paint alleged to bond to hypalon and repair pinhole leaks.

Well, we certainly had pinhole leaks; dozens or perhaps hundreds of them. We resolved to give it a go, but also to cease operations when our material costs exceeded $500; after all, a brand new Zodiac only costs a couple of thousand, and ours had already enjoyed a number of owners before we laid our hands on it.

My daily routine changed. Every day I would pump the boat up, add soapy water, draw circles around the largest bubbles, and then dry it off and add another layer of Tuff-Coat.

The stuff certainly seemed to do the job, but for every hole that was repaired, a bunch more would be revealed. It became a bit of a joke, checking to see how soft it had got while we were away at work, but one day we returned from a whole weekend away to find our tender standing as full and proud as the day we’d left it.

The aged rowlocks had broken long ago, and since then we had been paddling canoe-style. This was fine for two people, but tricky with only one. I celebrated the end of my nightly balcony visits by fitting shiny new rowlocks with lockable paddles, and painting all the woodwork a nice bright gloss blue.

It was a proud moment for Mr Stubborn.

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