Campbell Standards

We had a surprise inspection on Monday. We were totally not prepared for it and were completely caught off guard. To make matters worse we were actually caught loafing. We were not even on or around Akupara, we had decided to take it easy and had went for a walk down to the “other end” of the marina.

As we rounded the corner on our way back, there they were. Damnit we are busted! A frantic WTF glance was exchanged between the admiral and myself as if to say I would blame this all on you, but there simply isn’t enough time to make it sound believable, you bastard, because it is ultimately your fault. Or at least that’s what the Admiral thought, I on the other hand was ready to step up and blame the kids. I know better than to blame her. She may forgive but man she does not forget….

Anyway back to my story. Here was the admiral and myself and the crew in our best boatyard dress. Ripped jeans that didn’t really fit, old t-shirts, and grungy shoes. Covered in boatyard chemicals and dried paint. The admiral had a fine layer of reddish sawdust covering her face that highlighted her cheekbones in just the right light. The crew looked worse. Perhaps they will take pity on us due to our current appearance. I had my fingers crossed that all of them, the admiral and the crew, would play the downtrodden abused worker as if to say, he drives us to work our fingers to the bone, we never get any rest and he feeds us once a day from a slop bucket but we love our lives. Well all of the little traitors did something similar but they didn’t get it quite right. There were hugs and smiles and the filthy mutinous crew actually were happy for the surprise inspection as it meant they could get out of work I am sure, and as they stood beside the inspectors, they would glance at me as if to say, “if they take us we are going. No more will we have to sand, paint, scrape, and all of the other nasty things you make us do. We will jump ship right now and make a new life the Campbell Standard way.”

Try as we might, we could not keep the inspectors at bay. We made small talk, we talked about how rickety the ladder up to the extreme height of the decks was. We tried to make them forget the reason for the visit and ultimately we failed. With a deep sigh of resignation, I slowly led the way up the ladder, secretly hoping that it would collapse on me so that they would have to rush me to the hospital thereby possibly forgetting yet again. No luck. With each step my heart sunk as my mind drew a blank as to what excuse I could possibly give to account for the current state of absolute shame.

Let me tell you a little bit about the inspectors. They are former sailors who eventually went to the darkside, albeit at least it is a trawler and not a full blown stinkpot – and they still have mast and a riding sail so I will give them that. They can usually be found high atop the upper helm on their trawler surveying all of the goings on. As you near their boat I will advise you now to wear your sunglasses, if not to shield your eyes from the gleam, then to hide your tears of shame for the condition of your own “yacht”. Every piece of brightwork aboard their boat glistens in the sun and can usually be used as a mirror to shave with. You can eat off the floor, or the deck, or the bilge for that matter. Everything is spotless, everything is in pristine condition and the craziest thing of all is that never, and I mean never, are they themselves dirty. They must have invisible slaves who work non stop to keep their boat in the condition she is in. The engine room is immaculate. Oh my god, let me tell you about the engine room. Being a trawler, the engine of course is below the main salon sole and is accessed by a large hatch in the sole. Have you ever had a holy experience? You know, the kind that the movies have managed to perfect. When they begin to open the hatch to the engine room, time slows down. Motion itself seems to stand still. The birds flying over head appear to be ready to drop out of the sky. The dog barking down the street becomes muffled and the sun comes out from behind the clouds only to compete with the beauty that is the engine room. As the hatch slowly opens a beam of light blinds you and a heavenly chorus of angels descends to pay reverence with their sweet voices to the beauty that is unfolding in front of you. I hope you are still wearing your sunglasses although a welding visor would probably be safer. You come out of the trance typically way to fast. It is like something in the back of your mind snaps and you are hit in the chest with a cannonball all at the same time. It physically hurts to return and your entire being fights it. If only to hold on to the memory, let alone be allowed to stay. You were at peace. You would willingly die there. But alas it is not meant to be. As the hatch closes you return to your current body, and the sun slips away behind a cloud. The birds do not fall and continue on their way, the dog that was barking actually turns out to be the Admirals laughing about something that truly is unimportant to the knowledge that you have just been entrusted to care for. You are now a holder of the secret. As you are trying to impart what you have experienced later with the admiral it turns out that while all of this was happening, while your life was being changed forever by this holy experience, the admiral made a quick glance and said, “oh nice, an engine room.” WTF? I mean really. “Oh nice an engine room!” What does that even mean? How can you be so oblivious to things? I have had a religious experience and all you can say is “Oh nice, an engine room!” Did you not see the light? Did you not hear the angels? “Oh nice, an engine room”, I’ll “oh nice an engine room” you. You have to go back and ask to see it again. Maybe you didn’t actually look.

I had to step away from the keyboard for a few minutes, sorry folks, I was getting too riled up.

Now, where was I, right, the inspection. Well, we gave the inspectors the tour and used our bodies as much as possible to try to hide the worst of things. It was futile though. There was simply too much to hide and our efforts were obvious I am sure. The inspection lasted way too long and with each passing second we could see the line on the graph plunging to the bottom, kind of like my last stock investment, anyway, we made our way back down to the hard and made a little more small talk. The admiral had a moment of genius and suggested we go for a beer. Ah ha, Liquor! Brilliant idea! If we can’t impress them or at least get a passing grade, we can get them drunk and hope that they forget everything they saw.

And so that is the story of  our surprise inspection, and now you know why in certain places in the blog, we have referred to Campbell Standards. It is our code for not being good enough, “it is not up to Campbell Standards”. It is our code for shortcuts, “will it pass Campbell Standards?” and so on and so forth.

Okay, all joking aside. Their boat is pristine and it is kept that way. They do not have to wipe away years of crud on the engine just to get to a bolt. They have obviously invested countless hours of hard work and not only is it evident, it is also safe. In my opinion, if it is spotless and everything is in its place, it is safe. There is never a moment of where the hell did I leave that because everything is where it should be. I can’t tell you how many boats I have looked at that claim to be in mint condition and yet the engine is a giant ball of rust. I guess it is too easy to just forget about it, and yet these are the boats that are the first ones away from the dock in the spring after not doing any maintenance all winter. A lot can be learnt from Campbell Standards. Pick your name, call it what you will, and choose your level of perfection and then do everything you can to surpass it. The last thing I want to do is crawl down into some godforsaken place wondering if I am ever going to come out again, just to make a 5 minute repair and you know that murphy’s law says that it will happen at the most inconvenient time. Never mind polishing your fancy knob if the core systems are a bloody mess. The fancy knob isn’t going to do you any good when the shit hits the fan.

BTW, I think we failed the inspection, oh well, there is always next time. And when the day comes, I will have a brass plaque made that will hang in a place of honor that reads something like what follows:

All who enter within, be it known that on this day, you are being entrusted with the knowledge of Campbell Standards, for this yacht has met and been awarded a passing grade, now please put on your eye protection and bow your head. 🙂

Miss you guys and all of the fun we had, fingers crossed we will be back at the dock next year!!

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