Sailing Mango

Boat Hash

Cryptographers have long used one way hashes as a way to securely store passwords. Simply put, a plain text password is passed through a one way mathematical algorithm, and the result, or hash, is stored instead of the password. The password cannot be mathematically derived from the hash, it only works one way. In this way even if someone stoled the hash, the thief could not figure out the original password. Ignoring all of the other exploits available with possession of just the hash, let's use the popular MD5 one way algorithm as an example:

Password: "password"
MD5 hash: "5f4dcc3b5aa765d61d8327deb882cf99"

There is simply no way to figure out from that bit of chaos what the password is.

Boats can be much like one way hashes, in that while pieces of a boat, or a particular system, can be disassembled, there are times when it can be absolutely impossible to reassemble it. It is the oddest of things.

Take for example, the mast stanchions that had to be removed during the deck redo. Mast stanchions are tubular stainless constructions which are leaned against for support and safety while working at the mast, often referred to as sissy bars or butt bars. The butt bars are bolted to the deck, with the nut "accessible" from the inside.

Now Mango is a proper yacht, with a very nice fiberglass liner as the ceiling. It looks great, and since it is shiny white, you can use it as a dry erase board. Handy! But quite unfortunately, in order to access various deck hardware from the inside, like nuts that hold butt bars in place, little holes have to be drilled into the liner, tastefully covered by little teak boards. These holes are just wide enough to get a washer in, and also exactly wide enough to get a socket through the hole to grasp the nut. Any deviation on part of the bolt from true center as it descends from the butt bars through the deck results in shit not lining up, and it all needs to line up.

Now occasionally, very occasionally, boat people cut corners. Not because they are bad, stupid or lazy, though all of those things may be true, but because they are hot, sweaty and fhangry, fucking hungry angry. That must have been the case when butt nut number nine was installed. The bolt was slightly off, and instead of fixing it, the installer widened a bit here and there with something that doubtlessly looked like a dremel, and magically made the nut fit.

So here comes dumb ass boat owner number five, me, and blithely offers to remove the butt bars so the deck guys would have an easier time. The bars came off easy enough, even butt nut number nine, though it did try to vex me. Now that the decks are done, because of a particular confluence of deck, bolt, fiberglass liner and nut, there is no possible way to reinstall that nut. It is a one way hash.


Here is one of three bases of the butt bars, as seen from the deck.


The liner has been drilled out to access the bolts and apply washers and nuts. Two nuts have been installed, but alas, the third, butt nut nine, has not.

As I was trying to get the nut onto it's partner bolt, Kristen remarked "I did think that thar butt nut would be a might tricky to reinstall". Yeah, well not me, I had no idea. This happens often, when Kristen sees a thing plain as day, but assumes I too have seen this thing and keeps mum. For example, when I was fixing the alternator over the course of three weeks, and finally lighted upon the solution. She says "Oh I thought of that three weeks ago! I just assumed you did too but passed it by for some reason". The stupidity of men has no reason.

So for now our butt bars are fixed by a meager eight nuts, and not the full compliment of nine. In time we will stumble, or more likely brute force a solution. For now, it's time to get a bite to eat and a splash of a bevie.