If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.
Filling diving tanks off the catamaran with an ancient (and not too well serviced) compressor has definitely been interesting. I never really knew if the compressor would start when I pulled the cord or if instead it would involve cleaning out the spark plug, asking Misha to do some of his dark magic (at the limits of health and safety). So last week after starting the compressor without too much swearing I was filling tanks in the midday heat. One tank filled, one to go just had to swap them. The needle on the pressure gauge was creeping up to 230 bar, meaning I didn't have much time to swap the tanks if I didn't want to stop the compressor. The empty tank was still on the other side of the vessel. The space in the catamaran to move around is not much to start off with and when you are carrying a 15L tank trying not to step on expensive camera bits, life jackets and not getting trapped in the ropes and cables 7 meters feel like 7 km! I manage to make it in time swap the tanks open the empty tank to fill when I hear a hiss and see the O-ring from the DIN-fitting of the compressor was staring back at me from the gap nicely blocked off by the compressor and the tank (which had the BCD attached), all this while the compressor was still pressurizing. I lean forward and feel the heat of the compressor. I was barefoot and with my pants rolled up, clearly I would get burned if I tried to reach for the small, black ring over the compressor. So I had two options: the sensible one: stop the compressor, sort everything out then restart it or the lazy option: move the tank a bit and lean over that. Obviously I went for the second option without thinking that then the tank with the BCD attached would be in front of the compressor exhaust. It took less than 10 seconds for black smoke to appear: the compressor had melt the BCD! Oh dear, oh moose, oh elk!
Assessment of the damage was relatively quick, massive hole in the BCD bladder on the side under the armpit, melted pinch clip that cannot be unclipped anymore but fortunately it was adjusted at the right length so not so much of a problem and waistband got melted into the plastic backplate (but also not too tragic).
The easiest way to repair the hole in the bladder would be to iron it together. Misha tried to fix it with a blowtorch but the hole got bigger as the temperature was a bit too high. After that Olesya tried o fix it with resin glue and then Misha clipped some bits of old pork meat-tins to strengthen the seam. A picture of a pig from the 50s is now starring from under a bubbling armpit. It sort of works. Leaks a bit, holds some air and luckily I have a drysuit for buoyancy control and ditchable weights for emergency. So I was left with an empty tank and a melted BCD!
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
The BCD was being taken care of so I thought I could be useful and fill the tank. Obviously the compressor wasn't starting. Cleaning the spark plug didn't help. Misha's motor magic neither. We were 5 days away from civilization and two days away from a Russian military base which had divers. We pootled to them who were taken aback by our red inflatable catamaran and our request for help! They refused to fill our tanks but gave us a diagnosis for the compressor: the spark plug needed changing, the carburator needed TLCing or the filter of the engine was broken (which translated in an unfixable compressor). As soon as we reached civilization before even connecting to the internet we ventured to buy spark plugs. Bought, changed and tried… HOORAY! The reassuring sound of an engine :) We have again a compressor and full tanks!