Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fixing Your Boat in Exotic (?) Ports

Bahia de Caracas - Ecuador (NE of Manta)

Well, Bahia may not be that exotic, but we came here with some chores in mind and the last two days we got a lot of them done.

The first big job was unexpected as our second AC refrigeration circulating pump failed in one month. There seems to be some design flaw with these new jabsco pumps that eats through impellers and lip seals like there is no tomorrow. We replaced it with a spare March pump that we had for the AirCon and it works great in harbor, but I am afraid of using it long term as it is not self priming and the engine room isn't that far below the waterline. We will know more by the time we get to the Galapagos next week.

Our biggest job was replacing the membrane in the watermaker which entailed preserving the old one in "pickling" solution, flushing the system, and installing the new one. It actually went pretty quickly and we even had time to finally finish screwing the watermaker base back down into place.

The other big chore of the day was getting fuel. A big reason we came to Bahia is that the fuel is cheaper there, but not the easiest to get. We ordered about 300 gal which comes in 100gal increments on a panga with a black rotomolded tank and sketchy rotary vane pump. Carlos pulled his boat up and started the pump up. It immediately seized which required him to free the vanes with a kitchen knife. To re prime the pump he reaches into the tank, pulls up the pickup hose, fills it with fuel and blows the fuel into the pump, quickly pushing the hose back under the fuel level so it doesn't pull too much air in. This worked for the first 100 gallons. While Carlos went back to the gas station where apparently he fills his tank using a two long hoses and a few chairs to prop it up we went about filtering the fuel and distributing into our other storage tanks, being careful not to overfill and force fuel out the vents and all over the deck. When they returned 45 min later and started up the pump, it seized again, this time breaking one of the remaining 3 vanes. It didn't work with just two vanes, so they went about fabricating vanes out of scraps of wood. I supplied some more finished scraps, sandpaper, and a saw so they could stop using the steak knife to saw wood and in 30 mins they had created 4 teak vanes that fit the pump fairly well. This worked and we got our next 100 gallons. Again they went to fill back up while we filtered the fuel into other tanks, filling the aft and mid tanks and leaving room for 85 more gallons which they filled in two more trips as we underestimated the first time. In between trips I managed to fix the manual Salt water pump in the galley so we can conserve our water more easily. By 6:00 we had finally finished and headed in for showers and dinner, followed by a short walk to some great ice cream.

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