I was going to title this the “Art of being Smug”. Those who know me might say “yep, I can see it”.
We were into the sailing section on this 3,000 nm passage. We were past the four day mark and well on our way to French Poly. We had left on Tuesday, May 13th, Anthem had left Sunday night (the Port Captain in Isabelal, Galapagos wouldn’t even let them sleep one extra night there and literally said they must leave….now), Even Star, North Star, Deese,
. Those were our start boats all within the same week and I named it our MayGoPo (May – Galapagos to Polynesia) ad-hoc cruising net. Just can’t get the school out of me in making cutsy names.
By the weekend EvenStar had blown up something on their electronic autopilot and they were hand steering. Fortunately they are a family of 4 on a big boat and while it was an inconvenience the broken autopilot wasn’t a catastrophe as it would be on a boat with short handed (2 crew).
North Star blew a block for the spinnaker halyard and the entire sail and furling gear ended up being dragged across the Pacific. They were able to retrieve the sail and gear but couldn’t fly it any more. Later in the trip their outhaul on the boom furling main broke so they couldn’t reef their mainsail, thus they hauled it down and tied it off to the boom for the rest of the trip.
Anthem blew out their used spinnaker about 1/2 way through the trip so they had difficulty sailing deep into the wind. This created some difficulty as they had already worked their way S to the latitude of French Polynesia and needed now to sail directly W.
Cetacea had some difficulty with his SSB and couldn’t communicate on the ad hoc net and on the Profurl unit some screw heads sheared off so that sail was no longer usable (and the head sail on a boat is the main workhorse).
Only two boats left without any significant damage; Deese and us. So I was feeling a little smug. All our hard work and prep has paid off big time. It was just a little too early to feel that way.
Somewhere in the middle of the passage we rose in the am to a beautiful day and I figured I would do a little laundry. BTW I’m the laundry machine on board. But; before we get started we like to get the normal daily activities out of the way, run the generator and feed the crew. I start up the generator and after a 3 minute warm up switch on the refrigeration. All is working great and I settle in to monitor the temperature of the holding plates.
Our no cooling water alarm begins to scream! Ok, we took a big roll with the boat off a wave and the water flow will be restored in less than a minute. I go to check the sea chest to clear out any air blockages and the alarm shuts down. Good! I check the panel and have no tach. Bad! I check the refrigeration and it is off. I ask W/ to check the discharge and we have no water exiting. Oh-Oh. Now it is really BAD! I shut the generator down.
Damn, Damn, Damn it! Things were going so well. Now I go through the process of finding the fault. I first check to see if I have power to the control panel. Yep. Next I pull off the control panel and check the fuse. Dan from Aquamarine has wired in a funky 30 amp auto fuse. I pull the fuse and check it. Blown. Great! I’m part way to solving the puzzle and only about 45 minutes into the problem. Fortunately the boat is running on the self steering wind vane and W/ is able to help me. The weather is great, the seas are sloppy and as long as we attack this problem with patience and measured speed we can manage. Patience is not my strong point. W/ digs out our electrical supplies and I look for a replacement. I know I have a 30 amp fuse somewhere but instead I come across a 30 amp circuit breaker which turns out to be a good thing.
I wire the new break in. Turn on the switch, turn on the key and the panel fires up….for a couple of seconds then shuts down with the breaker tripped. So it wasn’t a “bad” fuse, the fuse worked and something down the line that is drawing too many amps and shorting the system.
I crawl into the engine room and with W/ turning on the breaker and then powering up the panel with the key I disconnect and reconnect wires to identify the source. First I disconnect all the peripherals. We do the test process and the breaker stays on and the panel is powered up. Now I connect each peripheral individually. As they work I leave them on. Finally I connect the fresh water cooling pump and bingo. The breaker throws. Fortunately I know I have a spare. I know it. I hope! I pull that March Pump out of the system and W/ looks up on the inventory where the replacement is. Bingo! The pump is listed in our starboard stern locker and after about 5 minutes of looking in that locker and removing half of the items I pull it out. Brand new. Sweet. But, the pump heads are different.
We’re now about 2 hours into the process. I figure I can change the pump heads and that will save me some plumbing issues. I really,
really, don’t love plumbing on a boat and from my perspective I seem to continually be doing an awful lot of work with hoses and fittings. Switching the pump heads out I see what caused the failure.
These pumps are magnetic driven and can move most any fluid, caustic or benign. Inside the pump head the magnet that the motor turns has a piece broken off. This piece jammed, freezing the motor and the motor then the motor began to draw more and more amps until it tripped the fuse and then while testing the breaker. With the pump head changed I finished the replacement and we test the system out. W/ flips the switch and turns the key while I check for leaks and to make sure things are running like they should. All’s good. She starts the engine. I still watch. All is good.
We let it warm up and I flip the refrigeration switch, all is good. Life is again great. About 4 hours after we had started this process we are now back up and running again. The laundry can wait. As along as W/ and I can stand each other who cares. There is no one else out here.
For 15 days we didn’t see another boat. We’ve seen no garbage in the water, no trees floating, no plastic. I watched one whale dive. We’ve seen only a handful of birds, a few Spinner Dolphin have visited and our view is made up of Sunrises, Sunsets, a night sky full of jewels, and the sapphire blue of the ocean with a cotton filled deep blue sky.
Two thirds of the way through our passage the winds ease off and move to the east. We hoist our
Reacher and douse the main. While going fast has it’s advantages (mainly getting there quicker) I find that in calmer seas traveling 100 miles plus or minus per day to be more enjoyable. The colored sail is a great contrast to all the blue and it seems to have a life of it’s own; floating almost free in front of the boat moving as the lighter air wafts back and forth. We take care of boat chores, read and keep watch.
Life is good, we’re preparing for the home stretch…. Landfall.