More watermaker trouble for Dee Caffari as she progresses towards the Equator 12/4/06

Date 11 April at 2222
Position S 17° 42’/E 3° 48′

My morning rounds revealed two flying fish and a squid on deck. So after dispatching them over the side with an implement designed to maximise my distance from them I proceeded to shake the final reef out. Back at full sail, Aviva continued to sail along with wind and waves behind her.

We set up for a gybe at midday which with full sail took some grinding and a good 15 minutes to carry out and settle onto the other gybe. We are negotiating our way along a corridor of wind with lighter patches of wind to our north-east and also our south-west. So we will be gybing our way along the corridor over the next couple of days as we head towards the equator.

As for my current dilemma that faces Aviva and I, the water maker. After bypassing a faulty relay in the control box I had powered the low-pressure side of the system to find my high-pressure pump was leaking water quite badly. Having taken it apart and put it back together a couple of times I established that I had seated it squarely and it was actually the seals that needed replacing. Defeated, I managed some rest last night, but even more determined to do battle this morning.

I found the spare seal kit and read the manual and studied the exploded diagrams this morning. I spoke to the shore team and we discussed the seal change. I had to laugh, they had a replica pump in front of them, thousands of miles away and we were talking about the different parts. Not being an expert in high-pressure pumps my names and descriptions of the different parts were far from accurate I am sure, but so long as we were talking about the same parts I could call them what I liked and believe me they had some choice names during the course of the afternoon.

When I took the manifold apart from the crankcase, I found that both the high and the low-pressure seals were going to need replacing. The really frustrating part is that even though I had moved the pump from the oilskin locker to the galley so I had more room and some more ventilation, the sea surface temperature has increased to 23 degrees and the air temperature is rising too so Aviva is heating up. I was getting hot and sweaty as I was getting frustrated; also my hands were getting filthy dealing with the pump and the seals. I was getting even more desperate for a shower, which made my desperation to get the pump working even higher.

There was a constant communication with the shore team today and we are so close. After all we have overcome I know that they are as determined as I am not to be beaten by the water maker so close to the end. There is not much left of the water maker that I haven’t replaced or taken apart at some point. Originally I would say that in relation to the actual mechanics but now I have even been involved with the electronics. I am still much happier at dealing with the mechanics rather than the electronics, but it is amazing what you can do when you have to. I am still surprising myself on this voyage.

Dee and Aviva