From autopilot problems to the water maker, Dee is at the end of her tether


Date11 April 0022

PositionS 20° 7′ / E 5° 52′

I began the day as dawn broke with a walk around the deck and a quick check of the deck gear. I found only one flying fish on deck, hiding underneath the starboard spinnaker pole. After dispatching him back into the ocean from where he came, I prepared myself for today’s task of trying to beat the water maker into submission until it works again.

The conditions had eased off during the morning and I shook out some reefs and unfurled the headsails. The sky was clearing of the cloud that had accompanied us over the last couple of days and the sun was feeling warm to the skin. I was pretty confident that we had finished with spray over the coach roof and opened some hatches to allow air to circulate again. Aviva was wonderful today, apart from the sail changes during the morning, the rest of the day was spent with my head in small spaces losing a battle with the water maker. I saw very little of the day. It looked lovely through the companionway and Aviva just kept on sailing. She kept a good course and kept the boat speed up too.

Meanwhile, the shore crew started from where we left off last night and with their thinking caps on sent some new tests to complete. After a few electrical tests and bypassing of fuses with wires, I then called the team for the next installment. Slowly but surely we found the motor was okay, the pumps were okay, but when all put together we had problems. I undid all my work of last night when I fitted the pump to the main engine and moved it back to the oilskin locker where it fits on the end of a motor. Again once all put back together I still couldn’t pressure the system. Eventually, by the end of the day, the shore team had identified a relay that needed bypassing. I rearranged some wiring and hey presto all was good in the system apart from now the high pressure pump was leaking quite badly from where the crankcase met the discharge and inlet manifold.

It was now dark outside and I had missed the day by either having my head in the front of the engine bay or by being in the oilskin locker for the day. I had changed, replaced or rewired most of the system now and yet I still hadn’t produced water. The silly thing is that because everything had been working fine for months, I had stopped monitoring the water level in the tank. I had reduced the amount being carried by just filling the tank I was using, but since the last fill I had no idea how much I had used. For that reason alone, I can almost guarantee it will not be enough. I am carrying emergency water and I can shower in the warm tropical rains ahead so I am not too stressed as there is not long to go, but I am frustrated and determined not to let it get the better of me. It is more of an unnecessary inconvenience that I am determined to overcome somehow.

All that said by six o’clock this evening I sat and burst into tears, I think it was frustration more than anything. I then read the messages sent over the past few days and burst into tears again. There were some great messages and nearly all of them referred to me doing well and here I was sat in amongst the debris of water maker parts with no result or solution just yet.

I have just eaten and sat on deck with a cup of tea. Aviva is getting picked up by a swell from her starboard aft quarter and pushed along towards the north. She has continued to sail along while I take various components of her interior apart.

I have stopped for the night now and will continue with the pump seal saga in the daylight of tomorrow. Whilst on deck, I sat and turned my depressed, frustrated thoughts to positive thoughts for tomorrow whilst the vastness of the night sky swallowed me up until Aviva and I were amongst the stars and the moon played with it’s reflection on the top of the waves as it illuminated our path ahead.

Dee & Aviva