Dee Caffari has to get the spanners out to fix her watermaker HP pump

Happy 1st December!

Well, you thought this sailing round the world business was all about sailing. How foolish. Let me explain what it is really about…

You get a problem with something onboard, you set about fixing it, then something else happens and you need to fix that more urgently, then while you are doing that you notice something else that needs seeing to. In fact sailing round the world ends up being a long jobs list that gets prioritised again and again and added to whilst on the way. Interspersed with all these jobs you get to sail and also try and sail as fast as you can with the right sail plan for the conditions now and those you cannot see ahead.

I am even feeling guilty at the moment because I have not spent as much time sailing as I thought I would recently, as I have had a run of problems. None of them in themselves insurmountable, but do need addressing and some of them would have a more detrimental effect than others later in the line of events. All the time you spend tackling these issues take time away from you resting and eating that are essential for tackling weather and events ahead, they also distract you from trimming and choosing the ideal sail plan to maximise boat speed.

My recent technical issue that took priority over the others, I decided to tackle yesterday. It was the water maker that I mentioned in yesterday’s log. Water is currently not an issue but if I were to be unable to make it then I would be struggling to complete this adventure, unless it began raining regularly. Given that much of my food relies heavily on having water, its effect is massive.

The water maker is a reverse osmosis plant that has an electric motor powered by the generator onboard to run a High Pressure pump to force the seawater through membranes at 800psi. The fresh water fills the tanks and the salt deposits are discharged back into the sea. We decided to run the water maker once a week regardless of the water usage, as these mechanics like to be worked and not left idle. Tuesday I thought I would give the water maker a run, until when turning the High Pressure Pump switch on, the generator turned off. I tried this three times, just in case I was mistaken. Unfortunately, I was sadly right, I had a problem.

I dutifully sent an email to the Technical Support team as I have learnt from experience that they normally have an answer in three easy moves rather than you inventing the wheel again. As I hoped, I received a step by step guide of what to do. The conditions were good and Aviva was sailing really well, so I thought I would make a start Tuesday night.

In I went to the foul weather locker, an area roughly 5’x3′ and set up the tools I would need. About three hours later, I re-emerged with a hitch. I had met a stumbling block. I had changed the electric motor. Apart from being ridiculously heavy, that was relatively simple. I do not think that was the cause of the problem however, but seeing as I was in the right area we thought it would be a good time for a change. Now I had the High pressure Pump and the spare one. I was to turn it over and which ever turned over easier, I was to fit onto the motor. A simple instruction but I was having no joy. I thought maybe I was tired and would tackle it in the morning but would send a note to the technical team at home to let them know how I had got on.

Then yesterday came and I spent the best part of it with the High-pressure pumps. The spare had none of the pipefittings and gearing, so if I ended up changing pumps, I would have to change the gear as well. But I just couldn’t turn either pump over. I’m not surprised the motor didn’t like it the other day!

In the end after, I had adjustable spanners, pipe wrenches and HP Pump Oil everywhere and still no joy. Frustration got the better of me. I swore and sat on deck in a sulk. Eventually, I got it together and swallowed my pride, accepted defeat and phoned the Tech Team Office In Plymouth. They had an identical model in front of them and explained how easy it was to turn the pump over. That wasn’t what I needed to hear. They had spoken to the service department for the Cat HP Pumps and had been told to undo the bronze high-pressure fastenings and sometimes that helps unlock it.

Off I went and did as we had discussed and it was poetry, I took the hp fastenings completely off and slowly I managed to turn the pump over. I kept going; scared it was going to stop again. When piecing it all back together and filling it with oil, in between each stage I turned the pump over all the time. Then the moment of truth, putting it all back together and seeing if it works.

After six hours on what I thought was going to be a straight forward job, with tears and swearing, I was very happy to call Plymouth with the sound of the water maker making water in the background.

An emotional day and then I was able to sit on deck and finally eat as the evening sun lost its warmth over the sea and we sailed along at 8 knots. Thankfully Aviva just got with her job of sailing, allowing me to tackle the technical jobs involved in sailing around the world.

Still on the list is the autopilot – pump 2, the iridium phone, fixing the code 0 sail and ., well you get the picture.

We did learn that if the HP Pumps are left idle for too long, they will seize and need encouragement to turn over. So from now on I shall make water everyday until I am confident again.


Dee – proud owner of a water maker repair badge ( I am going to need long arms at the end of this trip!)

And Aviva – full marks for getting on with sailing”