WIDAGO’s water maker woes wind down, as we finally weigh anchor and wander westward into withering winds.
Well, that was interesting. Where to begin? For you non-WARC fleet readers, we were supposed to set sail last Wednesday with the rest of fleet. Unfortunately two days before our scheduled departure, Ahab noticed that the psi on the watermaker was reading low by 15-20%, and our output cut in half. Not the kind of thing you want to see prior to a 3,000 mile (our longest to date) passage. While there are plenty of folks who make the journey without a watermaker, we just don’t roll that way. Ahab and the boys need their daily scrub down, sometimes even two. Actually, today I think he took four showers, or “rinse offs” as he calls them…. But back to the story…
One of the great things about traveling in a pack of boats, like WARC, is that there is usually at least one person, sometimes two, who have knowledge, expertise, and or spare parts for almost every potential issue or failure. After a quick discussion over the VHF, Blue Summit came to our rescue with an extra membrane that just happened to fit our Spectra. Many thanks for Steve’s help – we got the new membrane in, no problem. Unfortunately, our troubleshooting was not done – it wasn’t the membrane that failed, but the Clark pump (basically the main pump driving the whole reverse osmosis process, and not something you can just pick up at your local third world country hardware store).
Lucky for WIDAGO, we bought our watermaker the world’s greatest water man – JT Halden (Halden Marine Services out of Hollywood, FL). When we first had the watermaker installed, JT did some training with Ahab. “There are only three rules if something’s not working the way you think it should, 1. Call me; 2. Call me; 3. Call me.” No kidding, JT will answer the phone any day of week, and walk you through until it’s fixed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fix our Clark pump – so JT tracked us down a rebuilt one to swap with ours (no charge since they have a lifetime warranty). Once we knew JT could find us a replacement, we had to figure out how to get out/over/down to the Galapagos from Florida. And so the fun begins…
There are not too many people you can call and ask, “Hey! What are you doing tomorrow? Can you drop everything, collect a highly specialized piece of equipment, fly for two days to a small island of the coast of South America, help install said equipment, and fly home 12 hours later?” Oh yeah, and you will be dealing with a stressed out Ahab. Good stuff.
Captain Richard came through, but not without a bit of drama. Gotta keep things interesting for you readers :). So, JT sent the pump overnight on Tuesday to Richard up in Jacksonville. No problem – he and his fab wife Barbara even made a quick run to Target for a couple more movies for the boys. Everything was looking good, as Richard was set to fly Thursday to mainland Ecuador, arrive late. He would catch the first flight to Galapagos Friday morning. He and Ahab could pop the new pump in, and we’d be on our way Friday night. Lots of moving parts, but definitely workable.
Except the luggage didn’t make it.
Captain Richard arrived in the Galapagos with just a brown paper bag issued by the airline containing travel-sized toiletries. No watermaker. No clean undies. Now Richard is a pretty handy fella, but there is no way he and Ahab could McGuyver this watermaker with a yard of dental floss and some deodorant. Our only hope was that Richard’s luggage would arrive on the next flight. The challenge was that it was stuck in Houston – single daily flight to mainland Ecucador, and only one to Galapagos. Once the bag made it to Ecuador, the airlines couldn’t send it along to Galapagos since Richard was already here, and the bag needed an owner to get it through customs…By now it’s Saturday, we sent Richard back to the mainland to see if he could find the bag in customs. Ahab was quietly, deep breathing in the corner, trying not to pull his hair out. Back up plans forming: track down another pump, fly back to the states, #
After finding the lost bag (can I get an “Amen!”), Captain Richard was held in a customs’ interrogation room for four hours working to negotiate the release of our pump. I can certainly appreciate that countries have import laws and taxes to protect them from unlawful importation of goods. However, we paid nothing for the pump, as it was replacement part under warranty, for a boat in transit. I’m not saying it was shakedown, but trying to charge us a 40% import tax on what they thought was a $5,000 piece of equipment, seems a bit…well, much. Needless to say, Captain Richard saved the day, negotiating the import duty to a couple hundred bucks. He was released from customs custody, and rebooked to fly back to Galapagos in the morning.
So, Sunday morning, Richard grabbed the 7:30am flight. Ahab met him at the airport, and Richard turned back around to get back the States. Heroic.
New pump installed. Making water. Ahab showers. We made a final run to Galapagos Deli where we stuffed ourselves with salad, sammies, fries, and milkshakes. A quick run up to immigration to check out. Grab five more gallons of diesel (another challenge since they won’t sell to visitors), and final provisioning (almost impossible on a Sunday afternoon in a proper God-fearing country).
We have 30 apples, 8 squishy pears – hopefully we won’t get scurvy – some rock hard avocados, and a dozen green tomatoes. That oughta tide us over for the next 3,000 miles…..
Again many thanks to JT and Richard for seeing this solution through to its end.