July 22

A lot has happened with the boat since I last wrote about mechanical systems and boat maintenance. But I should like to start by saying we are going to leave Moorea tomorrow after a week's stay. We spent almost the entire time at the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon hotel visiting with my father Jon and step-mom Barbara. We've had a lovely time, Jonah especially, and will miss them after they are gone. Tonight we have our last dinner together and in the morning they will leave. We will leave tomorrow evening before sunset and sail overnight (about 77miles) to Huahine.

Now I have mentioned our generator problems monthly for the last year and I am sorry to say the latest round of repairs have not solved our problems. To begin, a small recap - the problems began just after installation when we had trouble starting the genset. It turned out we had bad compression and rusty, pitted valves, which were replaced in San Diego. These problems manifested themselves as low power output as well as hard starting. And while that seemed to solve the problem, it wasn't long before we began to experience hard starting and low power output again, this time along with exhaust gas escaping from the inlet valve and out through the air intake! The result of that was nasty exhaust in the mechanical spaces and cockpit lockers.

In Mexico we had the engine rebuilt which involved new piston and cylinder liner as well as new valves (again). The engine ran like a top after that. Smooth as silk under load. About 10 days out of Puerto Vallarta, near the equator, the engine started to overheat. We believe this was due to the failure of the enclosure exhaust fan (the set is in a box which is intended to deaden the noise). After overheating several times the thing just stopped putting out power, even though the engine ran ok.

We then determined we had burned out the generator end - the windings in the rotor to be precise - and set out to replace the unit. Finally, in Tahiti last week, we got the new generator end and after some work at the machine shop to fit it with a custom shaft for the pulley (it is belt driven) I installed it without too much trouble (though I did slice my finger open in the exhaust fan while testing it).

Now that it is putting out power again we once again are noticing the same symptoms as last year - low power output. This means while running the set with the battery charger running, while drawing about 16amps AC (the total capacity should be 25amps) after about a half hour the engine starts to groan and strain and soon cannot deliver enough power to meet the needs of the amps being drawn, then it starts to slow and slow until the load is removed, then it revs back up to normal speed. Exactly as it was last year. This will surely be followed by hard starting and exhaust gas leakage from the intake valve if I am not mistake.

I have no idea what I will do about it. I only know I am sick and tired of working on this piece of crap. Tossing it in the ocean is one idea. A whole new genset, perhaps a Northern Lights or Fischer-Panda when we get to Singapore and have time to do major work. For now, the main engine will continue to be our main source of power for recharging the batteries.

Next, the water maker! Our Spectra system which has run flawlessly for a year started leaking last week! Water output was down to 4-5gph (gallons per hour) from the normal 8-9gph. After a brief investigation, last week, I found a bad leak from the Clark pump (a high pressure pump used to feed water to the membrane cylinder). I repaired by cleaning the connection which was leaking and applying new teflon sealing tape. After that and output was up to about 5-6gph, still low. I left it that way till today and after speaking with another Spectra owner (Drew on "Layla") I checked the 12v feed pump more carefully and found salt deposits around it and a slow leak which was causing it. Fortunately I am carrying a spare feed pump and after installing it (and tightening up a few high pressure connections which were dripping) the system is up and running normally and putting out a solid 8gph! Phew. Without fresh water our cruising would be radically different - no daily showers, rinsing off after a swim in the ocean, washing machine, etc. We need lots of fresh water and our Spectra has been providing it for us. To lose it now would really change our lives drastically. Anyway, one bad story with a bad ending, one with a good ending. I'll take that!