Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back on the boat

The day before we departed for our flight to China last month, the saltwater pump for the air-conditioning systems developed a leak. When Bill touched the plug bolt it literally disintegrated into tiny particles as if it were made from dried clay rather than stainless steel. That is what happens to metals that are in contact with saltwater for 7 years. Unfortunately, we did not have a 10mm fine thread bolt. We have several small boxes of various sizes of stainless steel screws, bolts, washers and nuts, but the few 10mm bolts in our tool supplies were regular thread.

Well, that should not be a problem. We would buy whatever 10mm fine thread bolt was available and replace it with a stainless steel one later, when we had more time to find one. This proved to be impossible. There were no 10mm fine thread bolts of any type metal to be found in this part of Malaysia on that particular day. Bill plugged the hole and we instructed Arab to simply open the hatches and air out the boat several times weekly while we were on this trip. Arab works for the marina and usually takes care of our boat during our absence. Normally Arab runs the air-conditioners for 3 hours twice per week to dry out the interior of the boat while we are away; this is enough to prevent any mildew or mold from growing inside the boat.

We asked Matt, the guy who cleans our boat, to try and locate two 10mm plug bolts of either bronze or stainless steel while we were gone. Matt had a friend who said he would search for the bolts; we gave Matt more than ample money to cover his friend's time and to buy the bolts. Then we left for China and tried not to think of the leaking pump. When we had internet during our trip, Bill sourced a new pump in the USA and had it shipped to our son's home. The grandkids are flying to Singapore on June 4 and will bring that pump.

When we returned to the boat on Sunday morning, sitting on top of the companionway were two 10mm stainless steel fine thread plug bolts. Exactly what we needed. I'm guessing Matt's friend had to make a trip to Singapore to buy these bolts. Bill immediately got down in the engine room and had the pump going in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, now the pump started making a high-pitched whine. Bill took it apart yet again and replaced the bushing and seal. But when he touched the check-valve, one connection on the valve assembly crumbled into dust just like the plug had done last month. Seven years in saltwater really does destroy metal!!

For now, the pump is working again -- not leaking and without a check-valve and still making an intermittent whine. Our fingers are crossed that it will continue to work until the grandkids arrive in 3 weeks with the new pump. If not, then we will be sweating like most of the other people in this marina. Looking on the bright side, at least the failing pump is not one of those saltwater pumps necessary for operating the toilets or engine or generator or watermaker. We can live without air-conditioning for a few weeks if we absolutely must.

We have 533 photos from our China trip to wade through and title. I hope to upload a few to the China blogs in the next few days. This was an unforgettable trip. Feel very fortunate that we were able to see these places. And, once again, very glad to be back home aboard S/V BeBe.

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