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Cruising - Boat Work in Exotic Locations

After cutting the lines and leaving it all behind, we sailed North to begin our adventure of a lifetime. We had planned to make Deer Harbor one of our first stops to meet with Dan Forest of Aquamarine to assess our 20 year old watermaker. The Ardea came with the watermaker which, like many other features on board, had been a DIY installation by the previous owners. I had done a bit of online research, but never having used a watermaker before, there were some mysteries.

Dan met us at the dock in Deer Harbor, and I invited him aboard to have a look. After some time chasing hoses through several compartments, and locating the many valves and components of the system. There were several “discoveries” and comments like “That's an interesting way to do it but it should work...” and “This is an old system, brings back memories, we don't use those parts anymore.” After about an hour and a half, it was determined that we needed to replace the membrane. Dan said to give him a call when I get the membrane housing removed from under the floorboards, and he would take it to his shop and replace it.

That afternoon I gave him a call, and he picked me up at the Deer Harbor Marina to drive up to his shop on the other side of Orcas Island. He invited me along so that I could see how it was done if I needed to do it myself the next time in some remote location. Dan's shop is in his garage, but it is packed with all sorts of machine tools, and spare watermaker parts. Both ends of the housing were seized and one of the fittings had to be re-drilled and tapped. A half hour project turned into four hours, but we got it done, and he only charged me for one hour!

Back at the Ardea, Michele had been fretting... and anyone who has been to Deer Harbor knows that it is a black hole when it comes to cell phone reception.

The next morning, I had put the system back together and we fired it up. Dan came by to make sure everything was working. It worked!!! We had crystal clear, fresh drinking water made from the sea!!!

We celebrated by heading out to Sucia Island, buddy boating with Dave Brede's Magic Carpet. About an hour into the trip, I went to turn on the watermaker and realized a hose clamp on a coolant line had come loose and antifreeze was pouring into the oil drip pan. We immediately shut down the motor and unfurled the genoa. Back down into the engine compartment, I secured the hose and poured our remaining spare antifreeze into the heat exchanger. Once again we fired up the engine, and made water while motoring towards Sucia. As we entered Echo Bay, I shut down the watermaker and prepared to find an anchorage. A minute later smoke, or rather, steam was pouring out of the engine compartment. Our particular watermaker gets its supply water from a valve on the raw water cooling system for the engine, which I had apparently forgot to switch back to cool the engine. We panicked, called Dave for a rescue, unfurled the genoa again and sailed to the middle of the bay where we dropped the anchor. Dave arrived in his Zodiac dinghy a little bit later, as we were setting up a wind scoop to try to clear the cabin of antifreeze steam.

The next couple of days we arranged to have a friend, who was coming up to meet Dave, pick up some antifreeze in Bellingham and bring it to us. I got to spend some more time in the Engine compartment putting things back together, and Michele wiped down the entire inside of the cabin to clean up the antifreeze steam which had coated everything. One more time, fired everything up, and made water!

Cruising on to the next project...

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