We planned to have breakfast at the hotel buffet this morning and started the watermaker before we left. Here in the estuary we can only make water on the incoming tide because there’s too much crap in the water when the tide turns.
When we got back to the boat after breakfast I could tell from the sound that something wasn’t right down below. The watermaker pumps were running but the Clark pump wasn’t shifting. Damn. I shut the system down and told Jack he’d have to dive on the intake thruhull to make sure it wasn’t clogged. We had the bottom cleaned yesterday and I forgot to close the seacock so it’s entirely possible some barnacle bits or seagrass made its way into the system. Jack was a little resistant, so I figured we could check from inside first. He pulled off the strainer and opened the seacock. Just a little dribble came out. Ok, this is good news. There’s only a short hose and the seacock between the strainer and the sea and the problem is there, and presumably not with the pumps.
Jack took the short hose off and brought it up to me in the kitchen where I ran some water through it. Yikes! Two short fat fishes came out, still very much alive and indignant. They made their way down the drain and, I hope, back to the estuary. We reamed the hose and declared it free of obstructions, but when Jack opened the seacock again — without the hose attached — there was still only a trickle coming into the bilge. Now what?
A wire coat hanger would have been the perfect tool for this operation but we don’t have such a thing on board EV. We scrambled around for a suitably firm but flexible implement. Eventually I plumbed my beading supplies and handed over some 14 gauge wire to use. Alas, the inside of the seacock was clear. Jack would have to dive after all.
He donned his mask and fins and went overboard. I waited inside at the seacock for the high sign to open it up and check the flow. I could hear major crunching sounds as he scraped the inlet and I knew it was pretty clogged. Finally he tapped twice on the hull, and I reached down and opened the seacock. Seawater spurted into the boat and I reached under the equipment bay to feel the flow. Good and strong. I closed the seacock and tapped twice from inside.
“There was a fish stuck in there, and a lot of barnacles.” Hmmm, I’m thinking. I gotta tell the guy who cleans the bottom to check the thruhulls while he’s down there.
Jack reconnected the hose and strainer while I changed the prefilters. We fired it up and waited for the system to pressurize. Woo-hoo! We’re making water again. Unfortunately I can tell that the number two pump isn’t pulling its weight and I think we’re going to have to find a replacement pump head before we head out again. This is one of those spare parts we knew we should have on board but it kept sliding down the list and now we’re sorry. It only affects the volume of our output, but it also means we don’t have a backup if number one craps out.
We can’t complain. We’ve been making delicious clean water for nearly three years with a minimum of maintenance and repairs so if our ancient Spectra wants a new pump head, a new pump head she will get.
Ahhhhhhhhhh, relaxing Sundays.