After about an hour I went down to check on the watermaker and the output was down to a negligible gallon or so an hour. Not good. Jack heard the news he didn’t want to hear. The feed pumps would have to come out. We were due at the weekly cruisers’ potluck so we put it off until morning and I polled the other boatowners for advice. None of them has a watermaker but they did say we could test the pumps in a bucket of water before we tore into them.
The next morning that’s what we did, after much contorting and cursing getting them out of the enclosure in the first place. Each one seemed to pump fine in the bucket, so we looked elsewhere for a problem, rechecking the hoses for obstructions and the connections for leaks. By the time Jack got the pumps back in we found that in the process the toggle switch for pump two had broken off. So now we’re down to one pump until we can replace the switch.
I fired up the system and we were still at near zero output so I wrote to Spectra, the manufacturer, as well as our friend George, boat guru to the stars. George suggested a pump problem and Spectra sent a few diagnostics to perform. By this time it was near four o’clock and we knocked off for the day and dinghied to the hotel pool to cool off with some other cruisers.
This morning we did the flow test and the Clark pump troubleshooting and I reported back to Spectra. In about a half hour the tech emailed back that we have a flow problem and it’s either an obstruction in the intake or a failed pump. So out come the pumps again and Jack is not amused. With some difficulty due to stuck screws we got the head off pump number two, the one that isn’t working at all. Aha! A little bit of plastic wrap was stuck inside, and there was a lot of other crap in there too. It reminded me of what our friend Ron told us two years ago, that a tiny piece of wrapper from a new membrane can screw up the whole system. I don’t know where the plastic came from, but it certainly doesn’t belong there. We put the pump back together again and did the bucket test. Seems fine.
Unfortunately, the other pump has several screws that will not budge. I think we’re going to have to take it to someone with better tools and more determination to get it off and check it.
Meanwhile we bought water to fill up our tank, a first for us. It cost $20 to have a panga bring the water — at least we didn’t have to schlep it — but the thought of life without a watermaker, especially as we plan to sail to some fairly remote islands, makes us very determined to get our system back up and running again.
We have three more hours before our pool date at four o’clock. Back to work.