Monthly Archives: October 2015

More Tahiti than we wanted

Our friend Walter said it’s hard to get sympathy for any sentence that has the word Tahiti in it and I guess that’s true, but we are kind of tired of being here. I think it’s largely because I’m still moving slowly and our ability to wander the streets of Papeete is curtailed by a smaller range than I’d normally have on foot. It’s also because we’re eager to move on and be back on our westward track. But we are pinned here for the moment by high winds and big seas outside so we’re staying put until we can be sure that our first foray, 150 miles back to Bora Bora, is a comfortable one.  


It must be cruise ship season. Every day or so a huge one — or two —  docks directly behind our boat, blocking out half the sky and adding the constant grumble of its generators and loudspeaker announcements to the general city din of auto traffic, sirens and nightclub music ashore. We are now in the holiday photos and videos of about 2500 sunburned vacationers. It’s been funny to look up and down the dock and see the cruisers all sitting in our cockpits watching the ship’s passengers at the rails just a couple hundred feet away watching us.

In a way being docked right in the center of a lively city is fun — or would be if I weren’t hobbled — but we do miss the clear tropical waters, the wildlife and the peace of calm island anchorages. Every day we take a walk to the market or the grocery store or a cafe just so I can get my back into shape and regain the muscle tone I lost after weeks of inactivity.  

Yesterday we walked through a local park and came across a monument to the people affected by the decades of nuclear testing in these islands by the U.S., England and France. We’ve heard a lot of anti-French sentiment from locals because of the testing and its lingering health effects, and we were glad to have stumbled on the monument.  


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Why fight it?

Ok, so…sometimes it is the effing membrane. I get it. I was sent to the showers after the last fiasco (I don’t know why) and while we spent no money, I did shed blood, sweat and tears and I’m just saying they count for something even though the response from the Spectra watermaker was something like “don’t bring any of that weak shit around here.” 

The next exercise in futility was to be the ever-popular changing of the membrane. From my tone you can probably deduce my enthusiasm for this one. It’s a task that is a two-day adventure which starts the day before in which I schlep all the crap we can’t find a real place for that ends up stacked haphazardly in the forward starboard hull known as “the garage” and every boat has at least one. It’s schlepped through the starboard head all the way back to the guest cabin, turning a very nice queen size berth into a pile of crap.  


Next I have to lift three large plywood hatch covers that hide the flaking aluminum Spectra box with the works inside, a fifty gallon fuel tank, the water heater, finally revealing the long tube that houses the watermaker membrane. It’s that last plywood cover that gave me so much trouble the last time. Now what was the trick to getting it off? Ahhh hell, if you try to pry the cover off your fingers get jammed under it because the vertical bulkhead cover has to come off first! Fingers smarting, I wrestle the last cover out of the way. 

There it is. It’s just three high-pressure fittings but slowly the hard-earned secret knowledge of the Brotherhood of Spectra Watermaker Repair Guild begins to dribble back to me. Out with the old, in with the new… Oops, now which way does that little brine gasket thingy go? Hey Marce which way does the Spectra Manuel say that little brine gasket thingy goes?  


Oh shit, the label and the manuel do not agree. Or, do they? It’s a judgement call. Slowly the fog of déjà vu lifted. We’ve been here before. I may have even used some of the same words the last time we did this and the last time we carefully stuck it in the same way the previous owners had. 

As luck would have it, Bill on Sunrise, tied up just four feet from us, is something of a watermaker guru, yes it’s true, and he sat in our cockpit, staring at the brine gasket thingy and the instructions and the marks on the housing for quite a while and then made the call. It had been in backwards. Backwards all this time, for three years and thousands of gallons of perfect water until it apparently it could do it backwards no more.

So in went the new membrane according to Hoyle. I buttoned it up, tightened all the fittings, turned it on. No leaks. And great water right away.

So why fight it? It’s the membrane, stupid.  


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