Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Watermaker Time!

Saturday, November 14 - Monday, November 23, 2009
Lake Worth Anchorage, FL
As you know, we've been in Lake Worth for nearly a month now, and other than showing pictures of new arrivals to the area (nice schooner at Peanut Island, left), there really isn't much else to say about this place. So our latest and greatest blog entry is all about installing the watermaker. Boring, you say? Think again. It's gonna get pretty steamy, folks! There's a lot of talk about laying tubing through tight holes and such. Not that any of our friends have dirty minds...

Rene has started laying down the tubing (i.e. hoses) for the watermaker, and boy is he managing to get into some tight spaces. If only I'd taken pictures! Our plan is to install the majority of the watermaker modules on the bulkhead in the lazarette, but from there, we need hoses to run forward to a pump in the bilge and on to the water tanks (mid-ship and v-berth); we also need a hose to run from the watermaker aft so the brine can connect to one of the overboard lines (?). Sounds easy, right? Hahahaha. At best, each tube has to go under the floorboards and around whatever structures happen to be in the way (three 130-pound batteries, for instance). At worst, the tube has to go through a blind, mostly inaccessible passageway that may be 5-10' long. The tube has been coiled, so you also have to twist it as you push it through to keep it from catching on something. Fun! The first few hoses are relatively easy to run. We're able to get them through an opening under the floor and behind a wall that leads from the washing machine, around the batteries, and into the bilge. Piece of cake (which means it takes under 2 hours). Next up, we have to figure out how to get hoses all the way forward to the water tank under our v-berth bed. The existing water hoses go from the bilge to the starboard side of the boat, behind the walls of the salon, forward head, and v-berth, and finally into the water tank under our matress. It'll be physically impossible for us to route the watermaker hoses the same without tearing the boat apart. There must be another way! Rene pulls out the v-berth drawers and finds wires leading under the floor back towards the bilge. Now he just needs to figure out where they lead. With Rene in the bilge and Stacy in the v-berth, we pull on various wires until we can verify that they do, in fact, run through an opening to the bilge. The only problem is that the hole is behind the generator, accessible only by feel. Rene crawls into the bilge between the generator (below) and the floorboards (above) to get to the access hole. The space is so small that he has to remove the sound-proofing on the gen to crawl in. We're talking mere inches here, and he ends up literally lying on top of the generator. After some struggling and a few choice words, he finds one end of a pipe that continues behind a wall, under the v-berth floor, and ends in the v-berth bed frame behind the drawers. Success! Of course, confirming that the access hole even exists is only part one; part two is running the tubing. Think lead lines, tape, and a 12" Swiffer handle. 'Nuff said. So goes the rest of the day, and by the end of it, all of the hoses are where they need to be (we think).

The next couple of days are for shopping and running errands. Sunday we bike a 10-mile circle to K-Mart, Target, Lowe's, and Publix. Unfortunately, the gear lines on both bikes have rusted through; Rene's stuck in a lower (higher?) gear, but Stacy's bike has defaulted to the lowest setting. She peddles like crazy and goes nowhere. about frustration! (We love our Dahon fold-up bikes, but a few parts aren't as sea-worthy as others.) Monday we face the fact that we won't make it to the Bahamas by Nov. 24th, which means that we need to renew our pet entry forms. Stacy's German stubborn streak rears its ugly head, and she refuses to go for any more long bike rides until the gears are fixed. Rene bikes over the monster bridge to the post office on his own to overnight the renewal forms; not being able to downshift, Rene gets his butt kicked by said bridge. Looks like we'll be repairing the bikes sooner rather than later...after the watermakers, of course.

The watermaker finally arrives Tuesday - now the real fun begins! Visualize where everything will go...measure for placement and drilling...hold modules up against the wall to help with visualization...make sure we can still open the washer and cabin doors...visualize some more...measure one more time...maybe two more times...and...drill! This may seem like overkill, but drilling holes in the boat is scary stuff. Plus, we're drilling holes in small spaces near other important hoses, frames, etc. We really need to get this right the first time without doing any major damage to the rest of the boat. By Thursday, Rene has everything mounted where it needs to go, and by Friday he has most of the electronics connected. Saturday, Rene taps into the water tanks and splices the watermaker hoses into Pipe's existing system, and Sunday is for finishing touches. Dick Murray, who sold us the watermaker, comes aboard Monday (which means a dinghy ride through a downpour) to test and certify the system. Everything works perfectly, and we can't find any leaks or other surprises. It's official...we have a watermaker!

Now that the big boat project is done, we just need to get the Bahamas pet entry permits in hand and set up a quick visit to a local vet for shots and a sign-off that the kids are healthy. We'll spend Thanksgiving on the boat and will find a nice restaurant for our 3rd wedding anniversary on November 28th. Early forecasts show a possible weather window early next week, so we may be able to shove off for the Abacos next Monday or Tuesday. Fingers crossed!

No comments: