Fixing toilets and fresh water pumps: DONE.
18 July 2012 | Tied to a mooring buoy at Bora Bora, French Polynesia
There is no end to it. Our forward head vacuum pump started running continuously shortly after it started smelling. A failed toilet is a serious matter even though we have a second independent head. When it stinks, it makes the boat unlivable. We use both our toilets (and their associated independent holding tanks) and while we can live with only one, it is less convenient. Worse, if the remaining toilet fails we are down to a bucket. We do not want to use the bucket....ever. Security is having two working heads all the time. But, as with many items on a boat, we didn't get to fix them once, we get to fix them twice. The first fix lets us know that the bellows we replaced wasn't the problem. The problem was a near microscopic cut in an O ring at the top of the bellows. We searched and could not find a spare O ring. We talked to other cruisers with the same toilets we have. They didn't have a spare O ring either. But eventually we searched again in a different spares area where we remembered that we had a spare motor for the vacuum pump. Wonder of wonders we had a spare set of O rings, packed in with the motor. Joy reined. We replaced the O ring and the leak that was causing the smell did indeed go away but still it ran continuously. We looked for a plugged line and found some crystal in the hose that we cleaned out and were amazed to see just how clean the vacuum tank was (We expected it to be half full of "shit residue" after 12 years use but it was almost perfectly clean.) Nice to know but the toilet still wouldn't draw a vacuum. We replaced the duck bills and voila, fast vacuum. The toilet works. But did you notice that it didn't work on the first try? It took an entire second day to accomplish this miracle. Larry (and karen) went to bed happy.
But the next morning Karen had to inform me that during the night the fresh water pump had failed. Without a fresh water pump the toilets don't work unless you deliver water with a pan. We can fill the pan with the foot pump. But, the lack of convenience is certainly a bummer. It just happens that I had purchased a complete fresh water pump spare years ago. It was stored under the pots and pans in the galley. About half an hour of work produced an entire new fresh water pump. Wonderful. 2 hours later and it is installed (you would think it would take 10 minutes but that discounts the secondary issues that arise EVERY time). But, of course the new pump is just a little different than the old pump. The new pump doesn't have its own pressure switch (to turn on the pump according to demand) and the old pressure switch in the boat didn't work. We recovered the pressure switch off the failed pump and now we are working again..
We still don't have the hot water heating element for our hot water tank. Maybe we can get that in Raitea. We certainly cannot get it in Bora Bora.
Did I mention that we took our Nitrox dives and are now PADI certified enriched air divers? During the dives we saw a lot of manta rays (which are a very large and beautiful fish) and we saw a for real yellow submarine off one of the superyachts. It had BIG windows! We were the show. They dove right where we were and the water was crystal clear with lots of sharks and fish (and other divers). Diving in the tropics with a dive operator is REALLY a nice experience.
We also went to Bloody Mary's, a world famous restaurant that posts a list of famous people that have eaten there. It is a LONG list. The food was good. Larry had a bloody mary drink before dinner. And we bought a T shirt. Tourist stuff is fun.
All the while that we have been here, we have been using a mooring buoy in front of the Bora Bora yacht club. This yacht club is the nicest thing about Bora Bora. We are very well supported in everything we had to arrange and the fact that it is the social center for yachties is also nice. We had a Perini Navy 170 foot sailboat anchor directly behind us for several days. We must have been in the right spot.
The photo shows Panta Rhei still afloat with the Pearl Island Resort in the background.