11 August 2019, Spanish Water, Curacao, Sunday
Victor, the OCC-port officer, drove down to 'The Pirate's nest' on Thursday with the two parcels send to us at his address. The one from my mother and a big plastic box with the wind/water generator from Bruce in Florida. Unfortunately FedEx wanted even more money than they had already got but Victor was kind enough to pay them the 15 USD for 'local transport' in advance. I had already payed FedEx 30 USD extra for 'local transport' so I wrote them an e-mail asking for an explanation of the different fees that I paid. From Victor I had gotten a mail-address to somebody working in the Curacao-office of FedEx but until now we have not got an answer.
All parts of the Aquair 100 were well packed and Bruce had even included some extra bolts and nuts, a printed manual and a connector. The, very nice, box was too big to fit on Bengt so we asked Victor if he was interested, which he was, so on Wednesday we take it with us ashore. Victor wants to treat us to tour of Curacao that day.
The installation of the Aquair 100 took several days. First we had to get the wiring from the aft deck to the batteries under the sofa in the doghouse in place. This was a sweaty job which started with drilling two holes in the standing part of one of the aft hatches to get the wires into the boat. All had to be removed (gas bottles, water hose, brushes, etc) to be able to reach the hole where all cables and wires go through to get into the aft cabin. There we had to remove madrassas, pillows, etc to pull the wires through the hole in the bottom of the bed to the little sofa in front of it. This had to be taken apart, as well as the floor in front of it, to be able to get the wires into the engine room. Before we could proceed from there everything had to be put back in place and screwed together again so we were able to move around the aft-cabin again. The engine room doors (3) were removed so I could crawl over the engine to reach the wires that Elisabeth was feeding through a little hole under the floor of the aft-cabin behind the washing machine. Sweat was running now. Next step was to remove the engine cover so we could pull the wires through to where the two wires from the batteries came out under the sofa in the doghouse.
To be able to reach the batteries there everything behind it had to be removed. This is a lot and cannot be done when the engine cover is taken off so we had done this the day before. When everything is taken out two boards have to be unscrewed to reach the batteries. Because of this arrangement they are capsize proof. I was lying with my head down to be able to fasten the two wires to one of our nine batteries. After this I needed a swim to cool down.
All was not done yet though as everything had to be put back in place. It's strange that one never gets things back the way they were before. Being two helped a lot.
We had installed an Ampere-meter to be able to see how much the generator charges. It doesn't produce as much as our AIR-X wind generator but it has two advantages: It is QUIET and it never stops. You fit two swivel poles and bolt them in place on the generator body and the blades on a hub when you use it as a wind generator, after that you hoist it up on the forestay with three guys to hold it in place. Because the through deck fitting is in the back we needed a long extension cord with suitable watertight plugs. Unfortunately none are available here on Curacao so we tried cigarette-type plugs which we had plenty of on board. This didn't work very well. The Ampere-meter showed no current going through. First we thought that the Aquair was broken. It is old but has never been used. We measured the voltage and it turned out that the cigarette plugs were faulty. We just connected the wires and the Ampere-meter came alive.
We need some form of plugs to connect the generator. In water mode it is mounted on the stern and in wind mode it is hoisted three meters up on the cutter stay. We chose this 'simple' solution to avoid drilling many holes in Bengt's steel deck and to avoid to install expensive 'watertight' connectors (which never are watertight anyway).
When you go sailing you take the generator down, unscrew the blades and stays and mount it in the special ring on the aft deck. A connector is bolted to it and a 30 meter long line is attached to both the generator and the 3 kilo heavy propeller with a Fisherman's bend (we had to look this one up). We think this is a genial way of producing electricity but off course the Aquair is an old design and doesn't produce as much power (100 W) as more recent products on the market like the 'Watt and Sea' (at 3500 USD not an option for us). Our solar panels and our AIR-X wind generator produce 400 W each but the Aquair is a solid, simple and sturdy piece of equipment which hopefully will give us many miles of sailing-amperes. In wind mode it just spins and spins and produces amps in any wind, something our AIR-X doesn't do because it stops when the wind is 35 knots (which it often is here on Curacao) and then it doesn't produce any amps at all. We also ordered a shunt-type regulator, to protect the batteries, from Budget Marine which hopefully arrives before we have to leave Curacao next week.
Sunday was toilet-day. We have an electric toilet which has been in Bengt since we bought him. It still worked but not very well so we had a spare with us on board (not the bowl). It was exactly the same as the old one, at least so we thought, and we had in mind a quick and easy exchange. There are no such things as 'quick and easy' on boats so it took several hours of fixing to get the thing in place. Why manufacturers of things always have to change details so their product doesn't fit in the same way as the old one, is something we don't understand. We had to saw away some pieces of the teak covers, change screw holes and exchange the hoses for ones with a slightly different diameter. But after that ... a working toilet again.
The freshwater pump also stopped working so we had to open the spare parts locker under the bed (and remove the madrassas) to get a new one out. Pumps usually last long but the pressure-switch tends to break. We fitted a new switch on the bottom of the pump but the fuse blew so the whole pump was exchanged instead. This is a difficult job (see the picture) for which I have to crawl over the engine to be able to reach the pump. Fortunately I have a wonderful assistant who hands me tools and parts (and takes pictures without me knowing). While having the engine cover off anyway we took the grey-water tank under the engine apart and cleaned it. Always a messy job but, even here, it is good to be two. In this way we continue with maintenance and improvements on out floating home 'Bengt.
Soon we can hoist the sails and sail to Aruba!