Our Little Christmas Miracle
22 December 2014 | Barra de Navidad
If you read my last post you will likely have noticed that we were experiencing a high degree of frustration with the numerous little breakdowns on Speakeasy. It definitely felt like the universe was ganging up on us. The generator breakdown was more of a concern than the rest of the problems as it made it much less efficient to charge our batteries, negated the washing machine, and hampered our ability to make water. If we were cruising the gulf islands back home, no problem. But, down here where parts are hard to come by and you really don't want to drink the water from a hose, small problems are magnified.
After hours of troubleshooting, much of it with the help of the Manta Owners Group website, I was pretty sure that the lack of voltage coming from the generator was a result of a dead capacitor. Eric on "Pied a Mer III" is a retired electrical engineer and happened to be anchored right next to us here in the lagoon behind Barra de Navidad. Being the expert that he is, he also happened to have a capacitor tester on board and verified that mine was shot.
So, as of last night I knew what the problem was, but had no idea where to find a 40mF/400VAC capacitor in the small towns of Barra or Melaque. The general consensus was that I would have to take a bus to Manzanillo, a larger city to the south.
First thing each morning is the "cruiser net" on the VHF radio where we get the news of who is around and what is happening. There is a also a section where boaters can ask for assistance. When my turn came, I asked if anyone knew where I could find a capacitor, and a few leads were passed back to me.
Then, Mike on Sagittaire came back to me saying that he had one on the boat! Wow! To make it even easier, he was anchored about 100' away. I went over to see him after the net and he had the EXACT capacitor in his hand. I didn't really want to take his spare, but it turned out that he didn't have a use for it anymore and had just been carrying it around in case he ran into someone who needed it. I was more than happy to take it off his hands for a modest sum. I installed it, and fifteen minutes later our generator was back up and running. There were cheers around the anchorage from the boats that we know, as they were all as surprised as I was that the solution was so close at hand.
Stories like this really show the power of the cruiser community and their commitment to help their fellow boaters. A few months ago I gave away a spare Delta anchor to another boat who had an anchor that wasn't going to work in most Mexican anchorages. This time it was my turn to be the beneficiary. I guess we could also chalk this up to Karma. Maybe the anchor earned us enough karma points to deserve this capacitor in return? Maybe it was all of the positive energy that we know was being sent our way from friends here and back home?
We hope that we have turned a corner with the breakdowns on Speakeasy. I expect there to be a regular set of issues to fix - that's boating, and it is kind of fun to work on the boat. But, I hope now that we go from a storm of issues to something more manageable. I feel better times coming.