07 July 2016 | Marina de Papeete
Totally Bummed Bill
In the wonderful movie, “A Fish Called Wanda”, Kevin Kline, in his brilliant display of comic genius, utters that line when he breaks into a safe that has already been burgled.
We feel the same. It’s been a disappointing and frustrating week, I don’t mind saying, and we’re at wit’s end to salvage our important decommissioning schedule.
Our mechanic, Daniel, arrived at 0730 this morning and proceeded to reconstruct our engine with the “fixed” injector pump. With both of us working, we managed to get things back together by 0830. We tried absolutely everything but the engine still would NOT start. It still, seemingly, was not getting diesel from the injector pump. Back to square one. We’re in the same position we’ve been in since we arrived on June 23. I know that Daniel was as frustrated and puzzled as we.
He departed with the injectors to test them. After all, the injector pump had been repaired, right? If no diesel fuel were coming from the injectors, they had to be at fault. Of course they tested as good. Back to the injector pump.
Daniel departed a second time to request that the Bosch injector pump guy drop by and try to diagnosis the problem. The Bosch guy refused, saying that the pump worked when tested at his shop, so he wouldn’t come to the boat. At this point, Daniel went back to SOPOM and talked to his boss, Bruno LeBrun. Bruno and Daniel returned with a “Lloyds of London certified” marine surveyor, a local big gun. He was brought in to verify whether the injector pump had been repaired. SOPOM believes that the injector pump was not fixed and refuses to pay the Bosch shop invoice, and the Bosch shop claims that the injector pump was fixed and demands to be paid. And here we are.
The four of us, Daniel, Bruno, the marine surveyor and I, went through several tests. We pulled the injectors from the engine but reconnected them to the injector tubes. We cranked the engine with the starter. They spewed no fuel. Then, we rigged our 5-gallon jug of clean fuel to feed the lift pump directly (thus removing any filter clog or fuel tank problem from consideration), cranked the engine, and watched for fuel being squirted from the injectors onto a clean cloth. Nothing. The surveyor was convinced that the injector pump did not work, and he, Bruno, and Daniel departed for the day.
The plan is for Daniel to arrive at 0700 tomorrow (Friday), remove the injectors and pump, test the injectors for the surveyor (to ascertain that the injectors do work and are not the culprit), and then the three of them will visit the Bosch shop. SOPOM will not pay the Bosch invoice until the pump works, and the surveyor is the “proof” that the pump does not, in fact, work as promised. I have no idea what the upshot will be, but hopefully, the recalcitrant Bosch guy will relent and fix the pump. Daniel will have time to return and install the pump, the engine will run, and we can make it to Raiatea this weekend and follow our original decommissioning schedule.
We don’t think that it will happen like that, of course. SOPOM closes at noon tomorrow, and the disagreement over where the problem lies will not be resolved, the pump certainly will not be repaired by then and still have time for the install. A likely scenario is that the pump will be fixed on Monday and installed sometime on Tuesday. We’ll immediately depart Tahiti, and arrive in Raiatea on Wednesday, get pulled, and work like fiends until Conni departs on Sunday and I’ll stay by myself, working on the rest of the projects we need to complete. Conni simply must leave on Sunday, as we originally planned since she has clients and partners who need her to be in Alaska.
Worst case? With the way things have been going, it’s possible that we’ll be forced to deal with it. Worst case is that the Bosch guy will NOT fix the pump and we’ll have to wait on the arrival of the pump from England on Wednesday, or later, and Daniel will install it. We’ll pilot the boat to Raiatea, we’ll work like fiends until Saturday, and Conni will fly out. I’ll decommission the boat alone. Of course, having the pump in my hot hands is also up in the air since customs delays might add a week to that schedule, meaning that Conni will fly home from Papeete and I’ll be responsible for getting the boat to Raiatea, having her pulled, and getting her decommissioned.
It’s not the decommissioning effort that worries me, but that Conni handles a great many chores that I don’t and don’t know how to do. She’d face the same problems having to decommission the engine and electronics without knowing all of the tricks and tactics that I use and have developed through all of these years. I can’t go to the masthead alone to remove the wind instruments, either, and it’s difficult for me to pack the sails by myself.
So far, Conni and I have been able to reframe our delay here, but today just tore it. Any sort of orderly return to Raiatea, boat pull and decommissioning schedule is out the window. It’s likely that we’ll miss traveling together, and that I’ll have a great deal of extra work to do. She’s just unspeakably angry tonight. Everything about the boat looks like boiled spinach to her, I’m afraid. I’m frustrated and angry, but we’ve got what we’ve got and need to keep a plan in mind to get the boat to safe quarters and prepared for the layover.
Wish us luck and patience.