The wind has been blowing from the North for a week now, and on arrival at the coast of Nassau Island we tried to find shelter near the South-West pass. With a considerable swell from the South-East, the sea was confused, and it took a lot of courage for the local tender to come through the pass and meet us. We had a special item on board that needed to be handled with care: a Polaris electric mini-truck. The owner, Poila, is a smart guy buying a vehicle that can be charged with solar energy. For the next years he doesn’t have to import fuel any more. Because of the treacherous conditions of the sea, we only did two discharges of cargo and departed for Pukapuka around five o’clock.
Just when I was thinking that Voyage 42 has been an easy ride, Megan woke me up in the middle of the night: “Ben, Ben, the bilge alarm in the Engine Room …”. Still drowsy, I jump out of my bunk and head for my domain, where I find Brad firing up the Lister generator. Obviously he prepares to pump out the water in the bilge. I notice that there is a considerable amount of water underneath the floor plates and my mind races to find an answer to the question, where does this water come from?!
Earlier that day I had taken our main bilge pump apart for maintenance and informed Brad about this. Could this have led to a leak? Things got worse when we notice that the back-up bilge pump was not working. “Bring out the electric submersible pump!”, Brad orders. This 240V pump didn’t do it’s job either. Fortunately redundancy is the Kwai’s middle name, so I gave Banu a 120V submersible pump and within half an hour we could see the water level receding.
Banu noticed that sea water was coming back into the bilge through one of the suction hoses. The next day I pulled the bilge manifold apart and found the culprit: a tiny bottle cap had managed to jam itself inside one of the bilge valves, preventing it from closing. This is what we call: getting the leak above the water line.
Early the next morning we arrived at Pukapuka where Chrissy and shore party went ashore to deal with money-matters and consigned cargo. In the afternoon Chrissy asks to send some ‘typical Christmas gifts’ ashore: mainly food-items. They are rapidly sold and a new batch is sent ashore.
Around five we call it a day and I climb onto the Bridge where I find Brad looking wearily at the horizon. I asked him: “Do you see a change in the weather cap?”. He said: “Yes, the wind backed even more, and the swell is increasing”. “All not favorable, so close to the reef”. “Remember”, I said, “the name of this island…”. He smiled at me and said: “yes, Danger Island, but that’s because of the women I’m sure”. I laughed and climb onto the Aloha deck to hang my dirty coveralls to dry.
Before nightfall we take a 12nm detour to find shelter South of Motu Kotawa, where a drift watch is organized. All is well on board.