30th of June 2017, Revival of the clipper race

Like in the old days, when the world’s oceans were pocked and measled with white specks: ships carrying clouds of sails. When lives were short and time was precious. This was when clippers were invented to carry cargo from the East to the West coast of the New World, in record-breaking time. Why? Because of the fact that who arrived first got served first, and the best deals could be made on the shipper’s own trade.

The day after our departure from Honolulu we received the information that another cargo vessel is underway, from Tarawa to Christmas Island. The BBC Nordland is a conventional container ship, filled with the same kind of cargo that we carry. There is only space for one ship on the jetty in Christmas Island, and the old custom still goes: who arrives first gets to be served first.

The situation would not have occurred if the Nordland had not run into troubles after her first departure, a week ago. Mechanical problems on board forced her to return to Tarawa. Hearing this ominous news, Brad told us: “drive her guys, drive her hard “. Luckily the wind picked up and were doing an average of 7.5 knots under sail only. So we sheeted in hard and kept our track spot on the rhumb line.

All seemed to go smoothly, until I was triggered by the sound of an engine alarm. Diving into the engine room, I found the Lister generator overheating. “Not again, Caralho!…”, I cursed. Brad arrived soon after I shut down our tired Lister. Together we assessed the situation, and after some time it became clear that there was a malfunction in the new fresh water pump that we recently installed in Honolulu. The impeller was damaged because of the heat of the coolant. To make matters worse, the spare impeller that we had on board was of a different type. “It is during these critical circumstances that we are at our best”, I thought to myself, and I started the repair of the damaged impeller. A few hours later the generator was running again. This generator is not essential for our safety of navigation. It is used for charging our batteries (which are essential) when we have no main engine running. So we continued under sail, until, some 24 hours later… the generator called out for help again. This time there was no repair possible of the fresh water pump.

Brad came with a brilliant solution to the problem. Instead of using coolant in a small closed circuit in the generator, Brad asked me to rig up a circuit, taking fresh water from our Port side holding tank, running it through the Lister, and feeding it back into the holding tank. Because of the enormous amount of water, the temperature in the holding tank would easily absorb the dissipated heat from the Lister. So we could use a regular fresh water pump for circulation.

Critical readers amongst you will ask the question: “will the generator not run too cold”. In theory, you are right, and this is where fate kicks in. During the first trial, the cylinders of the generator were running at a comfortable 180 degrees Fahrenheit. For days we have been running the Lister like this, and I know now  that Brad’s Brave and Brilliant plan worked. This is what the Kwai and it’s crew do best: dealing with any situation, and relying only on ourselves. There is no one else to ask for help in this vast ocean.