Repairs in Sint Maarten

Our first task in St Maarten was pulling the water maker high pressure pump out for repair. Less than a month after installing the factory rebuilt high-pressure pump, one side of the pump blew apart. Spectra’s high pressure “Clark Pump” allegedly carries a “lifetime warranty”; that warranty is illusory. In other words, there is no such warranty. I had to pay for both the factory rebuild / repair, and the shipping. Spectra’s lifetime warranty on the Clark Pump is non-existent. Spectra did, however, pay the cost of repairing their factory rebuilt pump, but NOT the shipping. Let’s think a minute, if you buy a car from Honda, made in Japan, do you have to pay shipping for warranty parts?

The process of repair went smoothly, and I’m becoming quite the expert at removing / re-installing the Clark pump. Not that I want to be that person, mind you, but it really is quite simple, just a pain. The repairs were completed in a day bu Electec, the Spectra dealer in Sint Maarten. I had the system back in and running, start to finish all in two days time. One down.

Next up was locating a firm to clean our fuel tank and polish our fuel. Polishing is a fancy term for filtering the fuel until it is sparkling clean. I put an inquiry out on the morning Cruiser’s Net and had two options available. We chose Five Star Yachting Services, a British couple who have had their business in Sint Maarten for 15 years.

Drill the Access Holes

Polishing the fuel is a simple process, once we had drilled a ten inch hole in our cockpit well and a 3” hole in the top of our stainless steel fuel tank. Our tank had no access whatsoever, and cutting the holes was really our only option. Those first few steps went quite smoothly, and we were ready to install a cover plate over the tank hole just 4 hours after we started.

Once the cover plate was fabricated, Andy from Five Star pumped the fuel back into the tank and installed the cover on the tank; the seal leaked. Off came the tank cover plate, pump out the fuel again, and reseal the plate. It leaked again.

16 screws on the 3rd Go

One more time, off came the plate, out came the fuel, and this time, Andy drilled a second set of holes around the perimeter of the plate with a matching set drilled and tapped in the tank. We’d discovered that when full, the tank bulged a bit on the top and the plate would not seal flush to the tank. The first set of 8 screws could not keep the plate and tank in one even plane. So, now with 16 holes and screws, Andy re-installed the plate. One screw leaked!

Reseal the one screw and wait. The waiting was the pain; the sealant had to cure for 12 hours before filling the tank with fuel, so in the end, we’d been at the dock 4 days – right at the end of the Sint Maarten International Airport. You can imagine the noise and the frustration.

Can you see the Leaker?

Four days later we were finally back at anchor with fresh air and no planes deafening us. The next morning, I checked the plate and screws for leaks, and the one troublesome screw was clearly absorbing fuel into the sealant as the sealant was changing color. Insane. I called Andy, let him know, and he said he would reseal that one screw again once I had used enough fuel to lower the level below the tank top. I’m not sure how I feel about that idea just yet and may just do it myself at end of season. Just a little tired of this hoopla. But hey, we have clean fuel and a clean tank.

Time for a New Filtration System