Watermaker trouble on Frigate Island

It continued to blow from the northeast, which meant that the swell went into Saline Bay on Mayreau so it was time to change bays. We went up to Salt Whistle Bay and only stayed one night. There was swell there too and since we had not eaten lobster at Romeos’s on the Tobago Cays we still wanted to stay in the area in the area around it.

We sail down to Frigate Island which has good protection from swell to spend a few days waiting for the wind to ease and better weather. Frigate Island is located at Ashton, Union Island. At the pier in Ashton is a local bar where we usually stop (if it is open) and have a beer in the heat. The boat in the picture is a fairly typical transport boat here in the Grenadines. Often they are completely open and according to someone we spoke to, they have had the boats donated from China and the surrounding countries. Used fishing boats are transported here.

Sparrow’s Beach Club

We treat ourselves to an afternoon at Sparrow’s Beach Club on the north side of Union Island. Here you can eat very good food and enjoy sunbathing and swimming in a relaxed environment. If you are coming to Union Island, this is a place worth visiting. It’s a few miles to walk from Ashton or you can take a taxi, remember to book so they know you’re coming.

Problem with Wichard lifeline

When I am going to fit the life slings on the deck, I see that the brackets have become brittle from the sun after sitting up last season. I think that you should be able to expect a longer service life for safety devices like this and that UV-resistant materials are used in them. I had gotten life slings from Whichard which I thought was a quality brand. But they do not live up to expectations here either. I have had two chain hooks from Whichard that bent out in fairly moderate winds and a bit of swell, even though I had a flexible snubber rope.

Watermaker problem

While we were here, the watermaker took the opportunity to grab our attention, when the pressure suddenly disappeared. Fortunately, we had almost a full tank and if we skimp, we can manage at least two weeks on the 900 liters that are in the water tank. We are in the habit of making water often (every or every other day, because then we have more time to fix it if something happens that makes it impossible for us to get fresh water.

The high pressure pump was full of salt on the underside and it looked like it came from one or possibly two of the cylinders in the piston pump that pushes the water through the RO diaphragms with a pressure of up to 50 bar. RO membranes (reverse osmosis) are the filters that only let water molecules through and filter out all molecules that are larger, ie salt and other things that are in the sea water.

Since we must be able to make our own drinking water, the pump needs to be repaired so I disassemble it to see what is broken. It turns out that it is a cylinder that has leaked. I order new gaskets from EchoTech in Trinidad and send them to the company we hired to guard the boat while it was parked at Clarkes Court in Grenada. They also have an office in Blue Lagoon on Saint Vincent and can arrange for an agent to pick up the package from customs.

It takes at least a week for transport and then I expect at least a week for collection and delivery to Blue Lagoon. It turns out to take even longer before we get the parts.

I clean the parts, but before I put everything back together, silicone grease is needed for all o-rings and rubber gaskets that sit around the pistons. Fortunately, Peter (on the Swedish sailboat Amaran) has some he can donate. He also has problems with his water maker and disassembles it from time to time. When I assemble the pump, I change the place on o-rings and gaskets so that they end up in a different cylinder than before. It can be a good strategy to get something tight with worn gaskets. When we test drive the pump, it gives full pressure again and no water leaks anymore. Nice, hope it lasts until we have received the spare parts.


We snorkeled a bit on the west side of Frigate Island and the only wildlife we saw was a centipede and a backward fish.


Despite setbacks, we still enjoy every sunset. That’s probably something I will miss the day we are home again.

Up next

In the next blog post, we will sail up to Bequia to wait for the delivery from EchoTech. From there it is only a few hours up to Saint Vincent.

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