Memorial Day in Moorea

by Drew on May 25, 2009

Over here in French Polynesia we tend to completely forget about the good old American holidays.  We could go diving on a Wednesday, hiking on a Monday, and then end up spending an American holiday like yesterday pulling apart the alternator after discovering the engine compartment filled with grey smoke.  For our friends and family who don’t know much about boats, we run the motor (of the little Honda generator) every 2-3 days to charge the batteries that give us lights, refrigeration, etc.  When we use the main engine to charge, we have a high output alternator that increases the rate of charge and allows us to refill the large house battery bank in a shorter amount of time.  It appears my 150 amp Balmar alternator has finally crapped out.
alternator
I can’t really complain. I’ve asked a lot of that little piece of machinery. It’s worked flawlessly for 4 years on a single belt setup that I ruthlessly tension every couple of weeks. The reputation of Balmar alternators out here is dismal to say the least but I don’t really know whether Balmar itself is the problem or cruisers expecting way too much of their products. Regardless, two things make me very happy. One, I have a rebuild kit on board. I don’t actually have the correct tools to complete the rebuild myself (who carries a E-5 Torx socket and a Hi-Temp Soldering Iron) but at least I won’t have to order in the parts. Two, I’m happy I carry a spare alternator. It’s the original one that came with the boat. I had it rebuilt in the states before I left, wrapped it in bubble wrap, plastic bags, and duct tape, and stuck it in a deep, dark storage hole where it’s sat for 5000+ miles. It only puts out 40 amps and doesn’t have a dedicated negative but with the wacky winds we’ve been having over here, I think we’ll like having the engine to get back to Papeete. Plus, with a spare on board, we didn’t have to rush back to town for a repair and miss the potluck party on board Zen last night. They invited the whole anchorage over so there musta been 15 people on board. Margie’s salmon cakes were a hit. She was especially happy about that since it was her first cruiser potluck and the first time she’s made her new specialty for an audience other than myself. It was great meeting everyone and marveling over the engineering feat that is Zen, a brand new Atlantic 48 catamaran.  Tom, Monique, Cammi, and Cole were gracious hosts and we hope to meet up with them again farther on down the road.  As for the rest of today, we’re taking the dinghy down to the western corner of Moorea to feed the stingrays and sharks.  I do believe Margie is in for quite a shock!

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