Fixed the Heat Exchanger with Bamboo Chopsticks – Fiji Here We Come!

Yesterday I pulled apart the heat exchanger, filled the fresh water coolant side with water and found that 7 of the 19 copper tubes were leaking on one of the passes. I was considering using JB Weld to plug the holes on both sides but asked Alyssa if we had any wood dowels that would fit the tubes. She looked around the galley and handed me a set of bamboo chopsticks that we had bought in Chinatown back in San Francisco. They happened to fit perfectly into the tubes. We had enough to plug both sides of the 7 offending tubes so I hammered them in and broke them off flush. I filled the coolant side again and no leaks! We re-installed it, flushed the cooling system and ran the engine up to temp. I’m sure there are many mechanics that are cringing right now but it’s holding coolant, not restricting any raw water flow compared to normal and the engine temp is staying cool after the thermostat opens. Only time will tell if our jury-rig-bamboo-chopstick repair holds up. We’re just hoping it makes it to Savusavu, Fiji where we are having a new one shipped in from the US.

Today we’re clearing out, sending in our Fijian customs forms, picking up our laundry, stowing the dinghy and heading to another anchorage closer to the open sea. We plan to sail west at first light tomorrow morning (Tuesday Tonga, Monday in California). The passage is 420 miles, or three days at 5.5 knots. We’re hoping to be standing off Savusavu at first light Friday morning. 

We’ll write again en route. Hope everyone is having an excellent weekend.

Here are some pics from sailing around the islands and a couple of the bamboo chopstick repair:

 

A local woman collecting sea slugs. She even had an octopus in her bucket

A local woman collecting sea slugs. She even had an octopus in her bucket

These beautiful blue starfish were everywhere at low tide

These beautiful blue starfish were everywhere at low tide

The ark gallery in the Tapana anchorage

The ark gallery in the Tapana anchorage

I almost impaled my hand trying to husk this coconut. The efficiency of the Tongan guy made my technique pale in comparison

I almost impaled my hand trying to husk this coconut. The efficiency of the Tongan guy made my technique pale in comparison

The Princess and her creature comforts. There was a big smile after this blow-dry session.

The Princess and her creature comforts. There was a big smile after this blow-dry session.

Exploring Tapana Island

Exploring Tapana Island

We brought the kids Tootsi Pops - a huge hit

We brought the kids Tootsi Pops – a huge hit

DSCN1121 DSCN1122

Anchored off Nuapapu

Anchored off Nuapapu

A beautiful blonde at the helm while sailing the flat waters of Vava'u....sailing doesn't get much better than that!

A beautiful blonde at the helm while sailing the flat waters of Vava’u….sailing doesn’t get much better than that!

Hammering in the chopsticks

Hammering in the chopsticks

Look at the holes in the bottom left. Plugged with chopsticks!

Look at the holes in the bottom left. Plugged with chopsticks!

Our send-off cocktail session with friends in Neiafu. Not hard to fill the cockpit when you have a keg of craft brew on tap.....the hard part is emptying the cockpit before the keg!

Our send-off cocktail session with friends in Neiafu. Not hard to fill the cockpit when you have a keg of craft brew on tap…..the hard part is emptying the cockpit before the keg!

 

4 Comments

  1. carrie and ben's Gravatar carrie and ben
    August 10, 2015    

    Wow , life is an experience. Thanks for share, and sweet pea so so proud of you you guys make me smile , much love to you both 🙂

  2. Bob Pearson's Gravatar Bob Pearson
    August 16, 2015    

    I love the chop stick solution to the heat exchanger! Lew, you make McGiver
    proud! All our best to El Capitan and the Mermaid! Have fun in Fiji,
    you’ve earned it!

    Bob and Rabbit

    • August 17, 2015    

      Thanks Cap! I can’t take the credit though because it was the Mermaid who came up with the chopsticks! Now the fun part begins as I try and find radiator hose long enough to attach to the new heat exchanger. Of course a few of the ports are configured differently and just out of reach of the old hose runs. Oh how I wish I could just stroll into West Marine for the parts!! Or how about you fly to Fiji with some spares and come sailing with us?!!??

      Cheers Amigo!

      • Bob Pearson's Gravatar Bob Pearson
        August 21, 2015    

        I’d love to fly to Fiji and go sailing with you, brimming with spare parts!
        I just wrote myself a reality check – oops. But thank you for the invite!

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