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: