They say that cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places, but we have been extremely lucky since cutting the dock lines. Of course it helped that we did a complete refit on the boat before we left, but so far it’s been easy to find parts for the few minor repairs we’ve had. Well, our luck officially ran out last month.
Over the summer we, unbeknownst to us, had some water in the gasoline that went into the water maker. We discovered it over the summer when the water maker engine was coughing, just like the engine on our dinghy outboard did when we had water in that gas last winter in Red Shanks. So we poured out the gas and proceeded to use the water maker without any issues. Until. . . .
We went to start it when we were anchored in Royal Island, Eleuthera and saw that gasoline was leaking out of the carburetor. After doing some inspecting, Jeff noticed that the bolts holding the carb in place were loose, so he carefully tightened them. Now, Jeff used to be an air frames mechanic in the Marines so he knows how far he should tighten bolts. So the only thing we can figure is that there was a quality control issue with the bolt, because it broke.
After I observed a VERY impressive and lengthy outburst of frustration, I convinced Jeff to try to retrieve the bolt. It took a painstaking hour with a pair of hemostats, but he was able to back it out. When Jeff unscrewed the bowl from the carb he discovered that it was VERY corroded, and some YouTube research led us to the realization that the float needle wasn’t sealing, causing the carburetor to flood. We were going to need a new carb.
We sketched out a plan of attack. We were five miles away from Spanish Wells which was the best stocked settlement on Eleuthera when it came to marine parts. We would try to find the bolts and the carb there, and if we couldn’t then we would order them from the marine store in Nassau and have them sent on the mailboat.
What followed was a perfect storm: owning a tiny Honda engine in a nation that is primarily filled with Yamaha engines, piss-poor customer service on the part of SeaTask in Fort Lauderdale (who we had purchased the Rainman from), holiday closures, and supply chain issues due to Covid.
We spent Monday, December 21st walking around Spanish Wells and having no luck on the carburetor or the bolts, and the marine store in Nassau didn’t stock parts for little Honda engines (the Rainman uses a 50 cc engine).
How about getting the parts from the Rainman dealer – Sea Task – in Fort Lauderdale? Surely he deals with this all of the time – maybe he could ship them out on Tuesday the 22nd. Well, the customer service from Sea Task has, in our opinion, sucked ever since we bought the water maker from him. Once the sale was made, he had no interest in any questions or concerns we had, failing to respond to multiple texts, emails, or voice mails.
Conversely, customer service from the home office in Australia has been excellent. The few times we’ve e-mailed them we have had a VERY quick response. We like the product very much, but if you are considering buying a Rainman you may want to purchase it from a different dealer than the one in Florida.
Nevertheless, we gamely tried to contact SeaTask to see if he could ship us the parts. Unsurprisingly we received no response so, not willing to waste any more time, we placed an order through Boats.net later that same day and paid for expedited shipping. The carb (plus an extra that we ordered so we would have a spare) was shipped out on Tuesday the 22nd to Makers Air in Fort Lauderdale, arriving on the 23rd. Unfortunately, the bolt (plus 3 extras) was backordered – something that wasn’t showing on the Boats.net website when we placed the order.
Boats.net got the bolts 9 days later – on December 31st. A UPS label was created, but since it was the afternoon of New Year’s Eve the UPS driver didn’t come by. The next day was New Year’s Day (UPS doesn’t work that day), and since January 2nd was a Saturday and UPS doesn’t work over the weekend, it didn’t actually get shipped to Maker’s Air until January 4th.
In the meantime, we bought water at the grocery store in Rock Sound and I was regretting ever buying the water maker to begin with (although I got over it once it was working again). Finally, 3 ½ weeks after we placed our order, the parts were shipped by Maker’s Air to Staniel Cay where we picked them up at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. 3 ½ weeks to get the parts, ten minutes to install them, and the Rainman was running like a champ once again.
Let’s hope the next time we need to have parts shipped (because there likely will be a next time – it’s a boat after all) it’s not during a global pandemic and three days before Christmas!