Saturday, May 11

Generator Fiasco by Maggie

It was just another normal day doing schoolwork on the boat.  My dad was checking out at customs before going to Martinique and my mom was tidying up the boat.  She wanted to run the vacuum which required the generator for more power.  To turn on the generator, we just hold a button down until it starts.  Easy, right?  Only this time, the generator didn’t rev-up all the way, it just made a “low-speed chug”.  My mom tried turning it off so she could restart it again, but the generator wouldn’t shut down.  She raced down to my cabin and lifted up my mattress because the generator is under my bed, to see if there was something obviously wrong that she could fix.  “Maggie, go see if water is coming out!” my mom yelled.  Luckily, water was coming out, which meant that the generator wouldn’t over heat.  My mom raced back up the stairs and said, “Holy $@#&! What do we do?!”  She looked under the nav desk for the handheld VHF, hoping that my dad took it to customs with him.  It wasn’t there, so why not just try?  She hailed him and he answered!  Halleluiah! She quickly gave him the run down and asked what to do.  My dad replied, “Pull the alligator clips off.  They are on the left side of the motor.”  My mom and I quickly ran to my room and looked for the clips.  My mom yelled over the loud, half working, generator for me to find out EXACTLY where the alligator clips were located.  It wasn't obvious.   I knew what they looked like, so I tried to explain as I told her where they were, according to my dad.  She finally located them, reached in with her bare hands and then pulled her hand back and said “should I do this with my bare hands?”  She reached for pliers and pulled off the first alligator clip.  Sparks started to fly – literally.  The generator was still on and now it was sparking.  My mom and I started to scream and yell over each other “oh sh*#”, “get the fire extinguisher”, “call dad and tell him to get here immediately”, “Oh My God”, “what do we do?”  Of course my mom was too afraid to stick her hand back in there and pull the second alligator clip off.  After we hollered on the VHF radio for all of St Lucia to hear, I was expecting the fire department to arrive any second.   My mom and I ran back down to my room and noticed the sparks had subsided, so my mom pulled the second alligator clip off.  The generator kept chuggin’ along at half speed and there wasn’t much else to do until my dad got back to the boat.  We kept checking to make sure water was sputtering out the side of the boat and located all fire extinguishers, just in case.  My dad jumped on board like McGyver and high tailed it to the generator.  He couldn’t get it to shut off either.  He eventually shut off the fuel line in order to shut it down.  Phew!  My dad then told us what it was like for him in the customs office with 3 hysterical girls talking, I mean, panicking over the handheld VHF for everyone to hear!  He said the customs guy looked at him and said “you’d better go!”.  Disaster averted, thank goodness.

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