We arrived back on board Bali Hai feeling relaxed after a lovely meal in a beautiful beach cafe on Koh Phi Phi Don.
Our laid back mood was soon dispelled however, when we put on the engine to charge the batteries. One of the two new belts serving our brand new Balmar alternator and smart regulator made a strange noise and then Disaster! It completely disintegrated!
We were facing the distinct possibility of our batteries running down completely before we could find a way to rectify the problem. That meant another large load of cheese, ham, chicken, fish, prawns, etc getting ruined (the memory of coming back from Australia to both freezer and fridge defrosted was still fresh in our minds!).
Worse still, if we couldn’t charge our batteries we wouldn’t be able to use our anchor winch to get the anchor up. That was not a comfortable feeling -particularly in view of the fact we were anchored very close to the edge of a coral reef. (We had planned to have a snorkel off the back of the boat the following day.)
Feeling disappointed and anxious we contemplated our options. We had paid a lot of money for our new alternator and to get it fixed properly we would have to take it back to Mr Wiwat at Boat Lagoon in Phuket as it was his electricians that installed it. Alternatively we could install a new belt and limp on to Langkawi and get an electrician there to take a look at it.
Whichever alternative we chose, our plans for a relaxed trip through the islands to Malaysia, where we were shortly meeting friends, were ruined.
The skipper dinghied to Loh Moh Dee Beach hoping to hire a motor bike to drive over the hill and into the main town on Koh Phi Phi Don to see if he could buy the correct size belt so we could at least get the anchor up and decide on our course of action.
While I was left nervously eyeing the reef he managed to find a young guy who gave him a hair raising trip into town and was able to help him find a shop that sold the type of belt we needed.
Back he came with two different size belts but no matter what adjustments he made, he could get neither of them to fit.
So he got back in the dinghy and went back to the young guy with the motorbike and had another hair raising trip into town and purchased another two belts. Back he came again but these weren’t right either.
He then had an idea – he decided to wire in our hardy portable Honda generator into the system to recharge the batteries which meant we could nip round the corner into the Ton Sai Bay anchorage, near to town and hopefully, enlist the help of an electrician.
As the sun was setting we found a local marine electrician, Mr Deng, who came out to the boat for a look and suggested we put the old alternator back on so that we didn’t damage the new one in any way.
He said he would come back the next day to fit it but when we went to pick him up at the appointed time he was nowhere to be seen.
I decided it was time for me to have a walk and see a little more of Koh Phi Phi Don while Capt’n Birdseye sought out Mr Deng. The locals suggested he should walk up and down the short pier calling out “Mr Deng”. As he did this heads popped up everywhere. “Yes I’m Mr Deng”, “I’m Mr Deng too”, “That’s me” they chorused. But none of them were the right Mr Deng! So back to the drawing board.
In the end the skipper reinstalled the old alternator himself but still needed a new belt to ensure the oil and water pumps worked to keep the engine going.
Of course, none of the ones purchased so far fitted. So back to buy another size! This time it was just a fast walk through the town and no terrifying riding pillion on a motorbike up hill and down dale.
The old alternator worked fine but we still needed the portable generator to charge the batteries so we would be able to make our way back to Boat Lagoon.
By late morning we were on our way to Boat Lagoon Marina with the assurance that not only would Mr Wiwat reinstall the new alternator and smart regulator but would also pay for each day that we were stuck in the Marina.
Of course it was pouring with rain but we are well used to that!