Wreck of the \”Seeadler\” part 2…..

Dear F&F,
June 9, 2010
Wreck of the \”Seeadler\” Found (Posted via HF Radio Email from Mopelia Atoll)

Scott took his video camera and we found some parts of the shipwreck, more or less in the area where Kalami outlined to Scott via stick drawing on the sand. We spent 85 minutes below. It is so shallow our air lasts a long time.

After a shower, we fired up the generator in order to refill our scuba tanks and we heard a sickening noise upon start up of the scuba compressor. An unmistakable noise: fan belt failure. To investigate and install our spare, we use a block & tackle attached to a harness to carefully hoist the 100 pound unit out of its tight locker (which is also bench seating in the cockpit). Scott muscles the line, I control its tendency to swing into the salon window. We have done this periodically for routine service. It is a hassle, but we know that changing the fan belt is no big deal and we should be back in action within an hour – max. Scott is very diligent to make sure we have spares of just about everything that can break. Because on a boat, it is just a matter of time before everything does break. Often repeatedly!

Our Can-Do optimistic spirit took a downward spiral when we discovered the spare was the WRONG SIZE! Shame on Shawn at Compressed Air Specialties! He sold us a SPZ-950. What we needed was the original SPZ-887. Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Although there are slots to slide the motor for tension adjustment, the new belt was three inches too long. Impossible to make it fit in the normal way.

After we gave some air time to our feelings of frustration and anger, we got down to the more useful business of: How the heck are we going to make this work?

It was quite a challenge with creative adaptations to make the new longer belt fit. We had to drill a 2 inch hole in the frame where the motor shaft goes through it, using a hole saw to allow the motor to line up far enough away from the compressor. The metal frame is not very thick, but it took a lot of pressure for Scott to get the holes drilled. Thank God he\’s a dentist! It took my whole body weight leaning in, opposing his force, to stabilize the unit. My right arm felt like I did a hundred pushups the next day.

Next he had to re-drill holes in the bottom of the frame to allow the adjustment for the slotted foot plate on the motor base to slide far enough away from the compressor to tighten the belt! Scott was very pleased when I came up with the idea of shimming the motor up 3/8\” to allow for the electric box holes (which perfectly lined up) to slide under the motor foot plate. This meant he did not have to re-drill its holes which also kept the motor plate above the frames \”rubber mount\” (with allen nut) so he didn\’t have to re-drill that hole! I know this reads like a lot of blah blah blah to many of you. But I know a few of you subscribe to Popular Mechanics and may see a potential article: Creative Ways to Repair Your Scuba Compressor in the Field.

I am happy to report that our efforts were successful and after a short test that night, we were able to fill our tanks the next morning, with the new fan belt behaving. Scott wrote (what I thought was a restrained & polite email) to the supplier who gave us the WRONG spare part. He ordered 3 more, of the CORRECT size to be shipped to our land-based support friend Mike. If we need another one, at least he will have it handy to ship to us wherever DHL delivers. We have always known that keeping the scuba compressor running is the #1 priority to happy diving in remote locations. Scott was so diligent in learning how to service it. If we\’d had the correct sized fan belt the job would have been no big deal. Instead it took 5 1/2 hours of hard work.

June 10 – Mopelia Atoll Day #6

There was wind and rain in the morning but we were eager to find more parts of the 100 year old \”Seeadler\” shipwreck, so geared up to dive. Jerome on sister ship \”Na Maka\” is anchored about 4 miles away. We are close to the pass and all dive sites outside the reef. He is close to the family living here and has more protection from the prevailing wind at that end of the atoll. He arrived via dinghy with 10 year old son Leo. Conditions were too rough for Natalie to bring the twin 4 year olds.

We took both dinghies outside the pass, anchored in 20 feet of water immediately south. Jerome tied his dinghy to ours. Leo is an avid snorkeler and can hold his breath to dive down several feet. Scott took the wide angle lens on the still camera. I patiently posed with just about every hunk of metal we found. It has been well documented. Jerome was a fine model too and Scott got some cute shots of Leo hamming for the camera. Trenches have been worn from years of wave action, in the strip of land down into deeper water over the coral reef. In about 5 of these parallel trenches we found significant chunks of the ships remains: a large classic shaped anchor, 105 mm gun, gun shells, crank shaft, bow windlass and other unidentifiable disintegrating, rusty parts. Two pieces of chain were found deeper, not attached to the anchor. No identifiable hull remnants were found.

Since most of the wreck is in very shallow water, only about 15 feet, our tanks of air lasted forever. We stayed down one hour and 40 minutes! I think that is a record for our longest single scuba dive. When we decided it was enough for one day, I still had plenty of air, but Scott was very tired from dragging his \”two year old\” around (affectionate name for his camera). Jerome knew his wife might start to worry since we were out so long.

Beside the interesting shipwreck, the reef has gorgeous corals, an abundance and large variety of tropical fish. We saw a few distant sharks, one eagle ray and one turtle. I did not see any of the evil starfish today, fine with me. It is really fantastic here. Desolate, rugged but beautiful. One dive of that length was plenty for today. Tomorrow we may motor further down and tow the dinghy along topside, doing a drift dive to explore a larger area of the reef.

We enjoyed the chilled fresh coconuts that Jerome brought us. By tapping a couple of holes I could pour out the nearly clear liquid that is sweet and refreshing. Chiseling the husk open, I dug into the soft white flesh with a spoon – what a treat! I don\’t recall that I\’ve ever enjoyed a young coconut like that. Absolutely delicious, thank you \”Na Maka\”!!

If you read & enjoy my reports, please write back telling us about your life. Even a short hello if you are too busy to write in detail, a short note is much appreciated. Thank you for your ears. Thank you even more for your messages. We LOVE to get mail.

Cindy and Scott