Our air-conditioning,an Italian made Clima, has been acting up since we took ownership of the boat.  The previous owners claimed they had hardly used it, so I figured it just needed a little tlc.  A local AC company had a look at it in February when we bought the boat, they found some valve to switch between heating and cooling function did not work as it should,  so they ‘temporarily’ forced this valve into cooling mode. We are still awaiting the correct part for replacement. I gave up on waiting for this, as we still need to hear from the broker or the AC company what exactly to order. In the mean time,  the irratic problems remained. The unit occasionally switches off, or shuts off the salt water pump, without any error code. With Linda spending days on end on the boat as I am at the office, this needed to be fixed once and for all. 

Marvin investigates

At the local watering hole,  Boca 19, I’ve met the friendliest German ever, Mattheus the skipper of Parlé,  a 40 something catamaran parked at the shallow part of the marina. He has his boat in Curacao for about four years now,  and has built up a good network of local craft people that are happy to take on jobs at the marina. He passed me the details of a local AC engineer,  Marvin. 

The next morning Marvin was at the boat,  checking the pressure of the machine and fiddling with the wires and the hoses. Of course, as always with these sort of issues, under the watchful eye of the master, the problems didn’t occur.  We decided to dig a bit deeper and check the drainage as there was quite a bit of water in the pan under the AC unit. When we opened the floor board adjacent to the AC unit we were in for a little surprise, It was full of water! A quick taste determined it was not salt water,  thank goodness. So it had to come from either the water tanks or the AC. We figured this much water could never be condensation from the few days we used the unit, so the suspect was the aft watertank bank.


As we opened more hatches we found more and more water.  Even under the engine where we worked just a couple of days ago and all was dry as a bone. This must be the water tanks I concluded with my infinite plumbing knowledge. The AC repair mission quicly became a water pumping mission. The amount of water was far too much for our Nilfisk water hoover. Marvin rushed to his truck to get a makeshift water pump,  and I emptied the content of the aft watertanks down the drain. We started opening some floor boards to assess the situation of the tanks. We were in for more surprises with every board we opened we found another pool of water. As it was getting late, Marvin left us to dry out the boat, he would return Monday to further assess the AC issues. 

The rest of the day we continued drying and hoovering all the water we could find as best we could. We had to open up more floor boards, this meant we had to disassemble the kitchen island and dining table to reach screws hidden under those. With the kitchen dismantled and boards and panels everywhere, we couldn’t stay aboard for dinner, so we decided to go out.

On our way to Boca 19 for dinner that evening we ran into our neighbors,  Peggy and Mauricio, when explaining what was going on that day,  Mauricio immediately offered his assistance in finding the leak and asked me to knock on his boat in the morning when we were good and ready. 

Open floor boards

The next morning,  after watching Max Verstappen lose out to Hamilton in Hungary at a local sports bar,  we knocked on Mauricio’s boat for some expert advice. Mauricio came over armed with yesterday’s news paper to test for leaks. We found a very suspicious looking T valve on one of the water tanks and some very rusted hose clamps on the overflow hoses.  The slimy consistency of the goo on the hoses indicated that this compartment has been underwater for quite some time. We further dried and cleaned the suspicious T valve, hoping that it would not be the reason for the leakage as it is almost impossible to replace. We put some dry newspaper under the suspected parts and filled the tanks with a bit of water. We anticipated to see considerable leakage at the suspected T valve, but to our surprise,  nothing. Only a very tiny bit of water coming from under the tanks. We reconned that this was remaining water slowly sipping out of the soaked insulation around the tanks. We topped up the tanks until they overflowed topside, still nothing, no leakage to be detected. Puzzled but relieved we left the tanks fully filled up to see if something would manifest itself over time.

Computer gremlin

The next day Marvin came to further asses the AC issues,  when further investigating the electronics he found the possible gremlin.  Something as simple as a loose wire on the connection to the computer. I was stunned that the ‘professional’ AC company didn’t come across something so obvious. 

With the restart and pump stopping problems possibly fixed,  we started on the process of removing the AC unit to have a look at the sump box that supposedly would collect the condensation water and pump it out. It was pretty clear that didn’t happen,  as we removed the AC unit we found yet another pool of water and a full sump box. 

Full sump box

It seemed that our water problems were condensation after all, but from the looks of it,  something that has been a problem for a very, very long time. I sent Marvin home, as we had more cleaning and drying to do  and I needed to get a new bilge pump.

The next day Marvin came back as promised, we replaced the old pump with a brand new one, refitted the AC unit and reassembled the salon and kitchen.

For now, the AC has not acted up again and all compartments are bone dry. I will replace the awkward placed sump box to a more accessible location later, but for this I need to find a very narrow type, or have something custom made..

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