Some old salt was once asked what was “cruising life” and the reply was “Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places”. There is some truth in that.
Our Spectra Newport 400 MKII watermaker developed a big leak during the ocean crossing, a couple of days out of St Helena. We found a temporary fix while under sail that enabled us to run it for a few extra hours but it eventually stopped producing fresh water.
The issue was that it developed a crack on the fiberglass cylinder where the end cap is attached. Unrepairable. And in our kit of spares of course we didn’t carry a cylinder.
When we arrived in Brazil, the challenge was how to get the needed parts. The watermaker is produced in Petaluma, California. And Brazil charges 86% import taxes on anything that comes from abroad.
What’s incredible is that taxes are imposed not only on the value of the object, but also on the shipping costs. So imagine you have something shipped with FedEx International Priority for $450.00…
These tariffs are imposed even if the goods are for an In-Transit sailing vessel, so technically it’s only a temporary import.
When we explained my case to the Receita Federal (Customs) here in Angra Dos Reis, we were told that technically it should be possible to avoid paying all these taxes but that they had never seen a case like ours, so they didn’t know how to do it.
Very few foreign cruising boats arrive in Brazil every year. And when they do, they’re just en-route to the Caribbean. That’s a pity, because the Green Coast of Brazil it’s a beautiful cruising ground.
Anyways, to cut a long story short, we had to bite the bullet and pay a lot of taxes for these spare parts. Well, we consider this a Tax On Fun. Eventually, we got the parts and I was able to carry out the repair on the field.
We run the watermaker for 3 consecutive hours, and everything seems to be fine. I put together this short video to explain the repair, just in case some other Spectra Newport owner runs into the same problem.
We wish we found a video like this when we were trying to understand if a field repair was even possible, or if we had to send the whole system back to the manufacturer in California or even buy a new one.
There is very little about Clark Pumps and Spectra watermakers on internet. So we hope this video can help others in the future.
Huge thanks to Jonathan Halden of Halden Marine Service in Fort Lauderdale for providing the parts in an expedite way.
Jonathan is very active on the Cruisers Forum and he has a proven record of helping the community with his expertise and services.
This repair wouldn’t have happen without him.
And here are some pics of the parts: