A Barge on the Loose and a Hidden Alternator

March 23, 2008 at 1:42 pm

            It was a normal Thursday morning as I cruised over to the dock in my dinghy to pick up Tony Beard.  The Caribbean sun shone warmly on my back and reflected off the water.  Another dinghy quickly approached me from my left side and slowed its engine, as if to talk to me.  I doing the same, began chatting with the Grenadian man.

            “Are you the captain of that boat?” the man asked, pointing to our donated catamaran.   After confirming the fact that the boat was indeed ours, the man went on to notify me that I needed to pull up my anchor and move my boat- “and right away.  I will be pulling a barge straight your direction in about 30 minutes”, he said emphatically.  

            Mulling over this new dilemma and changing my immediate plans for the morning, I picked Tony up and explained the situation.  We both agreed we should go start up the engines, pull the anchor, and move the boat.  Now this was going to be a learning experience for me because this was the first time we would move the boat since we had arrived here in Grenada. 

The boat has 2 diesel engines, one in each hull.  We turned on the key and went down into the port (left) hull to check out the first engine.  Immediately we were met with a loud squealing noise and smoke rising from the engine.  After one quick look, we noticed that the alternator was locked up, thus the belt was just spinning around it and smoking.  I rushed back up stairs and turned the key off, but the engine kept running.  Oh, we remembered diesel engines don’t need electricity to run.  I stood by the engine with a fire extinguisher while Tony tried to find the cut off lever.  After looking for several minutes, I made a call to the boat donor in the USA.  He guided us straight to the lever and we shut the engine off.  Relieved to have the engine off we went back out onto the deck of the boat to see the barge heading straight for our boat! 

Lina, Tony, and I talked anxiously among ourselves to try and decide what to do.  Having lost so much time on the first engine, we didn’t have enough time to still pull the anchor and move.  We watched as the barge, slowly moving towards us, hit another smaller boat on the side!  We realized this was a problem for God.  The three of us huddled together and prayed, asking God for wisdom and to protect His boat.  Tony and I quickly grabbed our large rubber balls to place on the side of the boat to cushion the impact from the barge.  As the barge cleared the last boat, heading straight towards us, a strong wind began to blow from the north.  The wind continued blowing and pushed the barge right off to the side of us, completely changing its course to miss our boat!  We sent up a prayer of praise to God for protecting His boat!  “Who can this be (speaking of Jesus), that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Matthew 8:27.

So began the search for a new alternator.  We needed an alternator that had a tachometer output, enabling us to see the RPM output of the engine.  We took off the old alternator and went straight to a marine store here on the island.  The manager laughed at us and said, you aren’t going to find that on this island.  A customer standing in line recommended checking in three other stores.  We walked down the street to Ace Auto and Hardware.  The lady behind the counter smiled and said they only carried ONE brand of alternator, which certainly was not it.  The alternator they carried, which was much smaller than mine, cost $280 USD!  We began phoning the other three stores recommended.  One by one we were told that we weren’t going to find what we needed on this island.  One lady told us that such an expensive piece of equipment would never be on this island just sitting on a shelf.  The final marine store we called said they could order it from another island and get it here in about one week.  The cost- $380!!  And this one didn’t even have the tachometer output.

            Tony and I sat down in despair, what would we do?  A young man passed us who had overhead our conversation and recommended us trying one more auto parts store up the road.  We walked the 15 minutes to the store, carrying our alternator with us.  The man in the store took a long look at our alternator and said he would go look in his warehouse.  After 20 minutes of waiting the man came back to the counter holding an alternator that was EXACTLY like our old alternator, only slightly larger.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  We held up the two and compared.  The bolts to secure the piece were in the same spot.  We quickly turned it over to look at the back and noticed a spot that appeared to be a tachometer output hookup!!  We asked the man if it was.  The man shrugged and said he had no idea, he wasn’t even sure the make of the alternator, he had just found it sitting on his shelf.  He didn’t even have the box that it came in!  He said he thought it was an old Toyota model alternator that was not even made anymore.  With fear and trembling I asked the price.  The man looked in his computer and replied that he would sell it for $185 USD!!  We couldn’t believe our ears now!  I quickly paid for it and we nearly floated back down to the boat!  We hooked up the alternator and it fit and worked flawlessly!  The output was indeed a tachometer output as well! 

            Tony looked at me and said, “Brad, what year were you born?”  Upon telling him that I was born in 1981 he said, “Can you imagine that maybe God had this alternator waiting here for this boat since before you were even born”.  Certainly the Bible is true- “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.

We serve an awesome God!

God Bless,

Brad, Lina and Levi Mills


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Entry filed under: March 2008.

A New Dinghy and Motor April Update

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