While we were watching a movie onboard on Sunday afternoon, a canoe rowed up to the boat and a couple of villagers asked for our assistance. Apparently, the village generator had broken the previous day while they were watching a DVD and they wanted help fixing it.
Armed with tools, I headed ashore and found the small, two-stroke generator lying on a woven straw mat among the village bungalows. A crowd of about twenty people gathered to watch the magic. As the villagers huddled around, I utilized what little knowledge I possess of generators.
I checked the spark plug. I requested that they bring the manual. I cleaned the fuel filter. I explained the instructions provided in the users guide.
As a last resort, I referred to the ultimate sailor’s reference for all things mechanical, Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual
. Ironically, this book and the local Bislama language share the similarity that they are both virtually incomprehensible to me.
After much fruitless tinkering and investigation, it appears that whoever had worked on the generator between the time that it had broken and the time they sought me out had compounded the problem. We were unable to even get the generator to start.
Not able to fix the problem, I can only hope that I didn’t contribute to it. If they were expecting a mechanically-inclined sailor, they were sorely disappointed. My background in finance has done little to prepare me for the necessities of maintaining a yacht, never mind repairing a generator. Perhaps if they needed me to construct a cash flow statement or analyze a balance sheet I would have been of more help.
I do lament the fact that I missed the chance to demonstrate the sort of white magic that could have propelled me to the exalted position of a cult leader.