The Maiden Factor Blog

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Nick and the Alternators

Nope not a new band – just a great tale of daring do – and you know us sailors just love a good tale!

So!  On Tuesday 2nd April, our Shore Team found out that the reason for the engine failure upon arrival into Fremantle, Australia, was that the alternators had shorted.  We needed to find replacements but Yanmar in Australia do not stock that model type (useful!) and we needed to get them from the UK.  However, a quick phone call to Barrus (distributor) and we determined that they also did not have them and we would have to order them from Yanmar in Amsterdam and get them to Australia.  However, Yanmar would not let us pick up the alternators or even have a courier pick them up and they insisted that they send them to their distribution centre in Oxford.

So far so complicated… but manageable.

We were told that they would be ready to pick up from there at midday on Wednesday, the next day.  Upon checking with the courier we use (and then others) the earliest they could get the parts from Oxford to Fremantle would be 9th April – YIKES!

Yanmar sent the alternators with the promise that they would be in Oxford midday on Wednesday.  The team swung into Mission Impossible mode!  Kaia was on standby by to pick them up from Oxford, but how would we get them to Fremantle by Friday?  I called Nick (who was in Zurich at the time) and asked if he could fly into HRW meet Kaia with the alternators, grab them and fly to Oz.  Of course he could!  A plan was forming. 

Wednesday morning arrived and we all checked the courier tracker for the alternators.  ‘Held in Amsterdam’ it announced, and upon calling Barrus Allie found out they had failed security and missed the plane to the UK.  The Shore Team called me and suggested that we see if Nick could fly to Amsterdam and pick up the parts and then fly from there to Fremantle.  Allie literally had to beg them for us to be allowed to pick up two alternative alternators from the factory.  But they finally agreed!

Now to get Nick from Zurich to Amsterdam to Oz.  OK.  Alex and I revised the plan and we called our brilliant travel esperts Marine Travel who booked Nick on the 9pm from Amsterdam to Perth.  Next problem?  They couldn’t get him to Amsterdam before Yanmar closed as he had to fly through Frankfurt.  Alex looked at me and said ‘doesn’t Tanja live near Amsterdam?’  YES!  Called Tanja (Visser from the original crew) who didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if she could go and get some parts for Maiden and get them to the airport to meet Nick.  Déjà vu! 

Nick is on his way!

As it turned out, it was her daughter Nikita who very kindly offered to do it.  Nick boarded a plane to Frankfurt and Nikita made her way to the Yanmar factory.  The team, spread out in two time zones, nervously monitored both journeys on the group Whatsapp.  With so many variables at play it was touch and go.  

Alex waits for news…

Nick made it to Frankfurt as Nikita reached the factory – which had closed half an hour earlier than they had told us!  Silent scream from me.  Nikita scoured the massive area of the Yanmar factory and found a security guy who very kindly took her to where he thought it might be. 

It’s on the way…

Nick took off for Amsterdam and Nikita grabbed (what we hoped were) the alternators and began the drive to the airport.  She reached the airport half an hour before Nick’s flight was due but now delayed!

Collective breaths were held around the world.  Nick finally arrived and got through customs exactly at the time he should be checking in for his next flight. 

Nikita waits for Nick….

Nikita gave Nick the alternators and he raced off for his next flight.  He made it!  Australia team finally went to bed.  UK team waited as he boarded the flight and took off – phew!  

Thursday morning and Nick was changing flights in Singapore praying that the alternators made the change as well before heading off on the final leg of his journey.  We continued to cross everything.  He finally arrived in Perth at 23.55 on Thursday 4th April, was picked up from the airport by Trevor and Greg before dropping the precious cargo off at the Shore Team house at 2am – 6 hours before they absolutely had to be there.

The eagle has landed!

Mission Impossible complete and all in time to get the alternators onto Maiden on the Friday so that Wendo and crew could get some safety checks and sail tests completed before leaving on Monday. 

Unbelievably Nick then turned round and flew home.  We think seven countries in 76 hours is pretty impressive.  

This is a team that gets things done!