Sunday, April 10, 2016

There's Always Something

The sign in the settlement
     It seems just when all ducks are in a row and it's time for take off across the Gulf Stream something goes awry. In the saga of the Simple Life it's an issue with the alternator not charging the batteries.
      Life aboard tends to keep one's perspectives in check. Never get too cocky and even when things seem to be going well, bouncing along as planned always expect something to go wrong at the worst possible time. That doesn't mean something will go wrong, but if something does you won't be disappointed.

Simple Life's navigation station with computer, VHF radio,
SSB radio, Furono chartplotter/radar, control panel
     In our latest quest for a Gulf Stream crossing we negotiated the Whale Cay Cut to stage at Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. During transit Joe checked the Xantrex Battery Monitor and noticed only 4 amps going into the battery bank with the engine running. The batteries had a 75% charge and the input should have been at least 12 amps. Since the alternator had been replaced last spring in St. Augustine Joe assumed the problem was a loose alternator belt. After arrival he tightened it. No luck.

     This issue would not be an problem in the States. Head over to your local alternator shop, have the old one checked out or buy a new one. In the Bahamas it could take three weeks to have one sent from the States!

This is all the electronic equipment we won't be using
     Here's the dilemma. A favorable crossing window is coming up on Monday and Tuesday. Fort Pierce, Florida is approximately 165 miles from Green Turtle Cay. Simple Life is equipped with a wind generator and a solar panel. The forecast calls for marginal wind so we're hoping for help from the sun. In order to get to Ft. Pierce we'll need to use a variety of electronics. A chart plotter and repeater at the nav station. Radar, AIS, Autohelm, navigation lights, depth sounder, VHF radio, SSB radio, and refrigeration and they call this the simple life. When did we get all this stuff?

     One thing boaters can count on is help from one another and spare parts. Our friend Ken from IP 40 Tintean spent a couple of hours helping Joe trouble shoot on Saturday. No luck though it appears a spiritual service will be conducted for the alternator when we eventually reach Vero Beach.

Joe doing his homework
Remember this antique GPS? It still
works and the plan is to use it.
     For now we're refreshing our memories with the functions of a couple of spare antique GPS and portable chart plotters we carry aboard. They run on double A batteries and a cigarette lighter. That will use less power. Joe went ashore to buy ice to help curb refrigeration usage. We can turn the depth sounder off when offshore we know it's deep enough. Turn radar and AIS on only if we spot a ship at night. The good news is we have a Honda generator that can be used if seas aren't to big and it's calm enough that it won't be flogging about in the cockpit. So for now we're charging the batteries as much as possible before departure. Our plan is to leave on Monday morning. If needed we can stop and charge again at Great Sale Cay before jumping off for the overnight crossing to Fort Pierce. Fingers are crossed.
An antique chart plotter from our first trip 12 years ago.
Hope we remember how to use it.



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