When we left the Yacht Club to anchor out for a few weeks the plan was to test out all our systems, see where we had weak spots and fix them. Well folks, we’ve certainly been successful in finding them! To start, we’re having a bit of a power problem. When we first threw off the dock lines we noticed our battery banks were pretty low. No problem, just start the handy dandy generator, Jenny, hook it up to our battery charger and viola, right? Wrong. Somehow we managed to fry our 40 amp Xantrax charger. How that happened we have no idea because it was working just fine an hour before. Luckily we had a spare 20amp charger on board which we rigged up and got our batteries to a decent level for the night. The next morning we noticed our batteries were really low again. Too low. Turns out one of our batteries had a bad cell which was the root of that particular problem. Luckily Sams Club has a 1-year warranty and switched out all of them free of charge. Once back at our anchorage we loaded up our dinghy with all four batteries, shuttled them over to our boat and then lifted them up into the cockpit. Let me tell you, those suckers are heavy. Once hooked up we used the only sunny day we’ve had since we left to have our solar panels charge up our batteries. While we are incredibly impressed with the amperage that our panels are able to generate, we have very clearly discovered that solar is not enough for us. On sunny days we’re only able to really generate what we use in a day, not enough to charge our batteries. On cloudy days we generate even less. It has become increasingly clear that we need to hook up our wind generator, and soon. Generally the idea is that when the solar isn’t kicking, the wind is.
To help our power woes, our good friend and sometimes savior Gary of SV Tribassa Cross was kind enough to lend us his bulk charger which you hook right up to your batteries and plug in to the generator to charge up your system. All you have to do is leave your generator running for a few hours and your system is back up to normal. Well if that sounds too good to be true, it is (for us at least). About 30 minutes into our charge our generator decided to die. Apparently the float bowl on the carburetor of the generator is shot. I don’t even know what half of the words in that sentence mean but I do know there is a hole that was supposed to be the size of a needle that was now a lot bigger. A few calls around town confirmed that this was not an in stock product and we’d have to wait days for anyone to order it. Crap. Luckily though, one lady had a used carburetor in stock that she was willing to sell us for $20. Another one of our good friends and sometimes savior Skip of SV Manada II is giving Jason ride over there later today to pick it up. Hopefully once we get all that installed we’ll once again be a power generating machine!
We also had our first “fix it on the fly” situations with our outboard the other day. We were on our way to meet our friends for brunch over at Murdocks (they have some seriously good chicken and waffles) when our outboard died in the middle of 3 ft seas and pretty strong winds. I tried paddling us over to the dinghy dock with no luck so I let the current push us in the opposite direction towards the private docks over at the condo building that is next to the anchorage. Jason was so great and rebuilt our carburetor right there! We think water got in to it. Anyway, he was amazing and fixed it while bouncing around. We may have been an hour late to brunch but there were delicious bloody marys waiting for us when we got there. Luckily the people we were meeting were sailors as well and seemed to understand that shit sometimes happens.
The last of our current test issues is our wifi antenna hook up. We just cannot get it to work. We have this antenna, which is hooked up to a PicoStation which is supposed to let us pick up wifi networks a couple miles away from us. It is supposed to be an easy system and it simply is not. Whenever we get it figured out we’ll be sure to share a how-to on that one because there isn’t anything out there that covers the whole process. As it is now we are sometimes able to pick up wifi from the condo buildings if the wind is just right and our boat is pointed in the right direction, but 85% of the time we have to goto shore and use the wifi there. Not the biggest of our problems, but knowing the internet is so close and we cannot get it is a bit frustrating. The next dinghy issue we’ve been having is that the handles and D-ring patches just aren’t staying on. They are getting jerked around in the rough seas and just are not lasting. A few calls around town and we were able to locate three heavy duty lifting patches that we’re picking up tomorrow. We also have a slow leak in one of our chambers that we’re going to patch up at the same time.
When we told people we were going to anchor out for a couple weeks before we left a few people scoffed at the idea. “You know it is the same as just unplugging your shore power.” “Ahh, you’ll be fine, just go ahead.” I would like to take this opportunity to say that all of these issues above are the exact reason we wanted to anchor our before leaving. This is has been a test and you can now return to your regularly scheduled programing.