Position 18° 23.531’ N
64° 38.088’ W
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I know there has been a long break since my last post, two culprits, unprecedented bad internet connections and the Chikungunya virus! It was my intention to post this account in June! We left Tortola BVI with our route and destinations in mind but not considering that we chose, on this occasion, more remote locations which were void of internet connections. Apologies!
Tim arrived right on time along with the ‘Team’ Hugh and Dave…Tim proceeded to
assess the job sight and confirmed that all appeared well. He saw no problems
in completing the installation in the time allotted. Dave and Hugh would return
on Tuesday morning to begin by removing ‘Faraday’ our old Westerbeke generator.
Within five hours all electrical cables, water and fuel lines had been
disconnected and the unit was ready to be removed from the boat. What we then had to
do was take ‘Partners’ from her slip to the haul out area at the far northeast
end on the marina where a forklift with a Hercules bar attached to the forks
would extend out from the dock under the aft deck roof into the salon; with the
assistance of a chain hoist the unit was lifted clear and withdrawn from the
boat. So far so good! Diverting for a moment, I should mention that whenever we
take ‘Partners’ into a marina we invariably enter the slip bow first as we like
our back deck/porch to be facing out which allows us maximum privacy and
usually the best view. With a single engine boat reversing out of the slip, in
my opinion, is easier than reversing in! The whole operation of removing the
old and installing the new generator required me to reverse ‘Partners’ into
slips five times! I was just a little nervous to say the least as one always
wants to ‘look good’ doing this operation not to mention the fact that one doesn’t want to hit
anything! I surprised myself and managed five flawless docking manoeuvres.
Sooo, for all of you reading this that may need to reverse into a slip sometime
down the road the advice is practice a few times first then do everything
slowly. This was the very first time I had done it since buying ‘Partners’
nearly three years ago! The generator was mounted on a piece of ¾” plywood
which in turn was covered in resin and lag bolted to the stringers. The original board was on its last legs
and was sagging and delaminating. In situ none of this was immediately visible;
just a warning to others…take a look at your installation! When the generator
was clear we were able to see the stern gland well and it was evident that the
hose clamps were of the perforated thread type as opposed to the solid variety.
We decided, while access was easy, to replace them. Back to our slip B17 we
went. With ‘Faraday’ the old generator removed Hue would do all the preparatory
work such as installing new wiring, water and exhaust hoses while there was
plenty of room to work. The other main job was to install the new subfloor upon
which the new Northern Lights 9kw would be supported. The ¾” plywood would be
coated in West Systems epoxy and then bonded and screwed to the stringers. Hugh
had prepared all this previously so it didn’t take very long to get everything
in and ready. By the end of Tuesday the old genny was out and most of the prep
work for the installation of the new unit was done. On Wednesday morning Hue
finished off the last few items and then it was just a matter of waiting for
the forklift and haul out slip availability so the new power plant could be
lowered into the awaiting prepared ‘hole’. At 14:00 we received the call and
once again we took ‘Partners’ on the short journey where we would, once again,
‘practice’ reversing her into a slip! All went as planned and within 45 minutes the new generator was in! By the end of the day
|Faraday about to come out!|
Hue had the unit bolted down
with all the fuel lines fitted leaving only the exhaust, sea water hose and new
electrical wires to connect on Thursday morning. Thursday morning saw the
installation completed. The last thing Hue completed was the fitting of the
sound shield. The Northern Lights unit was a bright white and was a stark
contrast to the dark red colour of the Westerbeke, so white in fact that we
have decided to nickname our new generator ‘Whitey’. Hugh gave the word to
“start her up”, the moment of truth. Whitey fired into action without any fuss or
hesitation…we have a brand new generator, hurrah!
|Whitey in place!|
Tim stopped by to go over one or two points, some do’s and don’ts and also re-iterated the need to change the special break-in oil after fifty hours and again at one hundred. After that every two hundred hours. Nice, as ‘Faraday’ was every one hundred which seemed to come round oh so often. Tim reminded me that the valves would need adjusting at fifty hours so I called Palm Tree Marine in Grenada, where we would be for hurricane season, and lined up Mike to perform the valve adjustment while we were at anchor which would avoid a marina stay. So many technicians will only work on board if the boat is in a marina.
Tim also completely re-did the wiring to our new battery and inverter installation as per the instructions we received from the Victron distributor in Le Marin, Martinique. By the end of Friday and several cups of tea later, Tim is British, all the work was finished. All together the job was very well done, Tim’s team did a great job, quickly, efficiently and 'right' the first time.
As a footnote in order to explain some of the circumstances leading up to the replacement of our generator I am going to write a little about how ours and many other boats exists away from being plugged in to shore power at a dock. If you are contemplating a cruising adventure either as a sabbatical from your career or, as we are doing, a retirement dream, you will be pawing through all the boating magazines and scrolling many pages on Yachtworld.com looking for your dream boat. No matter whether it is new or previously owned the same things are needed for self-sufficiency at anchor. First, if like most trawler style boats, you have lights, refrigerators, ice maker, freezers, various appliances, a water maker, computers to run etc., etc., you need battery power, inverter power and the means to replenish all those amperes’ you will be burning! The problem arises when you realize, after the purchase of your ‘dream boat’, that in order to stay out and away from marinas you need more amperes! We found that because of an insufficient battery bank we were running our generator up to 10 hours a day and became tied to the boat, we were turning down invitations from our cruising friends, especially those with sailing boat which tend to be considerably more economical in term of electrical demand than motor boats. As soon as we awoke in the morning the overnight use of amps required replacing in order for us to get through the day and be able to leave the boat. We had 300 usable amps being 50% of the total house bank amperes. We also had an inverter/charger capable of 2 kW AC output and could charge at the rate of 80 amps per hour on bulk charge less towards the end of the charging cycle during the absorption stage. All in all putting everything together, in the real world it could take between 4 and 6 hours of generator time every morning. At night the process started again in order to zero out the amps ready to get us through the night. Remember refrigerators and freezers don’t discriminate between night and day they are running 24/7. Sooo, in the PM we found ourselves boat bound again while the generator powered the charger to replenish those pesky amps again! The purpose of this explanation to help get you from where we started to now without the heartaches we went through. We first increased our house bank battery amps from 600 to 1,020 (up to 510 usable) and replaced the old golf cart batteries with AGM Lifeline brand new batteries. We also, at the same time, replaced the Xantrex Freedom 20 inverter/charger with a new Victron 3 kW inverter/charger that could charge at 120 amp per hour. We relegated the Xantrex to a redundant backup unit. When, however, we came to set up the new Victron Inverter we found that the old 8kW Westerbeke generator we had did not have a stable enough sine wave to enable the charge rate of the Victron to be set at its full 120 amp capability, it had to be restricted to 90 amps per hour in order to protect the charger circuitry from self-destructing due to the unstable electrical supply from the generator...wow! All very frustrating! What did we do? Actually two things, we had previously installed 430 watts of solar panels on top of our pilot house roof with the intention and expectation of, on sunny days, the panels running the boat during the day thus postponing the necessity of running the generator in the mornings further more reducing the generator to one session a day in the evening. Our Westerbeke had 6,000 hours and it was constantly needing maintenance. Over the 2 years we have owned ‘Partner’ we had replaced many parts and spent a total of $8,000 on ‘Faraday’. Second the new 9kW Northern Lights ‘Whitey’ was installed and cost us $13,000 brand new, that did not include installation though. It was time to stop the ‘bleeding’ and get our electrical system running the way we wanted. With ‘Whitey’ installed we now charge at a 120 amp rate and with new wiring for the inverter and some of the appliances our current lose/drain has been mitigated. The bottom line is now we run the new Northern Lights 9kW 2-3 hours per day usually between 7 – 10 PM which allows us to run the air-conditioning as well to cool the boat down for us to sleep comfortably. The solar panels do a great job during the day maintaining the electrical demand and on very sunny days replenishing up to 40 amps of the overnight deficit. We also have replaced most of the lights on board with LED bulbs. If we need to make water or there is no sun we do run the generator additional hours on those rare days. The motto here is ask many questions at the time of purchase and try and determine if the boats electrical system will be simpatico to your life style expectations. Being tied to the boat monitoring the generator, as explained above, was the single most frustrating part of our cruising.
|Nanny Cay Resort beach|
Alas time to move on...we have enjoyed a lazy week here now it is time to make passage to our next destination, Le Marin, Martinique...