Position 10° 40.733’ N
61° 37.937’ W
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Hello again from Chaguaramas, yes we are still here! Although impalpable it looks like our upgrades to the electrical system on board ‘Partners’ is again going to eat into our cruising time. Let me explain the techno here. After arriving last Tuesday Nov. 19th from Charlotteville, Tobago I consulted Dennis Moseley from Goodwood Marine here at Crews Inn Marina, Dennis in turn seconded Brian Sellers from Caribbean Marine to consult with me as to the solutions for my electrical problems. It came as no surprise to us that the problem was not, as usual, simple. Problem number one was the inverter, our Freedom 20 Xantrex, which was getting old and had been repaired once before while we were at Sopers Hole on Tortola, BVI. Problem number two we knew from a year ago, the Delta gel filled batteries we had on board ‘Partners’ when we bought her, where at the end of their lives. A combination of these two things was causing the Xantrex Inverter/Charger to work too hard for too long and had overheated the charger and ‘cooked’ the fan.
|Inverter/Charger control panel|
The engine room is a very hot environment with an average temperature of 110°F/43°C and the inverter requires a fan, which is temperature controlled, to keep it at a temperature where it can function. Due to the battery condition they were taking three times as long as they should to charge and obviously were putting way too much work load on the charger. It didn’t take long for Dennis to give us his diagnosis…”the batteries are shot”. The five 8D batteries we have provide two banks of batteries, one bank, with two batteries, for main engine starting and to provide power for the bow thruster, another bank with three batteries supplies power for the house services. Our house bank provides 600 amp hours of which a maximum of 300 (50%) are usable. Our boat is an amp hog and consumes 20 amps per hour. All these factors considered one needs enough amp capacity and enough charging power to avoid having to be tethered to the boat for hours at a time while the generator replenishes the negative amp drain. In our case initially we were tethered to the boat, as I put it, for 8 hours a day, four in the early morning after the night’s amp usage and again in the evening to replenish the day’s amp drain and prepare for getting through the night again. Some of you readers are probably saying what draws all the amps at night? Well, the refrigerator and freezer, as on most boats, are the big amp hogs and they run 24/7 so day or night they don’t discriminate! For the first partial solution we installed 430 watts of solar panels which have really help us and freed up 2 – 3 hours of generator time per day, this too even with the batteries being at the end of their lives. What we plan now is 5 new Lifeline 8D batteries of 255 amp hours each. What we will do is also eliminate the two banks of batteries and combine them. This will give us a total of 1,275 amps (each of the Lifelines is 255 amps) and with the help of a Victron Cyrix Battery Combiner,
which isolates one of them when the voltage has reduced to 12.7 volts, resulting in always giving us enough power to start the main engine. Brian from Caribbean thinks that we can install all 5 8D’s on the port side of ‘Partners’ which is fine and will help with our listing tendency to starboard. It will also free up some space on the starboard side for storage. The Victron inverter/charger will be give us the opportunity in the future to ‘stack’ another Victron inverter thus increasing our inverting capabilities and the battery charging. Another feature of the Victron is that it can assist either the shore power or the generator with excessive start-up loads by using inverted power from the batteries.
I have just heard some bad news; the shipment of the batteries from Miami, FL is delayed due to the ship leaving later than originally thought, the culprit the Thanksgiving Day holiday, all this means that the batteries will unlikely be available before the 18th or 19th of December. The two firms I am involved with here both close down for the Christmas Holidays on the 20th December and don’t re-open until the 6th January! I spoke to them to see what they could do to help me. Brian and his crew are going to prepare ‘Partners’ engine room to receive the batteries and inverter/charger ahead of time and they promise to try and get the installation complete by the 20th! This is the islands Mon and Trini in particular so I am not holding my breath. This morning I walked up to the Marina office to see if they could extend my stay through to the middle of January just in case, we are currently booked through Dec. 15th, the answer was NO! Trinidad is a really popular place and marina space is always hard to find. Charmaine, the lady who is trying to help me here at Crews Inn, is going to work on my request and “see what can be done”. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Barb and Chuck Shipley from ‘Tusen Takk II’, a 48’ Kadey Krogen North Sea, have been here in Chaguaramas and along with Bill and Ann Miller on ‘Ann Louise’ another 48’ have been able to get together for a mini Krogen convention. During the get-togethers we talk, guess what? Yep, boats and boating of course! During one of these conversations we were talking about solar panels and I re-told our story of fitting the two 215 watt Kyoceras on top of our pilot house roof. Barb and Chuck wanted to do a similar installation and were considering doing it while they were in Trinidad this year. I mentioned Alan Reynolds who is now a friend and had done our installation up in Carriacou. Alan is now back in Grenada working full time for a while for one of the local firms. I suggested that if Chuck and Barb could cruise up to Grenada they may be able to enlist Alan’s help with their project. Chuck and Barb inspected our installation and liked what they saw so a few emails and phone calls later Chuck and Barb had decided to employ Alan to do their installation.
|Tusen Takk II's solar panels|
|Ann Louise coming into Crews Inn|
|Ann Louise, Chaguaramas, Trinidad|
Nov. 26th Bill and Ann arrived in the marina today back from Tobago with ‘Ann Louise’. We have made a plan to spend Thanksgiving together on board ‘Partners’ which will be wonderful, Lavinia couldn’t imagine not cooking a turkey with all the trimmings to share! Ann is making the pumpkin pie and Bill is bringing some champagne! We will have a feast and as usual eat and drink too much, watch the football game and fall asleep I expect! We’re looking forward to a super day. HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!