More power

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The arch was designed so that solar panels could be fitted giving an unobstructed view for the sun. We have relied on the Rutland 1200 wind generator and a single 80w solar panel on the coachroof to see how the power management worked. The result is it didn’t keep up with demand. Certainly when it’s windy the Rutland is great but it doesn’t always blow 20+ kts, so we spoke to Marlec and have bought 2 more 80w panels which have been fitted on the arch. imageWe now have 240w of solar panels and the Rutland all controlled by the mppt which is great. We recently spent 4 days away at anchor and the power input was more than usage, we ran the generator for an hour a day to create hot water, not starting the boat diesel at all. We are completely confident with our charging options !!! This photo was taken on a sunny yet windless day here in the UK showing over 13 amps with fully charged batteries 🙂

It isn’t all work though, we bought an inflatable stand up paddle board which will be great fun and good for core fitness…. but it does something else too, If you stand up whilst being towed by the RiB it doubles up as a giant wake board 🙂 The instruction manual certainly doesn’t cover it ! When I’ve figured out how to add video I promise it’ll make you smile, however, Charlotte has decided we need more social media interaction with a youthful aspect, so she has started a facebook version which she is going to run….. yikes!!! http://www.facebook.com/sailingsilhouette which starts off with the video!

 

 

 

 

 

Reunions & New York

New York

Since the last post we’ve been somewhat busy with everything except sailing, last weekend being the first trip which turned out to be a bit of a reunion with my Uncle Colin and “Auntie” Penny who first introduced us to sailing. They’ve now retired from working in the BVI’s and have returned to Lymington after some 20+ years sailing and chartering. We sailed up to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and met them in East Cowes where they were staying for the Isle of Wight music festival. They came back to Silhouette for the evening and Colin’s son Lee and daughter in law Julie came over in their RiB from Lymington too… not forgetting our daughter Charlotte back from Greece for a while. A great evening was had by all, followed by a very windy sail back to Poole in Westerly F6/7 which was exactly the direction we needed to go.  I’d not encountered such a big swell off Christchurch ledge before, along with the breaking waves which made their presence felt in the cockpit ! Exciting would be a good description but Charlotte decided to sleep through it in the saloon, laid back or what !

Away from sailing, Caroline and I made a 4 night visit to New York to celebrate her 50th birthday. As a one time event we managed to get first class tickets out & business class for the return which was quite something. Neither of us had been before and New York didn’t disappoint. We got up early on our first day as the weather was due to be perfect and we wanted to see as much as possible due to a weather bomb coming in the next day. We did all the sightseeing, empire state, Rockerfeller, Times square etc and then took a water taxi down to the financial district.

9/11 memorial This was to see the 9/11 memorial and then to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Much has been printed over the years about the World trade centers but nothing can prepare you for what you see in person. Above all it is the one thing that will remain with us from the trip. The footprint of the original towers are now a memorial to the lost with their names engraved around the perimeter.

P1020288NYC place a rose by the name of each person on their birthday and we saw quite a number. The museum which is underground is within the footings…. if you’re ever able to visit New York this has to be at the top of your list, with survivors guiding you around with their accounts as it happened.

 

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Brooklyn bridge was an amazing sight, we were warned by the captain on our flight not to walk in the cycle lane as “they don’t like it”, he wasn’t wrong ! The pound unfortunately is a little weak against the dollar and as such everything is quite expensive, even the hotdogs !!!

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which is something we will need to be aware of as we travel, especially if we sail up to New York in the future. The weather bomb duly hit and New York was dumped on by 4″ rain and President Trump who made a visit to his home, which caused major road closures, protests along with some very menacing looking people with very big guns and body armour outside Trump Tower… so what did we do? We went in for a Starbucks 🙂

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We also a small package arrive from Steve & Helen (Allegrini) with a very clever digital countdown to their departure. As I write this they’re at 322 days 21 hours which is on par with us, so very exciting all round.

In the last post I mentioned we were getting a quote from Kemp sails for a replacement bimini along with drop down sides to make a full enclosure. We had anticipated the cost to be around £3000 which would’ve made it an order but they quoted nearly £6000 which really meant in my mind they just didn’t want to take it on!!! Shame really as they are a great company. So we’re looking elsewhere.

Easter 2017

windward_sailOur plan a was to sail over to Cherbourg for a few days, but the forecast promised very little wind for the first couple of days, so we decided to sail “slowly” on Thursday up to the Hamble river. This really was a win win as the berthing was free due to us visiting another MDL marina which offer complimentary berthing for vessels from sister marinas AND we were about 5 minutes from Steve & Helen from Allegrini who berth at Swanwick. They have been a great source of information in our preparation and meeting up again for the afternoon and a fantastic evening in the Navigators pub and restaurant in Swanwick turned out to be every bit as alcoholic as I’d hoped/feared, we certainly didn’t feel the cold in the dinghy back to our marina! We’ve always felt the cruising life would be very sociable, we are not wrong!

The forecast showed strong winds coming in on easter Sunday so we decided to return to Poole on Saturday, however the forcasters got it slightly wrong and we had 22-32kts on the nose all the way back. With a double reefed main and genoa we absolutely flew back at an average 7.5 kts plus 2-3 kts of tide catching some rogue waves which reached the cockpit… much to the amusement of Caroline! The riggers who fitted the new standing rigging said there may need to be some tuning, judging by the leeward flex in the wire they weren’t wrong so we’ll need to get them down to tighten everything up as it was slightly worrying seeing the rig so loose. We also decided to test out the RiB mounted on the davits to see how much movement there was, the sail back being a good test. We were really pleased, we just need to use some ratchet straps to make it quicker to tie down.RiB

The entrance to Poole harbour is narrow and can be tricky, certainly when wind and tide are against you. As we motored towards the entrance we were flagged down by a yacht trying to sail in. It turned out their engine had overheated, so we managed to get a tow line to them and took them up to the entrance to Parkstone yacht club inside the harbour. We radiod the Sandbanks chain ferry who waited at the southern side until we’d passed even though it has the right of way, and thanked them once we’d cleared.  The next day we received a lovely email from Nick & Janine who must have googled us as we’d not exchanged names at all, to thank us and tell us about their lovely Contessa 34. We would like to think anyone able to would help us if we needed it and there wasn’t a moments hesitation from us to offer assistance. The only annoying bit during the tow was a motor boat which went past well in excess of the speed limit creating  waves which put unnecessary strain on the cleats…. upset was an understatement!

We’re also going to investigate the cost of a replacement bimini to incorporate full drop down sides with windows, this will give us extra covered space for when we winter up in cooler areas, it does very much depend on price though….

 

Less than a year !

Mini-Retirements-Semi-Retirement-Early-Retirement-whats-the-most-awesome

So we’re now at under 12 months until both Caroline & I take early retirement and fulfil years of dreaming about sailing off into the sunset. We first spoke about it over 20 years ago…. where has the time gone? , We now pinch ourselves to make sure we’re still not dreaming!

Charlotte had an email from Neilsons asking her to fly out to Greece early so we take her to Gatwick on the 8th for a 7 month job, thank goodness for technology as we can skype/facetime regularly. The temperature is already in the low 20’s and we’re quite envious as here on the south coast of England it’s considerably cooler!

We also need to decide whether to put our home on the market and invest the money or keep it and rent it out. Pros and cons to both options, at the very least we’re having a big tidy up!

 

 

Long range comms

A much debated topic of conversation has been just what we were going to do about long range communication including emails for receiving weather updates and position reports whilst on long passages. I attended the WCC ocean cruising seminar at last years Southampton boat show and “obviously” the panel were split between SSB HF radio and Satphone. Both have the ability to send and receive email although satphone is really expensive when used. SSB is free to use but setup costs can be 3 times more. Satphones give global pole to pole voice communication providing the “view” to the satellite is good enough, whereas SSB can send a signal many hundreds/thousand miles regardless of cloud etc etc. You can only speak to one person/station at a time with a satphone whereas you can have a conversation with many simultaneously on SSB which is great on rallies. In an ideal world “buy both” they said at the seminar which means around £6000……. I don’t think so !
Much googling and emails to Steve on Allegrini (sorry Steve), we decided on a bit of a compromise whilst still buying both systems. Icom have just discontinued their IC-718 model which although strictly a shorebased ham radio, it easily opens up to the marine band. Sailcom marine sold it until recently which is a shame as they are the specialists in long range marine comms. New models are still available and we found Andy at Radioworld in Wigan to be both knowledgeable and very helpful. We picked up the Icom IC-718 transceiver opened up to include all marine frequencies, Icom AH-4 ATU (tuner), fittings and extra long cables for £950 including delivery. We will buy the pactor modem which is a standalone box to enable the send/receive of emails and data, from Sailcom marine which is about another £1000.00 leaving us with arguably one of the most important jobs left of aerial and earthing. Having taken advice from (yes Allegrini), we have bought some DX wire from Germany, this is a very thin wire coated in something similar to teflon which will go from the ATU which we’ve mounted on the rear arch to the top of the mast. The earth is taken from the ATU straight to the arch itself which is more than enough to provide a stable platform. This cost £50 delivered so the entire SSB system has been done for just under £2000.00
We will keep an eye out during the next few months and buy an Iridium 9555 ex rental which will be around £500 and buy airtime minutes when we need them, the least currently being about £200 for 200 minutes which is more than enough for emergency phone calls which we hope never to make.
This means we will have both systems onboard for £2500 which keeps us and the savings happier, so a result there 🙂
Charlotte received a 3rd offer of employment, this one from Nielsons which she quickly accepted, as a watersports instructor in Messini Greece. She leaves on the 22nd April for 7 months and there is an option to do an internal transfer to the winter ski season too so we are delighted for her.
Caroline has had another operation on her finger (see April 2016 entry) to remove scar tissue and give more flexibility, although only done a week ago it looks much better which is very promising. It’s better to get this done now as once we leave it’ll not be so easy.

Lucky

As mentioned in the last post, we launched with charging issues. The engine start battery was dead so we replaced it on launch day when the engine didn’t start! The new Rutland 1200 hybrid controller was faulty and there had been no charging of the deep cycle batteries either in the 3 months out of the water. I decided last weekend to turn on the Dolphin marine charging system to slowly recharge the service batteries and leave them to trickle. The next day in the afternoon our daughter went to visit Silhouette to see the new sprayhood and phoned me to say there was a horrible rotten egg smell in the cockpit. She immediately pulled the shore power plug as it was pretty obvious a battery was “cooking”.

3 hours later I went on board to find one of the 180ah batteries still so hot I couldn’t touch it….. this was the closest we had come to a fire in all our years. It turns out the battery had a dead cell and wouldn’t show a voltage of above 12.1 so we’re guessing the charger just kept throwing full charge at it, but will now have to check that for a fault too.

We now have 3 new service batteries, 1 new engine battery and a repaired mppt controller, so hopefully the charging issues are sorted…. hmmm !