We stayed with friends last week who asked us why we weren't continuing with our blog as they would be interested in hearing about our preparations for the World ARC. Well, to be perfectly honest, we simply hadn't thought to do so but thinking about it we've decided it's a great idea so here goes! Obviously there's a bit of a catch up needed but we'll try to post regular updates from here on in.
When we left Grenada in late March we left our project manager, Chris from Caribbean Boat Services, with a list of work we wanted undertaking over the summer. Some of this was routine maintenance (sail repairs, engine/generator servicing, gelcoat chip repairs etc) but there were also one or two jobs to ready Tumi for her Pacific adventure:-
1. Replace the current AIS receiver with a transponder. All commercial vessels transmit a signal (speed, direction, identification, destination) and we previously had a receiver so we could monitor shipping in our vicinity and avoid collision. All good stuff, but for the ARC we are also required to transmit our details to help with tracking of us by the organisers.
2. Replace the rudder bearings, worn by wear and tear over the last four years. As Chris pointed out, there was some slight movement in the rudder which we can't afford to undertake such a big adventure with. Whilst the boat is out of the water a hole will be dug into the boatyard beneath the rudder so that it can be lowered into it and the bearings therefore exposed and replaced.
3. Upgrade the battery charging system. Tumi has three banks of batteries on board, one to start the engine/generator, another to power the bowthruster and windlass, and a third (the domestic bank) to operate the fridge/freezer, lights, water pumps and other domestic systems. All of these are charged every day by us either running the generator or via the alternator when the engine is running. When we returned last November we discovered the domestic bank was no longer holding a charge so we had to replace the existing wet cell lead acid batteries with new AGM batteries. These more modern batteries have a more sophisticated charging requirement and whilst the battery chargers linked to the generator could be reset for AGM batteries, the output from the engine alternator is not optimum. Chris undertook to get a marine electrician on board to recommend the changes we needed to makeep.
4. Add an extra battery to the domestic bank for additional AH capacity.
5. Fit an ampmeter so we can monitor charge into and out of the batteries and hence know when they are nearing full charge.
6. Potentially add two more solar panels to the existing arch.
Chris was able to come back to us with a quote for the electrical work, excluding parts and the work on the solar panels, which was way more than we expected so we had to have a rethink about essentials versus nice to haves, and also undertake some research of our own to better understand what is needed.
So much of June was spent reading articles on battery charges and charging systems, and speaking to specialist manufacturers to determine the best solution. We know think we have it and are just waiting another marine electrician in Grenada to ratify it. Fingers crossed the charging topic is now put to bed!
We have decided against adding the extra solar panels as we now believe that the new charging system modifications will improve the efficiency of the battery banks. Fingers crossed.