23rd January 2009
ASSAULT AND BATTERY
Wind abandoned us again last night, but by 04.00 hrs, just as I was coming on watch there was sufficient wind enabling us to cast aside the rumble of the engine and hoist the sails. The wind was coming from the south (on our left, or to our port!), so we needed to rig the Yankees for a port tack. Given that the wind has been predominantly behind us coming from the east, we?ve either had the spinnaker up or twin headsails (the Twistle), So Sam and I scrambled around in the dark on the foredeck, lowering the spinnaker pole and tidying away the spinnaker guys and sheets; tying the yankee clews together and setting the sails for a pleasant reach (a reach is when the wind is at a right angle to the boat). Far too much exertion for 0400 hrs but it gave us a good speed of 6 knots, without that ENGINE!
About 3 hours later there was a sudden shift in wind strength and direction ? probably 90 degrees as wind sheered in from the north east, backing the yankee and mainsail. Thankfully the mainsail was rigged with a preventer; essentially stopping the boom from crashing across in case of a sudden wind shift and or accidental gybe. Phew!
Then, dear readers, the wind vanished altogether. We had no choice but to put the engine on and it's been on all day. ALL DAY.
Then came the battery assault! Yes, I say again, the battery assault. Awful business! It was about 19:30, the sun had just set, dusk was befalling around us; most of the crew were in the cockpit enjoying a libation or two. I had my little apron on and was in the galley dutifully concocting some nourishment for this evening's supper. I shall now hand you over to our skipper, the revered and marvellous, Malcolm Craig, to explain what happened next.
Malcolm writes: Having just showered I wondered in to the main cabin, resplendent in my summer dressing gown, looking for, what I now know to be, my first gin and tonic of the evening. Alas, I noticed a change in the pattern of lights on the electronics panel indicating that the battery charge light was showing discharged batteries! I went in to mild shock followed by wild panic. Upon further investigation I found that the generator was on but not connected to the 240 volt power system (stay with him now readers!). Unfortunately, the water maker was on busily making water, using the power from the inverter rather than the generator, fast draining the batteries and overloading the main engine alternator that unfortunately had stopped charging due to the massive overload. A member of my crew, and I shall not mention names, had forgotten to switch off the inverter and switch on the generator. We needed some power urgently before the batteries finally died. The situation was serious as navigation instruments (including the GPS, radio etc), the auto pilot, freezer, fridge etc would stop working as there just wasn't enough power left in the now drained batteries.
The engine needed to be switched off as I needed to investigate the damage. JB (throwing her apron aside) and Sam jumped up on the foredeck to hoist the spinnaker, whilst Ian and Linds were ready on the spinnaker lines. I meanwhile disappeared in to the engine room, suspecting that the wire from the brush gear had fused and prevented the main alternator from charging. My suspicions proved correct. I set about fixing the wire and all was resolved.
Phew catastrophe averted! We were lucky as there was insufficient wind to enable us to rely on the prop shaft alternator charging up the batteries. Catastrophe having been averted we agreed to put the engine back on so JB and Sam had to clamber back on the foredeck to lower the spinnaker, by this time in the dark, with harnesses on.
JB writes: Not that we minded. We had started the day at 4am foraging around on the foredeck. When all had returned to order, I returned to the galley to rescue my lemon potatoes; they sat in the oven, not amused by my lack of attention so I turned my attention to the beckoning pork. But anyway, Malcolm rested on the sofa (just by the galley) with his second (and somewhat larger) gin and tonic reflecting on what could have been, before fossicking around in the boat library. I looked over with interest at the book he started to read: Captain Alston's Seamanship Manual 1902: Instructions for officers of the merchant service. I looked over his shoulder with the surreptitiousness of Hercule Poirot; alas he was reading the section Capital Punishment, no doubt for the person who committed the offence of putting the water maker on without switching off the inverter. But capital punishment! We implored him to calm down; that "to err is only human," he didn't look convinced...and to be Malcy is divine, we added for good measure. It worked, he was appeased and dismissed the idea of any courts-martial. Phew!
All's good on the good ship Quasar.
Position @ 0700 23.1,09 14.37S 18.01W