Day 39 Sat-Sun 10-11 Nov 2018 Work continues on solar panels problem...

Sat 11:50a.m. PST As soon as my daily news, position report and weather were posted, I was ready to get on deck to the port-side solar panel's +ve connector, the plan being to replace the crimped butt connector with a screw-on connector and hope to restore input to the batteries...

12 midday The solar input just clicked off..... so back to nothing coming in... WHY?? I hate erratic faults.....

12:05p.m. Wind is gusting up - 17-18kt - think I'll tie in 1st reef before getting on with working on solar panel connectors.

1:30pm Took a time to tie in first reef - a few complications - including tying in of extra 'safety' line from reef cringle to the boom with some Spectra line I'm using... Wind now 18-20 knots - time for second reef if I'm to get to the solar panels job... Need to know boat is OK if I'm to be able to concentrate on that job... We're frequently making well over 7 knots at present.

Wind generator putting in some power - quite overcast now but line of clear blue over horizon ahead.

2:15pm Second reef tied in. Getting back to the aft deck to deal with port-hand solar panel +ve connector. Seas up a bit but not too much, I hope. Making ~6.3kt in NNE 18kt wind.

Later: It did get quite rolly in 18-20 kt wind that came up for several hours. More hanging on to the backstay for support while I worked on all four connectors. The port-side panel's +ve connector I changed completely - wire on one side came straight out of the butt connector - it had not been crimped properly - now well-secured with a screw-type connector instead. All four are now feeling very secure (can't pull them apart!) and showing continuity on testing across the wires at each end. Despite that, there was no input to the batteries via the regulator. Checking the voltage at the fuses did not give the expected 18V I was told I would find if panels were giving the expected output to that point. Thinking I'll need to somehow open the terminal box on the back of each panel to check for corrosion inside there - can't explain the erratic behaviour any other way... Possibly the (untinned) copper wire used there is corroded or their connections inside the box are. Feeling very frustrated that all my efforts are not giving a successful outcome. Not helped by, unexpectedly, near sunset, seeing the regulator's red light come on with a minimal input showing.... What/why/how??? I'll be looking tomorrow morning to see what happens as the sun rises higher.

A shackle pin was spotted lying on the side deck while reefing - normally bad news .... but luckily, I found the shackle not far away - and it wasn't in use just now, so didn't cause any problem - unusual!!.

8:30 pm Wind has died right down again, to ~11kt, and has backed into the NNE - had to adjust Fred for a very broad reach to maintain our S course. Released the second reef earlier but leaving the first reef in overnight as a precaution.

9pm RAIN! First for a few days... Wind veered to ENE but then backed to NNE again - didn't last long. Still 11 kt windspeed.

10.25pm Been busy studying weather info. Looks as though we should head slightly E of S for several days, to avoid calms and/or headwinds and keep in favourable, although light, winds.

Sun 8.30am No tiny red light has come on to show solar power coming in to batteries.... Not a great surorise, but would have been nice to see! Still wonder why it came on briefly late yesterday afternoon. Wondering about turning off instruments for periods of time, to reduce battery usage - it's certainly an option, in settled conditions. Keeping an eye on battery voltage. Wind generator can't do much downwind in light air.

Overcast, with thin cloud layer - hazy sun visible, trying to get through. Seems we're under a big swathe of cloud coming from a Low pressure system to the S of us.

10am Heard faint sound of motor - saw light grey vessel 3 miles away, on horizon, off port quarter - disappeared quite soon - naval? Not showing on AIS.

11:15am As I write this, fishing vessel ('Shin Jaan Shin No.66', MMSI: 416003105) is crossing our path E to W at 8kt - seen on AIS & likely to pass about 1/2 mile off in 45mins.

On Friday, I'd re-wired the staysail foot snapshackle in an attempt to prevent it from being snapped open again. Next job will be to cover the area with whipping so the genoa sheet doesn't catch there. Hoping to do that shortly today, but thoughts/emails about solar power problems this morning have been getting in the way. Must get that done now, though - it's too important to delay any further.

Later on, I'll see if I can access the box on the rear of the solar panels - not too clear how to do that but I'll investigate - has to be possible somehow!

1900 GMT (=1100PST) - end of Day39. We made 128 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position - despite work on solar panels...

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1900 GMT:

TIME: 2018/11/11 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 15-39.47S LONGITUDE: 127-29.73W COURSE: 171T SPEED: 5.0kt

WIND_SPEED: 12kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NNE SWELL_HT: 2.5m

CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1015.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C

COMMENT: Gentle sailing. Occasional vessel nearby - fishing or naval

Written by : Jeanne Socrates