Monday 13th February 2012 - A good day!!
With winds down to around 20kt, instead of regularly well over 30kt, and despite seas not being much less than before, at 5-6m, but feeling gentler, I had a chance to work on the genset which has been starting up OK but not putting out any power.
Following instructions I got over yesterday's morning Ham Net (S.African Maritime Mobile Net), as I thought,....I carefully took out &replaced all the wrong terminals (- on the genset connector block, not at the separate VCS unit!!) and also managed a short circuit when a live spade terminal touched the metal of the block... but I then looked for & found the 15A blade fuse that had blown and replaced it (I've plenty of spare fuses!).... At least we were back to square one and I hadn't ruined things!.... Still no power output, so I checked out fuel pump relay - looked fine... and then I looked at the actuator spindle of the genset - which turned out to be the faulty item. It was stiff and stuck in its extreme position - I had to use pliers to start it turning and then eased it some more to be sure it was OK .. .. so the genset is now WORKING!!!! Yippee!! (Takes so much less fuel than the main engine to charge the batteries...)
I celebrated with a big glass of Wilde guava juice (courtesy Pick and Pay in Cape Town - thanks, Mark ) and a chocolate, while I perched in the companionway in the warm sunshine, enjoying the birds and watching the big seas coming our way.
Was on radio to SAMM Net again soon after - reception was really noisy & I couldn't hear properly, so I tried switching off the plotter - which also turns off the instruments but not the autopilot & GPS - the noise virtually disappeared, which was great (since we were still able to keep going on AP in 'Auto' mode). I switched everything back on again later to find no Depth display.... grrr! But a short while later, I found it had come on again ... seems like maybe a bad connection? ... something to put on the joblist for tomorrow.
Another success today was making contact on 20m with a Winlink station (Eisenstadt in Germany) just after sunset - as suggested by Lor, W3QA, when I commented on the lack of Winlink stations on air just now in Africa - or anywhere near where we are... "... at sunset or sunrise +/- a half hour you might be able to connect with one of the European stations along the 'grayline' (solar terminator) at the right frequency..." It worked!
It's been a very pleasant day, even without the genset success, with mainly sunny skies and wind at mostly 15-20 kt, giving good boatspeed with full, poled-out genoa. There's been a variety of birds from mid-morning on to sunset, including a few prions and a Royal and a Yellow-nosed albatross and the usual large, dark petrels (White-chinned). 3 small, Black-bellied Storm Petrels have been fluttering nearby, long thin black legs often in the water as they foraged for food. (Mainly dark with white rump on top, white belly & white centre to underwings.) And there have been a couple of Soft-plumaged Petrels swooping around as well - my birdbook is constantly to hand these days!
DMG to noon was 140 n.ml. - better than I expected and conditions should continue to be reasonable for another day or more.
Monday 1840 GMT position (see 'Travels' page for map) is 40d07'S, 034d07'E