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Days 14and15: "Nereida"sails into the Tropics! .....Charging problems won't go

Wed 16th June Definitely lost my birds ... getting flying fish on deck instead!

Sea temp up to 28C! Pity I can't get in for a swim! Quite strong conditions (wind 24-28, gusting 30) have meant good speed made over the day - but seas always get up with the wind and we've been sailing downwind, so we've been rolling about and heeling lots in big swell.

11pm - Gybed onto starboard tack in big seas but under a dark, starry sky. We'd been headed more & more to north of our course and with the wind set to keep backing - to SE eventually - and stay there over several days at least, it seemed the right time to do it - especially since it seems best to make as much easting as possible well before crossing the equator. It looks as though the winds I'll be very soon are the true SE Trades - in which case I've been lucky to have avoided not only the worst of the bad weather around me but also the 'no-wind' high pressure area to the north has been squeezed out by the weather to the south which has given me these good, strong winds....

Thursday 17th June Belt goes again.....

5.20 am ... First light...... Had been up on deck from dark 0500 to check on sail-trim. Made log entry - and decided time to charge batteries since voltage had dropped too low... Started engine - charging fine. Played around with wind-steering and autopilot, with S wind over 20 knots . Seas have got even bigger - easily 4m now, and being knocked about a lot when a really large one catches us. Suddenly realized charging had stopped .... Oh, no!....damn!!.... Alternator belt had gone again....

Then proceeded to spend an age in aft cabin. With change of tack, several items, including a bulky over-mattress not in use, had not been well enough secured & needed sorting out before I could begin to think of getting to the batteries - both domestic and start.

My plan was to use jump leads to get power into the domestic battery bank from the start battery which was being charged by the usual engine alternator whereas the domestic bank was being charged by the secondary alternator alone. I'd been a bit dubious about that arrangement, since I was sure that previously I'd had a system that somehow incorporated charging from both alternators, keeping the start battery isolated but charged as priority, then putting all remaining charge into the main bank..... but was told that wasn't feasible...I wonder???

Of course, to get jump leads in place meant exposing more area under the aft cabin bunks ....so more time was spent organizing items so they wouldn't slide about in the heavy swell.... Initially, I thought it wouldn't matter which end of which jump lead I left to connect until last -for when engine was running - but on connecting both positives and leaving one negative end off, I checked the voltages - and clearly, electrons were getting from start battery into domestics without the negative joining them - so I hurriedly unclipped one end of the positive jump lead and connected both negative lead ends instead - readings looked better, so I was ready to start the engine .... by now it was 7a.m.... NO display telling me r.p.m. or hours.... grrr!! No matter.. Went down and connected positive lead.... Great! Charging of all batteries was happening as it should. So I'll have to leave jump leads available for future use - means aft cabin is in total disarray, but no matter ... and I must NEVER forget to disconnect the positive cable before stopping engine ....

Jobs top of the list: Replace alternator belt again with new one.... and have another go at the genset - I'm thinking if I can move the pump off its mount, it has some short rubber hoses to it, so I might be able to give myself access to get at the last wing-nut holding the cover on... Oh, the joys of boating..,..!!!!!!

Total cloud cover ...to go with my mood.....! Sea temp 30C today! Wind has backed to SSE now & should back a bit more and stay fairly strong from SE for several days more, according to grib files, by which time we should be in the SE Trades.. which look as though they merge into the NE Trades ... so at least the weather is playing ball! Don't know what the ITCZ is up to just now, but might not be too much of a problem - we can hope...!! I'll be heading almost due north, so will minimize time spent in it.

DMG Wed: 141 n.ml. Thurs; 137 n.ml. DTG Thurs 0000 UTC: 2650 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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