About Me

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A little introduction on who we are. I (cath) am the one writing most, no in fact all of the posts:) I am a registered nurse and I am currently doing my degree in translation. So I am full time at work and part time at Univeristy. Dan is the handy man. He graduated in 2009 and he opened his own business. He is a fabulous designer specializing in designing bathroom, kitchen and walking closet. Since he is such a handy guy he is doing most of the fixing on our 42 foot sailboat. We bought White Pearl october 2009 in San Francisco. She is beautiful and needed some lovin. She is a 42 feet aluminum cutter built in 1983. She is a bluewater sailing vessel. Having crossed many oceans before us and she's proven her worth. We live 6 months on the boat during the Summer months. We simply love it. Living aboard is just fantastic, we sail whenever we want and enjoy the water and the nature. It's awesome. We are currently working hard and putting money aside so we can leave one day to live our dream: sailing around the world with our sailboat.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Learning to take the time...

In our busy days, stuck in the bustle of life, we often forget to just take the time to live...
Surrounded by obligations and appointments and work and friends and family, we get stuck in the moment. Anyway, I do.
I often forget to take a nice deep breath and just enjoy life.
I find peace in the quietness of the wind and the water or their agitation and chaos. In their midst, you realize quickly that you are at their mercy and that harnessing their powers has its limits.

The beauties found in the lost corners!

When having too many amp/hr battery becomes an issue!

In preparation for our future trip, we purchased one AGM battery 290 amp/hr 3 years ago. When considering all the power we would need to juice up all the electronics we will need, we decided that two AGM batteries 290 amp/hr would be perfect in addition of the solar panels (not yet purchased) and the wind generator (not yet installed)...

When we started the season, we always left the harbour with fully charged batteries. However, after staying out and sailing for more than three days, the batteries were slightly depleted and as soon as we were starting the engine, the alternator would overheat.

The first time it happened, we had spent three days out at anchor and when it was time to leave, the engine was started and while Dan was at the bow pulling the chain in with the windlass, I started smelling something burning. Initially I thought it was just the alternator heating up a bit... Oh boy was I wrong! I informed Dan right away but he wasn't too concerned. We carried on with our business and after a couple of minutes, there was smoke coming out of the engine room and the stench was overwhelming. I yelled out to Dan and my first reflex was to shut down the engine just in case there was a fire in the engine room. Dan came running and after checking the engine room, he came out with a frustrated look on his face. « We just burnt our alternator » he tells me...

Since my knowledge of the alternator world and engine is very limited, I thought that we couldn't use the engine anymore... I started making plans in my head on how we could dock the boat with no engine, under sail, assisted by the dinghy, etc... We debriefed and opted to leave the anchorage under sail...

Firstly, I had never done that before... However, it was a great opportunity to get some experience.
With a south southwest wind averaging 16 knots, I got the jib ready to go and I was waiting anxiously for Dan to give me the signal once the anchor would be out of the water. I have to say, it went really well. We left the anchorage with the jib and sailed away.

I discovered that we could still start the engine and run it even if we do not have a functioning alternator. We sailed back to the Harbour and at the last minute, we started the engine and docked the boat.

We then had to discover why our alternator was behaving in such a way and was overheating to end up dying.

We brought it the repair shop and got it rebuilt. Our alternator was an 110 amp one and had always worked well for us in the past. It was easy to make the connection between the most recent thing we had changed... the increased battery bank!

We also discovered that the alternator that had been sold to us by a « reputable » company was undersized, old technology and didn't have the proper venting to do the job it was suppose to.

After burning 2 alternators we adopted a proactive method of unplugging the alternator every time we had to use the engine. Basically, that meant that we couldn't use the alternator to charge the batteries.

After calling Electromaax, we found a solution to our problem.
The problem we were experiencing was that as soon as the alternator would sense that the batteries were depleted, it would go full blast and try to charge as quickly as possible by sending up to 95 amp in the batteries and burning up... Every time!!! (our alternator was a 110 amp). We recorded at temperature of 152 degrees on the alternator.

They sold us an alternator with an internal regulator, two fans and a CPU with a temperature probe on the alternator and one on the battery. This way, when the CPU senses that the temperature rises at the alt. and the battery, the computer slows down the alternator and allows it cool down so it never overheats... It was brilliant!!!

Not a cheap solution, but the right way to go to solve our problem.

Now we can safely use the engine and charge the batteries with the alternator without worrying that it would overheat again!

Image from Google

The CPU (the brain of the operation) 
Image from Google

120 amp alternator
image from Google