Working in the rain
14 April 2015 | Bar, First Landing Resort
Tired, wet Bill
Rain, rain, rain….and I mean HEAVY rain! Having kayaked in Prince William Sound, I was sure that I had seen rain, but this is almost liquid air, for heaven's sake.
Of course we were inside the boat but since we HAVE NO FLIPPING BATTERIES, we have no lights nor fans, so when it clouded over, we were working by headlight. What little air was moving from outside had to closed off when it began to rain in. Drat.
We do have an army of workers outside but even locals had to flee the downpour today.
Xantrex, the manufacturer's support service for the defunct battery charger contacted me today and provided a process that they hope will repair the problem. I must tell you what they suggested. They suggested that I disconnect the charger from both AC and DC sources. Good idea. Done. Now I'm supposed to wait for 24 hours, then re-connect the device to sources in a certain sequence. Let it rest for 24 hours? It has a headache? It's upset? Sheesh, I have no idea what resting 24 hours can do to repair a piece of electronics, but I'll try it. I'm ready to wash my hands of Xantrex, but Conni wants to convince them to provide a replacement out here at no cost. We'll try.
The West Marine on-line catalog sales claims that they can send another charger to us for a large fee, and I'm sure that we'll be forced to do so. I also contacted a local Fiji battery manufacturer and have a line on some replacement batteries. They're flooded and not AGMs, and have much smaller capacity, but we can leave Fiji with them. Without batteries, there's no refrigerator, no sailing lights, no chart plotter, etc. We simply must solve this problem. No house bank, no trip.
On the positive side, I made my first attack on replacing the forward-looking sonar. The transducer is the component that transmits and receives the sound pulses that reflect from underwater objects. Most is outside the hull, of course, but a stem protrudes inside the hull and is kept from falling out by lots of caulk and a large nut that threads onto the shaft. I had to use various penetrating liquids and heat to loosen the nut and remove it from the stem, but I did finally get it off. The threads are very fine (many per inch) and that requires many rotations to move the nut a short distance. With the nut gone, I saturated the transducer shaft with the fantastic Antibond 2015. It's a solvent for the caulk that seals and attaches the transducer to the outside of the hull. Using it will reduce the muscle and anger involved in removing the transducer.
Funny, not funny…. We installed the solar panels before leaving last night but they were producing no current to the batteries during the brief but intense sunlight this morning. We've had trouble with the solar charger that handles the energy collected by the panels, so I wiggled into the "man cave" space below the cockpit and found that the solar charger was seemingly dead. I went back to the device's manual since I'm a believer in getting information. Get this: the device powers off when the batteries are below 7 Volts. So it wasn't charging the batteries because the batteries weren't charged, is that right? Holy smokes. I was able to jerry-rig a bypass for the solar controller so that the panel output did find its way to the batteries and they finally received a bit of charge. Imagine if they got a few hours of Fiji sun!
The below-decks conditions were so difficult that we called it a day at 1400 today. We traipsed through the rain, getting soaked in the process, and both took showers, then headed to the bar where we both sit now. The free wifi is working and we've got lots to discuss. A good burger and fries, washed down by a Fiji Bitter beer did help.
Last year, and in years past, there was a gate between Vuda Marina and First Landing, making travel between the two very convenient. This year, First Landing has locked the gate and we're forced to wind through the resort, make our way down some slippery rocks and around the end of the border fence. We've heard various excuses for the locked gate, but I'm not convinced that it's necessary.
By tomorrow, we'll have ordered our new charger from West Marine and it will be winging its way to us. I'll have decided on a battery replacement, and made arrangements for their delivery. With any luck, we'll be back on track.