Our First Day
12 May 2018 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
We were both exhausted, even after extended naps yesterday. Conni had prepared our first evening appetizer spread, with Hinano beer as the centerpiece, and luscious French cheese and baguette. We get the same cheeses, but these were so much superior: I think that it's the Pasteurization. At any rate, we were asleep pretty early.
We arrived at the yard at 0830, and started immediately to work. I worked on the propeller lubrication and Conni worked on cleaning the stainless tubing in the cockpit. With that clean, we could mount the two solar panels and get them out of belowdecks.
She got the tubing clean with her Flitz, and we got the panels mounted, and I connected the wiring for a first test. Smoke billowed from below the cockpit: thick, acrid electrical fire smoke. We quickly disconnected all electrical fees: AC and the panels. Conni grabbed a fire extinguisher.
The solar charge controller had failed and burned, almost to a crisp. Damn! For readers in the know, I have been using the panels in series since I installed them. The power from the panels is sent to a device that uses a process called Maximum Power Point Tracking, a process that maximizes current to the batteries regardless of other factors. It increases the usefulness of the panel output about 30%, or so the story goes. This device is the second, since the first also failed. It's just the wrong environment for it, I'm sure. The maximum voltage that could be available to the MPPT is when the panels are wired in series, so it's not that, although the wires are clearly marked and I've used the system for 5 years now. When I broke into the device, all the main wires were fine other than the panel positive: it was melted. With the panels in bright sun, they were "hot" and there must have been corrosion between the wires and the terminal in the device, and that converted the electrical energy into thermal energy and toasted the damned MPPT.
After working a few more hours, we quit and made a necessary shopping trip and got some local currency.
Back at the Pension, I spent several hours working on a replacement, but shipping and time are my enemies. I can probably jury rig something, but I'm not happy about it. We'll need those panels!
Tomorrow, another day of work, with more to show for it, I hope. It's always something.
Oh, yeah...happy birthday, Mother! 92 years have been good to you. I love you, we love you. And happy Mother's Day tomorrow!