It’s nearly 10pm on the first day of June, not quite dark, and I’m on board Millie on her mooring in the Deben. Just had some supper and a beer (or two) and finally relaxing.
I got down here around lunchtime and I’ve had a not particularly successful afternoon trying to sort out problems on board. As I’ve documented in other posts I’ve done a lot of work on the electrics during the winter and it hasn’t all quite worked to plan. A number of things aren’t quite finished and the ones I thought were don’t all work. Teething problems I guess, but partly down to my inexperience on some of these jobs.
So the wind generator went up on it’s new pole last weekend and was spinning round happily looking very good. Except it didn’t seem to be generating any power, which is a bit of a fundamental failing in a wind generator. Still, looking on the bright side, at least it didn’t catch fire like the one in Norfolk hit by lightning the other day! Anyway the first task today was to try and work out what was wrong. I’d made up a wooden frame so I could dismount the generator and inspect the wiring. This all went to plan, and luckily it;s been a fairly calm day so at least I didn’t have to cope with it whizzing around. As expected, when I took it down the stub cables on the windgen had come detached from the cable going down the pole to the charge controller. Should be an easy job to pull the cable out and reconnect it I thought. Wrong. I spent the next two hours poking with wire hooks, string, ktichen implements and anything I could think of to pull the cable back out, but it resisted all attempts. For the moment it’s got me stumped – I may have to pull the cable out from the bottom and start again, but I’m reluctant to do that as it may get stuck half way down. I’m going to sleep on that one.
Next problem was the alternator. When we first ran the engine I immediately noticed that the tachometer wasn’t reading. Never had a problem with this before. During the winter I’d installed a new charge splitter and this was showing error indications on its LEDs. Checking with the meter there didn’t seem to be any output from the alternator, but because the battery was fully charged it was difficult to tell. Then on the trip down from Southwold I noticed the tacho had started reading and there seemed to be some current coming out of the alternator. So today I wanted to run some more tests. I started the engine – no tacho. Revved it up to around 2000 and the tacho came to life. So now I loaded up the battery by switching on the inverter and the microwave oven (yes we have one on board, not that we use it much). A quick check with the meter showed that the inverter was drawing around 80A and it was pulling the voltage down to 11.5 or so. Surely this should force some output from the alternator? But all it was producing was around 2.5A so conclusion? F***ed.
So two of our charging sources are not working and the third, the solar panels are not installed yet. So tomorrow’s priority is to get at least one of the panels installed so we have at least some background charging.
But I can’t feel stressed out here. It’s so peaceful, out in the middle of the river away from the crowds. What breeze there was has dropped away, it’s low tide so there’s virtually no current running. All quiet, just the waders on the shoreline 100 yards away, squawking the last of the day.
6am Saturday morning I was woken by the sound of rain outside. Chilly too. Not a day for working on wind generators and solar panels. So I spent the morning finishing up some of the wiring down below, and also had a visit from Chris and Sue, who were staying on their boat Jalibu on a mooring nearby. By lunchtime the weather cleared to leave a bright, breezy and warm afternoon. Perfect sailing conditions with cruisers coming in on the tide and Darts flying through the moorings heading up river.
Finally I got one of the solar panels mounted and connected and at last something was working! I got everything packed up and ashore by 7pm with just one last barrier to overcome …