Voyage of Traveler / Blog

December 3, 2009

Dec 3 Position Report

Traveler’s Dec. 3 Position Report:

Our 1300 position, distance made good over the previous 24 hours, and nautical miles to go (MTG)
to Barbados are:

Dec. 3
18-03N, 045-08W
149 nm
882 MTG

All’s well onboard Traveler.

Some of you may be wondering how we are able to keep the batteries charged on such a long passage like this.  We have four sources of power:

Engine’s alternator.  This puts out about 10 to 20 amps per hour but, of course, only when the engine is running.  Obviously, this takes diesel fuel, and running the engine just to charge the batteries is inefficient, noisy and creates heat.  But it works and works well.  While we were racing on Transpac, we (and all the other racing boats) could run the engine to charge the batteries, but had to keep the transmission in neutral, otherwise it would be considered cheating.  While cruising, we run the engine in gear at about 2000 rpms.  This is an especially useful way to charge the batteries when the wind is light or at night.

Honda generator.  This is a portable 2000 watt gasoline powered generator that puts out about 65 amps per hour, so it is much more efficient than running the engine, and fully charges the batteries in about an hour.  But, it is noisy and we must buy and store gasoline (highly flammable) and keep re-filling the fuel tank every couple of hours or so of running time.

Solar panels.  We have four solar panels for a total of 360 watts of power.  They generate, on a hot sunny day, about 10 amps per hour, enough to keep the refrigerator and the chart plotter powered, but not enough for all the other power we consume, and of course it puts out nothing when cloudy or at night.

Wind generator.  Our Kiss High Output Wind Generator works well, but only when the apparent wind is at least 15 knots.  And it works day or night, as long as the wind blows.

We have not been on shore power since we left the marina in Rabat, Morocco, which was on October 25.  We “went green” by adding the wind generator and solar panels when we were in Tahiti in February 2008.  I wish we had done so before we left Newport Beach, because it is much more expensive and time consuming to do that while you are in a foreign country.  Also, I was unaware before we set off just how important solar and wind can be to keeping the batteries fat and happy.

The refrigeration, radar, TV (if we watch a DVD), computer, watermaker and autopilot all draw a lot of power.  How did Columbus, Cook and the other early explorers get by without all those things we now consider essential?

Living the Dream,
Crossing the Atlantic,
with Brian, Yansen and Larry

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