Hiya! How are you doing? We are doing okay, keeping busy with our projects. This week we realised that sometimes we are so busy working on the boat, we forget it is a sailboat and we should go out sailing now as well! We will definitely keep an eye on the weather and see when we will have a good day to go out.
But for now.. Work, work, work! This is what we’ve been busy with this week.
Being self-sustainable is key for cruising, and a big part of it is being able to have enough power aboard for all the electrics, from superfluous gadgets (fitbit comes to mind) to plotter (boat for GPS), from cameras to fridge, and of course lighting. To help us be energy independent, we want to make the 400W wind generator working again. The last time we used it was 3 years ago on our trip from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. After our arrival, we took the generator down to make some repairs. Surprise, surprise, we had to repair some leaks. Water was coming from the base, so we had to get everything out, and put it back up again.
But there was something else that was bothering us. The wind generator was quite loud. We can excuse it when under sailing, but when you are at anchor or at the marina, it was annoying us when we slept. So we decided to put the generator up without the blades while we figured out why it was doing that. This was a good decision: no more noise and with the generator in place it bunged the hole it would otherwise be there. Time passed, and as it is usual, other jobs got prioritised over the generator. But not anymore, now it was time to get her back up and running!
So, time to get the generator down! Miguel was quite anxious about this. So many things that can go wrong, especially what if we can’t hold the top half and it falls into the water… That would be that for the generator. And even if the taking down went well (which is the easier part) when it goes up it will have the fragile blades in. So we won’t have as much room to move and there are more things to catch, scrap and brake. And if it falls in the water like this, apart from everything else, it’s a whole set of expensive new blades, for sure!
Anyway, back to action and not thinking of what might happen, we took the generator down without incidents. Awesome! Opened the generator, checked the resistance on all poles, to check if everything was still fine. Resistance was ok, but some screws were loose. Good find! Everything else was good, Miguel put it together and we put it up again. A nice choreographed performance between the two of us: first while one holds the generator and the pole the other makes the electrical connection and then secures the generator to the pole; then Saskia goes inside to take the slack off the electric cable; then together we raise the generator in place and while one tries to balance the generator pole above the 2m main pole, the other put enough screws to stop it from tilting and falling into the drink! Very stressful situation, but a successful one! Finally, we set the 2 extension arms and we were done! Or so we thought.
We realized the next day it wasn’t working as it should. The resistance reading at the controller was wrong (same resistance as done when Miguel opened the generator) pointed to loose connections. Rookie mistake! So off it came again to fix it! We tempted fate twice and succeeded! But then, why was it generating so little power?? We decided to take it down again and test the individual. First Miguel connected the generator straight to the controller. And to force power generation, Miguel connected a power drill to the shaft. All was good. Check the resistance of the lead wires, from the pole to the generator, and it was OK. Weird… still can’t find the issue. A final test, Miguel connected the generator to the lead wires and used the drill. Power came up as expected. So where is the problem??! Maybe it magically disappeared, or maybe Miguel just expected too much! So, once again we put it up, and we’re getting plenty of power! Unfortunately, the noise is still there. We managed to reduce it a bit, but we still hear and feel it. If it gets too bad we’ll stop the generator with a rope but for now, we’re done!!
The idea for the bimini is to stay up all the time, not only when at anchor. This means it should be able to cope with strong winds and not just gentle breezes. We definitely needed to test the bimini as the front seemed a bit flimsy at times, so we weren’t sure how well it would deal with wind. The start of the week gave us a good couple of days to test it as it was quite windy! Time to find out how our newly made bimini would hold up. The wind went up to 20 knots and the bimini held well. Not perfectly, but it didn’t come apart! The fabric should have been stretched a more, and that would have made it better. I suppose that’s what you get when you skip steps! And after these windy days, we had 2 amazing days: sunny weather with a bit of a breeze, perfect for being under our bimini. We will improve a bit more by adding more structure but we haven’t been able to get the materials for it yet. In the meantime, we found out that one of the connections from the structure bent, and as a result, it damaged the teak where it’s holding. Not sure how it bent, but we fixed it anyway! We’ll keep our eyes on it!
And I finally started my sewing project! Using a sewing machine seems so easy, but I soon found out that for me it isn’t as easy as it looks. My sister asked me if the photos on Instagram were staged, but my confusion was genuine!
The idea is to make a well-insulated bag for our cooking pan, so we can boil our food for a minute on our gas stove, put the pan in the bag and let it cook further in the bag, without using more gas.
In order to make this I took a sleeping bag and cut out a round figure, slightly bigger than the size of the pan. I have sewed a cork coaster in inside, for stability. The rest of the sleeping bag I cut in a rectangular shape, so it can be wrapped around the pan, making it high enough so we can close the top. I closed 3 sides of the rectangular shape and left one open, so I could add 2 fleece plaids and bubble wrap inside, for insulation. The only thing I am waiting for now is the marine-themed cloth I ordered for the outside! Due to everyone ordering cotton for making face-masks, it might take a while before this will arrive. Once I have this, I’ll close it up and sew the bottom and side to one piece.
Miguel wasn’t sure if the bag would be insulated enough, but we did a little experiment: added boiling water to a pan, the pan went into the bag and we measured the temperature regularly. After 5 hours the temperature dropped below 60 degrees Celsius. This does mean that we can prepare food in the morning, add it to the bag and have the food ready by lunch. It will take some practising, but will definitely come in handy during sailing trips and it is great we use way less gas with this system.
A messy boat is a happy home?
Over the months we have been collecting more and more items we want to take with us. For now, it is fine when things are lying in the open, but when we are sailing, things must be secured, else they will be flying away! Although there is enough space aboard for all these things, we want to be able to welcome family, friends and visitors on board so we need to keep some open space for them to put their luggage. I was afraid we would leave this until the last moment before departure and for me, that idea was very stressful. I thought that it would be way more work than it looks, so that’s why we have started to sort our belongings out and we are trying to find the proper space for everything. Tidying up for us means making a bigger mess first, but in the end, we will be happy we’ve done this! We are in the middle of this progress and Miguel is already saying: I am throwing so much sh*t away! Hurray!
That was our week, it went by so quickly! What have you’ve been up to? The following week we are hoping to receive some nice packages… More about that next week!