To Bermuda, Day 3

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 3 – 62NM 6/29 James’ noon-12:30 pm watch  Started with a bang. The Simrad didn’t correctly log the distance we traveled. James got it on his phone from the navionics app, but that’s a real drag. The odometer is back at zero, too, so I’ll need to add up the distances manually. Damn. I (Dena) hoped the reset fixed everything, but at least it hasn’t been restarting randomly! We restarted the system and will make that part of the noon routine from here on out. I also changed the track logging method from auto to distance and set it at 1 mile. James is winding the watch clock at noon. I’m so grateful that he keeps that thing running! …it’s not just the bells and the elegance of a mechanical device that can mark your way through the Verse…for me it’s a focal point in my (J’zzz’s) day.  Dena’s metrics have dominated the written logs since we left Nova Scotia…it’s wonderful!…she’s documenting this adventure the way she’s always wanted to because now it matters more than ever with the electric motor and everything that’s changed because of it. Un-fucking our fucked-up world is job one for everyone…that’s not political, that’s just the facts. Tick-tock motherfuckers. Dena’s 2-3 pm watch  2:09pm: We’re making 2 hours worth of water. We did an hour yesterday too, think I forgot to log that. The wind just picked up in a direction that’s helpful for running out of the way of two huge ships. 2.6 is better than 1.8 when trying to get somewhere. And then one of the ships went and changed course. I was definitely early patting myself on the back. Slow stress is still stress. I can probably learn to accept smaller distances from ships, but it’s[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 2

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 2 – 67NM 6/28 Dena’s half watch, noon-12:30 pm 12:13 pm: Saw a bird! Long wingspan for the size of its body, but I didn’t get a great look. Dena’s 1-2 pm watch  1:10 pm: We’re already realizing that avoiding direct sun will be a major activity. With the sun high overhead, I have a moderately comfortable perch under the solar panels. 1:47 pm: Well, here are the light winds we were promised. Main only and sheeted in some to get it off the shrouds when it pumps. We’re still doing a couple good knots, and in the right direction. Woohoo! If we used the motor, we’d just outrun the wind that much worse. I’m holding out hope that the wind will fill in from the southeast like they thought. The water color has definitely changed! Seeing miles of glass water in every direction is disconcerting…then a breath and always moving at the pace of the Earth in the Verse among the multiplicity of it all. James’ 2-3 pm watch  2:26 pm: Making our hour of water. It took 10 minutes to clear the smell but the salts were only 214ppm. James called out right when I switched the product water to go into the tank. A sailfish! I think! Dark, though, with a smaller sail than the ones I’ve seen as trophies (ick). It’s not easy to get photos of underwater creatures. Dena’s 3-4 pm watch There’s a pattern to acclimatization…one more day of Dramamine and I (James) just know I’ll be able to think again. James’ 4-5 pm watch 4:06 pm: I (Dena) spent my whole three o’clock hour fussing with the system. Finally settled on a single reef in the main, gybing to a starboard tack in case the forecasted southeasterly fills[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 1

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 1 – 94NM (18 hours) 6/27 James’ 7-8 pm watch  7:47 pm: Anchor came up just fine. I’m a little worried about how the dinghy is sitting…seems a little less solid than it has in the past. I’ll keep an eye and an ear on it. Beluga Greyfinger is a little freaked out. He’s using my lap for comfort, but his breathing is shallow and fast. I bet he’s a little seasick. He didn’t get a meclazine like we did. The winds are from the southeast at 10-15, so getting out of the inlet was a splashy chore. Full main as soon as I hit 50′ of chain, as we’ve been doing in this new era of traveling as an electric sailboat, and then when I turned east for the inlet, we added the yankee. Chop from wakes, chop from crossing the bar, and even when we turned downwind it took a while for the waves to feel longer and slower. The tiller pilot did a good job from the inlet until we got past the ship anchorage and then James set up Lovebot. It looks like we’ll make good time to the top of the Middle Shoal north of Grand Bahama. A storm cell wanted to visit itself upon us with the expected blessings, but it seems to be blowing its wad over Fk Lauderdale. Yay! James just crowed about how fast Fk Lauderdale is receding. We’re in the Gulf Stream. It’s a serious speed boost and I really can feel the warmth in the humid air. James’ 9 pm – midnight watch  9:00 pm: James just took over and I (Dena) need to try to sleep. I’m rather tired, actually, and it’s my normal bedtime. My shift went smoothly. I had to furl[…]

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Fk. Lauderdale again?!

You know, three weeks ago when we finished the propulsion project we were so ahead of the storms that it was totally comical. The wind rose from the southeast every day and broad-reached us all the way through the lower Florida Keys like a leaf on the water. But we quickly realized we were having charging issues with our propulsion wind generator… meaning, we had to get the battery down below 50% before it would even start charging and the controller wouldn’t accept Dena’s battery parameters. By the time we got to Key Biscayne the propulsion pack was hovering around the 51% level and getting only a solar charge. The wind generator was throttling itself back because it thought our battery bank was full. $2,800 US (fucking!) bucks for something that didn’t work was totally unacceptable! We (I [James] am sorry, Dena) emailed and called the manufacturer over and over but they just wouldn’t believe that she was programming the charge controller correctly. I (Dena) pasted screenshots of the entire process into multiple emails, including the computer saying I had the most up to date drivers and all the minutiae of “it must be your computer”. They tried to reproduce our issues in their lab and couldn’t get our fucked-up results, so it had to be our fault. When I (still Dena) finally went shaking-with-anger voice on the tech support person and insisted that it had to be hardware and that they had to…HAD TO…send us a replacement controller and computer interface lead (dongle) express international service we’ve-been-doing-this-for-weeks the-time-to-save-money-on-shipping-was-two-weeks-ago OR ELSE! Well. She said she’d have her boss call us as soon as he returned to his office from downstairs or whatever. Instead, she is the one who called back and explained that yes, they would get the replacement shipped[…]

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The proving grounds

…and then we went sailing! Marathon was such a fucking drag in the end that we couldn’t help but laugh on our way out of there. We’d been in that place and interacting with that community of workers and boaters for about six weeks and we were fleeing that buggy heat like the environmental refugees we are. The tiller project was wrapped up with the intention of completing it in some anchorage between here and…well..there, wherever that was. The point is, we had to get underway so we did. We sailed off the hook from the outside Boot Key anchorage with very little assistance from the electric propulsion. We were breaking the new propulsion system in so we left it on throughout the day in all the conditions. It took us about six and a half hours to reach (precise data available on our Patreon page) and go hook-down off Craig Key. When we left there, we had an unusually pleasurable tacking beat out to Hawk Channel with a little bit of motor assist to keep speed up during the tacks. Tavernier Key is the neighbor to our previously visited Rodriguez Key, so we stopped there for a fresh view after about the same amount of time. We spent a couple days on projects… …and struggling to get Marlec to do the right thing, but the views were satisfyingly beautiful. We even cut that long hippy hair we’d both grown! When we left there, we spent just under 6 hours getting to a quiet-ish spot off Key Largo’s Crocodile Lake. As much as we wanted to test the motor system and run the battery pack down, the outrageous heat (over 90F with a feels-like of about 105F) boosted the propulsion bay to over 36C. We started getting the high-temp warning[…]

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The Invisible Amount of Money

The slow circumnavigation of a 30′ electric sailboat holds a real excitement for people, especially since we can’t find any other sailboats who have done it or are ahead of us. We’ve gone ahead and started a Patreon account where you can cheer us on and be part of proving that electric propulsion is a viable part of the sailor’s future. We’re asking for financial support to help us make this voyage happen. You can help us sail and motor around the world without buying or burning diesel for propulsion. Huzzah! Ditching diesel is a huge step, and our environmental and practical reasons for going electric are covered on this blog and in our Patreon posts, so dig in to past posts and stay tuned for more. What is an invisible amount of money? For one of our friends, it is $10. She’s giving us that each month and we will use it gratefully for bread in the Azores. Another has pledged $15, which will keep Beluga Greyfinger happily fed. A former customer turned friend and a complete stranger have each decided that $5 is what they can easily provide…great gifts! And a very old friend and connection, with more resources at his disposal than most, has signed up to drop $100 on us each month. Some people know exactly where every dime goes every month because there are never enough of them to cover all their needs. We aren’t asking for that money. It’s the $10, $20, $50, $100…hell, we’ll be thrilled if someone is willing to sign up at $500…that isn’t budgeted for anything else, that won’t create discomfort in life or discord in marriage (ha!), yes, please. We’ve set off on this electric sailboat circumnavigation with the thrill and care we bring to all our voyages. Help[…]

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Come on, Marlec

So, of all the new technologies we’ve gotten to know and the new battery chemistry and the new…well…everything propulsion and steering that isn’t our sailing rig, the only one to cause us enduring frustration has been the 48v Rutland 1200 windcharger (the British way of saying wind generator, it seems). They fairly recently got on board the high voltage train with a 48v version of the 12v wind generator we already own (see last year’s installation). They only about a year ago got some kind of support for the LiFePO4 batteries that are powering modern electric sailboats. And their shit is not working. We paid extra for a standard-phone-plug-to-USB cable and PC app that was supposed to let us change the charge parameters so that they’d work with our lithium phosphate battery pack. Instead, this program let me change some parameters and save the changes…it said the controller had received them…but when I disconnected and reconnected, it had all gone back to the defaults. Why is this a problem? Well, their “return to bulk” setting (also not standard terminology as far as I can tell) is so low that we would have to nearly kill the battery before the controller would take the wind generator off standby. Now we’re dealing with a company that’s about 3000 miles away and not jumping to fix this problem for us. We’re heading their direction but, believe me, carrying this broken system back to them for fixing is not exactly Plan A. Here’s hoping they fix us up in the next couple-few days so that we can keep our new electric motor running in the fashion to which we’d like to become accustomed.

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