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 same day. Friday.
International shipping isn’t guaranteed to be as fast as domestic, so the TNT/FedEx handover created a day’s delay. On Tuesday, the package arrived at the local Marlec reseller, eMarine Services, a company we’ve ordered from before. We invested in a ride to their offices, where the guy in charge (a totally awesome man named Alex) let us try to program the replacement controller with their power supply and laptop.
The thing they didn’t send? The computer interface dongle.
It didn’t work. The engineer wouldn’t be in for a couple hours.
Bathed in frustration and sweat from the heat and humidity, we paid for the ride back to the dinghy without either controller and without the dongle and without an answer.
The engineer discovered that our charge controller and the special add-on computer interface dongle were both malfunctioning in two totally different ways. We did another set of paid-rides to their offices and left with their very own programming dongle (mwah-haha).
Don’t get me wrong, that was really sweet vindication, absolutely the best, but we had been forced to sail through a second terrifying lightning storm to score the new gear.
We didn’t get hit by lighting between Key Biscyane and Fk. Lauderdale (which was a plus), we proved that we can negotiate a three-mile entrance channel and reach a safe anchorage with the combination of wind-in-the-sails and juice-to-the-motor, and we got our new charge controller and dongle so now it works perfectly.
…just in time for T/S Cindy to come rolling along our projected course to Bermuda.