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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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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S/V SN-E

So here’s a story… A couple of people go to sea for a couple of decades and discover a world dominated by the infernal combustion of one single industry. From construction to motivation, the entire marine industry is designed to consume massive amounts of products mined from a single source: petroleum. Everything. I’m talking epoxy, varnish, paint, foam for the settee cushions, gas for the outboards and the gensets, and ultimately millions upon millions of gallons of fuel to shift millions of vessels over the world’s ocean and all the waterways of every country around the globe. And that shit’s finite, as is our breathable atmosphere. What if those two aforementioned people wandering the sea (yeah us, James and Dena) discovered along the way that it didn’t have to be all that? Maybe we could curb that usage for ourselves and show people that there is a way to discover an entire planet without using a single drop of fuel. Oh, sorry, that’s already been done thousands of times throughout history! But what hasn’t been done, as far as I (James) can tell, is two people and a very cool gato circumnavigating the Earth in a 29.7 foot/9.05 meter electric sailboat. We’re going to give it a shot! So there we were in Key West, right about my birthday, dedicating ourselves to getting rid of the diesel motor and all its related toxicity. We decided to try a local media blitz by putting it all up for sale in every market we sailed to until we sold it. By the time we made landfall back in Marathon and changed the location on all the ads, we’d had a couple bites that got us excited. The next few weeks, we rolled though a disappointing gauntlet of flakes like the ones that[…]

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The Smallest

…the slowest, the best and absolute finest spaceship on Earth has just added way-too-much power for our immediate needs. …A funny thing about needs and humans. Humans need so fucking much! We try to be exceptions, not bringing some great big life down to the water and wedging it awkwardly into a sailboat. Instead, we consider what we really need versus what makes things easier versus what is decadent in an enjoyable way versus those decadent touches that don’t ever pay off in pleasure… Strength and independence require so many tools and supplies that we can’t make for ourselves. I (Dena) don’t know how to mine copper or make strands of it. I don’t know how to tin those strands and twist them into marine-grade electrical cable. But I’m really really good at repurposing cable that already exists instead of buying new stuff and…yeah. Whenever possible. The old 12v system is different now. The 500 watt wind generator is still up and generating, but we had three sets of solar panels…one on each side of the tower and a third made up of two panels flat on top of the tower. We moved the two panels from the top of the tower to the lifelines and hooked them to the tower-side panels to make two 24v systems of what used to be 3 12v systems. So far, our power production has increased, not decreased. The top of the tower has been given over to two 24v panels that are wired to the terminal block in the previous picture to form a 48v solar array. We also installed the 48v Rutland 1200 wind generator that looks identical to our 12v Rutland 1200. It’s a pleasing symmetry. And yet…here we are…four boxes of LiFePO4 cells and a big box of electric motor[…]

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