Tuesday November 8th, 2016 – Election Day

While it is election day back in the states, and I am looking forward to watching the election coverage with Keith at the Victory Bar at the Port Luis Marina. At the moment I would want to be anywhere else than where I am now.

The winds are ~ 9 kts ENE and I am sailing a course of 230 degrees true. We are headed for Grenada 30 nautical miles south, and the skies are blue with puffy white clouds. And I can see 22 different islands on the horizon here in the Grenadines.

The big green gennekar is flying, with Kyle and me getting easier and easier at rigging it. Currently doing 6.6 kts, and it is so peaceful – it feels like we are doing 1 knot. The seas are flat with just a bit f texture to the surface. It looks so inviting I spent some time day dreaming about jumping in and hanging onto a line. I have shade from the hard bimini, and a breeze coming across the fly bridge, typing away on my laptop that was charged up with yesterday’s sunlight.

I am feeling really satisfied with Ad Astra now. Almost everything has been put into order. All of the major are working and relatively few smaller systems are not. Recently fixed the water maker and generator myself and so I am beginning to feel really handy with the boat. Filled up the diesel tanks in St George’s and with the two spare jerry jugs spent ~$1350 EC to have a full boat. In St George’s the water was nice and clean, so we ran the water maker with confidence. With both tanks full of water.

In the storerooms below Max’s cabin we have nearly a full set of spares for the major boat systems including a spare starter motor and alternator for the Yanmar engines, As well as a full set of spare oil and fuel filters and belts.

The boat’s tools have been organized, the lazarette has been tidied up. But the biggest news of all – is that the massive stainless steel arch for Ad Astra has been complete!

This arch is amazing. First of all it is about 22 feet long and 10 feet wide extending the fly bridge aft over the dinghy davits. This provides the flat space to mount those six 260 watt solar panels we just picked up. Combined with the 500 watts we have already, Ad Astra will now have 2000 watts of solar.

Below the top of the arch we have now a rack to hold the big blue SUP – and the dozen or so long pole-like objects such as the fishing gaff & net, boat brush, kayak paddles and fishing poles.

Below the gear rack, perhaps the neatest thing about the new arch is I designed a new lounging area that is above the dinghy davits and is 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. It is a bed over the water!

When passage making I am now using that flying bed as a rack to hold our smaller tender, and combined with space to tie-down our massive red fenders, the whole fore deck is clear of any stuff and finally does not look like a garage sale. Additionally, Kyle and I assembled and mounted the kayak rack we built in Bequia, and with the clearing of the Kayak and the SUP – both side decks are free from any stuff. Ad Astra is really looking like she is organized.

(Wind update, now at 11am the wind has picked up to 12 kts and Ad Astra is flying at 7.8kts!)

I have already mounted the two additional Outback 80 MMPT solar controls down in the hold below the master cabin along with the house battery bank, the Xantrex FR 3000 battery charger / inverter and the existing Outback 60 MPPT.

All we have left to do is to mechanically mount & bolt the solar panels to the arch, and run heavy gauge power cables down the STBD stainless tube into the STBD engine room and into the power room and hook them up to the two Outback 80s. With 2000 watts of solar on a 12 volt system, nominally we would be producing 166 amps at peak – in practice let’s accept 50% of that value. At 80 amps across say 8 hours of the day we will have ~ 640 amp-hours to play with. For scale we need 24 hours x 12 amps ~= 300 amps a day to run our core DC systems: 2 fridges, water pump, lights, wifi extender and fans. With the new 640 amp-hours of solar – 300 amp-hours of core systems, we will have a surplus of 340 amp-hours a day to run the inverter to charge macs, run ice maker, and run water maker. We should even be able to run the washing machine as long as we keep it on the cold water setting and not use any of the induction heating elements. The only time we will need to run the generator would be for hot water (who wants that down here in the tropics?) or if we have extended days of rain and cloudy skies.

The batteries have been holding up much better know that I have the ability to read the correct open circuit voltage on the Lifeline AGMs and thus have had the opportunity to run the generator once for a long 3-4 hour charge and really pump back in some long-missing amp hours.

What is still broken or needs to be done? Not too much. The boat’s sound system seems to have a corroded USB input jack. All it is is a car stereo, should be easy enough to fix. Also would like to replace it really with a blue tooth system so we can use multiple devices from different parts of the boat. The Raymarine wind instrument shows apparent wind speed, but cannot show wind angle. This is an old problem. I am thinking that perhaps the connection jack has been corroded and needs to be replaced. The big dinghy still needs to get one oar-lock glued in more securely and mount the oars and the dinghy lights. Other than that, we have some chips in the sugar scoop that need to be sanded and filled, and we have a bottom that has collected some barnacles that need to be scraped off. And the bilges and the engine rooms could always have some cleaning. I rate Ad Astra at 95% currently.