Yee-hah, Bravo is back in cruising mode once again!!! Our under-7-day passage went very well, all things considered. Leaving NZ, it didn't take too long to get our sailing mojo back, though we both felt pretty damned rusty. (Hoisting the mainsail...no reefing lines are lead....oh, yeah, meant to get to those!!!)
Had a terrific 1st day of sailing up the beautiful coast of the north island in a perfect 15-20 knot westerly breeze. Felt wonderful to finally be underway, after nearly 2 years based out of NZ (and the 9 months in Oz). Things got a bit light on the 2nd day, winds had clocked right behind us at around 10 knots, and seas, though not too big at first, were on the beam.....VERY rolly conditions.
Finally started up the engine on the 2nd night, as the winds continued to drop into single digits, and seas stayed on the beam....yuchh. Wound up motoring through a 1028 high pressure system for nearly 60 hours....killed a heap of dinosaurs on this trip.
All of this time, all systems were working splendidly. The new charging systems worked fine, and the lithium batteries and bms were all behaving like champs. Sweet as.
At about mid voyage, on the 4th day, the wind returned, and we finally shut down the engine. Winds were still light and behind us, say 12 knots, but enough to keep the rolly boat moving along, and the peace and quiet were a serious treat. Had a few albatrosses join us, diving and skimming the water for hours on end.
And then things went a bit pear shaped. We turned on the generator to make water w/ the A/C powered watermaker, and top up the batteries. (We use quite a bit of power on passage, with all instruments running 24/7, and Otto our trusty autopilot getting his usual beefy boy workout.) Genset fired up normally, as did the battery charger. But when the switches were thrown on the watermaker, it started initially, then shut down pumps and lights. Ruh-row, this can't be good. I figured perhaps a breaker had tripped, but nothing looked out of sorts on the new AC panel. Genset voltage and frequency looked normal on all meters. But the AC breakers that are fed through the inverter/charger were dark. (includes all house outlets AND the all important watermaker) The other 4 were live (water heater, charger, and spares). And I noticed that the breaker for the hot water heater had been inadvertently been left in the "on" position. We were certainly overloading the capacity by running the charger, watermaker, and water heater all at once. Not good.
Serious business, in fact. For we now had no way to make water except off the batteries, making AC with the inverter. But this takes about 150 amps of DC, and will quickly drain the batteries. And we can now only charge the batteries w/ solar (its been cloudy....) or our main engine alternator, which is not large, only putting out about 75 amps. Double ruh-row
OK, that was our big mishap. Otherwise, a very decent passage. A bit frustrating, as once the breeze finally filled, we did the math and realized that in order to arrive in Vanuatu in daylight hours, we needed to start slowing down about 2 days before arrival. Just when the sailing was becoming amazingly good at last. Meant greatly shortening sail, once again creating VERY ROLLY sailing, with the reduced pressure on the rig. Ughhhhh, sleep was especially tough.
Arrived here at Aneityum Island at dawn today in a terrific 20 knot south easterly, nearly 7 days after departure. Felt wonderful to get the anchor down in this completely sheltered harbor (at least from this wind and sea direction). And the obligatory anchor beer to wash down the bacon and egg breakfast could not have been sweeter!!! We got the boat cleaned up, flying our yellow quarantine flag to await the arrival of customs and immigration folks. (we had received advance permission via email to clear in here, not a regular port of entry). There are 2 other yachts here, one British and one Australian who have already cleared in. They said if we wait until tomorrow, a cruise ship will be paying a visit, and the inspectors will come to the boat then. There's no real village here, so our other option would be to head to shore and ask around for "the policeman" who can give us temporary permission to go ashore. Think we'll catch up on sleep and wait until tomorrow's BIG EVENT.
So all in all, a very good passage. Bravo performed beautifully, in winds from very light to 30 knots. It felt wonderful to be on the ocean again, even if a bit rusty. Now, if we can just figure what is FUBAR with the charging system...
Sorry for the lack of photos. We have no internet here, and this post is coming via ham radio email.
Distance: 1010 nautical miles
Time: 6 days, 20 hours (inc 2 days of deliberate slowness for daylight arrival)
Fishing: WAY too rolly, with the seas, up to around 3 meters, on the beam nearly the entire trip.
Charging system, a biggy
Tiny chafe hole in our beautiful new mainsail, caused by our boom preventer touching a drooping fold in the reefed sail. Easy repair, NOT a biggy.
Cheers all....more to follow when we're allowed off the boat!!!