Monday, December 17, 2012

The 2012 Fall Season Has Begun!

We've been trying to get a post up for a while but have run into problems with our substandard internet connection.  We have access but it always crashes when we try to upload pictures so...I'm behind.

Carter asked his friend Jimmy who lives near by if we could get on his high speed connection so I could try and get caught up.

We hit the ground running upon our return to the ship in November.  First, something we both have been waiting for...installing the actuators!  To test the system Carter installed the sample actuator he bought on the center post and gave it a test.  It worked great! 

Here is a shot of the main array, "close hauled on port track".  With the ability to track the sun now, we are able to collect more than enough power to run everything on the boat and went completely off grid the day before Thanksgiving!  The batteries are still a weak link in the system but we have plans to upgrade them in January, just before we head out.

We've left the masts and pully system in place for safety reasons while we test the actuators and tracking system but as soon as we get all the actuators installed and all the bracing and supports in place, Carter plans to cut the masts off at the array level. Right now we are losing some power from the partial shading they cause during part of the day but that will go away soon.

Panel Array going up....

Panel Array going down...


We got a little sidetracked with family, holidays,and an almost terminal case of the flu. But we got back on track this week and just finished installing the next killoWatt that has been sitting on the deck for the past several months. We now have a total of 4 killowatt and with the tracking mechanism, if the sun is shining we should be able to get 60-80 amps at 48V almost all day. Carter thinks this will be enough to travel up 30 miles a day, (with a good tail wind, lol), but we have plans for another kiloWatt over the sundeck anyway.

When you're dealing with a 30+ year old boat, it seems there's always something to fix. We have an ongoing list but some things are higher priority than others and when the head develops a problem,  it's time to drop everything for "Adventures in Marine Sanitation".  So when the floor seal started leaking, it was time to pull the toilet and install a new seal. Are we having fun yet?

In peparation for our upcoming cruise, we needed to get our dingy situation squared away. The Whaler is an awsome dink but it's simply too big to drag around Florida and we needed something smaller for cruising with so Carter pulled out an old inflatable he had and found a little kicker for it on Craigslist. 

   Then we constructed some davits  to raise it out of the water and we're set.

The marina we are at happens to be a favorite spot for manatees because of a fresh water spring in the basin.  There are always a few hanging around but today we counted 12 with 4 mother/calf pairs.  They say when the weather gets colder that so many show up it looks like you could walk across the basin on them but so far, this was the most we've seen at any one time.