The 20:30 download on Thursday showed reasonable conditions on Friday but on some models possibly iffy on Saturday with winds favourable in the morning but not so good in the afternoon with the possibility of higher waves due to strong winds further out in the Atlantic so Friday it was, and an 04:00 start to avoid adverse tides getting out of the Sound of Mull and past Ardnamurchan point. That meant an 03:15 alarm as my back is still playing up and I need half an hour after getting up before it eases and I can do anything useful.
I was away at 04:10 and was sailing in light winds shortly after getting out of the Loch but it was short lived and the engine went back on for short periods twice to get clear of the point and then I was sailing in a fairly steady 8 knots of wind from the WSW.
Bad new came at about 05:30 when I found my main domestic battery bank (2 x 120 Amp Hour AGM's) was indicating only 65% charged, although later that was found to be rather pessimistic, I had a problem; especially as it was discharging at over 5 amps, more than I would expect even with low input from the solar and virtually none from the wind turbine. I switched off non essentials like the cool box and it was still going down, I started the engine and no charge!
Not an emergency as I have a separate engine battery and a third 120 amp AGM domestic battery and can start the engine from any or all of the three “banks” but concerning, and if it was the alternator I would have to go direct to “civilisation” with good communications so I could get a replacement shipped there.
|Alternator top right, water pump bottom left.|
The engine started and thanks to the external “intelligent” regulator the 55 amp alternator was soon charging at over 40 amps to the domestic batteries with more to the engine (I don’t have an ammeter on that) and keeping the boats electrical systems working.
I don’t know when the wire broke, both domestic banks were at 100% the previous evening but with some sunshine, a rare commodity, and some wind the “renewables” could have made good usage from a failure any time after Tobermory.
The main domestic bank recovered quickly, I think it had gone down to between 70 and 75%, still a lot on 240 Amp Hours, part of this and the high discharge rate I spotted, was down to it discharging to the engine battery; because the engine had been running (ignition on) the Digital Voltage Sensitive Relay was enabled and that allowed current to flow - unlike some more expensive types it is bidirectional. I had started the engine half a dozen times and the alternator was not recharging, then there was getting the anchor up. I motor sailed for an hour or so to get charge back into the batteries and then it was back to sailing.
The sailing was cold and damp with mist patches and occasional drizzle but on the bright side the steady rain did not appear until after I had got to Vatersay Bay.
And the wildlife spotted on this leg was exceptional, not much variety in birdlife just the ubiquitous Guillemots and a few Gulls and Gannets but the marine life was like nothing I have seen before in just a few hours:
- 200+ Dolphins north of Hawes Bank (which is north west of Coll, see chart above) over many square miles, visible for well over an hour mainly as I moved west at 5.5 knots (motor sailing after the alternator problem).
- Multiple small pods of Dolphin all the way over.
- 3 individual Minke Whales - off Hawes Bank, ½ way over and a couple of hours out.
- A small(?) pod of Orcas @ 12:30 c 12 nm SW of Hyskeir Rock. c 56º 50’ N 6º 57’ W
- A basking shark ½ mile SE of Muloanich (which is just E of Vatersay).
|A distant pic of the Basking Shark, it takes time to get the|
camera up and running!
|The famous beach at Vatersay Bay, reckoned to be the finest in|
the Western Isles.
|Not looking its best in the mist but at least by then I could see|
to the end of the bay.
58 miles in 14.5 hours.