Stayed put because of strong winds all day – high temp 78 degrees, water temp 74 degrees – wind blew 20 knots from 2 am through 4 pm today; wind began out of the SW, then shifted to the west in mid afternoon; few showers in late afternoon, then with front passage, wind shifted to 5 to 10 knots out of the north
We went to bed last night with calm conditions, but the predicted winds arrive right on time and with a vengence around 2 am. The larger boats in the anchorage are monitoring the squalls on their radar, and they take turns maintaining an anchor watch all night. They keep their radios tuned to VHF channel 68, and call out status reports every hour or two. With all the bouncing and jostling, I’m unable to sleep and so I grab the lap blanket and curl up in the cockpit, to listen to the anchor watch reports and monitor the status of our boat. We are anchored in a good position, and seem to be holding well enough. Before going to bed, I lowered the engine so that it would be ready to start at a moments notice, should we begin dragging anchor. I doze off from time to time, but never for very long. I hear reports on the radio of squalls to our north and east, but we are fortunate, and none come near us. Finally, around 6 am, the first hint of dawn appears, and it develops into a reddish sunrise. Red sky in the morning – sailor take warning, the old saying goes. Let’s hope not.
We have our coffee and breakfast in a jostled cockpit, as the strong winds of last night continue to build. We realize that any thoughts of activities ashore or moving today will remain on hold until the wind abates. We busy ourselves with on board chores. Sandy cleans the cabin, while I whittle away on my repair list. I troubleshoot the faulty anchor light socket, and am pleased to discover that the problem is simply a wire connection in the panel which had pulled loose. Once it’s reconnected, I have power to the connector plug on the cabin roof. I will no longer have to use my jury rigged extension cord. I also fixed a 12 volt plug in receptacle which had stopped working and come loose. I replaced a burned out fuse and it now works fine. I’m 2 for 2 and feeling pretty good.
But it’s still blowing. Sandy decides to bake up some muffins on the outback oven after lunch. We have so much breeze blowing through the foredeck hatch, which is open for ventilation, that the temperature guage on the oven doesn’t register right, and they over bake. She trims off the burned parts and they still taste great. While she’s baking muffins, our friend Kevin dinghies over from Vagabundo. He climbs aboard and we have a great visit. He’s in his 30’s I’d guess, and is a live aboard on his older 30 foot long sloop. He’s having a great time trying a new lifestyle, and is a lot of fun to talk with.
During his visit, I go below to check on my house battery voltage level. I noticed earlier that the level doesn’t seem to be increasing, as it usually does. The solar panel should be gaining on the level of charge, but it seems to be static or actually dropping a little. I attribute it to the cloudy day, but during Kevin’s visit the sun comes out, and it’s still dropping. Something is wrong with the solar panel charging system. After Kevin returns to his boat I go below and grab my volt meter. I first check the panel and verify that it’s putting out power. Next, I check the wires which go from the controller and the battery. Nothing. I check the wires going into the controller from the panel, and they’re reading normally. Clearly, the controller has picked this day to fail. As electrical problems go, this one is pretty minor. I simply connect the panel directly to the battery. So long as the charge level doesn’t exceed 14 volts or so, I won’t have a problem charging without a controller. And, I seriously doubt that an excess of power will be a problem. I will, though, keep monitoring the charge level on my built in digital volt meter. The net result of this situation is that we’ve lost most of the day’s charging sunlight, and we go to bed with a charge level of around 12.35 volts, which is lower than normal. I’ll be interested to see how well we recover tomorrow.
We have an early dinner, and are pleased to see that the wind is finally dropping, so we hop into the dinghy and go ashore for an after dinner walk. We wander the full length of little White Cay, which is just a couple hundred feet away from our anchor spot. It’s a lovely evening, and we retire with the hope for better weather tomorrow.