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Dinghies and Planes

Today the combined inhabitants of Godiva, Bees Knees and Dignity all headed off into the lagoon in our dinghies to the Dutch side to walk Simpson Bay beach. As we had more crew our lot were distributed around the group. As ever, our dinghy was slowest – no idea why. Another thing to figure out sometime.

At Maho beach we had burgers and beer for lunch. The great thing about Maho beach is it is right on the end of the main runway on the island. When the big jets take off, the blast blows anything by the fence into the sea. It is quite popular to stand here and brave the sandstorm. We found it more amusing to watch the victims of this behavior. One lot had put their belongings down on the beach which was all blown into the sea.

Back on the boat we’re watching some comedy shows on John’s laptop. Nice relaxing day.

Parts are arriving for the boat this evening. CatCo are really helping out so big thanks to them. Weather is rapidly improving. We could be off to Antigua fairly soon. Tomorrow could end up being a rush of final fixes, fuelling and provisioning.

It would be nice to move the boat back out into Marigot a day before we leave so we can have fresh croissant for our final breakfast. We have to prepare for a long sail as the winds may not fully cooperate by moving enough to the NE. That means we could be under sail for more than a day maybe having to go as far south as Guadaloupe before tacking back to Antigua. We’re all getting quite excited about the trip.

Shopping / evening out on Godiva

Yesterday was another big shopping day. First off was a trip to the other side of the lagoon to drop off the propane for a refill. Next it was into town to talk to the local Beneteau rep to arrange for the install of the new parts for Dignity. They knew Eddie well and arranged for him to be the tech. As he is now familiar with the boat, this makes thinks easier. Then it was off to Grande Marche to do the big food shop and bring in the turkey for Xmas.

Eddie showed up after lunch and we made plans for the radar install as well as the cabling for the SSB power. He left me to pick up the parts from Budget Marine which I combined with collecting the filled propane tank.

Then it was off to Godiva for evening snacks and the usual liquids. David and Marcie were great hosts. We met them at the cruiser meets on Wednesdays. Jim and Anne from Bees Knees were there too so it made for a great evening. Both David and Jim play guitars so there was music. David dropped an all too subtle hint which resulted in him bringing out his saxaphone which he’s learning to play. David and Marci have also begun hosting on their boat. You can see their website here.

While dinghying back we were hit by a brief but intense rain shower that soaked us through.  We hope Jim’s guitar survived the trip.

Back to today I will be running cables around the boat this morning ready for Eddie who should show this afternoon to install the radar.

Windancer IV, the boat I crewed across the Atlantic, is in the lagoon today.  Somehow I hope we can meet up.  We both have busy schedules but we should work something out.  I wasn’t able to pick up filters for the watermaker yesterday so given the shop and Windancer are both that end of the bay, it should be possible to squeeze in a visit.

Charging Batteries in Paradise

It’s mostly work and little fun here in paradise.

The day my parents left I performed what I thought was a regular maintenance task. I checked the fluid levels in the house batteries and found them short of where I have been told the levels should be. So I diligently filled them with distilled water thinking a job well done.

The following day I noticed the overall capacity of the batteries had plunged. Voltage in the mornings was very low compared to the Amp Hours used over night. I took a lot of advice from folks around here and on the internet. The two conclusions I was offered were either a) my batteries were hosed or b) they must have been heavily sulphated and the electrolyte quite weak before I filled them. (Lesson learned: take hydrometer readings before filling)

so before shelling out another boat buck on batteries I decided to try and fix possible cause b). It took me a couple of days to properly learned how to exploit the resources I have at hand to address the problem. My daily cycle is now :
1) Wake up and turn on 72V/12V cross charger with a view to have batteries mostly charged by 9:30
2) When skies permit, turn off 72V/12V charger and use solar. Tell MPPT to equalize which will attempt to bring voltage to 16.3V
3) When we’re finished with what we’re doing, turn off house circuit (including fridges) to allow voltage to maximize. (All through this time watch the batteries to make sure fizzing/electrolysis doesn’t spill over
4) Around 3pm turn on genset and continue equalizing house and charge drive bank (ready for morning cross charging)
5) Around 5pm revert to normal.

Through all this I take regular hydrometer readings of a specific reference cell to see if we have continuing performance. So far the hydrometer reads have gone from f**k*d to just about ok and they keep on getting better. looks like I may have a few more days of this.

Yesterday we bought the plane tickets for the kids to get from Antigua to St Martin. We sent a long communication to them to lay out all the detail including contingency communications. Because this is a separate ticket, delays to their first flights could mean they miss the final one. We can change the flight up to an hour before it’s due to take off. We will need to keep close tabs on their progress to know whether or not we’ll need to do this. Dec 24 will be fun.

Tonight we’re going to be taught Mexican Train Dominoes or something like that. We’re having crew and friend of Bees Knees over as well as the crew and daughter of Godiva. We met Mike and his wife (I think) briefly last Wednesday at the cruisers get together.

All for now.