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Almost There

We’re almost all done on the drive battery swap. In the morning I dropped off old cables to be chopped up and have new ends put on. I didn’t get them until the end of the day but it didn’t take too long to connect them up and test everything out. We then ran the genset for several hours to charge everything up while doing two washing loads.

A quick check this morning shows they’re still showing a high voltage which is all good news. The only thing left to do is to bend the rear of the lids around the cables that come out of the back of the boxes.

We’ve also come up with a way to put all twelve remaining batteries into the area we currently have our house bank. We need boxes to store five of them at a time. Helen came up with the idea of sawing up our spare 8D boxes and joining them up to make boxes the right size. It was worth a go so I spent a couple of hours sawing up two boxes then melting the two pieces together.

The result doesn’t look too bad although the joint, on its own, is too brittle. We need to brace the joint with something.

Mike from Whitebird who took our two 8D batteries last week has shown interest in one of the 4Ds so this gives us an incentive to do some of the house bank installation while we’re down here. I may just give this a go tomorrow.

A couple of extras from yesterday.  I picked up a breaker for our house bank charger.  Right now it is wired in parallel with another breaker which is not good.  This will let me do a proper job.  We also visited the duty free wine shop.  Once we have checked out of the country we can buy wine without duty on it.  The prices end up quite reasonable.  We’ve ordered nearly sixty bottles.  I hope this will be enough.

Today we’re touring the island. Should be fun.


We had no rain yesterday which was a timely surprise. That meant we were able to work all day on the batteries.

First order of the day was to check the acid concentration on all of the batteries. Helen did most of this while I disconnected the first battery on the port side. We removed this battery together – it really is a two man job to move 8D batteries around. This enabled us to remove the battery box, clean it and verify that three golf cart batteries would indeed squeeze into it.

The good news was that they did fit. The bad news was that the ridges on the bottom which keep most of the 8D battery out of contact with the bottom caused the golf cart batteries to sit unevenly. This felt like a solvable problem so we made the decision to proceed with the port side battery bank replacement. The next step was to remove all the cabling between the batteries and to start removing the remainder of the batteries and boxes.

This was hard work. The batteries are extremely heavy and lifting them out can’t be performed in a single move. A plan is required for each one so that the lift can be performed in a series of steps. Making the job worse was the fact that some batteries had spilled acid. This was from before we moved aboard. I had put baking soda in the boxes to neutralize some of the acid but this was incomplete. This required cleaning the batteries while lifting them. Under the boxes was some oily residue so this had to be cleaned too.

During all this the morning net came on. I was able to ask the listeners where I could get some acid resistant plastic to create supports in the bottom of the boxes. We received some good advice. I also advertised our batteries as going spare and that we were willing to trade.

Once we had all the batteries and boxes removed I left Helen to unscrew all the batons which held the cases in place as well as all the battery straps and to give them all a wash. I then took the dinghy into Crewsinn to visit Dockyard Electrics. I took all the cables that I had removed from the batteries and gave them my requirements for new cables to be made. As I was landing in Crewsinn, Sweet Caroline were landing at the customs dock so I gave them a hand before heading to the store. Next stop was Budget Marine to pick up washers, lock washers and a handle to carry the batteries.

Back on the boat Helen had made good progress. Mike from Whitebird, who I had met in a store the previous day and had mentioned the spare batteries, was aboard to look at them and measure up. He was interested in two or three of them depending on fit. He returned to his boat to check to see if they would fit and how many he could take.

While Helen got back to work clearing and cleaning out the port locker I went off to find the Marc One marine store where I could get the starborg I needed to create the new supports. It turned out I could not dinghy close to the store so I had to leave the dinghy at Peakes and walk about a mile in the midday heat. The humidity was forecast to be 94% and we both felt it.

I was able to obtain 24 feet of ¼” starborg 1″ wide for a very small fee. Walking back to the boat I was contacted by Jack who was receiving a box of Doyle guide books from Grenada. We met up by the Dinghy dock and I took him aboard to collect the books. Ordinarily we would have chatted for a while but we had a lot on and wanted to get as much done as possible while we had good weather. Apologetically I rushed Jack off the boat and took him ashore.

I began the work of reseating four of the boxes in the port locker. Now that we only had to place four rather than six I was able to space them a little more conveniently. Meanwhile, Helen took on the job of snapping the starborg into smaller pieces and attaching them to the bases of the boxes.

I had just started reinstalling the batons and straps when Mike returned. He’d worked out he could take two of the 8D batteries. We agreed a deal and then tested the two older batteries I was pretty sure still had six good cells each. I then helped him take the batteries to his boat before returning to Dignity to complete installing the batons and straps.

Then it was time to go and collect the modified cables from the store. Back on the boat the new supports had had enough time to bond to the boxes so we went about the job of putting the boxes into the locker, putting the batteries into the boxes and connecting them up. Once they were all connected we postponed testing in order to take three of the 8Ds which we knew to have bad cells (including one which was reading a low voltage) back to Marine Warehouse for eventual disposal.

Finally, back on Dignity we tested the new battery bank. Everything was fine. We were able to operate the motors using just that bank. I charged them for 20 minutes or so before testing the cables and connections for any warmth. All was fine.

All that remained was to tidy up and wind down with dinner and a movie. Helen fell asleep before the end.

This morning we ache. Now that we know the port battery bank is fine we can work on the starboard bank. We’ve decided to give our bodies a rest today. Coupled with the fact I want to minimize the time period we have only one bank we’ve decided to work on the starboard side Sunday. Today we intend to take the local bus to Port of Spain to have a look around. This evening we’ll probably go ashore to one of the weekend cruiser get togethers.

We forgot to take ‘before’ pictures of the port locker so I’ll postpone publishing the ‘after’ pictures until we’ve opened up the starboard side. The port side still isn’t quite finished. We need to find a way to bend the back of the lids where we now have cables running where previously we didn’t. A problem for another day.