Moving Right Along

Live oak trees and palmettos define the Cumberland Island interiorThings are finally starting to move ahead a little better now. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. We are still in St. Marys and cruisers are starting to trickle in to the anchorage at our fair village. I hope we have a good crowd for our Thanksgiving pot-luck dinner next week.

I was finally able to get the refrigerator properly charged (after some help from my boat guru, Tom), so now it is chugging away keeping the freezer box at around 18 degrees, with the refrigerator part between 30 and 40 degrees — good enough for our purposes. I spent last week doing daily tests of the compressor, trying to assure myself that the problem was solved and we’d be able to count on the reefer to keep running. I have my fingers crossed that our woes are behind us. However, after my last check — which required running the reefer on batteries alone without the solar panels or wind generator — I decided the batteries needed a good recharge. When I turned on the wind generator, it started vibrating violently as it spun up, then it shut itself off. After a moment of rest, it would attempt to start again, only to vibrate and shut itself off again. Bummer. Will we ever be able to get out of here?

Another call to my boat guru — who actually had installed practically all of the complicated engineering systems on Madge in his professional capacity as Renewable Systems Engineering (shameless plug) — got us started on diagnosing the problem. I figured the wind turbine must have a bad bearing, or the blades had somehow become unbalanced. I envisioned having to dismount the unit from its mast on the back of the boat, ship it off to the manufacturer for repair (thankfully, it’s still under warranty), wait a month to have it repaired and returned, then having to remount and reconnect the unit. Tom informed me that something as simple as a loose wire could cause a problem similar to what I was experiencing. He came out to the boat on Tuesday and started checking the wiring. In about five minutes, he located a bad selector switch on the control panel. We put a jumper around the switch, and the wind turbine worked perfectly. Replacing the switch is a $15 fix. The new switch should be here Monday. It’ll take two minutes to swap out the old switch.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

In other news, we’ve decided to replace our soft bottom inflatable dinghy with a rigid bottom inflatable (RIB) of roughly the same size. This should provide better stability transiting rough anchorages, now that we have a bigger outboard and can go faster. Before I could even order the thing, I got an offer to buy our current dinghy — out of the blue! I was dreading the hassle of selling the old boat. Problem solved, miraculously! The new boat should be here next week. One of the features of the new boat is a folding transom, so when the boat is deflated and stored on deck, it has a lower profile, making it easier to see over it while steering Madge on passages. I’m really looking forward to having an RIB dinghy.