solar music

Rockin’ the boat. On our way to Madagascar.

Being on the road as much as we have been these past couple of weeks, I would like to spend a little time writing about Marianne. Wherever we go, we have our minds on Marianne and Marianne on our minds. Ask any active sailor with their own boat … it’s like caring for a child. Or two. So here’s a little sample of what’s going on with our big baby.

Upgrades and improvements on board

solar music
solar music

A brand spankin’ new 230 Watt solar panel, made and purchased in India. Yet again we gave many people a reason to laugh, trying to fit our solar panels into Tuk-Tuks and the like, but who’s laughing now? We mounted the panels over our cockpit, which gives us more protective area against rain and sun, and at the same time feeds the energy into our batteries right underneath the cockpit.

As with everything we buy, these panels were not exactly “plug-n-play”. When we first unpacked them, the 24 Volt sticker caught us by surprise, since we had definitely ordered a 12 V panel. BUT, the nice salesman assures us via email that we indeed have a 12 V version, someone must have simply put the wrong sticker on it. Alright, sounds good! So we hooked it up to our 30 Ampere charging regulator, and wow! It works. Even with overcast we’re now charging with 6 A. We were excited for the sun to come out so we could see what our new gadget was capable of. It did not take long until the sun came out and, well … nothing. No more charging!

After some research online, it became clear that the mentioned solar-charge-controller is simply not made for this kind of charging. Turns out we need an MPPT regulator, but also turns out that these are sorta, kinda, a little, well … too expensive. But you know the Sailing Conductors! That’s right, we found a cheaper PWM controller by TATA from the year 2008 at a solar panel shop in Colombo. And, ta-da (or should I sa TA-TA), more than 10 A is what the morning sun had to give. Exciting news for our fridge, the laptops, and hopefully also for you guys, because now we can edit our videos a lot more efficiently at sea!

Since after the sun comes the rain sometimes:

The previous boat owner and his wife had made a pretty nifty water guard for the cockpit. And we wanted to improve it so we could relax, read and dine outside even during the rain season. Benni did the measuring while I took care of the schematic drawing, both of these tasks we of course executed with high precision. At least we like to think so. And apparently it really was high quality, since it only took about 2 hours to explain the saddler how to make this little drawing become reality. Sarcasm? None! 2 hours is good.

Two days later, we returned to the shop to pick up our custom-made curtain-like thingies. Back at the boat, the disappointment takes over yet again. 40 cm (16 in) too long in some places. Had our sketches not been clear? But then again, it wasn’t that bad, since two days later our cover was fixed up and fit like a glove. New shelter is always nice!

Almost a hole in the boat, and new fenders.

The old lady was not amused to be left alone at the harbor for a couple weeks while we went off to travel through India. The heavy monsoon winds and corresponding waves almost caused a disaster. Marianne apparently did not enjoy being tethered to the pontoon, and tried her very best to break away. We had carefully attached more ropes than generally necessary, luckily! A couple ropes had been torn by the huge forces exerted on them, and as a consequence Mariannes position was changed slightly, allowing an (absolutely unnecessary!) metal rod to scratch and dent the hull.

Under the given circumstances, you could say we were really lucky. We had asked Martyn to look after our boat. Thank god he did this, informed us, re-attached the boat, and actually fixed some of the damage. Thanks again, Martyn!

The waves had also managed to steal one of our large red fenders from us. As substitute for this, Benni went out and bought five Tuk-Tuk tires! They’re a little squeaky but do the job. And they’re a nice souvenier, right?

Mr. Vee always keeps us busy

In Malaysia, our poor little Mr. Vee self-steering was already rammed by that unbelievably big fisher boat. Apparently we had fixed the broken parts with the wrong materials back then. So on our 6-week against-the-wind journey to Sri Lanka, one of the plates broke and a couple other small parts took some damage. The entire rod system started shifting and moving due to the unfavorable force distribution.

A lot of stainless steel, screws and bolts for fixing the rods, and also a new carbon fiber  plate helped in fixing everything back up. Once we arrive in Madagascar, we will let you know whether Mr. Vee is still shiny and up and running.

Additional things on the to-do list we got to tick off

  1. Fix the bilge pump – end the constant bucket chains!
  2. Install a light in the cockpit – at last, the Captain can see what he’s eating at night
  3. Fix a light switch in the big bunk
  4. Fix the compass background lighting
  5. The flap to the anchor chain is hopefully properly sealed now and will prevent water from coming into the bilge
  6. We bought new water canisters!

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