A Failure of Memory

6 Jul

July 5, 2019/Day 240

Noon Position: 45 57N 55 31W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE 5.5

Miles since departure: 31,605

Leg Halifax to St John’s

Days: 3/Miles: 353

Wind continues light, shifting from NNW to W and back again. As I type, we’re riding the spinnaker on a breeze of six knots just south of west. A beautiful sail, the spinnaker; it hangs in the air with the magic of a soap bubble; each moment one expects its delicate perfection to burst at the seams, and it does not.

Light wind, warm sun, a flat sea. It’s a pleasant and relaxing run north. Except for the mechanical issues…

Around midnight, the wind went so light I decided to motor for a few hours. As it does, the engine fired right up, but after the usual interval (about five seconds), the alternator failed to engage. Several starts later, the pattern continued.

I have slowly come to realize that on a boat that gets such hard usage as Mo, not to mention water everywhere, a check of electrical connections should come first.

The cables at the alternator were good and snug, as were the cables at the main engine switches, and all the fuses were intact. Sleepy and out of ideas, I let us motor toward St John’s without charge until morning.

By then I recalled to check the connections on the charge regulator, an external device mounted in the engine room, and its relay switch. Though well out of the bilge, their location puts them in harms way on a ship whose mast has been known to dip a wave. This is why I was careful to slather the connections with dielectric grease in Hobart after the big Indian Ocean knockdowns.

This care can only be chalked up to a failure of memory, for when I disconnected the relay, its pins appeared to have been bathed in salt water … and then ignored. I found no salve upon them whatever.

Luckily, and with the help of my friend Kelton, I’d arranged from mid Atlantic for a new relay and new regulator to be added to Joanna’s suitcase of Halifax spares. I spent the morning cutting wire, pressing on connectors and torching heat-shrink. Ditto the regulator.

As it does, the engine started right up. And after the usual interval (about five seconds), so did the alternator.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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