So Close I Can Almost Taste It!

It’s mid morning on Sunday and we are about 130 miles from our destination, English Harbor Antigua.

It’s hard to believe that we are so close and yet STILL NOT THERE!

Or, perhaps from a more adult perspective, we are more than 90% of the way there.

As we move along on the last leg, we are spending more and more time putting in and shaking out reefs as we encounter squall after squall.  Wind speeds within an hour can vary from 14kts to nearly 30kts in squalls. It’s frustrating to tie in and then shake out reefs so often but it is important to keep sail area balanced with the wind.

In the last 30 minutes we decided to take out the remaining reef only to be hit with wind that piped up within 10 minutes to nearly 30kts and there was no sign of a squall or any dark clouds on the horizon.  Go figure.

Keeping our speed up is important as we’d really love to get into English Harbor in the daylight.  I have never gone in when it is dark, opting for Falmouth, with it’s wide and easy entrance, instead.

At this point it’s hard to say if we will arrive when it’s still light and even less certain if it will be early enough to tie up to the dock on Monday at Nelson’s Dockyard.

One thing for sure is that as soon as we arrive, and I expect that some 25 boats will arrive within 12 hours of each other, we will begin our events.
As of last April, when I left the island, I had nearly two weeks of daily events planned only to have the entire schedule thrown to the wind with our nearly two week delay.  It is ironic that the first event on Tuesday will mark what should have been my flight home for the holidays and the end of the events that I planned so long ago.

It is ironic is that I will be on-island, theoretically early enough to catch my already booked flight on Tuesday.   However between the rescheduled events and getting Pandora cleaned up after ten days at sea, just isn’t reasonable.  I want to be sure that she is ship-shape when Brenda and I return in late December.

Also, the last few days of sailing have given me some insight into how the new wind generator, solar panels and lithium battery bank are working out.

I have to say that it is even better than I had expected.

In the past I have not been able to run my watermaker on passage unless I had the engine on as the load from the instruments and refrigeration was more than the solar panels were able to sustain.

However, the replacement panels are amazing, putting out enough power to fully top the batteries up before noon and the overnight input from the wind generator has a big impact as well.

An unexpected benefit is how easily the lithium batteries accept power.  With my old lead/acid batteries, the closer that they got to being fully charged, the slower the charging process, meaning that as the day progressed less and less energy was put into the batteries.

Not so with lithium as they are able to absorb current as fast as you can feed it to them until they are fully charged.  It is only then that they shut off.  Because of their “all or nothing thirst for power”, the charging efficiency is multiple times better.

In a way, having this setup is sort of like water management when you have a watermaker.  No longer do you have to worry as much about every gallon you use.  And, now knowing that almost no mater what I use from the batteries, the panels and generator will put it back.

I log a number of critical numbers every two hours when we are on passage, wind speed, direction, boat speed etc and now I have been logging batter percentage to full.  In spite of using loads of power for all matter of electronics, refrigeration and even the watermaker, the charge level of the battery bank has never dipped below the mid 90% range.

Granted, it’s been plenty sunny but hey, it’s always sunny in the tropics.  However, I expect that even if it was partially overcast, that we’d still have full batteries sooner rather than later.

It’s making me wonder if we might be able to run our washer on the inverter from Solar?  Something to think about.  No Honda droning away on the deck.  Brenda would like that.

It’s worth noting that in the time it too me to write this post I was interrupted with calls to reef twice.   No rest for the weary delivery crew.

However, with one day to go until our arrival in Antigua and I can almost taste it.  What can I taste you ask?  Not sure but it definitely includes a rum punch.

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