March 26, 2011.
Evidently its at the age of 53 when everything all goes to shit. Damn the luck.
I woke up this morning with a nasty head cold but that wasn’t the worst thing. The refrigerator had shut itself down during the night due to an excessive drop in battery voltage. So I set about troubleshooting and found that I wished that I had stayed in bed.
We have 3 200 amp 4D batteries as the power storage system on the Veranda. When I separated each battery from the system I could check the individual batteries health. I found that 2 of the 3 batteries were DEAD.
1 battery had probably been dead for a while and the 2 remaining batteries were able to support the dead weight of their former brethren. Finally when the second battery croaked the remaining battery wasn’t able to support the system. So most of the charging that has been happening was pretty much useless. The majority of the power coming into the battery bank was being diverted to the 2 dead batteries in an effort to bring them up to speed. Its about as useless as pumping plasma into a corpse.
The Veranda runs off the solar panels during the day and the excess power is stored in the battery bank to run the boat at night. So I electrically removed the 2 deadbeats from the system and found that the remaining battery could barely run the boat at night. The fridge and freezer would barely make it through the night with the voltage being in the high elevens by morning. So we’re on the edge of nowhere with only one battery onboard. Its of the same vintage of the recently deceased and if it dies we’re screwed. We’d lose everything in the fridge and freezer and would be unable to sail at night unless the generator was running all the time. Crap.
That left us with pretty much only one choice. I figured this out by 0900 and by 1130 we were headed back to the states.Far Niente headed west
We had great breeze from the east so we headed WNW towards the southern tip of Andros. Then it was NNW along the western side of Andros before crossing the Gulf Stream.
We had a perfect 12 knots outta the south until we started crossing the stream. In a matter of five minutes the wind reversed and surged to 20 knots dead outta the north. The experts all say to stay clear of the stream in northerlies and it was interesting to see how quickly the sea state changed.
We ended up changing the plan and diverting directly to the west towards Miami rather than our original NNW. As soon as we were west of the center of the Gulf Stream the wind completely died. The seas laid down so we once again adjusted course and headed for Lake Worth inlet. We were now motoring at 10 knots SOG in the western edge of the stream. Then a tiny bit o breeze started to fill in behind us and with the genoa poled out we spent the next 50 miles hovering between 10 and 12 knots.
AIS once again proved its value as we crossed the busy shipping channel offshore of Fort Lauderdale.
For the last 2 hours of the day the wind once again shifted against us so we dropped sail and motored at over 8 knots to the sea buoy off Lake Worth. We entered the harbor in the dark and dropped the hook at 2130 hours. I think we were asleep by 2137 after a 58 hour trip from paradise to Lake Worth.