For some months now, the crew of SV Speck has been struggling with its power grid, often times having to turn off the fridge at night in order to keep the house batteries above the minimum voltage. Thanks to generous donations from both of Dan’s parents, Karen and David, we were able to acquire two massive 250 amp hour gel batteries. The difference was noticed right away. That week we experienced two overcast days in a row without our battery bank even flinching. Two new charge controllers for the solar panels were also purchased to get further efficiency out of them. Prior to this upgrade we would often have to run the engine about an hour a day to make up the deficit. Now we are easily able to embark on week-long passages without even turning on the engine once.
We are still in utter disbelief at the amount of miles we have managed to squeeze out of this old Evenrude outboard motor that was given to us out of pity (thank you Waterboat Marina!). The steering column and the throttle arm had starting seizing up on us. It was getting to the point where you could only steer hard left or right and motor just above an idle or full throttle, nothing in between. Byron dismantled the throttle and steering assemblies and brushed out all of the offending corrosion causing the issue. Upon reassembly all parts were well greased with a marine grease to keep everything moving smoothly. The result was night and day. Prior to this well needed maintenance, I was fully convinced that it was only a matter of time that one of us would pull a comical maneuver coming into a dock where we would slowly inch closer just to floor it at the last yard and plow into the dock in a most ungraceful manner. Thank you Waterboat Marina and thank you Katie and Matt! With your support, we were able to resupply on our marine grade grease, and make this maintenance (and our dream) possible.
Halfway around the world and we have finally run out of propane in a land that does not sell propane. To add to this demise, two of our tanks, which are hung over the stern rail, are badly rusting. Not a danger yet, but they are leaving unsightly rust stains on the hull. The decision came down that since we will be in Australia for three months, we should just by a new LPG tank and adaptor to plug into our existing system. With Sonja and Brock’s donation, we were able to make this happen. It’s strange sometimes what can lift morale, but when approaching the boat from astern in the dinghy, we no longer cringe at the old propane tank shedding coats of rust onto the transom. Thank you Sonja and Brock!
The cornerstone of any cruising vessel. The autopilot. A sailboat the size of Speck typically requires a large hydraulic autopilot in order to properly manage the helm in offshore weather. These systems often cost thousands of dollars. Upon a recommendation from Uncle Bob, Byron implemented a clever system that utilizes our mechanical wind-vane and a much less expensive tiller autopilot designed for a much smaller vessel. Our first tiller autopilot failed as we arrived in Fiji. For our two week passage to Australia, we had to rely on the Aries mechanical wind-vane and manual helming. Thanks to a generous donation from Byron’s parent’s Matt and Stacia, we were able to get this piece of gear replaced, making our light, downwind passages much more tolerable.