Two Good Things About an Oily Calm

It’s 0545 and we are motoring through an oily calm. I’m taking the opportunity to charge everything up. While we were sailing downwind for the last three days or so the Aerogen wind generator was not often generating any power as so little wind was passing over the boat. I use a bungee strap to hold it facing downwind otherwise the rolling motion of the boat makes the generator revolve – just got to remember to take it off when the wind changes. I have only one general service 105 amp hour battery. It is a Lifeline Advanced Glass Matt battery and it is very good. My last one was still in good shape after 9 years but I decided to get another for this trip. The engine has a smaller 45 amp hour battery separated with a rectifier (I think that’s right – not a blocking diode anyway). The unusual thing about Sumara is that I use a double sized alternator, instead of the usual 35 amp one I have fitted a 75 amp Balmar alternator which is de-rated to half via a Balmar controller. I can turn the alternator off to maximise thrust for the boat when I need it, or I can leave it on half power for normal use, or (and this is the good bit) I can turn the engine into a mini generator while at anchor by switching to full power. It then puts a nice load on the engine (about 4hp) and diesels like to be loaded. Advanced Glass Matt batteries can be charged quickly too. I reckon it is a perfect system for a small boat. I have never needed to use shore power apart from running the odd power tool or fan heater in the winter. I got all the bits and advice from Merlin Power but I am in no way connected with them.

Despite all that, as the battery power eventually faded away, we gradually turned off the AIS, then the VHF, then the GPS and Navtex leaving just the sailing instruments.

The other good thing about an oily calm is that you tend to see more things in the sea and earlier this morning while we were still under sail John spotted some whales. I quickly got up to have a look but only saw them move off in the distance. The fulmars are pretty spectacular too. They skim just above the surface of the water with only an inch to spare. The fulmars have, as always, entertained Sumara the whole way on her long journey north and I place a bet they will sit in the water behind us when we anchor in Jan Mayen.

There are only 100 miles to go now. I am getting very excited about catching the first glimpse of the Mighty Beerenberg volcano. It is one of the biggest in the world and certainly the most northerly. The last large eruption took place in 1970 but it has erupted since. Sadly with the calm conditions the visibility has dropped off but that should be no surprise as 60% of the July days are foggy. Hopefully it will clear later.

Sumara should be at anchor in Kvalrossbukta on the NW coast of Jan Mayen some time on the 5th July. Thembi must be nearly there!

Sent at 06.36 GMT Monday 4th July

3 Responses to “Two Good Things About an Oily Calm”

  1. charlotte wilkinson Says:

    Hi Alasdair, I have spoken with Siggi and he has given me the all clear to bring up some diesel. I just need to source cans in the little town of Dalvik. Will go for additional 20 litres. We leave tonight at 19.00. Can’wait. Cheers, C.

  2. charlotte wilkinson Says:

    Hi Alasdair, got diesel and many thanks to Siggi and Hali in Dalvik for cans and getting me organised with this. We will bring up an extra 43litres in two cans supplied from Hali’s garden store – plus a very good coffee for me from Hali’s kitchen! Big thanks all round. Next activity…….. bacon! Cheers, Charlotte

  3. Peter Says:

    Mara and I read each day’s posting from the good ship. The tension is building here in Highgate and we can’t wait for you to get there for the next great chapter to unfold. Good news about the diesel. Charlotte will never have to buy a drink again as long as I am around. Good luck to you all.

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