So much about our early time on Quest was about the long passages. It was all about the sailing. It hit me today – we set out from Milford Haven a whole five years ago. And it was also a Wednesday the 29th of July.
I remember because this was our precious weather window. It was Wednesday or wait another two weeks. Even then it was stormy for a good twelve hours, until we reached the Western Approaches. We arrived in A Coruña, the northern tip of mainland Spain, five days later.
Fast forward five years, and this is our first open water passage for a while. Going up and down the Eastern Caribbean island chain doesn’t really count. If you can see an island, or almost see one on the same day of departure, you know what I mean? It’s like coastal Caribbean sailing.
The last few days here have made me want to do more open water passages. I’ve remembered the thrill. The feeling of being on your own.
This comes with conditions. Of course! No one gets hurt number one. We all have to be extra careful. Next; everything has to be fixable, last long enough and work well enough until we reach our destination. Sometimes this is a tall order. Today for example, we had niggles.
Questie’s engine. We turned it on after daybreak. The calm we’d been expecting arrived as the next tropical Atlantic low was set to suck the wind out of this region. We thought we’d give everything a charge at the same time – as our systems have run only on solar power during the daylight hours for two days now. Auto-pilot, plotter, instruments, fridges. We’ve got one on and one deep freezer set as a fridge.
Except Questie’s engine’s alternator wouldn’t turn on. Nothing seemed to be charging from the engine. Normally, it kicks the voltage straight up to 14.2 volts. This time it crept like a timid ghost. 13.1 for half an hour. 13.4 next.
I have to say – my feeling was this may be normal. This is no technical-based knowledge. I just always start with hope. Plus we upgraded our house batteries in Trini and are running the equivalent of another battery. We can run stuff for longer without charging, but then it would seem logical that when we do charge, it might take longer. Here’s to hope.
Jack was more, how do I say, investigative about this issue. Not surprising really. He likes the engine stuff and is never cautious about tinkering. We opened hatches, investigated panels. Even considered the possible loosening of the engine mounts. He got his spanner out he bought for this very issue and checked the tightness of them all.
This turned out to be a side issue anyhow. This was primarily to do with our leaky shaft seal, which is still leaking. Was the propellor shaft itself out of alignment? More questions to be investigated. Jack was positively glowing.
Open sea does seem a kind of leveller. A place where scale makes a direct impact. There’s no one around. It’s sky and sea and whatever relationship those two elements have together. We come as visitors to the party and watch the clouds come and the waves dance. Not a natural party environment for us – which perhaps makes it more fascinating. An edgy party. No wonder people love cruise ships, even for the critters.
We hit 14.2 volts just after an hour. And our engine mounts are good.