Log #3c Electrical Systems in the Bay of Islands

July 30, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 03 North Chanel, The Logs

Log # 3c Electrical Systems in the Bay of Islands

Oct. 3, 1998

En route down Lake Peoria

Return to VELEDA and our Electrical Systems

On July 30 we returned to Veleda, having been away five days when we originally planned for two or three. However, we got a lot done in Toronto. It is very difficult to wrap up a life in a home and familiar city and to take off in a sailboat for an indefinite time with no requirement to ever return there to live. We dropped down to the THSC and posted a picture of us receiving the long distant award from the GLCC in Gore Bay. It was a busy time organizing our affairs and cleaning up a little bit of all the things we left at Judy’s parents. We really appreciated their support even though we know they have reservations about our odyssey, particularly the planned ocean crossing in May of 1999. Our thanks and appreciation go out to them.

When we returned to Veleda, the batteries were almost flat, as we had left on the refrigeration, and there was no wind in that sheltered inlet to turn our wind generator. However, our start battery is on a separate circuit, and we were able to start the engine with no problem, and within two and a half hours, the four 6‑volt golf cart batteries were up to almost full charge. We are quite happy with the electrical systems we installed. The wind generator does not make much noise and usually keeps the batteries charged up when under sail or at anchor. This year for the first time we leave our refrigeration on all the time ‑ 24 hours a day ‑ whereas before we would have to turn it off when under sail or at anchor. Now we can keep foods frozen, and even make ice cubes for a cold refreshing drink after a long day’s sail.

Modifications to Veleda for extended cruising

Many modifications were made to Veleda before we left as indicated below. We appreciated the assistance of Ocean Marine in Toronto to redo our electrical system. We did the work, but they provided the equipment and advice. To summarize what we did, the major changes from our previous system included:
‑ replacing the original household wiring with marine grade wiring
‑ increasing the number of DC circuits from 12 to 20 so as to have fewer demands on each circuit
‑ replacing the househod AC box with a marine grade AC Master panel with an

AC master breaker, reversed polarity indicator and four breaker switches (two for AC outlets port and starboard, one for the battery charger and one for the hot water heater)

‑ installing an Air Marine wind generator from Southwest Windpower Inc. of
Flagstaff Arizona. This unit is very quiet, emitting only a soft hum in about 15 knots of wind. It starts charging at 6 to 7 knots of wind. At 10 knots it puts out about 20 watts, at 15 knots, it puts out 50 watts, at 20 knots it puts out 140 watts, and its rated power is 300 watts.


‑ replacing our two 12 volt”deep cycle” car‑type batteries with four 6 volt golf cart batteries ( two pairs of 6 volts in series making 12 volts which were then hooked up in parallel ) To our knowledge these are very deep cycle batteries, but each 6 volt battery is small enough for Judy to pick up! We were also able to install them on a platform constructed below the main cabin sole on top of the keel bolts, so they are low and central. They are working very well.


‑ using one of our old deep cycle 12 volt batteries as a start battery
‑ replacing our car battery charger with a 30 amp marine charger
‑ relacing the standard alternator on our brand new engine with a 100 amp alternator ( the only thing we had Ocean Marine do for us as we did not trust our technical knowledge to hook it up).
‑ installing an “echo charger” to charge both our start battery and our golf cart batteries, but keep them on separate circuits so our start battery will never be depleted by accident.
‑ installing an “alpha regulator” to assist our “100 amp altenator” to achieve a three stage charging system with a longer high charge rate, a prolonged intermediate “acceptance” charge rate, and then a float charge rate to maintain it. This system enabled our engine to virtually fully charge our flat batteries in only two and a half hours of engine fast idle!

(Alpha regulator mounted inside engine compartment)

‑ and my favourite toy, a Link 10 E meter that displays volts, amps, amp hours and Time of Operation Remaining. It actually works! I know exactly the state of my batteries.

Log_3c_-Battery_Monitor_indicating_13.40_volts Log_3c_-Battery_Monitor_indicating_discharge_rate_by_refrigeration_of_6.4_amps
(Link 10 indicating charging at 13.4 Volts) (Link 10 indicating battery draw of 6.4 amps)

– We had a fully enclosed dodger and Bimini made by Genco, with a window in the bimini to be able to see the set of the mainsail, and clear plastic side panels which could be rolled up, with screening as well.

(Full enclosure)

We installed solid angular mast steps to assist mast climbing and reairs aloft. We have used them many times including once at sea to fix a foresail block at the mast head.
(Mast steps – note the fixed metal radar reflector permanently installed)

These upgrades were not inexpensive, but we feel they were worth it as we have had no problems with our electrical system whatever. The wind generator works well, keeping us charged up, even though we have been at anchor for over a week at a time without shore power or engine power ( and refrigeration on all the time ). Incidentally, we blew in a lot of insulation around our refrigerator too. We hope this will pay off when we are in Caribbean waters. At the time of writing this (Oct. 3, 1998) we have been sailing for three months, and are very satisfied with our electrical system. Previously on our two to six week holidays we would find our system dimming down , especially after some night sailing or more than one day of anchoring. We always had to turn off the refrigeration when not under power or hooked up to shore power.
Now, we can leave everything running all the time, and use our lights and tape deck, as well as a small invertor to charge up our hand held VHF, operate a 110 volt light, charge up our lap top computer, and even charge up our electric tooth brush ( Judy being a dentist and all that ).

So, all is well with our systems so far, except for a broken bearing in our roller furling system, but more about that later.