Wednesday, October 1, 2008
34 DAYS TO GO AND THREE TIMES AS MANY THINGS TO DO
Nothing depletes a yacht's batteries more efficiently than a fridge. Add to that the current draw of navigation equipment, an autopilot, lights, a watermaker, a sound system, a couple of fans and pretty soon the batteries will be flat. One of our challenges is to continuously produce electricity while keeping consumption to a minimum. Solar panels are great, but only in broad sunny daylight and then only for the midday hours, even if seagulls use it for a landing field during a feeding frenzy. Wind generators are also great whenever the wind is blowing, day or night. Now we are about to try something completely new. The pulley on the left is to be clamped around the propellor shaft which generally begins to rotate when our sailing speed exceeds 2 knots and after that it becomes unstoppable. The gadget on the right is the drive unit from a battery-powered wheelchair and is an electric motor coupled to a 12:1 gearbox and a pulley with a clutch. So, when connected with a v-belt, the propellor shaft turns the other pulley, which turns the gearbox which turns the electric motor which now becomes a generator and 'pumps' the most wonderful little electrons right back into the batteries. Free elctricity while sailing and enough of it to keep the lights burning at night, the autopilot steering "ARITA" on course, the radar on, the depth sounder working and the fridge cold. Hope that all makes sense. Hope it works.