Day 2. Installing Solar Panels

As if on cue with the sunrise, light puffs of breeze began from the south-east. It was the end of our second day of motoring in glassy seas with barely a breath of wind. Was this just a teaser, or were these the trade winds finally?

I didn’t mind yesterday’s smooth calm, as I wanted to install our new solar panels. We had purchased five semi-flexible 100watt panels for our cockpit roof in March. (They are Sunpower panels, sold by Windynation in Ventura). Our friends Jesse and Anna brought them from the US when they visited us in the Galapagos. They packed them inside a bodyboard travel bag. Total legends!!

We had a good team to install the panels. Michael lent his design aesthetic and Spencer lent his boat-building pragmatism and we started bolting them down. As we were measuring angles and drilling into beams, on the stable trimaran Aldebaran, we could momentarily forget we were in the middle of the Pacific. We worked into the night with a “work light”, after watching the sun set and full moon rise simultaneously, backdropped by puffy clouds, in a spectacular show of colors. Today we hope to finish bolting and caulking them to prevent water ingress.

These solar panels will be in addition to the 4 rigid glass 100w panels currently onboard. We installed that first array in California, and they’ve served us well throughout Central America, where we motor every few days. The total output of that first array is as much as 20amps during peak sunshine, or as low as 0-5amps when it’s cloudy. So when we have a few crew mates on board (more fans, more lights etc) and it’s cloudy, our batteries suffer. This will be especially a problem for our long sailing passages in French Polynesia. Although the new array will be partially shadowed by the mainsail, we hope it will almost double our solar production and keep our batteries healthy and topped off.

Of course, the downside of having no wind is that we use about 18 gallons of diesel for every 24hrs feeding Mr. Isuzu. So we just went through 35 gallons of our 135 gallon diesel tank capacity. But all good, Mr. Isuzu will now get a long rest, I hope! The breeze is nearing 6 knots and seems to be rising… Time to raise some sail!

9am. Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Distance to Ducie Atoll: 2153 miles
Distance traveled in last 24hrs: 161 miles (all motor)
SOG: 6.8knots (motorpower) COG: 234 deg Wind: 0-4 knots variable Location: S 04 12.054 W 094 28.335

Current position…

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