Day 9. Possibly first ever Solar Array Installed mid Pacific!

Like a slow motion roller coaster, the boat was rising and falling all day long over big, gentle swells from the south, produced by the storm near Gambier.

Michael was steering the graveyard shift (1-5am) when the wind picked up to 16knots. We had the mainsail up, and the boat started squirreling down swell 9kts with a wild motion. Sabrina and I rallied 2:30am to drop the mainsail – which at least is easy to bring down. Still exciting to clip into harnesses on deck in the wee hours!

After that we just cruised under headsail in the dreamy constancy of the trades, making great progress (we’re doing 125-150 nautical miles per day, basically 5-6knot average).

The only worry at hand was finishing our solar panels to get some juice into the batteries… and today {Drum Roll} was the Grand Unveiling!

At high noon on our 9th day at sea, we did our “ribbon-cutting” ceremony. This was a special moment. After all, how many solar arrays have been installed from start to finish in the ocean between Galapagos and French Polynesia?

For the Grand Unveiling, Kristian and Michael watched intently the Power Monitor down below, while Sabrina held blankets covering the new panels (to keep them “off”).

“Ok it [our solar production] has been hovering around 12-15amps with the old solar panels.”

“There’s a few clouds but it’s pretty sunny. Let’s turn off the fridge to get a good reading.”

“Ok go for it!”

Sabrina whisked off the blue Mexican blankets from the cockpit roof, exposing the gleeming new photovoltaics. Cries of delight were heard from down below.

“Whoa the total system is now 25amps!”

“31 amps!!”

“No wait – it went as high as 36 amps!!!!”

This was better than we even expected — flexible panels producing this much? In combination with the old array, now we can produce theoretically as much energy as the diesel engine’s alternator – during peak sunshine without sails shadowing.

In all, it took us about 30hrs of work in the bumpy ocean – similar conditions to being in a constant, gentle earthquake – to get all the panels, wiring, fuses, breakers, and charge controller installed. Aldebaran’s new Solar Era was well earned!

Neptune the God of the sea added to the festivities with a steady, fresh breeze all afternoon. We turned the boat over to our fifth crew member – the autopilot “Ziggy” – and just simply enjoyed the ride. Aldebaran barreled along under her trusty blue headsail at a sustained 8knots to the SW, with the 18knot ESE breeze powering her.

We marveled at the wind and sun, our powerful companions. One day, we thought, we’ll relearn as humans to live in happiness with the wind and sun, for transportation and comfort, even if that means simplicity and sharing become an integral part of our ethos – as they are on the boat.

PS. I have Brad Johnson at Sojourn Marine in Ventura, California to thank for teaching me how to install a solar array – by letting me be his assistant during the installation of our rail mounted solar panels in Feb 2015. Cheers Brad!

S 13 43.807 W 106 22.798
Trip 57nm (12hrs overnight)
Odometer 1259nm
Av Sp 4.7kts Max Sp 8.8kts

Current: SOG 5.7kts COG 244 Wind ESE 9kts


3 thoughts on “Day 9. Possibly first ever Solar Array Installed mid Pacific!

  1. Thank goodness there is power to boil water for Michael’s tea. Some things you can’t do without.
    Cyetta and Dennis

Comments are closed.