A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Monday, 30 July 2012

On the hook

The weather forecast was pretty trashy for Saturday, so we all decided it was prudent to take Charlie & Pauline to Green Bay by rental car to catch their bus for Chicago and home. This turned out to be the right decision, after driving down the coast and seeing the state of the bay as we got closer. Gusty N winds were blowing straight into the city and cruising would not have been fun. We stopped at the Greyhound station and picked up their tickets, then dropped them off at a nearby hotel and said our goodbyes. After 3 weeks we will miss them a lot.

The next day was a much better day, so after dropping off the rental car we headed out the mouth of Sturgeon Bay and up the coast of the Door Peninsular. The remote control appears to be working properly again after we had spent some time playing around with batteries. The bay was flat calm and after an uneventful trip, we arrived at Egg Harbor and found a nice beach and anchored for the night.

The intention was to try out the systems and see how they performed off the inverter. I was particularly interested in how long the batteries would last before they became unable to start the engines. While it was a bit of "jumping in at the deep end", it is imperative that we know the limitations of the system, and we always had the genset to fall back on. I dropped the dinghy and went for a tutu over to the marina to check out the facilities just in case. That night we had a Barbie on Board (BOB) and retired early.

The next day was another nice day. We went ashore for a walk and came back to the boat and lounged about reading most of the day. At 2.00pm the inverter started beeping and investigation showed the low battery light up. Sure enough, the engines wouldn't turn over (which is why I never liked the way the system was designed - there should be separate start batteries - but that's what I had to work with). With more than a little nervousness I fired up the genset and watched to see what transpired. All the indications were that the converter/charger was operational, but not charging the batteries and my thoughts went back to some of the wiring that our electricians had been doing in Kenosha. But after half an hour or so, I tried the engine start again and thankfully they both fired up OK. I shut them down and ran the genset for another half hour before calling Egg Harbor dock for a slip for the night. Again, the remote worked fine during anchor retrieval an docking at the slip.

The excercise proved that our time is limited to around 20 hours away from shore power before resorting to the genset. We should be able to extend this with judicious management of appliances aboard, but gives us a yardstick. This is a disappointment, but not unexpected considering the power requirements of the boat and the way that the DC system is designed. We could alter it to improve performance, but would have to consider the costs vs benefits fairly closely. I really don't like not having separate start batteries.

Once tied up at Egg Harbor I went for a wander up to the town. On the way I passed this little gem of a boat on a slip just down from us

For the Hauraki Gulf boaties reading, Egg Harbor is rather like Oneroa, in a very American way, but without the steep walk from the beach. There is a good supermarket and lots of restaurants within easy walking distance. I bought a piece of rump steak (called top sirlon here) and had it for dinner on the barbie. It cost $5.99/lb, but get this Kiwis, eye fillet steak (called tenderloin here) is the same price!!!! You can buy a whole fresh fillet for around $20.00. Yet T-bones are double that - go figure!??!. After dinner, Carolyn watched the Olympics and I watched Falling Skies on cable.

This morning we were in the middle of doing the washing and deciding what to do for the rest of the day when the dock handlers came and said someone had booked our slip, so could we move.....like now. This brought our decision making forward, so we moved off to the fuel dock for a pump out. I saw that their diesel price was $3.49/gall ( we had been paying up to $4.50), so we topped up our tanks at the same time. Then, as it was still somewhat blustery outside, we thought we might have another go at the hook thing, knowing what we now know, and see if we can improve on performance. We can still get WiFi from the marina here, hence the posting, but a bit far for the cable to stretch - so no Olympics.

We'll let you know how we get on.


  1. I'm surprised your batteries lasted 20 hours; what's the battery lay-out? Many Silverton owners have swapped out incandescent bulbs with compatible LEDs to decrease DC loads. Some have also changed actual fixtures to LED fixtures, but that isn't always necessary and is obviously more expsnive. The anchor light is an obvious culprit, as would be any "always on" electronics (e.g., AIS transmitter).

    Cheers, -Chris (M/V Ranger)

    1. There are 3 batteries per engine that are both start and house supply. Mercifully, the genset has a separate battery. This is how Silverton built the 453 and shows on their wiring schematic. However, they are all diesel start batteries and not really suitable for house use. The inverter was installed to run the refrigeration while underway and that is the big consumer. I had hoped that I would get a reasonable life from the batteries (say overnight)and still be able to start the engines, but that is not the case and I have had to use the genset to recharge to start them. This is not an acceptable outcome as it is dangerous to have no way to start in an emergency, so I will be looking to change the setup to separate starting batteries. Then it doesn't matter if the house system runs down on the inverter - I can always start the genset. But at least the engines will start when I need them to.