Solar Downgrade

Another decision to backtrack has been made, as a result of yet another dim-witty Dumas eleventh hour brain-fart scheme: install a windvane. And of course six weeks is enough time for another major boat project, right? Didn’t we learn from our experience three years ago? Should I have trusted the Hydrovane salesperson? All “NO’s”, but water under the proverbial bridge at this point.

Important note: A related post has been slow-cooking in draft-mode (aka back burner, stay-tuned) and covers the why’s and installation in Hampton Virginia and beyond. That draft is sounding like a rant with a bad ending, so it’ll keep stewing for a while until I figure out how to remove the drama. This post (now reading) ends on a positive note! 

Man, is this not a beautiful morning in a beautiful place!? I’m drafting this post while sipping coffee, anchored, at 0640 just before sunrise on the north side of Green Island, Antigua. Sigh…

Oops, sorry for the digression!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Cutting to the chase, Vinny (da Vane) didn’t get along well with his close neighbor, Colossus the solar panel. We had sailed over 1700 nm and couldn’t use the clanking piece of junk 90% of the time. I tried moving the port side panel as far forward as possible (about 1.5 inches), until just about hitting the boom! Still no dice.

So now what? I took more measurements, and made more sketches. Perhaps rebuild the Bimini frame and lower the panel? Nope – would still hit. Tilt it? Nope – still scraping. Give up and scrap the $6,000 wind vane (or use as a kedge anchor?) Give up the colossal solar panel? Nope.

Well, maybe – sort of.

Soon after arriving in Antigua, we were meandering around the local Budget Marine store looking for one of those little (aka: easy to lose in the bilge) duck-bill anti-siphon doohickeys. On display were various solar panels, and all on-sale! Ok, the overactive mind gears start grinding, and the mental picture stuck for later back on Fayaway.

Early the next morning I found Budget’s panel specs on their web site, and realized we have another choice to make: 1. compromise on solar power and abandon more precious boat bucks or 2. throw the vane overboard.

Next day, we brought our new bundle of (baby solar panel) joy home, barely fitting between Kelly and I motoring across the harbor aboard Korykory. Fortunately we had calm wind that morning.

I measured a few more times to make certain. After only a couple hours, we replaced the colossal panel with the shorter version, and reduced our overall power generation potential from 750 to 635 watts. But now we have a working wind vane! Yay!

Difficult to tell from this angle, but plenty of clearance now.

Thanks for reading. Next week we’re off to Dominica! Stay tuned!

Route to Portsmouth, Dominica.
One more gratuitous Antigua sunset with cribbage photo.

4 thoughts on “Solar Downgrade

  1. nhcarmichael

    Consider it the price of admission: you’ve admitted the larger panel, lovely as it was, wasn’t cutting it. It seemed replacing it was the only logical option. Now you get to use all your toys, and have critical redundancy with autopilot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Roger Block

    This won’t make you feel any better but such “miscalculations” happen to everyone. One of our classics was under estimating the effect of backstay bend and sizing a wind generator pole too short. In just the right wind and sea conditions, the wind generator blades would hit the flexing backstay. You can guess the result.
    A welder in Grenada solved our problem by adding a 10 inch extension to our wind generator pole.

    Liked by 1 person

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