Letter to Len

Basil Panakis
Wed 29 Jun 2016 08:16
Hi Len
Tim Luke arrived this afternoon. Olivier was most impressed with the self steering. His backstay was attached to his pushpit and the top rail gave way, he made some temporary repairs. Apparently he was very wet, he only had 3 lots of bad weather.
I had some problems in the Solent when I thought it was the alternator as the charge light kept coming on. I stayed in Cowes and the engineer there said  nothing wrong with the alternator. Left Friday pm and an hour or so later same problem. I needed to get to Plymouth, there was wind and I carried on. On the approaches to Plymouth got the same problem. Lost the wind and the tide turned against me. I was in total darkness, called the Marina but could not come to fetch me, called the Long Room, not much help they suggested I called the Coastguard which I did. They started getting worried as they could not raise me on any channel. I had to go on the hand held VHF.  They sent out the RNLI to give me a tow.
When I spoke to Bill he said that I had a loose connection somewhere. The electrician turned up on Monday morning and confirmed the loose wire. So he made a temp repair and of I went.
The strange thing was that you wake the next day and everything work as normal. Then an hour within your trip and and you are in dire straights.
I think it was the third night out when the engine started by itself. Jumped up and stopped it. About half an hour later the same thing happened again but after stopping it everything went blank. Lost the lot. I strapped a torch on the main, and hang another torch from the backstay. Did this for 2 nights. I had spare chartplotter and went on that. Then dug up my anchor light and put that on the backstay. Then this cracked and carried on with some repairs. Also found my spare set of led nav lights and rigged  these they lasted for a while but not through the gales. For ever I used to make fresh connections.
So I assumed that the batteries were caput. So sent one of them over the side. I kept a third under the sink which I used for the radio and may be the computer. I wired to this the AIS, RTE and chartplotter. I rewired the charges from the wind generator and the solar panels to feed this battery. I did not have the AIS on all the time, if I saw flashes on the RTE then I switched the rest on. By then I was in total blackness.
I kept on calling Terceira to inform them of my predicament but I never had a reply.
It was only when I started to loose the wind by the outer harbour walls that I called the harbourmaster and thank god Doug heard me. Then the cavalry came out, but the wind did pick up a little and I crossed the line.
I made arrangements for a mechanic to come and sort it out. But he did not turn up. Last night when I was asleep all the lights came on, including the main VHF radio. It was dark so checked the navtex and it worked...I started the engine once dawn broke and it started.
Denis Gorman wanted to stay behind for a day and sort it out. Take the barrel out and all the connections clean them and re-assemble  everything.
I do not think it is barrel or the batteries but something is loose behind the instrument panel that sorts and causes a mayhem.
Pedro said I should do a Voodoo dance to ward off the spirits.