Another day in "Paradise"....but maybe in these temps>need a new definition of "Paradise"...and the "RULE OF 3's"

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Tue 16 Nov 2010 19:45
31 13 S 177 12 E

Over the last 2 days since our last blog entry, it has been BUSY!

First of all, the good news: the borrowed sail has been absolutely terrific
at carrying Sea Mist at good speed in the moderate winds and seas; really
excellent/enjoyable sailing for the last 2 days....and now the sun has been
up for an hour to bring in another beauty. Seas have been mild at less than
a meter of roll from the longer period swells. Winds have been mostly 17 -
20 kts from the East giving us a great apparent wind just ahead of the beam
and carrying us generally at 7 -7.5 kts with a few hours now and then above
8 kts. All in all.... a huge positive difference from the first 45 hours
after leaving Nuku'alofa....the second time. Over the last few hours, the
wind has dropped in strength and changed direction more to the north causing
us to have to go under motor power....we are hoping it is just for a few
hours...the weather forecast shows "possibility" of a return to "sailable"

The "Climate"...has changed a lot; Water temps are now down to 20 - 21 C (69
- 70 F) and that makes a huge change in the daytime and nighttime temps; we
have had to dig out clothing that has not seen the light of day since our
voyage north to the Eastern Seaboard and into the Bay of Funday last
summer/fall. With the sun out, the days are quite comfortable for just a
t-shirt, but you need a fleece/sweats or something for the nights. Big shock
to our systems ...our blood is so thin after all the hot weather and water
that we chill easily with the change....but we will get used to it quickly,
I expect. Our plans for NZ are land travel, not swimming/snorkeling big time
as has been the case over the last 12 the cooler water will not
be an issue. And, by next March/April when we may do a bit of sailing in NZ
waters before heading North to Fiji, the water will have warmed up from the
NZ summer temps....and we can, likely, once again dip our toes/bodies into
the briny deep.

After 40,000 nm over these past 5 years +, one thing we know for sure from
our experiences and the experiences of others sailing these oceans is that
with blue water sailing/passage making, things do go wrong and you have to
work around them. After our initial false start with the head sail failure,
We have had a couple of other issues emerge that has made it wise for us to
change our destination to arrive at our NZ "home base" at Whangarei rather
than stopping for the desired socialization fun in Opua. The change only
adds 45 nm to the overall passage distance. We have informed NZ authorities
of the change so that they know, as required, when and where to expect us to
arrive in NZ waters and check-in point for NZ authorities.

The major issue amongst the short list of problems that emerged is an
undiagnosed AC Power issue that has resulted in NO AC power being
distributed on the boat....even though both the inverter and generator have
plenty of AC power available. That knocks us out of things like water maker,
stove/cooker, microwave, genset>charging of battery bank (have to rely on
main engine house bank 150 amp alternator), TV entertainment, popcorn, hot
food, etc. That meant that we had then rely on the main engine to charge
batteries 3 times each day as we needed to keep up all the 24 V DC systems
that are more critical to running the boat: these include the auto-pilot
steering, navigational instruments and electronics, VHF and HF radios,
Satellite Phone for weather and other communications, water pressure for
washing/toilets/showers, fridges, freezer, we were NOT overly
concerned ....just annoyed...with the AC failure. It primarily meant we
would have a lot more foodstuffs to give to NZ authorities than
planned....and maybe result in us being a bit thinner on personal
circumferences than would have otherwise been.

But things come in 3's ...don't they? ....and so far we had only 2 issues
worth speaking about: 1) the sail and 2) no AC 220 V Power.

10 hours later, Monday evening, along came the 3rd: the main-engine-driven
Hi-Output, 150 amp alternator, that was the remaining way to keep the
batteries charged....died suddenly. NOW WE WERE CONCERNED! What would we do
without any 24 Volt systems. We immediately shut down all power consumption
on the boat except for one fridge and one freezer......that dropped the
consumption load from a normal 20 amps per hour to less than 4 amps per
hour. We had to conserve the power remaining in the batteries at that moment
for essentials like navigation or communication, etc over remaining 4 days
or so of the least until we could determine if this issue could
be addressed and resolved.

The alternator that had suddenly stopped working is the original alternator
installed when Sea Mist was is about a $2000 item. It failed in
May of 2009 as we were entering Newport from Bermuda. I had it repaired in
Newport and all was fine; then it surprisingly failed again in the US Virgin
Islands in December. I immediately purchased a new alternator from
Mastervolt and had them ship it to St Thomas. In the meantime, I shipped the
repaired unit back to Massachucetts for rebuild by the shop that has
supposedly address any issues with the unit when they had worked on it in
June.....and by late January, the rebuilt unit arrived back in St Thomas and
I installed it and put the NEW alternator into my spares inventory. So now,
with the original/rebuilt unit failing once more, I dug the spare out of its
stowage place and replaced the failed unit and all was well! We turned
systems back on .... Ian, who had been manually steering for the intervening
2 hours, was relieved. Navigational instruments, electronics, radios were
turned back on....Lights came back on within the dark boat and all was well
once again.....certainly confirming that the earlier AC Power failure issue
was just an annoyance in general. BUT, with the AC already knocked out, we
had no redundancy to address the much needed DC power....luckily the
replacement took care of everything. Of course for the balance of the
passage, we have no redundancy for charging and we have no more "spare

The next day, the Admiral stated confidently that "negative things always
come in 3's ....and so, all would be good for the balance of the
voyage"...and it has been. Cheryl does know this stuff...time seems to prove
over and over.

The greatest inconvenience is "dining"; we have been using the VERY HOT
faucet water to warm up the prepared meals from the freezer. With the engine
needing to run to charge batteries, it makes the hot water supply VERY
HOT...and so this is sort of working so that we can still consume Cheryl's
creations prepared for the passage. Another option would be to put a food
container into the heat of the engine in the engine room but we haven't yet
resorted to that. We have also found that heating a cup first with the hot
water and then making instant coffee works ok too....the experience of
drinking it just reminds you of those times that you were distracted and
didn't drink your coffee when it was freshly pored. Of course, not being
able to make water any more due to no AC....we have to be cautious about
consumption of what water remains in out tank. We are getting by....and if
the authorities take pity on us, maybe they will let us keep some of the
unused goodies in the freezer...such as 3 packages of California/USA
boneless/skinless chicken breasts...CHERYL"S FAVORITE FOOD....she may cut
off their arms if they attempt to take those packages.....we'll see.

I think that is quite enough colour commentary for now...enjoy a few laughs
at our expense regarding the situation; crazy to have a boat like an Oyster
and have these surprises happen....but, then it wouldn't be blue water
sailing if they didn't.

Cheers, until next time...the Seamisters are signing off
Distance to go to Marsden Cove NZ Customs check in: 316 nm; ETA Friday
morning about 50 hours from now.
Distance from the clearing in facility to our "home base" at Whangarei - 12
nm up a river (need the pm high tide for enough water to clear our draft)