Feb 99 Enews

We send out an Email newsletter about once every couple of weeks. Here’s the latest installment from Alex.  If you’d like to be included in the future, send an Email to Jeff and he’ll sign you up.  By the way, our list is not used for advertising purposes nor is it ever sold or passed on to Email marketers.

Hi All,

We're back!  I know you've all been wondering what happened to us and it's a long story, but I'll try and make it short.  When last we left you, we were 900 miles from Brazil and hand-steering the boat due to a total power failure on board.  With the exception of a few updates we were able to squeeze through, we've been off-line since Valentines Day. Here's what's happened in the last week.

After hand-steering the boat for 24 hours through Sunday evening with nothing but a compass light to guide us through the night, we came up with an idea to try to partially restore our power.  Enough electricity, anyway, to give us the Autohelm back so we didn't have to steer through the night. Simply put, we split the 24 volt (12 x 2 volt batteries) bank into two 6 x 12 volt banks and charged them individually (one bank at a time) with our "engine" alternator.  After charging each side for three hours, we reconnected the 24 volt bank back together and we had power! It wasn't a full charge, but it was a hell of a lot more than we had.

At around 3:00 on Monday we switched on Auto Von Helm (as it's affectionately known) and let it take control of the boat again.  As night fell we also switched on our masthead light, but continued to conserve and keep every other non-essential system off. The only piece of electronics we used was the SSB radio for our daily schedule and limited email communications. We did, however, run a fluorescent light and the handheld GPS off of the 12V engine batteries.  This would still be a long trip to Brazil, but at least we didn't have to helm at night.

Over the course of the next few days we would repeat the same procedure, rewiring the batteries and alternators and charging while helming. It was a real hassle, but after a while, everyone seemed to take it in stride. Toward the end, I think people were actually looking forward to steering the boat. With our other spinnaker up (the big asymmetrical spinnaker blew out on this leg) she was a dream to handle. The Swan is so well balanced that it takes very little effort to keep her going straight in calm seas.

Finally, at 08:30 on Saturday morning, we dropped the anchor outside the breakwater in St. Antonio Bay on the island of Fernando de Noronha.  It took us just under 12 days to make the passage with 166 miles being our  lastest day.  Normally, it would be our slowest day, but not with the winds out here.  Hopefully this isn't the case up to the Caribbean.

In any case, we have been working on the alternator for the last couple of days in hopes that it can be repaired. The good news is that we fixed it this morning and she is now working like a champ. We were trying to arrange with Jeff in New York and Mike at the Jamestown Boat Yard in Rhode Island to have one "overnighted" in, but they had a hard time locating one that would fit correctly. Perhaps we're a bit lucky because I think it would have been a nightmare getting it here anytime soon. But a big thank you to Mike for helping us out!

Alex for the crew of Out of Bounds
Bill, Suzie, Alex K., Silke & Lucy the pooch
Position:  Lat. 03 49.91S, Lon 32 24.33W

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