Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Off to the Bahamas Again

We left home this morning on the first leg of our second trip to the Bahamas. This time we are doing it on our own. We aren’t traveling with a group and we don’t have another crew member. Our initial plan was to take 3 days to travel down to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. From there we would head out into the Atlantic on Friday, go around Cape Hatteras, and then most likely pull into Cape Lookout for diesel and rest. After that we would either coastal hop south, cross the Gulf Stream and go on to the Bahamas. Or, skip the coastal hopping and do it all in one passage. 
After checking Chris Parker’s weather forecast this afternoon we decided to bypass Solomon’s, travel overnight on the Chesapeake and arrive in Norfolk tomorrow morning. Chris mentioned a potential cold front passing Hatteras Friday night into Saturday. We were both concerned about how that would impact the sea state. If we leave Norfolk Thursday instead of Friday we will most likely have to motor the entire way around Hatteras but at least we won’t have to deal with “gnarly” seas like we did last fall. Of course, this is all subject to change. 
It is chilly outside but we are keeping nice and warm inside the enclosure. We are so glad to have it. 
One highlight of my day—I was able to use the microwave to warm up our lunch thanks to the new solar panels!  We brought leftovers in 2 small silicone containers. The containers could go into the microwave and we could also eat out of them. It saved on effort and dishes. I love these solar panels already!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Solar Panel Upgrade

Our new solar panels are installed!  The condo building shades the panels for almost half the day. Even so, the new panels can fully charge the batteries with both refrigerators running. I expect that we won’t have any trouble keeping the batteries charged in the Bahamas. 
We have had quite the solar panel saga this summer. We had the arch made and installed to hold the panels. We then waited for Alex Miller from SeaTek to install them. Alex lives in Marathon, FL and installed our new lithium ion batteries in March. He said he has family in Virginia and would be willing to drive up to Maryland and install the panels as part of a visit with his family. Alex set a tentative date in September for the installation. Just as George contacted Alex to firm up the date, Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida. Irma hit Marathon really hard. We felt terrible for everyone affected by Irma as well as the other hurricanes this season. 
We didn’t hear from Alex after Irma and decided not to bother him. In the meantime, George started looking into other options. He found a local company that was willing to sell Sun Power solar panels to us but had never done an installation on a boat. George eventually decided to email Alex to ask a question about controllers. Alex wrote back immediately and said he was still planning to come and do the installation. Although his boat and business suffered some minor damage, he said he would really appreciate our business.  Alex set another tentative date. George texted him a short while later to firm up the date and learned that Alex had just broken his hand.  It happened while he was helping to clean up the harbor in Marathon!  It was clear he couldn’t make the trip so Alex had all of the equipment, along with instructions, shipped by UPS. It all arrived last week. George and Ray installed everything themselves and did a fine job. I think we are going to be very happy with the results this winter.