Drifting along in calm weather

Following the failure of the engine alternator aboard Gipsy Moth IV her crew are only able to use essential electrical items in order to conserve the energy remaining in the battery.

A new alternator is being flown to Indonesia with the skipper of the next leg, Sam Connelly. Here is skipper John Jeffrey’s account of what happened next:

‘East of Roti Island, Indonesia

We are doing without satcom, radar (after all that trouble to fit it, too), chart plotter (have to make do with pencil and protractor, just like the old days!), cabin lights (all use torches), cooling fans (too much luxury weakens the character anyhow), refrigerator (we’ve used up most of the fresh food, thank goodness, so there won’t be too much waste). But why, oh why, do these things always happen in the dark?

‘A failed alternator means that even though the engine is running, no juice is going into the batteries. Taking stock, there is still a current drain and a rapidly falling voltage, though thank goodness the completely separate engine battery is holding up at well over 12 volts. Don’t care to switch off the nav lights in these crowded waters, but we can save more electricity by cutting the engine – it doesn’t seem to be helping charge the battery, and we can save power by changing over to the less hungry masthead tricolour light.

Off the west tip of Timor in daylight we assemble the towed generator and stream it behind us; once the engine is fired up again and we are doing 5 or 6 knots, it starts to charge the battery.’