Just back from another four-day test sail on Gjoa, all within the beautiful and beautifully protected Kachemak Bay.
On Thursday last we made the few, short tacks to Halibut Cove to escape what has become non-stop bustle in Homer Boat Harbor. The crack of welders, the bang of chipping hammers and rattle guns, big-boat generators in chorus; and what’s not being worked on is on the move–water taxis, day fishermen, gill netters, seiners, even the large crab vessels, like Time Bandit–in numbers to warrant a traffic light at the harbor entrance.
Next to this, Halibut Cove’s hardly used public dock is a library of quiet, and here I spent a day installing the boat’s solar panels.
How to power Gjoa has been a problem without easy solution. She has an engine, of course, and even a gas generator, but I’ve wanted something that could provide more continuous power while on passage.
My first choice was a tow generator, the kind made by Ampair (Aquair-100), Aquagen, or Hamilton Ferris.
Needing something now and something I understand, I’ve opted to add 300 watts of 12v solar. This addition comes in the form of two 100 watt Renology glass and aluminum frame panels hung off the rail either side of the cockpit, a 100 watt off-brand, flexible panel attached amidships to the dinghy, and a Morningstar ProStar 30-amp charge controller (exactly the rig, though with more power, that I had on Murre).
This is not a perfect solution for a voyaging yacht as solar is not at its best in a seaway, and it is not a solution at all for the Figure 8’s Southern Ocean, but compared to anything else it is inexpensive and will get me home.
(What to do for the Figure 8 is an open question. Most likely it will be a combination of technologies, one of which will be a wind generator to replace the satellite compass atop the aft arch, a job I wanted to avoid doing here as it necessitates rewiring the autopilot.)
The trip out had three other goals: raise the main without a hitch, literally; fly the genoa poles without losing them or self overboard, and commission/test the monitor wind vane.
I had thought that in moving from a ketch to a sloop I would be acquiring a less complicated rig. Not necessarily so, I learn. On a good day I can have more line tossing about on Gjoa than I know what to do with (see photo below).
And even the simplest, most usual tasks are challenging when the boat’s size and configuration are unfamiliar. The first time I raised the main I got it fouled in the lazy jacks; the second time, fouled in the running backstays; on the third try a double wrap around the halyard winch’s tailing claw meant double the effort and nearly gave me a heart attack before I sussed the problem.
Main sorted, it was time to attack the poles, devices that hold the twin headsails out wing and wing, and which Tony Gooch, highly experienced previous owner, states are a super solution for the Southern Ocean.
Rigging these three and four times took us to Bear Cove at the upper reaches of Kachemak Bay, a lovely anchorage, except that wherever I moved to found the wind barreling down from the snowy mountains within the hour and putting us on shore. This too was good practice.
Next day the Monitor came to life for the sail back to Homer.
Now the To Do list is less than a page long.
Can we bug out of here before the next cruise ship arrives?