Laura Hodgetts talks to the skippers of 20 boats on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), ‘the biggest downwind gear test of the year’, about the pros and cons of the equipment they used and the sailing techniques they deployed
Slipper 1 – disillusioned with electricals
The crew aboard the Bavaria 41 Slipper 1 enjoyed their first ARC experience but were disheartened by electrical gear failures.
Co-owner William Shaw said: ‘You’re looking at five bitter and twisted people disillusioned with electricals.’
On the first day, the Watt & Sea hydrogenerator made a ‘high-pitched whine’ and vibrated whenever the yacht exceeded four knots. The control unit inside began flashing intermittently to report an electrical fault.
William and his practical crew, including mechanical engineer Adam Shaw, discovered a loose wire and fixed it. They also altered the unit’s plug ‘so the pins made proper contact’, but to no avail.
Their Adverc smart charging system, running at the same time, emitted a bright flash on the LED green button on the control panel and the starboard ‘A’ alternator emitted a red light.
To counteract the increasing voltage, the crew turned on the motor and watermaker.
Using a satellite phone, they contacted Adverc and were advised to pull the 9-pin connector out of alternator A so alternator B would work alone. They discovered the cable on the charge slot from the back of the battery had sheared off, and remade the connection using William’s box of spares.
Both alternators worked again, until alternator B packed up 24 hours later.
William said: ‘We limited our power usage to the Sat Nav during the day and the Autohelm at night, getting only 6-8 hours out of three batteries, which is nothing compared to their nearly 400Ah capacity.’
Recommended gear: Boat Sit Comfort cushions with back support; the ‘brilliant’ watermaker, a Dessalator D60 model, which makes 60lt an hour; Whitlock autopilot (13 years old) and new Raymarine chart plotter with AIS.
Sailing technique: Cruising chute if the wind wasn’t going to exceed 15 knots. Gull winging – jib and main – most of the time. Never more than about 2⁄3 of main.
Best meal: Fray Bentos pies.
Watch system: Three hours at night, four hours in the day. Always two on watch, except when it was very calm.