Electrical Gremlins

Remember when I told you that we had to make a detour in Port Angeles our first night? At around 1:15am, Gordon and I were on our watch and we had about 14-20 knots of breeze.  The wind started to get flaky, so we decided to start the engine to make more progress.  It was about this time that Lauren B. poked his head out of the companionway and said he smelled something  burning.  No, it was not my cooking.  But I smelled smoke too and it was distinctively the electrical kind.  Hey, if we are going to have a fire, what better time than when we are surrounded with all this water right?

The smoke we inhaled turned out to be the sick smell of our instruments and wall-mount VHF radio going out.  Ugh.  Our GPS was still on though so we could see where we were going!  Wait a minute, no it’s not – it just went out too.

So there we were, in the Straits of Juan de Fuca in the black of night, with no instruments and no GPS and a bit of deep draft traffic to contend with.  We managed to play Frogger all the way to Port Angeles and stayed the night there.

The next morning Gordon (who is a marine electrician) and Lauren B. (who has a background in electrical engineering) took a look at everything and managed to get the instruments working again.  Sadly the radio was toast.

Off we sailed that afternoon with our instruments back.  Yay!  The excitement was short-lived however, for we lost them again about 2 days into the trip when we were off the Washington coast.  Luckily Lauren B. got the GPS to atleast work so we sailed with that alone down the coast.

Unluckily, all of our instruments and their server was fried.  We realized on our 7th day also that our batteries were fried too – they wouldn’t take a charge!  We saw 28 volts on the DC panel which is only supposed to have no more than 14.4 volts and that explains why the instruments and VHF are toast.  What we can’t figure out, however, is why.  Clearly the regulator wasn’t doing its job but the manufacturer says there is no way there could have been 28 volts  -Arghh.  But we saw it!

As you can see, only the GPS is still working...

Since we’ve been in San Fran, Lauren B. has spent most of his days and nights looking through the electrical to see if there is anything he sees that could be wonky.  Well, he saw nothing.  So we are going to replace the regulator and hope (cross those fingers) that solves it.  We’ll be replacing the batteries as well.

In the end, since there is no logical explanation, it must be Gremlins.

Oh, and if you see this guy…

…send him our way.

Categories: Ocean Sailing, Upgraded Systems | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Electrical Gremlins

  1. This sounds so scary! To be in the middle of the ocean and all that to go wrong. Yikes! Keeping my fingers crossed that once you get things working, you’ll be good to go for the rest of the trip!

  2. Sorry to hear about the electrical woes, but enjoying your blog nonetheless! Your posts are very interesting to us landlubbers. Definitely hoping that the bad electrical luck subsides and that you can just enjoy the sailing.

  3. Sam

    Yowzer, I think you caught the battery madness from us. We just replaced five batteries, and that is not for happy making on the budget. Just picture the pretty dolphins and swipe that credit card. 🙂

  4. kevin

    i am sure you have thought of this

    but at west marine – you can drop 80$ and get a handheld submersible VHF

    and a handheld garmin GPS for a couple hundred

    both charged with simple old batteries

    good back up either way –

    they got me to alaska and back

    worth the peace of mind –

    congrats on making it to San Fran

    mad jealous


  5. Jess

    geez o pete! but best to have the gremlins have their way with Piko while so close to home – with Port Angeles readily accessible and now San Fran with all its resources. with the gremlin’s appetite satiated, it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out!

  6. dee battisti

    Hi you two. I just finished reading about your electrical problems. i must say I was pretty alarmed. I hope you have it all straightened out now. I have no idea if I am doing this correctly but I hope you get it and can let me know because I would love to keep in touch. We are all thinking of you and pulling for you to have a safe ,fun trip. Lots of love, aunt Dee

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