Hydro Generator – Aquair 100

We finally managed to purchase the Aquair 100 hydro generator.
It took us a lot longer than expected as the company first moved from the UK to Ireland and then went bankrupt. Luckily enough, we managed to get one of the few remaining ones on the European market and just brought it to the US this week.

The nice thing about the hydro generator is the fact that it generates about as much power as our solar panel at peak times (as long as the boat moves with our average cruising speed of 5-6 knots) – but for 24 hours a day, nut just around noon when the sun shines the brightest. It also charges when sailing downwind – which a wind generator does not do so well. It also does not make any noise. However, it does slow the boat down a bit, but insignificantly.

This was needed as we will be using more electricity during our upcoming transatlantic tour due to a lot of additional equipment, such as numerous iPads, laptops, AIS, Bluetooth speakers etc, plus the need to run the fridge on lower temperature to keep the food longer,…

While there are much more efficient units on the market these days, we decided to go with this model as it is simple, proven technology (on the market for decades), and certainly relatively cheap (but still pricey) – but mostly, because the high degree of flexibility as to where to mount it.
With our Aries and solar panel mounted to/above the stern, we needed to find a way to navigate the back of the boat and get the generator into the water. The Aquair with the rope seemed to fit our needs the best.

Aquair 100

The unit consists of the turbine, that we tow behind the boat. It is connected via a rope to the generator. That in turn is wired to the battery charge controller, which in turn is connected to the batteries.
The case for the controller is a lot larger than expected, but we found a space where we can fit it. As the distance from the controller to the batteries is more than 2m, we will have to also use sensing wire (to tell the controller the charging state of the batteries).
A deck connector and ammeter is ordered and installation is scheduled for this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

Safety at sea seminar – day 2

Today our team split up.
Ulf went to attend the medical seminar, while Peter Davis, Dan and Philip went to the in-water life-raft session.
Both sessions were very well run and contained a lot of valuable information.

For example, did you know that if you jumped with your regular street into 50F / 10C water without a lifevest, you would make it for about 15min.
If you jumped in the same water with the same clothes but added a lifevest, you likely survive for about 4hrs…

In the first scenario you’d drown as the body struggles to stay afloat, while in the second hypothermia would result in cardiac arrest.

as the goal is to stay alive for as long as possible, trying to keep warm is the key.

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In addition to wearing a life-vest,

– closing sleeves and pants to avoid getting newer colder water into the foul-weather gear
– keeping boots on (they do not make your drown as they are filled with water already and are mostly positively buoyant)
– making sure to keep a warm hat in your pockets or wear it
– wearing the hood of your jacket over the life-vest (as you will not get it once the vest is inflated)
– staying calm (do not swim or exercise to generate blood flow etc) and keep knees and arms close to the body (use your tether to support your legs for longer periods of time)
– building floats with other crew members to reduce exposure to colder water (stay together with the group in general, use tethers and hold on to each other)

or good options to extend the time in the water alive.

Other lessons learned:
– stay on the boat for as long as possible
– prepare departure very well
– ensure raft is tied to something solid on the boat, such as the mast (not stanchions)
– take as much with you as possible
– bring as much water as physically possible (ensure water containers are always full and ready to go)
– assign tasks to all crew as to what to bring to the raft
– have a plan to get ditch bags etc safely to the raft
– take head count before departure and check crew’s condition (physical and mental)
– strongest person goes first and gets into the raft to help all others getting in
– administer seasickness medication as soon as all are on board
– tie all equipment to the raft to not lose anything in case of capsize etc
– be very careful with flares, use only downwind
– get the water out as fast as possible
– hygiene is very important
– keep wearing life-vests inside raft (relieve air-pressure to create space and make wearing them more comfortable)
– don’t forget your epirb on the boat (keep in ditch bag when sailing to not forget)

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Safety at sea seminar – day 1

We had a very informative day with the Safety at Sea Symposium at the University of Boston campus today (link).

Lots of experience in the room, good presenters, relevant topics and even some food. Nice to see some familiar faces after this looong winter.
While not many things were really new, it was valuable to refresh the memory, learn a few things here and there, complete our check lists etc; but mostly confirming that we are on the right track. We already carry most of what was recommended on board and showed the suggested behaviors during prior cruises.

Crew that went today:

Dan McMackin
Ulf Westhoven
Peter Davis
Nick Kersten
Philip Kersten

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Good to see that our rigger, Kevin, was the expert on all things rigging:

safety at sea

Kevin will survey our boat in April to make sure we are good to go.


Iridium GO!

About 2 weeks ago our Iridium Satellite communication system, Iridium GO!, arrived. It is a satellite communication system that does not use a satellite phone anymore, but provides a wireless network instead. That network allows the use of regular smartphones instead and is especially useful for data exchange and SMS.

All it takes is in app on the phone to send and receive messages, weather forecasts, update blogs or activate tracking (via SMS). That’s where the GPS re-radiator of the previous post comes in. We bought the marine kit with this Iridium GO!. It includes the unit itself and also an external antenna and a 30ft antenna cable. Reading the manual, it turns out that the GPS of the Iridium GO! does not receive any GPS data when connected to the antenna and mounted inside.
As a result, a GPS re-radiator needs to be installed next to the GO! and with the GPS antenna outside, so that the GO! is able to know its location.
That way, we can use the marine antenna for satellite communication and the GPS antenna for location services, incl tracking.

Iridium provides a website that shows this tracking information and stores if for three years after the last subscription for this specific device ends (we are planning to use various SIM cards with different numbers throughout the trip. They can all be combined on one site as long as we use the same GO!). That website will be embedded in this blog once we have our first SIM card activated (likely in June) so that people can follow our progress in real-time.

So, yet more holes to drill into the boat and more antennas to install on the rail…

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