It has been a whole week since I have last updated our Blog. In all reality, not a whole lot happened in the past week, and yet a whole lot happened. We ended up staying a week and a day in Charlevoix when we thought it would only be three. In our first blog I talked about a potential electrical/charging issue that I was concerned about in Frankfort, and after a lot of work by Allen and Douglas of Bergmann Marine in Charlevoix we are up and running better than ever!
I contacted Bermann Marine on Thursday, July 5, and they spent 4.5 hours looking at it that afternoon already. My concern was that it didn’t seem as though our batteries were getting the correct voltage the alternator was sending to them, thereby not charging them up enough. This is important as when we’re on anchor a lot we are dependent on our batteries having a good charge – which is the reason I installed a new high output 100 amp alternator last fall. The alternator was sending 14.1 amps, but only 12.9 – 13.0 was being received at the batteries.
Bergmann Marine completely rewired the alternator connections to the batteries, replacing 10 gauge wire with hefty 2 gauge wire. They also eliminated an about 20 foot wire run to and back from the amp meter at the binnacle to decrease the voltage drop. And they installed a battery combiner and 150 amp fuse block. The combiner essentially ensures the starter battery and house batteries are separate from each other and determines where the charging voltage is sent – first to the starting batter and then to the house batteries. It’s a great thing to have installed!
Because we had not been cruising like this and being dependent on the batteries, not to mention I didn’t have the Victron Battery Monitor my son-in-law and I installed this spring that shows a digital voltage readout, I didn’t know this all needed to be upgraded. It was too bad it took about five days away from our traveling, but it could not have happened in a better spot as we were able to get a slip and Begrmann Marine was right there to make it all right. Allen, from Bergmann Marine, is a Master level ABYC technician and knows electricity inside and out. He even cleaned up some other connection issues and did a great job of explaining to me what he was doing.
The long and short of it is that now when we are under power of the motor it is charging the batteries just as it would if we were plugged into shore power. And now I don’t have to feel bad about turning on our 1750 watt inverter when anchored to make coffee in our regular coffee maker!
While at the slip in Charlevoix, we got other things done as well. Sharon resewed our dodger middle panel which totally came apart (good thing she has her Sailrite sewing machine!), I installed shutoff valves to our stern shower which had been leaking, rebedded some screws and filled in a hole in our binnacle, and Sharon finished our safety netting. We also had fun tooling around in our dinghy and Sharon got some great trips out on her new inflatable stand up paddleboard.
On Tuesday morning, July 10, we were finally able to leave Charlevoix and headed off to Beaver Island. I will fill you in more about staying in that wonderful anchorage in the next post, but other than a lot of flies and ducks pecking on our boat in the middle of the night it was a gorgeous night!
One last thought on our extended stay at Charlevoix before I end this post. There were many moments I struggled and got on myself for not having this voltage issue taken care of before we left. I reconcile myself with that a little in knowing that this was nowhere on my radar screen as to even being an issue. A friend of mine helped me install (ok, I watched him install it and handed him tools!) the new alternator last fall and I had no idea all of this would be an issue. And I had no idea the long run to the amp meter decreases voltage, nor how a battery combiner is a good thing on a boat. We have spent a lot of time getting so many other things set on the boat, so I remind myself I can only plan for the things I know about and can control, and the other things will be dealt with in a similar way to this issue.
It is interesting of how we sort of got out of the routine of being at anchor and the different ways to do things that that brings, including using the dinghy and energy conservation. We had been anchoring every night for about a week (one night in there we were at a slip) and were getting into that routine, but then with being at a slip again for five nights got us out of that routine. It was ok, but we were very definitely ready to get back out there and be on the water again!