Thursday, April 16, 2015

Harbortown Marina - I explore electrical issues

It's a great harbor - associated with the condos you see here
We decided to do a layover day to get in sync with the tides and will start out Friday morning at 7:00 for Fernandina. There are many shallow spots that can benefit from added tide along the way.

Meanwhile I had noticed the autopilot acting strangely on the way north yesterday so I took a look this afternoon. The first thing I noticed was how hot one of the three house batteries were (a 4D). That seemed strange but then I measured the voltage with my Fluke meter and saw a reading of 15 volts! So I disconnected everything and watched the voltage increase to 20 volts! That made no sense at all. Eventually it occurred to me to double check the Fluke meter (after about an hour of trying everything else) and found that even when I read a new 1.5 volt alkaline battery I got a reading of 3.0 volts when it should have read 1.5 volts. Then I got the bright idea of replacing the battery in the Fluke and after that all the readings came in normal!

A second set of apartments was built over the winter - this was a vacant lot then! 
So I was hit with two problems: the Fluke was off due to a low battery and one of my three 4D batteries was defective. It was only reading 8 volts and it was calling for current from the charger and converting it into heat. Now most chargers have a safeguard for just this potential problem in the form of a battery temperature shutout sensor. Unfortunately, the temperature sensor was attached to one of the two good batteries so it was telling the charger that all was normal and to send more current. This was not good. Eventually I found the problem and bypassed the bad battery. We are now operating on two 4D batteries which was what the 423 came with in the first place so it's plenty for now. I'll replace the defective battery later as we head north. Now you know what occupies a lot of the time of couples plowing the ICW.

We will head to Fernandina at 7:00 am on Friday and stay a few days to encourage the high tides to be near noon on our trip north. Hopefully, the tides will comply.