FPB 64-3 Iron Lady is underway for Hawaii on the last leg of their journey. Mark Fritzer writes about an amazing fish story and further testing of the charging system.
Yesterday afternoon after leaving Palmyra we came upon a huge school of tuna. It was the second time this trip we’ve come across a school, but this one stretched for 1/4 mile or more off our port bow. It was hard to tell exactly what kind they were as they are like torpedoes zipping out, around and through the water. However, even from 100 yards or more away, you could tell how big they were by the size of their splashes. The water was literally frothing with their movements.
We have been away from re-supply for a few days now and are starting to run low on fresh veggies and cream for our coffee. On the trip Northeast from Palmyra, the waves started on our starboard aft quarter, then became confused and ran in sets from both the starboard aft then starboard fwd quarter. After a few hours, the waves from the stern settled and the wind became light and the waves consistently just forward of our starboard beam. About 2300, storm cells began to show up on our radar from 36-40 miles out that you could track like a freighter steaming past. Within a couple hours, the ITCZ had made its presence known with 2-3 meter seas right on our nose and 20 knots of breeze. Of course, all of the weather forecasts have turned up wrong and I have now been able to experience the FPB on all points of wind. Even while shipping a fair amount of water over the bow, our stern wake is quite small and a testament to the fine entry and exit points of this design. She doesn’t seem to stop, shudder then pick up speed when plowing through a wave head on to the same extent that I have experienced on other vessels. It probably sounds by now as if I’m just kissing up to the big guy, but I am very much impressed with the overall ride. I intend to try to talk Pete and Steve into letting me move some water and fuel out of the forward tanks as we get closer to Hawaii, just to see what difference it has on the fuel burn rate and overall ride, so we’ll see.
When we left Palmyra, we were definitely a bit bow heavy, as the forward fuel and water tanks were mostly full. We are using both fuel and water from the bow tanks and are currently at 3300 litres of water (72% full) and 3600 litres of fuel (68% full) forward with 1800 L of water (59% full) and 1600 L of fuel (44% full) aft. Even in this bow heavy configuration, punching into a headwind and seas making 8.6 knots SOG, while losing 1/2 to 3/4 knot to current, we are burning just 2.6 litres/NM and 22 litres/hour of fuel at 1650 RPM. In addition, the alternators are charging hard at about 90 amps each, as we are using almost 12 amps of 230VAC inverted power.Of the total fuel burn, the alternators are accounting at present for about 3.8L/1gallon per hour or 17% of the total.
At my suggestion, we ran the batteries down to 30% capacity. On the FPBs we use Hoppecke valve regulated lead acid, gel batteries, therefore re-charging when they are down to the 50% level isn’t necessary. In addition, it gives us a chance to really push the inverter/chargers to their limits to test the changes we made. Our issue of having the chargers indicate an overtemp alarm when the alternators start charging appears to have been fixed, however we have found that while running the chargers this hard, a fair bit of heat builds up in the basement and that pushed them into a true overheat situation. We opened the basement floor and ran a fan across the units, which cooled them down, and within 15 minutes they were running back up near full output. It looks like we may have to add a small ventilation fan run through a thermistor. I have taken a fair number of temperature readings with our Flir i7 and forwarded the readings to Todd, who is working on it with Victron from his end.
At our current speed and if conditions hold, it appears we will arrive in Hawaii in about 3 days. We are all ready to complete the voyage and grateful for such an amazing journey. I will be staying an extra day or two to help get the boat sorted, then heading home to see my family. I can hardly wait. However, Mr. Shabby may yet try to delay our arrival by an hour or two, so you never know.