Part II, The Bad & The Ugly: things keep going wrong

We are now 10 days into sailing with my sister (Lucy) and her family (Jon and Kailey who is 6). They are with us for three more weeks. Lucy and I looked at each other this morning and asked each other the same question: will be make it?

I call Lucy and Jon modern day plumbers. They run a hosting/sys admin/computer consulting business called Dynaworx out of Vancouver, BC. If you have a small to medium sized business and need help with technology, then they’ve got what you need. They have several employees in Vancouver, and have figured out how to manage their business remotely. Which means they spend three months a year on a Greek island and are joining us for a month over the holiday season. They take other vacations throughout the year.

The downside is that when they are “on holiday” they have to work. Not all day, but for several hours. And if a server goes sideways or a client has an emergency then they drop everything and figure out the solution.

What that means to me most explicitly is that Ondine’s electrical systems now have to power up several laptops and flat screen monitors not only during the day, but at night as well. So we seem always to be low on power. The batteries are routinely run down to 20% capacity, and for those of you in the know, I have 1,620 amp hours (@ 12v) in 6x8D batteries. Which is a lot to run down and charge back up.

In addition, my port engine just started acting up. I was running it to charge the batteries – because my generator isn’t working and my solar panels and wind generator weren’t making enough juice – and when I was ready to shut it down, the engine wouldn’t shut off. OUCH! Jon and I ended up getting very up-close-and-personal with the engine as it was running and forcing the throttle – by hand while the engine was running – to shut off the gas supply. Finally the engine stopped. And now it won’t start.

Then I discovered that my engine driven fridge drive is broken (I have two ways to make the fridge cold: one from the batteries and one from the engine). A nut came loose and the vibration of the engine was enough to crack then break the bracket that holds it in place. There’s a lot of chaffing that goes on when you are sailing on a boat….
So now I’ve got a whole mess of issues. It’s funny, but when you’ve got one or two things go wrong, then a you get a cascading effect, check this out:
1. The port engine won’t run which limits our ability to maneuver.
2. As a result of our inability to maneuver, we can’t pull up to a fuel dock and get fuel.
3. Passengers on board are creating a greater demand for electricity than is normal so we have to run the engine to charge the batteries.
4. Due to the increased electrical demand and therefore engine use, we are now running low on fuel.
5. I cannot reduce the load that the fridge draws on the electrical system because the engine driven fridge drive doesn’t work (and we are low on fuel anyway)
6. Usually we make water with our water maker, but that takes electricity and we are short so we haven’t been making water to conserve power. So now we are low on water. Let’s not even talk about the washing machine…
7. We can’t pull up to get water because we have limited ability to maneuver (check out item 1).
So now we have arrived in Dominica and as I have no port engine, no generator, low fuel, low water and no ability to get to the fuel dock or run the water maker, I’ve got to fix some things quickly.

Meanwhile Lucy and Jon’s business doesn’t stop and they need to work, so the tension is palpable, especially between Lucy and me. I’ve been re-named the “Juice Nazi” as I try to limit everyone’s electrical usage. I keep thinking that Grease Monkey is more like it as I get up to my armpits in engine oil…

But it’s not all bad.  Here’s the flip side.

About the Author