Scilly Isles

We had a great run across from l’Aberwrac’h to the Isles of Scilly.

Passage plan 20 hours.

Passage 18 hours but only because we hove too for 3 hours about 3 miles off so that we could approach in the daylight.

Scilly Dawn
Dawn Approach
Proper sandwich with the last of the baguette
Last of the French Baguette

Its a much easier passage from NW Brittany than trying to sail West from the UK south coast.

We anchored between Gugh and St Agnes. A beautiful bay that felt more like the Caribbean than a group of islands off the British coast. The sun meant we could have a cold swim/wash. The first since leaving the comforts of Torquay marina.

In the caribbean already (Scilly-Gue and St Agnes

Mel - Swiming in the Sscilly Iles
First swim from the boat. Definitely not warm but good to have a wash.

We generally hope to be sailing where it’s warmer so the washes won’t  be so cold.

ScillyStone HorseSeagull perchScilly beach landing

Unfortunately I managed to kill the waterproof shockproof camera after this.

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Batteries

The batteries that came with the boat were:

House bank: 2 x 110Ahr
Starter: 1 x 110Ahr

One of the house bank batteries died (it started sulphurating and then wouldn’t hold charge) while on our shore power charger. This forced us to think about the batteries.

We have left the starter battery as it is as this seemed pretty good. For the house bank we now have 4 x Trojan T-105 6V 220Ahr batteries. So we now have 440Ahr capacity (double what we did have). We have built a new battery box to house the extra 2 batteries.

We also solved the problem of how to connect everything to them.

Home made battery terminal extensions
Home made battery terminal extensions

6mm x 25mm copper bar (made from of copper tape lightning conductor) drilled and tapped with M8 brass bolts for terminals.

We need these because we have the following directly connected to our batteries:

  • One 1 both 2 switch (that feeds everything on the switch panel)
  • A split charge relay & sensing cables
  • A shore power charger & sensing cables
  • Two solar panels MPPT controllers & sensing cables
  • The alternator & sensing cables for smart regulator
  • The battery monitor sensing cables
  • The windlass

Nothing we think shouldn’t be there but too much to fit onto a single short M8 stud.

Solar Panels

We wanted renewable power on board. Solar looked like the best option for sailing in the tropics. We now have 400W installed on our custom frame.

2nd Solar Panel
First two panels going on (Dan and Jay)
4 Solar panels and extra supporting fixings
All four panels in place with extra support for the corners

Thank you Jay and Ella for your help getting the first two on.

These also provide a nice bit of shade at the back of the boat.

They stop the rain but while we are on calm pontoon it tends to puddle on top and then pour itself onto you when you walk under them and tip the boat slightly.

They provided enough power to keep our fridge going in a northern hemisphere winter while we aren’t on board and keep us in power for about 3 days between charges.

We hope that when we are further south with a  bit more sunshine they will keep us going indefinitely at anchor and enough for 3 or 4 days on passage.

Since we don’t know exactly how much our autopilot uses or our fridge when it gets hot it is all a bit of a guess at the moment.

The Specs

Solar Panels: 4 x 100W from Photonic Universe.

  • Peak power: 100W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 5.71A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 6.17A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 945*670*30mm
  • Weight: 7.2 kg
  • 4 mounting holes 9 x 11 mm
  • 2x5m of high quality single core solar cable 4.0mm cross section
  • Male and female MC4 connectors

Charge Controllers: 2 x Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT 75/15

These should maximise our output from the panels and having 2 will give us some redundancy. It was also cheaper to buy two of the smaller controllers than one that was big enough for all 4 panels.

Wiring:

The panels are wired as 2 sets of panels. Each set wired in parallel to two charge controllers. Wiring in parallel although theoretically slightly less efficient should minimise any effects of shading on a single panel.

All the connections have been done with MC4 waterproof connectors. These were easy to use and means that it is straight forward if we need to change the way the panels are connected.

Each panel has 4mm2 cable running from it. Each pair of panels has 6mm2 to the MPPT controllers and connected directly to our house battery bank.

Pizza

Boat Pizza
Mel enjoying home made pizza

Fresh from the oven.

Top shelf pizza was perfect. Our oven burns the  base of the one on the bottom shelf even with an extra baking tray underneath to try and distribute the heat.

Our old pizza trays fitted perfectly in the oven. “Top” quality from Wilko. We’ll see if they survive a salty environment.

The Plan

This is the plan at the moment.

It’s nice and vague to give us room to change as we want to. I may look back at this and wonder at the naivety of it or look back at it and all these places, that are now just names, will be filled with great memories.

Start point is Torquay because this is where Cerise is at the moment.

next stop Roscoff/Morlaix on the Britany coast

Heading round the corner to Brest and wait for a weather window.

Across Biscay to the north coast of Spain. This is going to interesting at this time of year. We will need to be patient and wait for a good weather window. To people wandering why we don’t go down through the canals of France we have a keel stepped mast so dropping it would be a pain and at 1.85m our draft is too much.

From Northwest Spain we will round the corner and head down the Portuguese coast. As yet I don’t know if we will do this in short day hops or head further offshore to give ourselves some sea room. I’d like to stop in Peniche for some surf and Lisbon just to see the city.

From Portugal we head down to the coast of Morocco and the Canary Islands.

On down to Cape Verde to explore the islands there then an April crossing to the north coast of Brazil. Enduring the doldrums as we go. We will be to late to make to standard sleigh ride direct to the Caribbean as we would be arriving just before the start  of the cyclone season there. We will be safe further south in Brazil and we get to see Brazil 🙂

Nearly off

We are starting from Torquay on the south coast of England. We are setting of in January. Not quite when we intended to start but the fact that we are setting off about 6 months later than planned isn’t going to stop us now.

First destination is a hop across the Channel to Roscoff. This will be a shakedown of sorts for all the work we’ve been doing on the boat getting her ready to go. We’ve sailed there before in our old boat so there shouldn’t be anything to unexpected and it’s only a short crossing so we can pick a nice weather window.

We had set before Christmas as our deadline and to train down through France for Christmas with Mel’s family but late booking train prices made us give up on that idea and an excuse to delay. Glad we did the week before Christmas which would have been our window to sail had massive waves coming hitting the UK coast as well as a gale and at best a headwind the whole way across.

We now just have a few little bits to do and we should be off. We’ve been telling everyone January, but then we told everyone (including ourselves) October as well.