Visit www.mogcanalboat.com for more details about the MOG Canal Boat.
November was sort of a watershed (pun intended) event for the MOG solar electric yacht. Hillary and I finally got it out of the slip and into mid river again. Originally we had scheduled about a four day run down the Cape Fear river into the intracoastal waterway and to a gunk hole (really inaccurate description) that had a narrow 250 foot strip of white sugar sand between the clear watered estuary and the blue Atlantic ocean. If you have been to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, you have an idea what gorgeous is.
The boat was prepped with food and fuel, batteries and water topped and some wine to boot. The auxiliary 60 hp engine would not start. Huh?! It was a 5 year old engine with only two hours on the meter!! And THAT was the problem. The govenment mandated 10% alcohol fuel had left its mark on the injectors and the fuel pump. Not to mention the (non adjustable) timing/cam belt had expanded over five years to the point where there was too much slack for accurate valve/electronics management. parts and labor was over nearly $1,400.00. So if you use it you pay and if you do not use it, you still pay. This is not the fault of the engine manufacturer. It is the fault of the adjustable nut at the helm. So chastened, I reset the schedule, summoned what was left of my maritime dignity and relaunched the plan.
As life dictates that all things be different than imagined, the leisurely sojourn was compressed into 1 day trip with about 22 miles of river travel. A down and back with a microwaved (precooked and prepackaged 90 second meals) lunch that did not make us sick but did prove that there is no restaruant in a box, from a supermarket. A few of the 90 second prepackaged foods are actually fine for a meal or two on the go. They store easily, need no refrigeration and consume only a trace amount of electricity to microwave them. Not a constant diet though. The meal was actually part of the plan, to see what meals are acceptable.......2 down and ? to go.
The two electric motors (as outboards currently) were used to navigate the marina slip and fairway out and back. The electric motores are accurate to a fault and have so quick a response as to be discomforting at first use. The river a has a very unforgiving rate of flow and the winds are usually nose on or stern on, which can catch a boat and turn her with the tide flow in an instant. Both electrics can be steered by tiller AND differentially throttled with immediate forward and reverse. No waiting for the transmission to synchronize (or refuse to engage) with the rest of the drive line. I will have to create an optional auditory enunciator (engine sound). The electric motors are so quiet that you cannot tell if they are at work, under load or just off. Since this is the golden age of electronics, the idea of having a 12 cylinder Ferrari, P-51 Mustang Rolls Royce Merlin or Norton Manx engine's song emanate from a nonexistent engine room is just irresistable.
Once each of us had some "electric steering" time, we switched to the 60 hp internal combustion engine to try the newly repaired engine and its response to the helm's tiller. The Ezy-Glide system worked just fine after I found an area of the cable that was being crimped near the auxiliay enfgine. However, the tiller had been set up to steer horizontaly rather than the intended use, vertically on the side of a boat's cockpit. In doing so the port to starboard traverse was counterintuitive. After the short trip, the gear head has been reversed so that the pilot now feels sure that the steering is correct.
All things considered the month of November, 2012 caught a bunch of niggling items that, if not for the trip, would have wreaked almighty havoc somewhere in the future Great Loop, at the most inopportune time and hostile environment. I am glad that the aforementioned and other problems were identified.
The weather and winter here in Wilmington, North Carolina is usually mild and can afford some great day and overnight trips. More trips will be made and countless ideas will be tested before our relaunce of the Great Loop in March of 2013. I will try to keep you posted as we progress to the day.