The mind is an amazing tool, but one that might be improved with an OFF switch. Our boat batteries need replacing. Their capacity seems to be reduced to about half what they are rated for. We have a bank of six of them, very tightly nestled into inaccessible places. So we want to replace them with the same model, rather than take on a major construction and rewiring project. But of course they are a specialty item, not easily procured outside the US. Tim had the idea of calling a distributor in Australia, to see if we could get them shipped to Cocos Keeling (remote islands belonging to Australia, where we hope to visit but which will require a favorable wind). This seems to be our best hope. But my mind goes to the perhaps unfavorable wind. We could have $3,000 worth of batteries waiting for us at Cocos Keeling, and be beating into headwinds until we give up and just head west across the ocean, leaving them behind!
We left the overpopulated beach this morning, and motored south against a very light wind. Our boat speed added to the breeze, making it pleasantly comfortable, and the sky became mostly overcast, adding to the coolness. But the wind gradually increased until we were having difficulty motoring into about 16 knots and small waves. Here’s where my mind goes: The NE monsoon/season here changes to SW approximately in April. And the SW winds are stronger and bring rain and squalls. In northern Sumatra, where we are, there are very few anchorages sheltered from the SW. Those that exist, like the one we headed for, are open to the NW, which tends to be the wind direction in the squalls. Maybe today is the start of the SW monsoon, and we are going to have a miserable time trying to get south.
Then the engine unexpectedly slows down, and simultaneously the alternator stops charging. After a few seconds it returns to normal, but this repeats several times. I can’t make sense of it. If the alternator belt slipped, the engine would speed up, not slow down. If perhaps there was a clog in the fuel line, the engine would slow, but that wouldn’t cause the alternator to stop charging. We switched to the other engine, and had no further problems, including running the first engine for fifteen minutes as a test. The mystery remains. My mind abhors such mysteries, and it has me thinking that we have a serious electrical problem that is beyond our ability to troubleshoot, nor would anyone in Sumatra know more than we do. And thus it is likely that we are going to have a disabled boat in a no-help place, and the voyage is over.
As we approach our chosen anchorage the wind is trying to blow us on to rocks. My mind is calculating what we do if the engine quits at this point. Do we have room to set the jib and jibe away, or would we be ending our adventure on those rocks? We get into the cove with no problem, of course, and we anchor with good protection from the SW. But there is thunder. If we get a NW squall, and the anchor starts to drag, we have very little room to the rocky beach. Well, my mind says that at least this would be the simplest way to end the trip — insurance paying for the boat broken on the rocks, and we just wade ashore and head home.
Not that these thoughts are wrong… They just get in the way of enjoying a pretty day in a pretty anchorage in a place very, very far from home. Monkeys (I think) arguing loudly in the jungle ashore. A handful of small fishing boats going by, fishermen staring at us.