Hilton Head to Sapelo
Our engine starting battery died. We suspect the alternator wasn't charging it. This battery is used for two critical functions: starting the engine and pulling up the anchor. So, we were stuck at anchor for a while. This was discovered when we realized the wind direction changed and were being pushing us onto the bank.
The good news is that we didn't hit the bank and we had enough power to pull the anchor in a bit to keep us out of danger for a while. The solar panels don't charge the engine battery, and the alternator seemed to not be charging it either. Duane tried to diagnose the problem but probably blew out the diodes in the alternator so now it definitely does not work.
We swapped batteries out with the bow thruster and used that power to pull in the anchor and start the engine. We docked at the nearest marina and we are calling for professional help and sending Duane out for a run. It turns out Hilton Head has some charm -- they have rules about business signage and construction such that everything needs to blend in with nature.
Weekend without sails
Andrea called a marina and asked if they could repair our alternator and they said they had a huge list of people nerby that could do it, so we pulled up to their dock and began to call. Unfortunately, the earliest we could get work done is week out, so we spent the weekend making other repairs.
The starbord navigation light (red) stopped working on our sail into Hilton Head. After a few hours diagnosing the problemj, Duane learned how to use this modern volt meter. SMH. Andrea stumbled onto the root cause while trying to read a voltage to me -- the connector fell off due to excessive corrosion. After replacing the connector, everything worked again. Yay. Lets hope it lasts.
I had noticed the windex needed to be tightened at the top of the mast, and we also needed to measure the height, reattach a flag line, and replace the deck flod light. So, Duane got to ride in the bosun's chair. It turned out the windex wasn't even up there anymore -- must have fallen off. The deck light didn't have power, so it's probably a problem elsewhere. We measured the boat height to be 68 feet. We can take the antenna and weather vane down and shave off a couple feet, but if we want to go under the 65" bridges, we will need to do it at low tide.
We took a trip to walmart and stocked up on a bunch of canned goods. Then we ate at an expensive resturant for good measure.
We replace the alternator ourselves with a spare alternator we had on board that may have been the original part at one time but was replace and then rebuilt so it could be used as a spare. Well, it seems the surgury was a success and the patient is good to go!
We had one more major thing to fix, though. The windlass was having lots of issues pulling up the anchor last time, so we needed to figure out how to manually operate it in case it happens again. It turns out there are some things wrong with the windlass that need servicing. It was full of sand, for one thing. I cleaned out the sand, but we desperately need to service it and we may need to replace it. But the good news is that we know how to pull up the anchor manually now.
So, we canceled all our appointments in nearby Hinkley, and we prepared to sail further south. We also made a few appointments with mechanics in Ft. Pierce since that looks like a good place to make some final repairs before leaving the country.
Pulling the anchor up took much longer than expected due to the windlass disfunction. Getting the chain off the bottom was fairly easy. Getting the anchor off the bottom was harder. Getting the anchor over the bowsprit was impossible without the aid of a halyard.
We left Hilton Head at 6pm and we sailed through the night to Jacksonville.