Atlantic issues….

The sun is shining , the wind is dead astern and we have been entertained by a posse of spotty dophins ( stenella atenuaris) so life is perfect ?

Well not quite . Yesterday I felt that our new batteries were not getting up to the charge I would have expected and started to look into it. To cut a long story short I think our “smart charger” – a misnomer if ever there was one – has gone on the blink and cooked the batteries. Cue a rather stressful day examining options with the help of our long suffering son, and a night checking out the towed generator , which I brought along for just this sort of problem. The good news is that there is some residual function in the batteries , and once I disconnected the smart charger , the alternator seems to behave itself , although at a reduced voltage. I dont normally like using the towed generator as it takes half a knot of speed ( 36 hours on a crossing!) but it was a revelation , charging the batteries and even supporting an hours run of the watermaker without the engine on and without killing the batteries. So , having reduced sail and headed for the Cape Verdes whilst we examined our options , we are now back up to full speed and heading SW. We still have 18 hours or so to make up our mind , and will monitor things carefully. I feel stupid about not testing the charger system after installing the new batteries , but you learn by your mistakes! I can think of better timing for my education!

This morning was spent practising hoisting and taking down gradually increasing size sails to fly on a free luff so we can run wing and wing with two headsails poled out each side . The consensus is that hoisting both on the twin grooves of the headfoil ( which is what we have previously done!) would be inviting failure of the foil and I have been nervous of setting and retrieving big sails without it. However we have worked out a system and will plan to reduce sail early and at night as fighting a big genny on a wild black night would not be fun. I know , I know , a roller furler with metal headfoil would have been perfect , and I now wish we had spent the dosh – but hopefully the time spent training this morning will see us through.

So a bit wiser and not yet beaten , the crew of Festina send their love from:

23.3 N 22 53 W All well ( except Andrew the Adverc who has got the sack!)


  1. Hi,

    Mindelo on Sao Vicente is your best option in the Cape Verdes. Closest to your best course, has quite a safe anchorage and has marina facitilies if you need them. Limited yachting spares are available and the locals are very freindly. Mindelo itself is a very interesting place and the island has lots to explore.

    All the best.


  2. Hi Lynda and Phil. I am surprised that the Adverc has gone on the blink. These units are normally reliable. The point to note is that using a smart charger causes the batteries to “use” electrolyte and so that levels should be checked on a regular basis. You could also have installed a battery monitor which would have picked up the problem earlier.

    Let’s hope the towed charger and engine alternator will be able to keep things in check if you choose the option to continue.

    Good luck

  3. Hi Phil & Lynda

    Happy New Year!

    Glad to hear you are eventually on your way, albeit with a charging challenge. We sat in Lanzarote on our hols 17 -24 Dec, out of the British winter, but very aware that the winds for crossing the pond were all wrong.
    The UK has had snow (and lots of it!) for five days now. There is little chance of a thaw for another few days, indeed more snow is forcast. Implac had a 2″ covering of frozen snow when I went to run engine this morning. So, on balance I think you guys are still in the best place.

    Good sailing with the two jibs up


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