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2018-05-05

Powerless (almost)

This is the heavy-gauge extension cord not on the boat. It's powering the fridge...
A short digression on preparing for life aboard was prompted yesterday by a rather strong wind storm (gusts of 60 knots were reported at the lake, and there were perhaps some local downbursts of greater intensity. Intense enough to down large trees across the city, anyway, which led to a large number of discrete power outages.
...which is powered by the dependable Honda 2000, now easily over a decade old and showing the wear and tear of being bicycled for many winters to an otherwise electricity-free boatyard some distance away. Why? To charge batteries on Valiente I enjoyed transporting even less.
Ours started between five and six o'clock Friday; I don't know for sure as I was having a mast-moving-inspired nap, which was broken by Mrs. Alchemy's return from errands shouting "HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WIND?" (I suspect she thought she was still outside). Thinking better of my CanLit-inspired answer of "no, who has seen the wind?", I arose to relative silence: a house without electricity in it is, even to my comparatively aged ears, a quieter place. Save for the honking of the cars negotiating an intersection with dead traffic lights outside, of course. Plus that howling wind.

Wood that it had stood.
Sailorly habits mean we have candles and flashlights to hand and the outage was only the south side, our side, of the street; we had no particular reason to assume it would be long, so we picked up a pizza for dinner and played Settlers of Catan by candlelight. The game's vaguely medieval, so it made sense. But as the hours went by with no restoration, I started to be concerned that the food in the fridge and the chest freezer would defrost or otherwise perish. Other sailorly habits include shopping the grocery flyers, meaning we have food items bought on sale to last a few weeks, and some of which are frozen. So it was time to invoke the generator.
As seen on Kindle.
The Honda 2000 I bought many years ago has yielded stalwart service when I've needed to charge batteries or run a power tool too far from an outlet for even the ridiculous lengths of extension cord we own. This was such a time. Its output is approximately 10 amps on the AC side, with a brief allowance for surges, meaning I could safely alternate fridge and freezer (and charge my son's computer which holds his textbooks) to keep their contents sufficiently cool (the furnace, too, was off, but the house was about 19C).
Wires were gnarled, but that house was missed, luckily.
It worked a charm. I ran it about two hours last night and three hours this morning before going off to do mast work, and when I got home, power had been restored. We did something similar a few years ago after a summer thunderstorm-related outage, and it's been a good reminder that life restricted to 10 amps is more or less daily boat life in some ways, and that being conscious of what life without mains power is like is salutary to a future when sun and wind will keep the batteries, for the most part, topped up. I'd write more, but there's a hot shower to take.

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