Peloponnese and charging problems

We left Keri early on Monday morning so we could investigate the Strofadhes Islands, some 20nm south and absolutely in the middle of nowhere. As per usual, there was no wind so we motored all the way arriving around midday. Whilst the islands were arresting in a desolate way, the anchorage was not tenable. The swell was rolling in and the seabed was strewn with boulders that were big enough to get our chain snared around. We decided against staying and headed for the Peloponnese mainland.

There is an island called Petrì that might have worked as an anchorage so we sailed/motored over to there. We arrived around 1730 but again there was very little shelter and we would be in deep water so would necessitate a lot of chain. We also noticed that our domestic batteries didn’t seem to be charging very well. We had been using the water maker during the day with increased engine revs but we were still down to 65%. Exactly the same when we were in Cephalonia and then we had to divert into Ay. Eufima. Odd. We continued south for another couple of hours to Navarino Bay and the town of Pilos. Navarino Bay is famous in Greece as it effectively brought an end to the Greek War of Independence when an allied fleet of British, French and Russian ships routed the Turkish Egyptian fleet in 1827.

The entrance to Navarino Bay

This is a huge bay (some 3nm long) that had plenty of anchoring opportunities so we weren’t worried about getting there at dusk. We anchored in 5m of sand off the defunct town marina at Pilos and set about trying to diagnose our charging problems. We called our friend, Lee, who is both a sailor and an engineer, for some guidance as we had done some tests and narrowed it down to either the alternator or split diode (this splits the charge from the alternator to the different battery banks). We agreed with Lee that we would do some more tests in the morning when the engine and the alternator were cool. A quick supper and off to bed as it had been a long day.

The next morning it was clear that our domestic battery bank wasn’t charging at all whilst our engine and bow thruster ones were. It was looking more and more like the split diode was the problem. We would have to be in a marina to get this fixed as we needed shore power to charge the batteries otherwise no cold beer! Despite the bay and Pilos looking very inviting we left first thing to travel 40nm east to Kalamata, the first proper marina on the Peloponnese unless we wanted to go back on ourselves. There was no wind so we put the towing generator arm on our wind generator so at least we could generate some power along with the solar panels and started motoring towards Kalamata. The solar panels and the towing arm generated around 12-14 amps which was more than enough to keep us going. The afternoon sea breeze kicked in around 1400 so we were able to sail the last 15nm to Kalamata.

Safely moored up despite our neighbour mansplaining exactly what we needed to do to moor (we ignored him!), the electrical engineer came on board to investigate our problem. He soon confirmed our diagnosis that the split diode was indeed broken which was comforting as a) we had thought the same and b) it would be a lot cheaper to replace than an alternator! However, because of the model required he needed to order it from Athens and have it couriered to us, which he did the following morning. Sadly, the courier sent it to the wrong town so a replacement was sent out today. Fingers crossed it is delivered tomorrow morning.

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