Our first stop after sailing across the Sea of the Hebrides we arrived at Castle Bay in the South of the island cluster and soon overheard a couple talking about a wreck called the Politician. First here is what wiki says:
SS Politician was an 8000-ton cargo ship owned by T & J Harrison of Liverpool. It left Liverpool on 3 February 1941, bound for Kingston, Jamaica and New Orleans with a cargo including 28,000 cases of malt whisky. The ship sank off the north coast of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, and much of the wreck’s cargo was salvaged by the island’s inhabitants. The story of the wreck and looting was the basis for the book and film Whisky Galore! (Wikipedia)
It turned out that this couple used to use their boat for diving charters so they knew their stuff! This was perfect since we’re not hugely experienced cold water divers. A few days later we set sail north as a group of four boats and dropped anchor surrounding the wreck. Sadly the wreck was barely distinguishable after being pounded by winter storms for over 50 years. That said, there was a lot of kelp growing from the remains of the ship, providing shelter to lots of fish and other marine life.
Our spinnaker only comes out when we’re on a long passage of over 6 hours and away from land. It is a real beast and so we want to ensure the wind is going to be steady and constant or else the effort in getting it out is not really worth it. Its size means that we can still sail relatively fat even in very low winds. Here it is in action going up the Irish sea.
The title of the this post is a little misleading as clearly life on a boat is “off grid” but the system we have on-board is the same as if you wanted to work off-grid in a house. That is, 12V batteries charged by solar or wind. You can then run 12v appliances or 240V ones via an invertor.
Strangely, most appliances in a house are in fact running from 12 volts or less which is why laptops, lights, cameras and other appliances come with bulky adapters to convert them down from 240v to 12v or less. On our boat the only thing that needs 240v is actually our water-maker (desalination unit).
An anode is a sacrificial piece of metal that corrodes more quickly than the other metal it is attached to. This little piece of chemistry means that we can use Zinc on our propeller shaft to protect our propeller, the shaft itself and the engine from corrosion since the zinc ‘anode’ wastes away first. They are generally replaced once per year but since they are underwater, can be a pain in arse to both check and replace without the boat being lifted out. That is costly and boring so this is how we do it!