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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jan. 27, 2011-A voyager, not a Cruiser

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Julian Mustoe

He is a voyager but not a cruiser.

He is a brave man, but some might say foolhardy.

Julian Mustoe, 78, is sailing his 25’ IOR quarter tonner Harrier alone around the world following the path of Charles Darwin, and Monday he set out for Africa to continue his voyage directly into the face of whatever Neptune had in store for him. He has no HF radio, no means to get weather updates, and no EPIRB in case he runs into serious trouble. Julian Mustoe is on his own. However, he’s gotten this far (London to Mauritius), not without some incidents, and you can’t argue with his persistence in the face of disaster nor his resourcefulness. When setting out to cross the Indian Ocean (before leaving Australian waters) his windvane failed and he had to resort to hand steering. Julian rigged a method of steering by the wind pressure on the sails and carried on. Forty days later he arrived in Mauritius.

I gave Julian a briefing on Sunday and told him that the weather picture didn’t look good. There were storms between Mauritius and Africa and maybe a chance of cyclones; I wouldn’t go. But Julian was stoic. He told me, “I think that I shall go tomorrow anyway - I am bound to get some bad weather somewhere in a 30 day passage”.

So now he is off to Africa and I wished luck him and good sailing.


I made a wiring error 17 years ago and discovered it last week. I’ve been working on the alternator recently. After my old Balmar failed for the second time and I bought a new one (shown below) which wasn’t performing well I’d been running tests and checks. Right in the middle of my work the alternator quit charging altogether and I discovered that the regulator had shut down. Tracking the fault I discovered that the blue and black wire from the panel which I used for a regulator switch was actually the ground wire from the charge warning light and was never the right one to use (I never 'til now quite understood the wiring diagram). When the light bulb failed after 17 years the regulator shut off.

OK, now, finally, I got it: the black and red wire should have been used not the blue and black one, so I reconnected the regulator properly as well as replaced the light bulb. It all works now. Amazing to me that this wiring error made so long ago should have lay in wait from then until now.

New Balmar Alternator

Now, let me qualify that “all works now” statement. The new Balmar can’t hold a candle to the old one. Its output is not greater and it overheats dramatically: 249F vs. 176F. What a disappointment. I’ve talked to Balmar about it and they agree that the new product is not as good as the older one but they say parts are not available to continue mass producing that prior model. This tells me that their success in selling their product has had the result that they cannot maintain the quality which made their reputation while still addressing the high demand. Too bad.

As for us, we’re having the old model rebuilt (again) and we’ll put it back in service.

Click here to see the another photo
Click here for some shots from Mauritius

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mauritius

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