Road Trip Planning

June 21, 2019 posted by Diane

June 20, 2019

Adventures always come with big decisions and preparation.  The better prepared you are the better set you are to deal with any troubles along the way and also to simply enjoy the trip.  Just like a family road trip you consider what you want with you in the car to make the experience more enjoyable.  Cold drinks, books, games, the route and a pillow may be all the things you want to consider.  But will it all fit?  Can you stretch out your legs with all that stuff?  Will there be enough bathroom breaks along the way?  And then there is the infamous “take the car in for service before you go”.  The mechanic does an oil change, rotates the tires and then sais…..”did you know your exhaust has a hole in it” and you start to weigh the need to replace the exhaust or not.

Eleanor is our fantastic Valiant 42 that we are taking across the ocean.  Her owner is meticulous at making sure things are done correctly, which of course includes the proverbial “take her in for service”.  As such, the yard has been hard at work installing new antennas, fixing switches and countless other “little things” on the list, however the big decisions are always of great discussion.  This little road trip is more than just a family vacation in the car.  Taking a sailboat across the ocean and onward to other adventures after that requires establishing a significant level of sustainability onboard.  Until the invention of the perpetual machine, we need to generate power to keep our batteries up.  This has invoked the age old argument of swapping the battery banks out for new.  In this case the batteries were due to be replaced, but should the traditional lead acid batteries/AGM be put back in or should the boat go with lithium batteries.  I think I just heard Tesla’s ears perk up.  There is always a risk with adding something new onboard without sufficient sea trials and in this case the new is a massive part of our sustainability.  On the one hand, the new battery system will mean significantly less charging to be done and less consuming of diesel.  The new lithium batteries can run lower and not suffer damage.  They are also more stable in a crisis when lead acid can become a toxic gas when mixed with salt water.  On the flip side, a new battery installation means new variables not yet tested and a time line that no longer meets our casting off criteria.  The yard is working 12 hours a day to install the system.  It’s not as simple as a couple of 2 gauge black and red wires cranked onto posts.  The entire system starting at the shore power, wind generator, solar panel and engine needs to be converted as the power supply comes through to the charger and into the batteries.

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Ultimately this has all lead back to that discussion of “planning the road trip”.  Our plan manages a bunch of variables : food to keep us warm and properly caloried,


icebergs through the Labrador Current, Oil Rigs off of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the long stretch up to 54° north to Scotland and then the infamous currents in the Great Race coming in to our final port in Kilmelford Scotland.  How do you pick and plan your road trips and keep your calorie count up?  What are the variables you take into account and where do you make compromises you are happy to live with and others that you just say no to? We cast off Monday early morning!  woohoo!  Bring on the adventure!!!


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