Today got off to a bad start. I thought my second GPS had broken when I fired it up and it showed me I had lost 20 miles overnight. Surely not! But, alas, it was true. My weather forecasts from Lee had been disrupted recently (I blame Iridium) so I hadn’t known the wind was going to swing around to the southwest. Not that there’s much I could have done about it anyway. At the same time I got caught in an eddy, also pushing from the southwest, so even my sea anchor wouldn’t have helped, as it would just have grabbed a big hold of the eddy.

So I’ve just had to ride it out. The good news is that the wind is backing further, so by tomorrow I should be on my way again. I was missing my wiggly line (extinct since the demise of the chartplotter) so I plotted today’s positions manually on chart paper, and could see that I am doing an anticlockwise circuit. Tomorrow I should slingshot out of the top. Hurrah!

It never rains but it pours… late this afternoon I noticed that my batteries weren’t charging. It was the same problem that had caused my pitstop in the Abrolhos Islands. I knew where to look this time. I opened up the control panel and sure enough, the LED light on the Sunsaver Duo unit was red instead of green. I knew it could be fixed by disconnecting and reconnecting 4 wires on the unit. Easier said than done, though. Why are these things always in the most inaccessible place? Behind the control panel, in the far corner of my cabin, hiding behind a load of other wires. But after some keyhole surgery we were looking in good shape again.

If anybody has access to a manual for a Sunsaver Duo unit, could they please take a look and tell me if there is an easier way to get it up and running again when the LED turns red? There is a little window with 6 tiny switches in it. Maybe there is a way to use those to reset the unit?

Other Stuff:

StinsonBeach – happy memories! Bolinas is one of my favourite places in the whole world, so I have been through Stinson Beach many a time. You are lucky indeed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Zoltan – I always used to bring a sextant and the books of tables, but after lugging them across a couple of oceans and never using them I have left them behind this time. It would be very difficult indeed to get a good reading from the deck of a tippy rowboat, and the sun has been conspicuous by its absence the last few days, but I can completely understand the satisfaction from celestial navigation. I loved doing the courses.

Photo: for the benefit of those not familiar with celestial navigation, it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds! A photo taken during my navigation studies in 2005.

Aimee – I loved the quote from The Great Gatsby. I’d never heard that before. I also like your analogy with a greener future that lies in the past: “Striving for a future that lies in the past could be at the heart of the environmental message of living uncluttered, simpler and ultimately more fulfilling lives.” Thank you for that.

You might like to see this article that I wrote for MYOO, for Oceans Day.

Today’s quote, apropos of tolerance: “If we like a man’s dream, we call him a reformer; if we don’t like his dream, we call him a crank.” (William Dean Howells)

Sponsored Miles: Carl Jones, Gail Brownell.


      • Ike, I tried googling on “Great Gatsby quotes tarantula” and there are two quotes mentioned there. I can only assume that Roz must have mentioned GG at some stage, but I really don’t remember when it might have been. Hope you find the answer to your search, 

  • Roz,

    There are many red light indications, but in the Manual for Sunsaver Duo unit:
    The only disconnect/reconnect in the manual is regarding the Remote Temperature Sensor (RTS) – A bad RTS connection or severed RTS
    lead has disconnected the temperature sensor during charging. Charging
    automatically resumes when the problem is fixed. To resume operation
    without an RTS, disconnect all power to the SunSaver Duo and then

    Red (flashing) Errors
    – reverse polarity battery connection.
    – reverse polarity solar connection.
    – solar over-current condition.
    – high temperature.
    – damaged or disconnected Remote Temperature Sensor.
    – high voltage disconnect.

    Test the following:
    Check for correct polarity: Battery 1, Battery 2, and Solar connections.
    Verify that the current output of the solar module(s) is less than 25 Amps.
    Inspect the Remote Temperature Sensor connection and leads for breaks.
    Measure battery 1 and battery 2 voltage. If either battery voltage measurement exceeds 15.5 V, a High Voltage error has occurred.
    Check the solar input wiring. Solar + may be wired to a battery + terminal.
    The SunSaver Duo may be damaged, resulting in over-charging.If the ambient temperature at the controller is hot or there is little ventilation, the SunSaver Duo may have an error due to high temperature. Add ventilation, relocate the controller to a cooler location, or reduce charge current.

    Red (on solid) Critical Errors
    – damaged local temperature sensor.
    – damaged heatsink temperature sensor
    4.3 Protections
    Over-current – Solar charge current exceeds the current rating of the SunSaver Duo. Automatically reconnects in 30 seconds.
    CAUTION: A mis-wired connection of a battery to the Solar input when a second battery is already connected to a Battery input may damage the SunSaver Duo.
    High Temperature – The heatsink temperature is above safe limits. Automatically reconnects when heatsink cools to a safe temperature.
    Short Circuit – Solar input power wires are short-circuited. Charging automatically resumes when the error is cleared.
    Battery Reverse Polarity – Battery 1 or Battery 2 power connections are connected backwards. Error clears when the mis-wire is corrected.
    Damaged Local Temperature Sensor – The local ambient temperature sensor is short-circuited or damaged. Charging stops to avoid over- or under-charging. This is a critical error.
    Damaged Internal Temperature Sensor – The internal heatsink temperature sensor reading is damaged. This is a critical error.
    Remote Temperature Sensor (RTS) – A bad RTS connection or severed RTS lead has disconnected the temperature sensor during charging. Charging automatically resumes when the problem is fixed. To resume operation without an RTS, disconnect all power to the SunSaver Duo and then reconnect.
    Inspect the Local Temperature Sensor (LTS) for corrosion or breaks.

    Best of luck!
    John H

    • Thank you John – Had actually sent off your recommendations before I saw and sent part of the manual as supplied by Tc. Perhaps not necessary for me to have sent both, but let’s hope that the information helps. 

  • I got to do some minor refrigerator/freezer repair this past weekend that involved removing an ice maker and an interior panel of the freezer, plus some drain tubing on the back of the fridge. That was frustrating enough. I can only imagine how “fun” it would be trying to do it in a tippy rowboat with so much depending on the success of the repair. As always, I am truly impressed with your resourcefulness and ability to get things done that must be done.

    All is well in Atlanta. Enjoyed hearing about “The Book Thief.” 


    • Thank you Tc. As Roz cannot see the internet, I have copied pages that I thought relevant and sent them to her. I do hope that she can solve this one! 

      • Just to let you know that Roz has sorted the problem with the electronics, and is now rowing in favorable weather conditions. 

  • Hi Roz,

    Damn! You life sounds a uncomfortably like mine except the bit where I dull the edges with boutique deutche booze in the evenings. But in the mornings I follow your example and keep rowing. I hope your luck turns.


  • Roz; be sure to mark your chart(s) fully and clearly. With a certificate of authenticity added and signed it/they will be collectors’ items and worth money to you.

  • Interesting: “The latest long-range space forecast predicts a prolonged drop in solar
    activity after the next peak — and scientists say that might cool
    down temperatures here on Earth, or at least slow down the warming trend
    a bit.”

    • Is that the 10-11 year solar irradiance cycle? Cooling is likely in the short term but it only masks continued warming from GHGs. If it’s the cycle discussed at, NASA says “in the current era of rapidly increasing GHGs, such solar variations cannot have a substantial impact on long-term global warming trends.”  

  • Hey Roz,  Hope the sling shot move carries you far and safe,  your persistence and resilience is inspiring.  I like your sense of wry humor and resourcefulness in problem solving with the SunSaver Duo. It appears that John H has pretty good resources in that matter.  Thanks for undertaking this epic journey….  

  • John H has found the same info on this charge controller that I have Roz.
    If disconnecting and reconnecting those wires is all it takes to get you up and running you could try disconnecting the solar panels at a different location, maybe there is a switch or fuse that is axcessable. At the same time, you could also disconnect the battery somewhere before the charge controller also, eg the negative battery cable on the battery or a fuse in the positive side. Maybe there is a breaker or switch somewhere to disconnect the batteries. Disconnectiong the panels and the batteries is all you are doing when you are disconnecting those 4 wires, so all I’m saying is maybe there is a simpler place to disconnect things.    ——– Not that it will, but if ever the charge controller does happen to  fail you , and you cannot get it going again, you could bypass the sunsaver duo charge controller completely and hook the solar panels directly to the batteries  in an emergency for communication purposes to let the world know what has happend. Just dont leave it hooked on forever like that, because it could overcharge the batteries. Maybe you know this stuff or maybe not, but anyway, to do this, you would disconnect the battery  + wire and the pv plus + wire from the charge controller  and twist them together and then do the same with  the battery – negative and the pv- negative wires. Make sure you tape the connections or at least isolate them from touching anything else somehow.  If you had extra electrical wire, you could extend the wires to get them more axcessable for easier connecting and disconnecting. I’m just telling you this for emergency purposes only, just incase the charge controller fails, because it would be hard to get you this info if you already lost power. It’s probably nothing, but if the charge controller is cutting out like this often, it could possibly lead to non functioning eventually. But it could be just simple things such as overheating, and overcharging etc, but that stuff is supposed to restart automatically. If you have a volt meter on board you could monitor your battery voltage and disconnect manually when the battery started to exceed 14-15 volts for example. You could be a manual charge controller. Just thought I would send in my 2 cents Roz. Hope it works for ya.          

    • Sadly found this a little late. Mark is right. I just would disconnect batteries at 14 Volts. (14,1 or 14,4 depends on model) but do not wait for 15V. THis is too much for the ones you have aboard. To be save, disconnect at 13,8V. You could load both batteries same time but i would not recommend it. Overall i never would recommend to switch these batteries parallel. To my experience: Woodvale did not built in fuses expect the breakers panel. There better should be one 30A fuse near the + pole of each battery. But i am not sure if this will reset the Sunsaver as it still gets power over the panels. It draws less then 10mA on standybe and 50mA while charging. To give you a diagnosis, we need to know how the red LED blinks. Long on, short off? Or short on, long off. Critical error or not? Check wire contacts i say. Maybe you have a corroded wire. Or check the temperature on you sunsaver remote. Is it ok? OR: Check if there is enough cooling air on the back side of the sunsaver. It’s getting hot there. There should be at least 5cm space top and bottom to allow a proper airflow. If the temperature is to high: Check if the sensor on the front (left to to the LED) is ok too. If you have an external temperatur sensor on the sunsaver (a wire on the top left on the sunsaver) – disconnect it and restart sunsaver.

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