Mina2 Back In Her Element

At last, after 10 months of stagnation out of the water at Grenada Marine, Mina2 is back in her element on the water again. The transition was not without its drama. With her brand new arch at the stern, embellished with new radar, solar panels and, not least her wind generator (like a windmill), the travel hoist (big crane for lifting boats into and out of the water) could barely lift Mina2 off her keel before the wind generator became perilously close to the top of the travel hoist – the clearance was literally two or three inches. As the travel hoist backed out of Mina2’s winter berth and made its way towards the launching slip through the potholes, Mina2 started to sway, threatening to destroy the windgen before it had generated its first amp of Mother Nature’s own energy. Terry, the charming young Grenadian electrician who had spent the best part of two weeks lovingly wiring the numerous component parts together winced, as did I. Quick as a flash, he had pulled himself onto the swaying boat (not a thought for Elf’n’Safety), jumped up onto the top of the arch, and was manfully trying to stop 20-tons of yacht from swaying and destroying his handywork.

Too much even for him, he whipped out a ratchet spanner and with seconds had detached the windgen and had it cradled in his lap at the top of the arch as the travelhoist continued its journey to the waters edge. Slowly the boat was lowered into the briny until with an almost audible sigh of relief, she was floating once again.

But an immediate exit from the confines of the boatyard was not to be. There were still a few jobs that the yard had not completed, so we tied alongside for the next couple of days whilst teams of workers came and went finishing the last remaining tasks. But on Saturday all was completed and we cast off, set the sails and made our way round to Prickly Bay to join the rest of the Holiday Fleet. Whilst the yard may have finished their work, ours was just beginning. The holiday was now over and the DS rolled up her sleeves and set to scrubbing the accumulated grime of ten months dusty neglect from every nook and cranny of her Downstairs Domain, whilst I made out several very long lists of the things I had to do. Making lists, even for a Virgo, can be thirsty work and only after a couple of rum punches and a nap did I find the energy to make a list of the lists. But there comes a point when the prevarication has to stop and the actual work start. OK. Task 1. Strip down the heads (marine toilets) to their component parts, grease and service them. Hmm. Big job (at so many levels). There were many other jobs that could be achieved in half the time, so it would be madness not to tackle those first. Three days on and there are a multitude of tasks that have been satisfyingly crossed off the lists, but the heads are still stiff, squeaking and leaking.

Mina2 returns to her element

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the new solar and wind generators. Mina2, with its 400 light bulbs, fridges, freezers, etc etc, was designed to hum like a Type 42 frigate and to spend most of its time in marinas plugged into the National Grid. Not possible for an Expedition Vessel. We have had to rely for years on the constant running of diesel guzzling engines and generators, all of which break down with infuriating regularity. Last year, I sailed through some of the most remote, interesting, cruising areas in the world, and seemed to spend about 75% of my time with my head stuck in the engine room fixing things. So with the prospect of future years in places that are either reliably sunny or windy or both, I bit the bullet on renewable energy. My calculations were that in the Caribbean with both sun and wind, the solar panels and wind gen would generate about 80% of my electrical energy, so I would only have to run the generator once every five days rather than every day. Well, I was wrong (as, I am told by the DS, I frequently am). If the first four days are anything to go by, we are more than 100% self-reliant on electricity, and with more than enough to spare to keep the water tanks constantly topped up with the water maker, so unlimited showers.

The DS is even more thrilled than I am. A couple of years ago she bought a pathetic little solar-powered fountain for the garden at home and used to look at it for hours in fascination as, with nothing more than a little sunlight, she had what she called a “free water feature”. Now we are running an entire yacht on the same technology, she is to be seen jumping up and down, clapping her hands and shouting “It’s Magic, it’s Magic!”.

So, with no further need for electricity, diesel or fresh water, all we have to do now is to catch a few fish and there is no reason why we would ever have to go ashore again. Just have a containerful of spare parts for all the broken bits helicoptered out to us once every couple of weeks and that would be it. What bliss.


Tim Barker is a sailor and occasional adventurer. Since 2004, Mina2, his Oyster 485 yacht, and he (with the Downstairs Skipper and a wonderful bunch of friends) have sailed from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many places in between. Come join their adventures and read Tim's award winning blogs and journals from the comfort of your own computer screen.

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