Quiet time is magical for me…. It is a problem I have, due to my life of experience as a marine engineer, I have learned to appreciate the quiet time found while sailing and will forever feel a little sorry at the sound of engine or generator running. To clarify a little, I value both engine and generator enormously, but fail to see the point of running up these machines to idle away at low load, increasing wear and tear and unnecessary maintenance, when there are readily available options which maintain the peace and quiet and actively reduce the maintenance requirements while providing silent charge to our battery bank!
This is a problem born of years spent in the engine rooms of vessels large and small, permanent imprints from ear muffs worn out of necessity, born of an oil and grease soaked body… As a result, I am slightly obsessed with minimising the need for these machines, ideally limiting it to air conditioning (for the generator) and propulsion (for the main engine).
Our first upgrade to Aeolus in this department was our battery bank, but this was closely followed by the mighty MK 450 wind generator from www.marinebeam.com.
When we first decided that a wind generator would be a good solution for Aeolus, we were cruising through the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. A great deal of time was spent walking docks and drifting through mooring fields and anchorages, listening to the atrocious noise from many different brands of wind generator…. We did come across what is quite possibly the bees knees of wind generators world wide, that being the D400 (currently over US$2600), with its space craft body and silent operation, but with a substantial price tag to match, so that was out of the question.
The light bulb went off one day in Treasure Cay, while enjoying drinks on our friends Clifford and Adrienne’s beautiful Pearson 36 “Wil-Lo-Wind ‘and commenting on the comfort and peace of the day in their cockpit – when Clifford mentioning that they were actually charging the batteries via their wind generator! “What is it?” we asked as Kate and I both leaned out to see the evidence! Surely enough, there it was, our first sighting of the MK450 in full silent flight only a couple of feet away! “How much?” we asked – to which they happily replied a delightfully low figure….
That set the path in place and it wasn’t long before we placed our order via www.marinebeam.com for our very own MK450 at the reasonable price of US$1500 (at the time this converted to AUS$1993.11).
We then mounted the MK450 on top of a stainless post manufactured by a local genius fabricator – Will – delightfully simple, but perfect for tying in to the busy stern of Aeolus, It went up easily and spun up with virtually no vibration from the first test. While we performed the installation ourselves, the assistance of one great friend was instrumental with friendly advice, local contacts and the use of specialist tools and equipment, thank you Scott Wiley of Scott Wiley Marine for your expert electrical and installation advice.
Now the MK450 is not flawless, there are a few points to remember. Offered as an option is a stop switch, which is basically an electrical braking mechanism, activated by reversing the output terminal of the MK450 controller. This to me is well worth the few extra dollars it costs, simple to install and performs an important function. In winds over 30 knots there are invariably gusts of a significantly stronger nature, these gusts set off the automatic over speed brake, which causes a great noise which does serve to wake up a sleepy watchkeeper! This is a great feature which protects the MK450 from ultimate failure, we use this automatic brake as an indication that it is time to switch on the manual brake, cutting down the noise and invariably protecting the unit from any damage, without the need to risk your limbs in attempts to lash the windgen in place.
I must say that the MK450 is a 5 star unit, affordable and quiet, and so far reliable, easy installation with clear instructions. I thoroughly recommend installing this on a solid mount with the optional stop switch for ultimate satisfaction.
Please understand that we are in no way supported by this company or product, this is simply a product that we researched, purchased, installed and are most impressed with, we receive nothing material for promoting this product.
Happy Sailing and Silent Charging!!