The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fernandina Harbor Marina


If you remember this song titlle you are probably around my age or older.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t Georgia, but we were just across the river from Georgia and “The Night the Lights Went out in the Town Across the River from Georgia” just was not as humorous. And there is not a song by that title that I know.  Let me backtrack just a tad. Mark will fill you in on the complete details in his post.

Our dear friend and land crew member Mona came to visit us while we were in Fernandina Beach, Florida (on Amelia Island). Mona planned to stay on the boat with us rather than a hotel. She wanted to get the full sailing/living on the boat experience. Mona has day-sailed with us but never roomed with us on the boat.

Mona went on a day hike. While she was birding and running from alligators (we’re not kidding about this), we were puttering around the boat when suddenly the electricity went out. This is not that unusual on docks, not that common but not unusual. Mark checked our shore power, the connection and the breaker. Everything looked fine. He then started walking down the dock stopping at a few boats and inquiring about their electricity thinking there was a dock outage. Everyone still had electricity. Oh crap. It is not the dock, it is us- it is our boat. Time to go to the engine room.

You have to be careful what you say or high-five about on a boat. Boats hear you. We were a bit too giddy about not having repairs this stop and Mona did say she wanted the entire boat experience so the boat heard us and complied. Cream Puff took the opportunity to blow out a contactor. As soon as we opened the engine room we could smell electrical burn (Mark’s post will go into more detail about what the contactor does and what happened).

The Culprit

The Culprit

Simply put, all of our electricity was gone. This meant we lost the use of anything that uses electricity and the use of the generator as well. We could live without most things electrical for a short time. We can use the engine to charge the battery bank and keep the freezer and refrigerator operational. Unfortunately it meant we no longer had air conditioning. We are still in Florida….. in the summertime….Upper ninety degree days with a heat index in the lower 100’s. Don’t forget to add in the humidity.….like eighty percent humidity. I can live without a lot of things that the shore power brings to us but living without AC in this heat was going to be rough. Oh, oh, who is going to tell Mona? I think she is going to get more of the live aboard experience than she had bargain for this trip. Even though we offered to put Mona up in a hotel so she could have air conditioning and a hot shower she chose to stay with us and toughed it out. What a trooper!

So there we were without air conditioning and working on our options to repair the issue. We spoke to places like Amel in France, Amel in Turkey, as well as the glorious Amel Forum that is always so helpful (thanks everyone!). We decided we could perform from a temporary repair until the parts arrive from France which will be sometime in the somewhat near future. The temporary repair will hold us and if we rushed shipping we could have the parts in a day or two from right here in the USA. We’d have to spend a day or two without air conditioning but at least there was a temporary repair we can make and we will be back to normal in just a few days. Things are looking up.

Once the parts arrived we got to work on the temporary repair. After a short time in the engine room we had it finished and once again had shore power. AND AIR CONDITIONING!! YEA!

Just after sunset we were doing the dishes when all of a sudden all of our electricity went out. OH NO!!! We both grabbed flashlights and opened the engine room door. Whew, the temporary repair was still holding. About this time a fellow boater walked down the dock asking if we had power. We looked over at the downtown area. The lights in town were all out. A thunderstorm knocked out the power temporarily. I was never so happy to see a town in the dark. It was not just our boat! The lights went out all over Fernandina Beach. And that was the night that the lights went out in the town across the river from Georgia.

Electrical Storm (pun intended)

Electrical Storm (pun intended)

Categories: Equipment, Sailing Adventures, USA

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