Mounting a Wind Generator on La Creole’s mizzen mast was one of the first projects to outfit our new boat for spending large amounts of time away from the dock, whether at anchor or under sail. When we purchased her, La Creole’s sole source of power generation while not plugged into shore electricity came from two alternators driven by the engine, one for the house batteries and one for the starting battery. Consequently when we splashed the boat and motored to a mooring in Crown Bay, we had to run our trusty little portable generator at least once a day to keep the batteries charged since we don’t run our engine solely to charge our batteries.

This installation also proved to be one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever undertaken, due to several of factors. The mounting, wiring and hookup are no easy task in themselves, but being away from a dock on our mooring with the electical while it was installed made it that much more challenging. Also, with both of us working most days of the week there was little time left in any one work session to make any significant progress, especially if the weather decided not to cooperate during our limited time off together. But as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Pulling all of the required materials together demonstrated to us that refitting a boat in St. Thomas was not going to be without its logistical headaches. Some long runs of heavy grade wire were necessary and although we found the wire at a reasonable price online, getting the product into our hands was both expensive and time consuming.

Carrie found a schematic for a mounting bracket for our Air Breeze model online, and because our friend Charlie who runs a machine shop had fabricated several of these before, that part of the project went smoothly. Not so for the rest of the installation. I painted the bracket but pondered the problem of supporting the wire to alleviate unnecessary strain on the unit, finally deciding to use spray foam that expands and hardens inside the tube.

The mizzen mast already had a TV antenna mounted in the position where we wanted to mount the generator so a hole wouldn’t have to be made, but removing the antenna proved to be a challenge in itself.

When the eventful day finally came to hoist the mounting bracket into place and feed the cable down the mast, I hung on in the bo’sun’s chair as the bracket and coils of wire came up to me only to find that we were unable to fit the cable inside the tube with the existing wires, so we had to feed it outside the tube down the mast into the after cabin and under the flooring to the control panel. Guess what bangs inside the mast when we roll? An additional project when we pull the masts during our next haul-out.

Once I got the bracket mounted and the wires run the installation went into high gear because I didn’t need to use our precious little time off together to run me up the mast to put the pieces together.

Carl up the mast with Wind Generator

Carl up the mast with Wind Generator

I wired the system together and then with one last trip up the mast the following week I mounted the unit and attached the propeller blades, and La Creole finally began generating her own electricity.
Installed Air Breeze

Installed Air Breeze

I’m not sure but as I returned to the deck I think I heard our Honda 2000 breathe a sigh of relief.