22 December 2013

On December 22, 2013 at 9:15 local time Fedor Konyukhov headed into the Pacific Ocean once again.
For the last three days the Tourgoyak row boat has undergone a serious make over. Back in England, when Tourgoyak was built it was decided to equip the boat with the three sets of lithium batteries. They are much lighter (10 kg) compared to the gel ones (30 kg). The difference in weight was the main factor in decision making to put the lithium batteries on board. However, four days later, after the start of Fedor’s trans-Pacific rowing the accumulators went off and never started again. They are known for their difficult maintenance. Without the batteries all of the equipment on board, including the water desalination pump and autopilot, were compromised. Fedor was forced to turn back to port.  


Our friend Jose Luis Fernandez agreed to tow Tourgoyak on his 43 foot boat Cheli (Beneteau 43 Oceanis).  And so on December 18, we went out to bring Tourgoyak back. It took Cheli 8 hours to cover 45 miles into the ocean to find the row boat and another 10 hours to tow it back to Concon. On December 19, Tourgoyak was welcomed back into the club Higuerillas.

We hired a team of professional electrical mechanics from a company “Altronica”. Upon investigation to find out what exactly went wrong with the lithium batteries we discovered that the system that recharges the batteries from the solar panel turned off.  By the end of the day the decision was made to rip off the entire set of existing batteries and replace it with the gel accumulators. Fedor knows this kind very well. Back in the days of Alye Parusa he strictly used the gel batteries and is very familiar with their technical design and operation.  And so on December 20 Fedor and his land team began a frantic search for a new set of accumulators. To find gel batteries in Concon or even Valparaiso had proven difficult and even impossible. The closest place where the batteries can be bought was all the way in the capital of Chile, Santiago. Friday before Christmas is the least desirable day to drive and shop for the gel accumulators in the capital. Once again, a friend saved the day.

Taras Nechiporenko, a trade advisor from the Russian Embassy in Chile, bought the needed batteries and personally drove them to Concon. The specialists from “Altronica” spent 30 hours on board of Tourgoyak and by the time Saturday arrived, the accumulator system on the row boat was completely redone. The entire day was spent in testing and re-testing the system at its maximum capacity. It performed perfectly and Fedor decided to restart the Pacific crossing on Sunday. The urgency of such a move could be explained by very favorable weather conditions off the coast of Chile.  The anticyclone of the Juan Fernandez Islands shifted to the East bringing with it a high pressure, light wind and calm seas. Such window of opportunity doesn’t open too often in this area and Fedor decided to take his chance and start the crossing this Sunday.  

There were ten people who watched Fedor depart on the long journey, including representatives from Chile maritime authority.  They provided Fedor the updated declaration of departure. The weather conditions at launch were good with no wind and a slight drizzle.  Fedor headed west between 270 and 280 degrees.  The project team gives a special thank you to the manager of the Higuerillas yacht club Francisco Jofre Lopez Gerente, for his active role and assistance in all organizational matters.

Check for “Tourgoyak” position.

Project Manager Oscar Konyukhov. Concon, Chile.

Translated by Tatiana Koreski

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