October 6

At 10am we had a small electrical fire aboard. I noticed first that the main alternator was not putting out. This should have been a red flag to me, but stupidly I ignored that warning sign and let the engine run another 10 minutes before he smelled smoke. After shutting down the engine we opened the engine box and huge clouds of smoke poured forth. The smell of burning plastic and wiring was unmistakable. Althought we saw much soot in the engine compartment, no burnt wires were evident. Next I removed the belt from the alternator to ensure it would not turn when the engine was restarted, then lifted the coushin from the aft bunk to access the voltage regulators. The intent was to disconnect the regulators so they would not give power to the alternator.

Once I got the compartment open I immediately noticed the scorched, burnt wiring coming from the regulator. In fact, the regulator itself had melted and a pool of burnt plastic sat below it on a piece of acrylic (wrapped in paper so it was not damaged). Why the voltage regulator shorted out and melted I cannot say, but I snipped all the wires leading to it and restarted the engine and all is well. The second alternator is providing power although its regulator is mounted right next to the one which melted, and 2 wires attached to it had begun to melt from proximity to its burning neighbor. I taped those wires with electrical tape. We have a spare regulator but now we need to run all new wire from it to the alternator and battery. I suppose I will have to do this in Fiji before we leave for New Zealand. This is actually the second regulator to die on us, though the first did not go up in flames, it just stopped working. Always an adventure.

We motorsailed through the afternoon with winds from the NE at 10-12k. We were makingabout 6k over ground but we really want to get in early tomorrow so we ran the motor till sunset allowing us to make 8-8.5k over ground. At sunset the wind had picked up a small bit and moved more to the South so that we had ESE wind instead of NE. This makes a big difference for us and at 7pm we are sailing at 7.5-8.5k in 14-17k True wind.

At 10pm we have now entered Fijian waters. The Queen Jane is now in the Nanuku Passage, the main entrance to the Fijian islands on the NE side of the group. We have 95 miles to go till SavuSavu. The wind is blowing steady from 15-20k and we are making 7-7.5k over ground on a course of 214M. The Moon rose at about 9:15pm and is near full giving us excellent light and making night sailing a pleasure.