Batteries On Board

New batteries in their crate

New batteries in their crate

Our new high-tech Lithium-based batteries finally got sent out from Auckland on Sunday by air shipment. Early Monday morning I got a voice mail on my local cell phone in French. Since it was early, the first french speaking people I could get to translate it were at the marina office which opened at 8AM. They listened to the message and confirmed our package had arrived and they called them to get details on where I needed to go to pick it up, what papers I needed, and that I would have to pay a $20 pickup fee. The crate weighed 80kg (about 180 lbs). This really isn’t much when you consider it will be our entire battery bank. In fact, the new bank will weigh 250lbs less than our 7 original batteries, and take up about 1/4th the space.

I arranged to get a rental car and my new friend Ken, skipper of s/v Trim, offered to come out to help me with picking up the battery. Ken used to work for an electric vehicle company that tested these batteries. So, he has some unique perspectives on the technology. We headed out and drove the 45 km out to the Noumea international airport, and soon found the “fret” (freight) area. After asking a couple of people, we found the right building and were soon in the right office. The gentleman there checked my papers and passport, and gave me the required paperwork. Then directed me to the customs office. Since we are a yacht-in-transit, the normal procedure in most countries is that you show your customs yacht papers and you do not have to pay duty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple this time. They said we had to get an agent to fill out some forms before we could get the package. So, we had to go to another set of buildings, pick out an agent, and wait 15 minutes for them to fill out a form. Then, after paying nearly $100 for their VERY valuable time, we were ready. We went back to the freight center and were able to get our package. They conveniently brought it out on a fork lift right to the back of the car and it fit perfectly in the back of the rental car.

New batteries with DVD for size reference

New batteries with DVD for size reference

On the way back, I stopped at some marine stores to help Ken get some parts for his boat. Then we returned to the marina and used a marina cart to haul the batteries to the boat. With the help of two more yachties we got the batteries safely on board Tahina. The electrician I’ve hired to install the unit will be available first thing tomorrow, so we hope to get the system installed by the end of the day. All the other yachties were really amazed at the small size of our new battery bank. Especially when I explained that it represents more useful power than our existing bank of 7 batteries! The photo here shows the batteries on board Tahina with a DVD for size/scale reference.

Update: Since many are asking here are the details on the batteries we got, and we purchased them from an outfit in Auckland, New Zealand called AASolar.

Meanwhile, since we had a rental car, we drove around and did a bit of sightseeing around Noumea. We found a nice French restaurant and had a nice dinner with our friends from s/v Kilkea. We plan to do some more sightseeing with the car before we have to return it today.

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