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Friday, September 30, 2011

Lake Peipsi

On Lake Peipsi 29-30 September 2011. My goal was to test Amphibear for longer trip and some waves. As electric system was malfunctioning the trip became shorter than needed. Due to strong wind I got some 0,5m waves to test at least.

Already last year, I made extra trip to the shore for finding the entrance place. There is nice hotel on Northern side of the lake, and host Sergei was happy to let me into hotel territory. Before the trip I called to Sergei, but without response. On hotel site, old lady was gardening, and she explained to me sad story. Sergey had affair with two women. One of women found out about other relation and stacked Sergei with knife. Sergei died, one of his loved one went to prison...

But the old lady kindly opened the gate and I got to hotel territory. What a luxurious entry place, asphalt to 5m of the water and later nice sandy beach. Prepared the car. It takes about one to two hours, because of all these safety ropes I attach for road. Entered the water. But there were underwater sand dunes. So I had to propel the boat to the next dune, over deeper waters just rope holding the car, then drive the car and so several times. Everything went well. When on the lake already, it is nice place to be. Started my cruise to the southern part of the lake.

Even with cloud cover the lake is beautiful

Wanted to do some trolling, but my lures were not meant for the speed of 5 knots. And at much lower speeds autopilot does not hold course.

Small waves sometimes splashed rear wheels

And sometimes even the cook bridge

As it was September, day was short and 19:25 I set for anchorage close to shore. This time more peaceful sleep, as I had one anchor, was close to the windward shore and used to car more. In morning front winch did not work, just spliced the rope and left the problem for later. Started the way back, and had visitors. Local fisherman took pictures with their mobile phones and shouted for explanation "Nobody believes us"

The car started to malfunction. First, it almost shut down the engine several times. I thought that some wiring is loose, but did not find the fault. Then engine shut down several times. But started again. When I finally smelled - something is burning. Immediately started running around like chicken without head. First to distinguish the fire, then disconnect the car batteries. Anchorage quickly, not to cross Russian border as wind wanted to carry me. Then finding several, some glowing red, some just hot places to cool down. Then took my time, thinking how stupid one can be. Had the warning, but misinterpreted it. Started to restore wiring to get car running and some winches to work again. As I have several long wires for winches, the restoration was not too difficult, but to be honest, my hands were little shaking. Planned closest exit point, nice one. As later discovered, it was some farm private backyard.

Drove home and figured out sequence of the events. First the front winch relay has had some water long time ago and rust built bridge to short circuit main wires. When it got wet again, and i tried to winch, is was short circuited.

Then winch wires heated main switchboard for winch disconnection to the level, that bolt melted through the plastic to short circuit the car batteries directly to body.

Then the real damage only started, as main ground wire from car to frame was thinner, it melted and the the engine was the main grounding point. All connections from the engine started to act like wires and all items touching hot wires were melting also. 

Finally I had to restore/rebuild front winch controls, all main ground wires, several winch wires, engine starting wires, some light wires, fix air conditioning system as one pipe had melted hole in it. As result, I got little bit better car now. For positive surprise, batteries survived, all the rest of electronics survived, engine had no other fault. Sturdy car - gives some confidence for difficult situations.

In total covered 377 km on land and 65 km in water. Learned a lot about car electrical system. Found out that wind drag and influence to speed is really minimal.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Keri Island in Baltic Sea

Two day test 24 - 25 June 2011 on Baltic Sea

I have avoided salty seawater so far. But finally discovered nice mouth of the Jägala river you can acess and head out to the sea. There I can enter to fresh water and exit from fresh water. This way I can postpone serious rusting of the car to more serious travel time. Keri is small island in one third of the way from Estonia to Finland. 

Some modifications needed testing also: bridge between pontoons made of two connected sand ladders, motorcycle scottoiler series modified chain oiling, replaced side camera and other smaller modifications.

Meeting point of Jägala River and Baltic Sea.

In search for deeper water and avoiding rocks. It is always serious task, as no map shows rocks on so shallow water. I have hit some during the initial test with the pontoons and resulting bends teach to be even more careful.

Careful driving in the water.

Co pilot Paul did provide great help.

Only occasional splashes on calm sea.

Followed by dark clouds and rain.

Keri host Peep Rada introduces the island.

Amphibear anchored with two anchors, between rocks on all sides.There is no port at Keri. It was tricky task to get anchored. First to find wide enough safe place between rocks. Then getting in seaside anchor to right spot. Of course I misjudged the distance. Then got anchor rope around one propeller. Finally managed to get to the place, one anchor at sea other on shore around one big rock.

Keri Lighthouse.

Lighthouse interior.


Some building from old times servicing the lighthouse. All Keri was Army base during Soviet era.

Good morning trip around Keri. I slept in the car, to guard it against hitting rocks during the night. Sea was calm, just some residual waves. I got asleep and then suddenly somebody was pulling my bed with great force away from me. It was the shore anchor with rigid Dyneema line. Waves pulled the car slightly, until the line got fully tensioned on some waves. It continued through the night as you can see from my face.

Back to home on incredible sea,

where the only waves were the ones Amphibear created.

 Amphibear first Sea journey on the map.

Distance covered on land 74 km. Distance covered on sea 58 km. Fuel used 37 l. By test results some bridge fixing modification needed, chain oiling main control unit failed, and more seriously support on the roof of car needs strengthening.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lake Võrtsjärv

A short report on test results on lake Võrtsjärv on May 5-6, 2011. As you may have noticed, there was long gap between the first and second cruising tests. The time was spent on paperwork! It took 14 months to register the car as rebuilt and find solutions for all road safety agency requirements (new bumper, lights, hood modifications, etc). Also, a small portion of the time was spent for improvements after the initial test.

Cruising is planned, speeds, fuel consumption calculated, Also, I gave sleeping in the car a try.

Ready to start.

Driving to the lake was easier than planned. Just follow the road. It was flooded due to spring runoff.

Arms akimbo. This is the position to enter the water. Even if you misjudge depth, you still don't sink the car totally and can raise the pontoons.

I had enough water to test speed. Normal cruising speed: 5 knots. Maximum: 8 knots. Minimum was about 2 knots. Shown here at cruising speed.

Amphibear's wake. A good design means waves generated from pontoons meet in different phases.

Wave patterns between pontoons tends to raise peak to meet rear differential.

At cruising speed land is lost quite quickly.

To enjoy the moment you have to stop and let things settle.

Getting from one pontoon to another is acrobatic task, need some bridge.

First night in the car. There is enough room for a tall, thin man (me) to sleep. As usual, sleeping depends on your mood. Do you listen to all the creaks and cracks of the vehicle? Are you ready for 2 degrees Celsius at night? I woke several times and finally heated the car with the Webasto system. But the hardships are bearable when can wake to a beautiful sunrise.

Beauty of evening.

Heading home.

Distance covered on land: 337 km. Distance covered on lake: 29 km. Fuel consumed: 54 liters. Major improvements needed: chain oiling, waterproofing cameras, stern drive rising change and bridge between pontoons.