Our onboard electrics continue to puzzle us. The current in our leisure bank dropped to 11.7V last night, indicating that our two 90Ah batteries were down to 20%. That was after running the generator for four hours in the morning and then moderate 12V use throughout the day.
Following some excellent advice on Facebook’s 12V boating group, we decided to (A) buy what the group call a Phil meter and (B) spend two days on an electrical hookup to ensure that our battery bank is fully charged. The Phil meter is a combined voltage meter /Ammeter /Power Meter /Multimeter. One of the most useful displays will be the amps going in and coming out of the battery bank. I’ll be able to see whether the problem is with our batteries or with the way we use them.
We decided to drive to a city centre aire in Narbonne to charge the batteries. Then we looked at the waves washing gently over the stone beach twenty feet in front of our front bumper and decided to stay just one more night.
Oh, how Aeolus, the Greek god of wind, must have laughed. Especially when Cynthia further tempted fate.
We both love lying in bed at night listening to a lively wind howling outside and rain pattering on the insubstantial roof inches above our heads. As we turned off the lights and climbed into bed, Cynthia sighed. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some rain and wind tonight?” I can’t remember rubbing a magic lantern, but Cynthia’s wish came true in spectacular fashion.
We started off our night in our rear double bed next to our broken window held together with yards of duct tape. The window behaves itself most of the time, but in a strong wind, the broken edges rub together serenading us with sleep depriving squeaks and creaks. The window misbehaved last night. Squeaks and creaks increased in volume as the wind speed picked up. We gave up at midnight, pulled down our over-cab bed and climbed into what we hoped would be a more peaceful area of the Hymer.
We were woken three hours later by the wind howling and moaning as it shook the Hymer violently from side to side. Windblown waves crashed from the shallow bay next to us over a stone access road, our only means of escape. A small fishing boat which has been in the same position high on the rocky beach for the last few weeks had disappeared, washed away by the powerful spring tide. Another had been driven from its centre bay mooring onto the shore.
As we lay in bed bracing ourselves against the bed rails, the Hymer lurched again. The motorhome can withstand a substantial gale if it’s parked nose to the wind, but we ran the risk of flipping over if gusts hit either side. I needed to go outside to check the wind direction. I suspected I was over cautious. I don’t know anyone who has been in a motorhome when it’s overturned. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who parks in a storm on an exposed beach in the windiest part of France and tempts fate. I couldn’t afford to be complacent.
Getting out of the Hymer was more difficult than I expected. The wind pinned the habitation door shut. Climbing out through the driver’s door would have been easier, but two awkwardly shaped dogs decided that they needed to relieve full bladders. I had to brace my back against the habitation door frame and push as hard as I could with both arms to open a gap wide enough for both dogs to slip through.
Less than a minute outside was enough to soak the three of us. Twelve-year-old Tasha was bowled over by the gale hitting the Hymer head on. We couldn’t manoeuvre into a better position, and the wave washed road blocked our escape. We lay in bed for hours listening to the wind howl, cringing as gust after gust rocked our Fiat suspension. It wasn’t one of our most restful nights in the wild.
We woke to a different world. A brilliant sun shone from a clear blue sky. Not a breath of wind rippled the mirror-smooth lagoon. We didn’t want to spend such a beautiful day crammed into a claustrophobic aire so we could charge our batteries. We decided to stay another day.