Re: AC not being practical given my electrical
generating and storage
It all depends on how much you use the unit, and when. Right now, its approaching the winter solstice I'm at 34deg north lattitude, and my array is shaded by a giant pepper tree, the masts of ajacent boats, and my own rigging
for most of the day, and its been partly cloudy, with the sun not rising much above 30 degrees.
Even under these really poor conditions, the array is putting between 40 and 50 ah into the bank each day, and as long as I mind the inverter
, the bank stays 100% full - it is in fact hitting 14.2v as I write this.
Note that I have not yet rigged the wind
/ tow gen
As I descend the ladder to the tropics, everything gets better - The sun is closer to the azimuth, and remains up longer. I will not be in a crowded marina, I plan to anchor
out pretty much constantly, and if I choose a marina, I then have shorepower. In most tropical locations the wind
can be counted on to blow much harder and more reliably than in my current
sheltered temperate location.
The wind and dc fans will be my primary cooling
method - I'm not planning to run the AC 24/7 - just to use it to cool the cabin's daily heat soak prior to bedtime.
Its not the instantaneous draw of the unit you should use to calculate its overall load, its duty cycle that matters, and the unit I'm considering is about the size of a microwave, and has two thermostatically controlled cooling
volume of a Flicka 20 is huge for a 20 footer, but still quite small compared to even a typical 24 foot boat. My decks are light tan (I experimented with the color until I found a mix that didnt get hot under direct summer sun) and I shade the foredeck with sail bags and cushions
and the aft decks with an awning while at anchor
So, if the AC doesnt work out big deal? I'm playing and experimenting with "luxury green minimal cruising" - having such a "small" boat enables me to spend a small fortune on luxuries instead of things like rigging
that would cost 4 or 5 times as much on a 40 footer.
are there compromises?
but I've been living aboard
and SAILING her at least weekly for the past couple of years, and I'm comfortable with the trade-offs. She's a safe boat at sea, surprizingly fast (6 to 7 knots reaching with the right sails
, properly trimmed, a deft touch on the tiller, 15 knots of breeze, and a quatering sea - and I have video proof of her surfing along under a clumsy ST2000 tillerpilot at 6 knots - for a couple of hours)
Its a bit tight below for two, but perfect for one, and on passage
, someone is in the cockpit
at all times.
And after doing a few calculations I determined that 3 LIMA battery packs rotated and charged in parallel and dynamically while motoring will give her an essentially unlimited range through dead calms at 3 knots. In any breeze other than force 0 she moves along quite nicely - making 4 knots overground reaching in 3 knots apparent with her 140 genny poled out - to leward - and drawing perfectly - and again, I've got photographic proof of this via my wind instruments and GPS
...and a huge new assymetrical spinnaker
should be arriving any day now for light air broad reaching and running.
It's taken me two years and litterally 1000s of miles of sailing her and experimenting to figure out how to keep her moving well in pretty much any condition or sea state short of force 10 or over force 0, both upwind (Santa Monica bay is ALL a lee shore, and you must beat for several hours, periodically alternating boards, to earn an hour or so of running or broad reaching.
85watt panel and 100ah battery served me reasonably well for over 1 month of anchoring
out around the bay and all over the (rolly, exposed, steep to, deep water
, roadstead) anchorages
last summer - with a thick marine
layer of low stratus hobbling the array for most of my time on the hook.
(I burned oil
lamps at night, and steered by hand 1/2 the time on passages to conserve power. My nav lights are Hella LEDs, and a BEBE is on order for the tricolor. I use a portable white LED nav light or an oil lamp
hung from the backstay at anchor. Steering
by hand is mandatory anyway if you want to check helm
balance or extract maximum speed in light air anyway - I consider the autopilots (I have two - an X-5 (overkill) and the ST2000 ( also overkill) luxuries, and can rig sheet to tiller steering
if need be - I've experimented with it, and it works reasonably well on a Flicka on anything besides a reach in big beam seas.
She runs dead downwind perfectly with her helm
lashed and the correct sails up and properly trimmed, and when it really gets ugly, she's happy as a clam running before it with the main dowsed, helm lashed and her 80% jib
sheeted flat amidships to keep her weathercocked downwind and to dampen any rolling or attempts at rounding up or down while surfing.
As a bonus, if I properly balance her sails, the autopiliot doesnt have to work much - once in a while I even forget to switch it it on, (helm is effectively locked amidships) and she sails herself quite well until I realize she's luffing up a bit too much, upwind, or wandering around the rhumb line 10 or 15 degrees downwind, and check the pilot....Oops!
So now, its time to head
for warmer waters and sunnier skies with her and see how she does....