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Old 20-12-2008, 15:30   #16
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Originally Posted by Fishspearit View Post




And Vasco, of course an outboard powered boat needs more than just a solar panel. I'm talking about the average cruising boat with a large battery bank and high output alternator on the main engine.
Fish,

Why would a cat with outboards need more than just solar panels? He had an average sized battery bank (about 400amps). Why would he need more than solar panels and not you? This was a PDQ and he was out cruising the Bahamas. He relied solely on solar. And he had a whole array, not just one panel. And as far as high output alternators go you'd be surprised how many folks are out cruising on a limited budget without one. They rely on the Honda and a good charger.

You started this thread with the following :"I'm amazed at the number of people that go the honda generator route for charging while cruising. Do people know that there is a better way?"

Solar is not a better way it's just another way.

There is a reason why so many cruisers carry these little generators now. In addition to charging they come in handy in a million ways. I used mine to start my JH43E once when there was a bad voltage drop in my starting circuit in the middle of the gulf stream when the wind died. Hauled it out of my locker, plugged it into my AC and fired it up. Another time I saw a cruiser making extensive repairs to his rudder on the beach. He'd dropped the rudder while at anchor and took it ashore where he used a Honda and a large drill.

For $850 they can't be beat.
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Old 20-12-2008, 16:27   #17
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Obviously there are individual problems which lead to certain solutions. The general issue here was charging cruiser's batteries. And this of course goes back to the typical and exceptional use of stored batteries.

Most yachts have two banks and many have a separate starting bank. This enables the yacht to use the engine to charge the house bank even when it is deeply discharged. High output alternators do this with less run time and fuel consumption.

Obviously a cruiser will have to decide how much electricity to use, how to minimize this and then devise a strategy to top off the batts.

The argument that being anchored out in the middle of no where you can run your generator to make some quickie amps and then some ice is kinda silly since chances are that you won't have a supply of gas after a while out there in paradise. So then you have to store a lot of it and we all know the dangers of gasoline.

Setting up a wood shop on a beach and is AC power tools is another odd reason to carry a genset. While it's a hoot to have a table saw and a drill press and a jointer, it's not something that most cruisers really need. In fact today many power tools are using 12 or 14 volt batteries.

So the charging question becomes one of weighing the options and doing a cost benefit analysis including such things as initial cost, maintenance, repair and spares, weight, "output", fuel cost and even environmental impact including noise and greenhouse gases.

Using the diesel doesn't seem like an advantage when you look at fuel, maintanence, repair, environmental impact over a gen set, but since you already have one and presumably the fuel storage thing worked (your fuel tank) and it doesn't need to invert AC power (energy loss) to charge the batteries either. And you can capture energy and create hot water as part of the deal.

Solar is expensive initially as is a wind gen which is a mechanical system and has maintenance costs and each are dependent on the environment to give up energy, wind or sun so unlike a gen set you are not using stored energy (in gasoline) to charge your batts. Wind and solar are "free" energy and though you can't get at when YOU want, over time the intial costs of the capture systems per amps they provide goes down and down, while gen sets remain dependant on the cost of gasoline and we know where that is ultimately headed.

I have cruised and lived aboard in the Caribbean and never felt the need for more charging than I got from my diesel and two solar panels. I don't stay at marinas so I was anchored out for years. I also was not especially miserly with my power use, but I didn't have a freezer nor air conditioning. My engine drive refer worked fine (still is) 19 years on. ON the other hand I had plenty of hot water and had as many hot showers as I wanted. What I did do was balance by use with replenshment options and this means I ran the motor 1+ hrs a day. This begins by making an average daily electrical use calculation. I don't have a 12v refer / freezer and don't have air con which requires enormous power.

Of course the tropics yeild a lot of solar energy and wind as well, though less of the later in protected anchorages and fuel costs are pretty high down there too.

I don't think a generator back up is a bad idea, but it's not on my list of priorities for a bullet proof electrical system. If I depended on this to charge my batts I would consider it a weak link and another motor to worry about and rust away.
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:06   #18
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Quote:
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We don't go very far. Just to the Bahamas but more often than not we are anchored off cays where there is nothing, no inhabitants, no stores, no West Marine and certainly no ice. That's the real world of cruising I wrote about earlier. You have to be self sufficient and a Honda certainly helps.
/

We live the "real world of cruising" Were cruising the Eastern US now, Full time and without a land based home. We run our fridge almost full time and don,t often visit marinas unless Im working on a boat there.We dont even have a converter. I run my sewing machine and all power tools of trade off solar via inverter. I think Im much more self sufficient with solar that I would be with the generator I gave away. Ice costs less than the gas it would cost to run the generator to power the fridge in periods of low solar input. If Im away from civilization I dont rely on the luxury of refrigeration. We have over 200 canning jars full of everything from steak to vegetables to mackeral. When out and about the fridge only runs to cool water to make it more of a treat. A honda is for part timers who havent realized the folly of trying to keep the batteries up with the pos inefficient gas gen.
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:11   #19
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Have you ever heard of backups, this is from someone who has three ninety watt solar panels, 400 Watt Airex Wind Generator, plus a Redwing towing generator and series 95 165 amp alternator. And store the DC in four Rolls/ Surrette 6CS-17PS Batteries on two twelve volt systems with an APC Smartcharge manager and Ample Power ESHAM monitor. And also I try and use as much LED lighting as I can.
If you have ever been an anchorage with no wind and overcast sky's and are using the SSB Radio and the batteries are getting low and don't want to run the engine to charge the batteries I break out the Honda EU2000I backup. It is easily stored connects to my 30Lb Propane tanks and is ultra quiet. On a cruising boat with lots of electronics and lots of radios SSB, VHF, Chart Plotters, GPS, AIS, refrigeration, fans, and lots of tunes they all need power.
So what is all the talk about you always need a plan for a rainy day or emergencies. Some of us do have the Solar and Wind generators and also have backups.

Capt. Rich
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“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

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Old 20-12-2008, 17:25   #20
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In 17 years of what we thought was "real world cruisers" and after traveling tens of thousands of miles we have yet to meet any other cruisers, obviously not real world, that did not have refrigeration, kept the meats in canning jars and relied solely on wind or solar and did not have mechanical back up to charge batteries. And we have virtually met thousands of cruisers, or we thought we and they were. perhaps the Pardey's and their devout followers are the only ones considered "real cruisers" and if so I am not sure where the rest of us lie but I can say at least for ourselves we are extremely delighted with the choices we have made, have no intentions of changing anything about the way our boat is set up and are very happy in whatever catagory we should be placed. So why, because this is your preference should the rest of us change how we do things?
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:38   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forsailbyowner View Post
/

We live the "real world of cruising" Were cruising the Eastern US now, Full time and without a land based home..

Forsail,

Never stopped in Stuart on my way up and down the US East coast. Is it a nice spot? I usually shoot across the inlet and into Peck Lake for the night. How long have you been there?

p.s. When you go ashore for ice I hope you're not relying on a pos gas engine.
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:49   #22
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Capt'n Rich,

Why don't you want to use your engine to charge your batteries?

Chuck,

I don't run my refer very cold. The plate can take it to freezing, but I prefer to shop frequently. For passages I prepare frozen foods and fill the refer and work my way through them. But I haven't been on passages for more than 8 days and this approach works for me. My live aboard cruising in both the carib and the canaries did not demand a freezer as I was close enough to make purchases of food which require refrigeration "daily". We typically turn on the compressor when the engine is running and keep the box at about 39°, though we can run longer and get to freezer temps.

The SSB does suck down power, especially in the transmit mode and so some charging is in order when we want to use that radio for TX. I used to listen to SBII but only TX for a few minutes so the drain was not all that bad.

In the tropics lots of cloud cover and absence of wind is not typical and this was my cruising ground. I never considered not using the engine for generating amps, cooling my fridge and using AC devices like the vacuum cleaner and showering when the engine was running - lots of pump drain and replenish the hot water as it was being used!

The only reason ever advanced for NOT using the diesel is that when not loaded it leads to excess wear. However when you run a compressor and a high output alternator you are loadind the engine so I don't think this is harmful. In the sense that any hour used not for propulsion is one less available for propulsion cannot be ignored. So it may lengthen the life of a diesel if it is ONLY used for propulsion. Mine has been chugging along for 23 yrs....knock wood.

Also - I don't use ice.
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:49   #23
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Interesting discussion. I'm just making this choice now.

We "cruise" the PNW in the summer. Lots of motoring. Often tied up at dock. We go 2-4 weeks at a time. If I were carry on in this mode, I would definitely put a Honda aboard to deal with the electron shortfall. Wouldn't bother with a solar array as I don't want the clutter.

Now we're going to cruise in Mexico for a year. Gotta have the bimini. Might as well use the acerage above for a large solar array.

I will upgrade the alternator.

I have decided against the Honda.

If I find I'm frequently running the diesel just for charging, I will get a Honda. I'd rather run an $800 generator than underload a $10,000 diesel and shorten it's life.
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Old 20-12-2008, 17:51   #24
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"Real Cruisers" is a subjective term. That said we mostly admire those who are able to cruise without too much in the way of things of the modern world. They seemed to enjoy it most. Keep it simple stupid was their goal.

People such as the Hiscocks, Don Street, the Pardeys, and the Roths. They in our mind are the pinnacle. They have written most of the great books too.

That said, we will never belong in their company either as we are far too spoiled, and that makes me very sad, as they are the ones we started out to emulate.

We use solar and wind plus main engine, trying to blend in with nature.

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Old 20-12-2008, 18:01   #25
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My Volvo Penta is 23 years old and has only had regular oil changes and one significant repair aside from doing the injectors 2 times. A valve spring broke and I replace the lot of them. I don't know the cause of that, but I am told by the mechanic in my yard that my engine looks and sounds good for another 10 yrs. It may out live me!

I used it for charging the batts, but not for hours on end for sure.
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Old 20-12-2008, 18:12   #26
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Forsail,

Never stopped in Stuart on my way up and down the US East coast. Is it a nice spot? I usually shoot across the inlet and into Peck Lake for the night. How long have you been there?

p.s. When you go ashore for ice I hope you're not relying on a pos gas

engine.
Stuart is great, everything is a short bike ride away.Theres a pumpout boat that comes to you and a free pumpout at a park. Theres a produce stand nearby that has the best stuff and their way cheap . Ive been here way too long , over a month now. Im doing a full canvas and upholstery fitout on a 44'Thompson and have put away a half a years cruising kitty in just one month. been staying at maritime yachting museum for work purposes ,slip rent is only 9$ft. I do have pos gas for dinghy, I bought it in Little River SC this summer, one trip up calabash with oars was enough, tides there are something else.
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Old 20-12-2008, 18:29   #27
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of all the points that have been made...

...the one that interests me most concerns aesthetics. Solar panels and wind turbines tend to clutter up the lines of a sloop. This is certainly true. And yet there has got to be aesthetic value in the process of generating clean energy. The question becomes one of competing aesthetics.

When my wind turbine kicks on I tell my wife that we're hearing the sound of an engine not running. Suddenly, the aesthetic changes.

Aesthetics are interesting because they are so relative. In my racing days, before I learned to cruise, I thought that dodgers really messed up the lines of a boat. Then I bashed a racing boat with no dodger up the coast of California through hundreds of miles of fog and spray. I suddenly realized how gorgeous a well-cut dodger looks.

These days, as higher levels of CO2 increase the acidity of the ocean to the point that coral reefs are imperilled, I feel the same way about a sturdy arch that supports a few solar panels and a wind turbine. Gorgeous!
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Old 20-12-2008, 18:41   #28
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Ive been here way too long , over a month now. .
Yes you're quite right, well over a month. In fact probably since you joined this board in 2007. Here's one of your posts from a couple of months ago, last October.

"Im up to my ears in work. Were in Stuart Fl now. Been stuck working on the same boat for a month now. Still have tentative plans for the bay, the canadians still are wanting a camperback for Devils Playground. Will email you and catch up on local news."

There's nothing wrong with living aboard. There's nothing wrong in finding a place you like and staying. There's nothing wrong with topping up the cruising kitty. Hope you get out there soon. I always maintain that cruising's really a state of mind. And there's nothing wrong with being a part time cruiser.
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Old 20-12-2008, 19:03   #29
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[quote=Vasco;235356]Yes you're quite right, well over a month. In fact probably since you joined this board in 2007. Here's one of your posts from a couple of months ago, last October.

"Im up to my ears in work. Were in Stuart Fl now. Been stuck working on the same boat for a month now. Still have tentative plans for the bay, the canadians still are wanting a camperback for Devils Playground. Will email you and catch up on local news."

Your dates are wrong we got here nov 12 our first month was up dec 12. I have 6 more cushions to cover and Im outta here. 8 days is well over a month but not like Ive grown roots or anything.
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Old 20-12-2008, 19:18   #30
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[quote=Vasco;235356]Yes you're quite right, well over a month. In fact probably since you joined this board in 2007. Here's one of your posts from a couple of months ago, last October.

If you will look back to the date youre referring to it was 10.12.08 thats the tenth of December or 10 days ago. at which time I hadnt quite been here a month. Since I joined this board Ive logged about 5000 miles.Maybe you should check your facts a little closer before calling someone a liar.
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