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Old 28-12-2008, 12:27   #16
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As Captain Force said, your lifestyle will have as much affect on your ability to live off the grid as your gear. Your need for electrons, water, engine fuel, etc, etc. will be determined by your usage of them and that's dependent on how you live.

We couldn't get at our tanks to change over on a passage to the Marquesas because the floorboards had swollen. We went over a month before the swelling went down enough to get them up and switch tanks. We still had water left in the 40 gallon tank that we'd been using exclusively. We never refilled our tanks from Shore water in the more than a year we spent in French Polynesia. Rainfall caught in our awning kept our tanks full. If you MUST take a freshwater shower everyday, use a pressure water system and live like you're in an apartment hooked up to a municipal water system, you can't carry enough storage and will have to run a big water maker constantly to meet your needs. We didn't consciously scrimp on our water usage. We did bath in salt water and rinse in freshwater. We used foot pumps for supplying water in the galley and head. We had saltwater spigots that we used except when freshwater was demanded. We danced in the rain, with a bar of soap, in the downpours. In short, we adapted, not sacrificed, to our supply of water. If you are cruising in areas where rainfall is scarce, a water maker may be needed. Still, if you practice a little conservation, it will see very limited use.

We sailed wherever and whenever we could. We had no other way to charge the batteries except the engine so had to run it about every 4 days. We sailed into and out of every anchorage that we could. We only used the engine for propulsion to get into and out of harbors and the very occasional times when we had a schedule to keep and the winds didn't cooperate. After ten years that included 2 years of cruising California and SoPac, we had less than 500 hours on the engine. With solar panels, we'd probably have had less than 200 hours.

We did not have refrigeration and didn't miss it. If self sufficiency was my goal, the absolutly last thing I'd have is refrigeration. Other than it's voracious appetite for electrons, they are just about at the bottom of the list for reliability. The amount of time wasted in stinking, hot, polluted commercial boats by boats trying to get their refrigeration working seemed to overshadow their time spent in pristine, deserted anchorages. Refrigeration was, by far, the biggest headache and cause for misery and divorce.

Use a conventional head. If you have misplaced eco-angst, install a LectraSan to treat your sewage. There is no health need for sewage treatment in salt water as the salt does in the nasties in short order. Compared to the municipal sewage treatment plants 'uh ohs' and fertilizers, your very limited addition of nutrients is totally without consequence. Besides the fish love it.

Diesel heaters work great but they do burn hydrocarbons. If you are cruising in the PNW or other places where driftwood, etc is plentiful, a solid fuel stove might be a better option. You will have to go ashore regularly to gather wood but it can be a welcome diversion and source of exercise. They aren't really suitable for long passages or sailing in truly arctic areas because of the lack of available fuel, however. They also are messier and need more effort to generate heat. But hey, your cruising, what else do you have to do. Once again, it's how self sufficient and away from civilization do you want to be??

Solar panels are your best source of alternate power. They don't generate much electricity in overcast conditions but will add some electrons anytime the sun is up. Don't expect to be generating a lot with cloud cover, however. Windmills are fine but be aware that they require a lot of wind, 10+ mph, to generate any electricity. That's wind that would give you an uncomfortable, downright cold, windchill factor in most temperate anchorages. Even in the tropics, it's an uncomfortable wind, for me, to be sitting out in. Most anchorages, except in the Carribean, simply will not have sufficient wind for a windmill to work. They will add significant electrons, I'd say at least 50% of the time, while actually sailing. Even then, I'd go for a water driven generator. They'll produce electricity almost every day at sea and even some at anchor with strong tidal flows.

Life style more than equipment is the key to self sufficiency. You can get by with a lot less of the latter with more of the former. Besides, changing your behavior is free and works almost everywhere.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 28-12-2008, 12:47   #17
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Term is "off the grid, on the hook." If you are at anchor then its "on the hook" and if you are not at anchor then the term is "underway."

You've started a very good thread. Very interesting. Think back to the old days when there were no such things as refrigeration, watermakers, solar panels and wind generators. What did those folks in Captain Cook's days do? Of course some died of thurst and some starved but we could probably learn a thing or two from those who made it. I'm not advocating that we give up all the modern conveniences but I'm saying that we can do without a lot of things that seem necessary.

Kind regards,

JohnL
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Old 28-12-2008, 13:31   #18
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Ivory bar soap works albeit not quite the lather. I prefer Joy but have several friends that swear by Dawn. The trend in here leads to just use less. Led lights and the new danfoss compressors use significantly less juice than 20 years ago. Living on the hook is a simple exisistance...don't complicate it with all the gadgets. Yapping on your vhf or ssb all day, surfing the web, playing games on your computer, watching tv & videos add up to more power than my 3-1/2 cu ft refer take. Keep track of your watt usage and act accordingly.
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Old 28-12-2008, 16:25   #19
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After Hurricane Katrina, with no power and no water we discovered a very econimical and efficient way to conserve water while showering. We had hauled water in to the area in new garbage cans. We had a very limited supply on hand. We conserved by purchasing 1 1/2 gallon bug sprayers. We sprayed each other, soaped up an sprayed each other off. We got really efficient and could take two complete showers with one fill up, or 3/4 gal each shower for two. If a clear one is used its like fuel guage and you know when to stop too.

If salt water were used for the soap up part, We will probably get 4 rinses for two people from 1 1/2 gals of fresh.

Warm weather is certainly needed for this method as it was usually outdoors. In the summer we will be doing it on the boat in the future. We have preasure hot water on board for winter but just can't seem to keep the amount needed down to the bug sprayer level

On board the fridge is our biggest user even with the danfoss compressor.
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Old 28-12-2008, 16:58   #20
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We live on the hook full time ,with the occasional stop at marinas. we average one stop a month while were not actively involved in working on a boat. (I do canvas work onboard for funds). We dont have problems with water, we just bring jerry cans when we go ashore. Which is most days. We have 10 smallish solar panels and a wind gen to supply power. We run the fridge during times when power produced is over 5 amps.Its kept at coldest setting that way we dont have to recharge from the overnight drain. Weve found we keep hours like the birds, going to bed and getting up with the sun. Leds are great, allow reading without battery drain. Our entertainment system consists of a high quality Tivoli am fm radio that works off 110 or 12v a small mp3 player that uses rechargeable aaa cells keeps the music playin when not in range. TV is a 7" color lcd that uses less than 1 amp. Our house battery bank is 8 ,6v golf cart batteries which can be had at sams club for around $70 apiece. They are rugged and can withstand overcharging and abuse better than gel cells and cost way less. We have 3yrs on current bank and plan on replacing whole bank after 5 yrs. (if necessary). A good dinghy is essential , one that can carry bikes ashore without hassle. We travel to stay in hospitable climates and have never felt the need for a heater. Weve been working for a two month stretch now and am finally done with boat, 103 yards of fabric later. Now its time to enjoy, well be leaving marina and not hitting another one for months. Key West, Dry Tortugas, Little Jaunt up west coast and then well be running from hurricane season again. Are you planning coastal off grid, or world travel off grid? Weve planned 5 yrs coastal then taking the show international.
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Old 02-01-2009, 16:50   #21
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Living on the hook

I have been living on the hook for most of the last 36 years. I suggest a copy of Rose Elliots book"The Bean Book" so you won't have the to pay others to put your food in cans and cook it for you.Instead you can buy a year's supply of most types of beans for $20 or less. A copy of Sailing the Farm would give you more valuable info on dealing with the food issue.
Buy a big pressuer canner ( scrapyards can be a good source) and learn to can your own food. Ditto a langostina pressure cooker
Woodstoves are a way to indepencence from the system. Must be airtight and thus controlable.
Brent
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Old 02-01-2009, 18:08   #22
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Forsailbyowner, I very much enjoyed your post. My wife and I lived on a 33 Morgan Out Island (note: it's not an Out Islander) for 13 years before our two children required more space. We're not headed south from the St. Johns River area this winter, but our cruising range sounds similar. We'll be back up to Maine this summer to avoid the hurricanes. Where will you go? There seems to be a split strategy both north and south to seek protection. We may try south to Trinidad some day, but Maine attracts us. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 09-01-2009, 17:07   #23
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Good closed cell foam insulation thruout the hull and decks, cockpit, etc ,is very important, especially in Seattle .
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Old 26-01-2009, 12:33   #24
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We did not have refrigeration and didn't miss it. If self sufficiency was my goal, the absolutly last thing I'd have is refrigeration. Other than it's voracious appetite for electrons, they are just about at the bottom of the list for reliability. The amount of time wasted in stinking, hot, polluted commercial boats by boats trying to get their refrigeration working seemed to overshadow their time spent in pristine, deserted anchorages. Refrigeration was, by far, the biggest headache and cause for misery and divorce.

We have an offer in on a boat with a good size icebox. We are thinking that in order to be a liveaboard / self-sufficient that we would need refrigeration and were talking about installing a conversion kit. Looking at this, I'm guessing no? Do others feel the same way?
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Old 26-01-2009, 13:21   #25
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Quote:
Do others feel the same way?
If you could itemize the luxury items most desired on a boat, refrigeration would be the most desired and most commonly found. It uses most of the electricity. You have to pick and choose what you need and want. As long as I'm not on your boat I don't see why you would have it.

How big you use is the next question. I would have a very small freezer and a reasonable ice box. The bigger they are the more power they use. It's the electricity question not the refrigeration question. We all would love a lot of fridge space but we all don't want the job of making electricity and the costs that go with it. It is your number one power consumer on almost every boat that has refrigeration.
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Old 26-01-2009, 13:54   #26
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It's the electricity question not the refrigeration question. .
We did the Pacific without using the refrigeration as we only have the electrixcity to run the autopilot.

Nic got to like the taste of warm coke. I eventually, after a while, given a time period of adjustment, acclimatised to, with lots of practice, and them more practice.... liked drinking warm beer!

While we are here in summer and anchored we are running the fridge a bit to keep the drinks cool But I have sectioned off about 2/3's of it with a foam box so it takes less to cool

Mark
PS When we grow up we would like a fridge and freezer
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Old 26-01-2009, 14:22   #27
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Old 26-01-2009, 15:30   #28
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You dont have to live on just beans and rice. I have a manual wheat grinder and have reserved a space on board to carry three, 5 gallons buckets of wheat. I make my own breads, pasta, pie crust, crackers, ect. With a few other dried ingrediants, and some olive oil, I can eat for a long time. As for baking the bread I have several options; the oven, the pressure cooker, a bread machine (great when you dont want to generate any heat in the boat), and a large cast iron dutch oven that either sits on my wood stove or a campfire on shore.
I also am going to build a small chicken coop for the cockpit and carry a couple of banny hens. Maybe even a rooster just to get back at all those who let there halliards slap all the time. I realize that chickens might be a problem with customs in some places , did I mention I have a pressure cooker?

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Old 26-01-2009, 15:40   #29
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We have an offer in on a boat with a good size icebox. We are thinking that in order to be a liveaboard / self-sufficient that we would need refrigeration and were talking about installing a conversion kit. Looking at this, I'm guessing no? Do others feel the same way?
It is purely a matter of personal preference, with consideration given to what type of provisioning opportunities will be available in the main areas that you will be cruising.

My personal preference is not to have to haul heavy, dripping blocks or bags of ice to the boat in an anchorage, so refrigeration was a no-brainer for me. Well, actually, the Admiral wouldn't cruise with me without a fridge, so that had a bit to do with it. Eating canned foods or beans and rice have there place, but for us, a small place.

As Paul said, you need to have the wherewithal on board to keep the box cold--amps from one source or the other every day. My fridge/freezer is a 12 VDC Frigoboat system, and uses maybe 100 AH per day, depending. It's worth it to me (and the Admiral). I installed a large case alternator to keep the 600 AH house bank charged up without having to run the engine very long. If we were still cruising long-term, I'd add a couple of solar panels.

In our cruising areas, there were places here and there to stock up on meats and fish for the freezer, and fresh fruits and veggies, which keep longer in a fridge. Bread! We would stock up on baguettes on the French islands and freeze them. We could "bring them back to life" by putting cut pieces in a dry frying pan with the top on and heating them over the stove. Crispy crust and tender, chewy insides! French bread, a nice steak, ice in our sundowners... That's how we like to cruise, so we installed the mechanical and electrical components to make it happen for us.


p.s. I got tired of hauling gallon jugs of spring water, too. So I installed a Seagull IV filter so we could drink water from the boat's tank no matter where it came from, and not worry about catching something.
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Old 26-01-2009, 16:30   #30
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>I got tired of hauling gallon jugs of spring water, too. So I installed a Seagull IV filter so we could drink water from the boat's tank no matter where it came from, and not worry about catching something.<

Hud3 raised a good point here. While it takes 800+ PSI to make semi-fresh water from seawater, it only takes 30 PSI to make purified water from semi-fresh water. What this means is that you can make an unlimited supply of purified drinking water from rain or stream water using your onboard fresh water pump and a household reverse osmosis unit. Household RO units typically cost $200 USD or less. Beats getting a parasite from questionable drinking water any day.

YYMV,

Don W.
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