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Old 28-12-2013, 21:05   #1
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What to do First?

So I have a 3-5 year plan for my boat. Looking at adding some equipment so when I do eventually sail across the ocean (whether it be atlantic or pacific) I'm at least a little more comfortable. Basically I want to know order of importance. I currently already have an electronic autopilot (though may upgrade it) and a Chart Plotter. So here is what I plan on doing.

1) Solar Panels to recharge house batteries (also any help on wattage, I'm thinking 360 Watts will be enough, but not entirely sure)
-Will want enough to run an Engel 12V Fridge/Freezer (these are really energy efficient and I this is around 1-2 amps per hour)
-Also want it to be enough to run Chartplotter (Garmin 545), a radar (when I need it), Running lights for night time, onboard cd player and basic other uses of a sailboat. Also the use of electronic autopilot at times as well as to charge an "energy star" laptop occasionally.

2) Water Maker (don't need much, thinking maybe 20GPH), obviously a salt water pump for this as well

3) Radar

4) AIS

5) Windvane self steering (Thinking Monitor)

anything else you may think that is beneficial.

I appreciate all the advice you have given me since joining this forum, and look forward to receiving more.
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Old 28-12-2013, 21:37   #2
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Re: What to do first?

Couple of things...don't be in a hurry as if you spend your money too quickly the gear just gets older and isn't used. Leave your electronics til last as they seem to change every year. This also gives you a chance to shop for good used stuff ie: windvane. Your 20 gph watermaker is probably much more capacity than you really need. Your solar requirements will probably do the job while anchoring and you'll have to run your engine/ alternator when passage making. Don't forget to get a larger alternator and smart regulator.
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Old 28-12-2013, 21:41   #3
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Re: What to do first?

Is there any option for charging batteries while underway? Will solar panel do anything while underway, would adding a wing generator be another plan in addition to solar?
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Old 28-12-2013, 22:27   #4
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Re: What to do first?

There are a variety of different methods to recharge while underway including wind generators and water generators or more solar but if you use your windvane and not an autopilot you may only have to recharge batteries every few days. Depends how much power you use underway. If you are not running the radar 24/7 and you limit the use of other electonics you are most of the way there. Make sure your nav lites are LED. The cheapest thing you could do is get a high output alternator so you can really limit the time you may need to run your engine, if and when you need it.
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Old 28-12-2013, 22:32   #5
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Re: What to do first?

Thanks Robert, I appreciate the advice. I also only have 2 deep cycle batteries for my house batteries....should I be thinking of adding more? Great advice on the electronics and a good point. I also saw a tow generator that may be beneficial (I think that is the same as a water generator)
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Old 28-12-2013, 22:37   #6
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Re: What to do first?

What size are your batteries and what type? Ie: amp hours Ie: wet type lead acid or AGM or??
I'm assuming your sailing your 31 Dufour.
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Old 28-12-2013, 22:43   #7
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Re: What to do first?

I just acquired this boat so I'll have to check the batteries when I can get to the boat. My last ones had everything listed on the battery, I assume these will too?
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Old 28-12-2013, 23:04   #8
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Re: What to do first?

When you tell me the size of batteries I can give you my opinion but if they are common lead acid and not overly large then they are probably around 100 amp hours (look for the 20 hour rating) each and if thats the case you can use up to 1/2 that or 100 amp hours. Your solar panels are going to keep that smaller bank topped off most days so it will be your draw over night that counts. Fridge,lites etc. Your a smaller boat and you should be watching your weight so its always better to try and use less power than adding more batteries and charging systems. When you know your battery type and size drop me a note. Cheers
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Old 28-12-2013, 23:04   #9
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Re: What to do first?

I would recommend getting your boat ready to live an anchor first. You can get it ready to cross oceans later. That way you can enjoy living at anchor soon. You can spend lots of time doing that in the next 3-5 years, and then get it ready to cross oceans in the year before you leave. For me, that would mean:

Do sooner:
Engel - get this first
Battery Bank - if you have two good batteries, you are probably fine. If not, make this a priority. Also if you do not have a good alternator, make this a priority.
Radar - if you have lots of fog in your area, do this soon. If not, wait.
AIS - whenever you can afford it

Do Later:
Solar Panels - wait until you are ready to leave if you will just be weekending on your boat
Windvane self steering - since you already have autopilot, wait and keep a look out for a sweet deal on a new or used one. No need to get one until you are near ready to leave
Water Maker - wait until just before you leave
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Old 29-12-2013, 02:27   #10
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Re: What to do first?

I too would wait on the electronics. Stick to the basics. Upgrade the charging system but leave the batteries until closer to leaving. Replace all lights with Leds. Low energy consumption is a huge plus. Keep an eye out for that deal on a Monitor or similar vane gear.

While I agree with the Engel (I own one) most 20 gph watermakers need AC power. I would worry about tankage first. If you think you still want a watermaker get a smaller one that runs on DC like the Spectra Ventura (6.5 gallons/hour and very efficient) But if you have adequate tankage it really isn't necessary. Much better ways to spend 5k, like light air sails.

Solar I would wait on as well. I doubt you have room for 360 watts of panels anyway. 2 panels of 90 watts or so each should do it with a good MPPT controller.

Closer to leaving upgrade the battery bank to 4 golf carts in series/parallel with a separate start battery - flooded for the best bang for your bucks.
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Old 29-12-2013, 10:01   #11
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Re: What to do first?

Thanks for the advice, yea maybe I was too optimistic on the solar panels, may just do 2 90watts like suggested and add a wind/water generator in combination with a high output alternator.

Water capacity is around 34 gallons. I would probably be ok single sailing without a water maker, especially if I pack drinking water.

Appreciate the advice and will look into LED Nav Lights as well.
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Old 29-12-2013, 17:15   #12
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Re: What to do first?

I would add one thing to rain's excellent do sooner list. While living aboard upgrade your ground tackle and get some confidence in it. Fair winds.
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Old 29-12-2013, 17:32   #13
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Re: What to do first?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDog View Post
I would recommend getting your boat ready to live an anchor first. You can get it ready to cross oceans later. ..........
I like this advice from RainDog because it will allow you to see any problems that arise from time away from the dock while the dock is still near.

Also, before you mount a wind generator, put a piece of yarn on the end of a pole and hold it to your potential mounted position under several points of sail. A wind generator can be left in some spoiled air too close behind a sail. My mistake was to mount my wind generator in some slop between my main and mizzen. It excels at anchor, but I would not want it there for power during long term sailing for many headings.
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Old 29-12-2013, 20:15   #14
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Re: What to do First?

Do as little as you dare before you start living on your boat. Live on your boat and do some coastal cruising for a few months to figure out what you really need.

I would start with making sure your rigging, sails, depth sounder, chartplotter and engine are in good working order then move and power savings (LED, Engel) storage (battery bank) and generation (solar). A bimini would also be high on my list.

I would leave the watermaker, windvane and radar until well after you have started living on the boat. You might decide you can live without them.

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Old 29-12-2013, 20:55   #15
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Re: What to do First?

Something that cannot be repeated enough and has been repeated on this post is to find a way to take the time to feel out what you really need. We are just beginning our refit for live aboard cruising but having cruised on our boat for many years we know what we need for anchoring, communication, sail handling and power usage to name a few. This forum is way above average for information and advice from my experience here but we all have our own needs, wants and budgets. In my opinion finding those on your own boat is priceless. Get a feel for what will make you and your crew happy on the boat you all will cruise on and much time, money and sanity will be saved.
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