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Old 26-03-2013, 18:05   #1966
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

Thanks, Mark, but mine is looking pretty worn at the moment. The recession hit me pretty hard, given my income is exclusively derived from folks richer than me who have boats that need work. Until the last two months, this has been meager, indeed. I have deferred the exterior work, i.e., the dodger, painting the deck, and overhauling the rigging, so things look a bit shabby. I have been able to muddle through on the interior overhaul, though. I gutted most of the aft cabin cabinetwork, overhauled some of it, and began the major overhaul of the galley, including the reefer, and the beginning of the freezer system. My favorite boatyard went into bankruptcy a couple months ago, so I'm waiting for their successor to open up the TravelLift again. Not many places have a means to pull a 24' beam. The economy, has actually begun to improve, using my career as the miner's canary. I have been able to order my reefer insulation (and pay for the future freezer project), and my holding plate just arrived by FedEx, so life looks more hopeful. And as for value of a boat, that only is determined at the moment of sale, and mine is not, nor possibly will be until I croak. Therefore, anything I do to the boat only has to meet my personal excentricities, and I don't have to apologize or explain any of my aberrant behaviors. The boat is my reason for being. I Searunner, therefore, I am.
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Old 27-03-2013, 02:00   #1967
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

Interesting Doggone. Thanks for sharing that with us and the pics.
Roy M .... powerful posting... Jim Brown needs to hear that one....
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:59   #1968
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Interesting Doggone. Thanks for sharing that with us and the pics.
Roy M .... powerful posting... Jim Brown needs to hear that one....
Probably one of multihulls better kept secrets about making ice cubes is the fact that gas refrigeration works on a level platform. This is our second Sea Runner using a RV reefer. Tiva had a smaller reefer, only one ice cube tray a day during our 4 years in the south pacific. Doggone has a real under the counter style that we bought 13 years ago with 5 years in Mexico. we use the 110 volt at dock and gas anchored and cruising. I think we paid around $700 . Very simple solution to a common problem. Sure I try to be super safe and well vented. The reefers have safety shutoff features. I do have alarms. The gas use is small. It works for me...
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Old 01-04-2013, 18:19   #1969
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

How much is the gas usage per week? I met a mono in Tahiti a few years ago that built a custom insulated box with the bits from a propane system. Was well insulated, but seemed like he still used a bunch of gas. I was thinking of using one in my new boat, but thinking solar and DC would be less hassle than dealing with all the gas.

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Old 01-04-2013, 18:47   #1970
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How much is the gas usage per week? I met a mono in Tahiti a few years ago that built a custom insulated box with the bits from a propane system. Was well insulated, but seemed like he still used a bunch of gas. I was thinking of using one in my new boat, but thinking solar and DC would be less hassle than dealing with all the gas.

Jeff
Seems like we got about 3weeks for 5gal. In the tropics. I carry 3 bottles. But even in Mexico we found that we were at the dock plugged in more often than not. I know that my smaller RV reefer used less gas. I'm getting the gas anyway for the stove. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:55   #1971
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

LP REFRIGERATION VS 12V DC:
I have had experience with a Dometic 3 way LP fridge when we lived in a camper trailer for a year, (while we were building a house between boat projects, 22 years ago). It worked great in that application, and RVs are the only application where they were designed to be used or are considered safe. I agree that 3 weeks per 5gal bottle is a good estimate of consumption. That's >16 bottles per year, VS 2 or 3 max, for just a stove! In the third world, this much searching for LP can be VERY inconvenient.

Here's the other thing... If you are actually out cruising, (= living on the hook), that may run > $2,000 in gas over 10 years, which will cover BOTH a good house bank of batteries, AND the solar panels required to run a 12V DC unit. Not to mention the fact that you are needlessly burning fossil fuels for refrigeration, (a practice which we all need to minimize if our species is to survive).

Then there is the safety issue... Propane is VERY explosive, and a Bic lighter's worth can kill you! I Knew of a person who almost died when a spark from their camp fire jumped into their shirt pocket and blew up the lighter within. (Almost lost their face)...

Also... Propane flame creates carbon monoxide, and if the unlit LP gas leaks, it goes DOWN, into the lowest part of the boat, (being much heavier than air). This, and the non level sailing issue, is why they are not used in monohulls. Any LP gas that can accumulate in the bilge from the smallest of leaks, has no place to go. It will sit there for years. Then when it is sufficiently concentrated, and a bilge pump or pressure water pump kicks on, BAM!
In camper trailers, if ALL safety features fail, any gas that might leak into the room goes to the floor, then right out the trailer's front door. NOT SO IN A BOAT!

With LP used just to supply a stove, You have the gas turned OFF at the externally located bottle, 99.9% of the time. When you shut off the ABYC required solenoid switch (at the stove), you watch the flame go out, and only then turn off the gas at the stove by it's knob. This way, you KNOW that the gas is off, and the lines are purged, at "0" pressure.

If the above practice is followed religiously with your stove, and the system is installed perfectly, AND the regulator as well as lines are changed out @ every 10 years, THEN LP use for a stove on a boat is quite safe.
My rubber LP lines, btw, developed a small leak from a micro crack, after 15 years, but luckily it was outside of the cabin. (I immediately changed out ALL of the installation except the stove. That meant the horizontal aluminum tank, gauge, solenoid, & factory furled hose).

No matter how carefully it's installed, any device that requires the tank's valve to be "on" 24/7, multiplies the inherent risk of propane on a boat by 1,000%!

It's true, that the more level sailing of multihulls, (particularly cats), makes propane refrigeration "possible", but mostly for cats. Like on a camper trailer, they can air tightly install a Dometic, (or equivalent), into a sealed recession, with a "stack" from the top that goes through the cabin's ceiling (to vent the heat and carbon monoxide), as well as venting from the "bottom" of this sealed recession that goes straight down through the wing, (to vent any possible gas leaks). Then the vent holes under the wing will need wave deflectors as well. Any gas leaks will not be pressurized, and will not go up hill at all. This is why this recession for the refrigerator must be "directly" vented for gas from the very bottom, and not through hoses that then go uphill. Salt air or even spray vented around the unit will eventually cause corrosion.

This installation is close enough to being safe, (on a cat), but must be installed perfectly, and will still be FAR more dangerous due to the gas being "on" 24/7. This LP refrigerator will also be less cost effective over the long haul, and far less environmentally conscious, VS DC electric. Therefore, I wouldn't do it, even on a cat.

There is also the issue of front opening refrigerator doors. They spill the cold air right out every time you open the door, and the refrigerator's contents tend to turn over underway because you can't pack them in there tight enough to prevent this. This is no biggie if tied to the dock and running a 3 way Dometic on 120V AC, but it's a real drag when cruising and living on the hook.


The one truly "safe" LP installation that I have seen on a cat, was when a friend put a top opening Dometic "cooler" style refrigerator in his dodger to bimini protected cockpit. (on the opposite side from it's own dedicated LP bottle). This way the boat's internal LP system is on a different bottle and is left "off" most of the time, as it does not run the refrigerator. The Carbon monoxide, AND potential leaks are not an issue, because the unit, (tank / regulator / hoses and all), were "outside" and as vented as is possible. He just stepped outside into the cockpit when ever he needed something from the cooler. It was a great short term solution for him.

Searunners just like monohulls, do not lend themselves to LP refrigerators at all. The best place for a refrigerator in Searunners is below the sterncastle floor, where it stays so much cooler. LP refrigeration can not be put here. For a "semi safe" LP refrigeration installation in a trimaran... The only way that a 100% sealed recession for the refrigerator can be built, (that is top stack vented AND "directly vented" through the bottom, without going up hill), is in the cabin side, as high as possible. This is only feasible on the largest boats, and is unfortunately, the hottest possible place to put it. The described LP refrigerator heats up the cabin, eats up valuable counter or food storage space, is front loading, expensive to run, while burning fossil fuels, and has pressurized LP lines WITH a flame on 24/7, inside the cabin. Yikes!

Just like on a monohull, any gas leaks will accumulate in the lowest bilge, which is next to the forward wing bunks on a Searunner. IMO... Trimarans as well as monohulls should not use LP refrigeration at all, for the reasons given. On cats, it can be done as described, but is still not the best option for full time liveaboard/cruising.

Mark
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:02   #1972
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

I used to have a gas-fueled ammonia refrigerator at my beach house in Baja. I thought about using a more modern version on the boat. A couple of things discouraged me. The volume of gas used seemed quite high. It looks like Doggone had similar observations, but that it is acceptable for him. Also, I couldn't figure out a way to store the unit over the underwing, to achieve the same emergency leaked gas drainage I have with the propane stove. For me, the tradeoffs of simple fuel and off-the-shelf accessibility were simpler and cheaper, but I chose the more complex, significantly costlier, but personally more attractive use of photovoltaics and shore power. All of us with reefer/freezer systems are probably happier with them than without. At least I hope I will be when I am done with all of this work and expense. I admire your installation, Doggone.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:10   #1973
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I used to have a gas-fueled ammonia refrigerator at my beach house in Baja. I thought about using a more modern version on the boat. A couple of things discouraged me. The volume of gas used seemed quite high. It looks like Doggone had similar observations, but that it is acceptable for him. Also, I couldn't figure out a way to store the unit over the underwing, to achieve the same emergency leaked gas drainage I have with the propane stove. For me, the tradeoffs of simple fuel and off-the-shelf accessibility were simpler and cheaper, but I chose the more complex, significantly costlier, but personally more attractive use of photovoltaics and shore power. All of us with reefer/freezer systems are probably happier with them than without. At least I hope I will be when I am done with all of this work and expense. I admire your installation, Doggone.
There are always trade offs in what we do with our boats. On Tiva our 37' SR we were on the hook for most of the 4 years in Hawaii and the South Pacific. The smaller Dometic used very little gas. I was always able to buy it 86-90. We spent a year in Fiji based out of Suva. During this cruise a very common topic was refrigeration and the broken cold plates with engine driven compressors that were common. I wasn't really clear on my usage, I would get 3 weeks in the tropics for stove reefer combined. stove alone would use up 5 gals. In 6 months or more. propane is very available and cheap on the west coast of Mexico. The marina that we stayed at the most Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta would offer bottle service. the key is that with this boat I knew that we would be berthed more. I call it commuter cruisers. park the boat. I admire the new advanced systems. if I were to go back on the hook I would look at upgrading. I just like to point out an inexpensive option that has worked for me. On both my SR's I have had 2 solar panels powering everything else. my current panels are 13years old with 5000+ miles and 2 hurricanes one which knocked me off the jack stands in La Paz in '06. trade offs...
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Old 03-04-2013, 00:16   #1974
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Excellent informative information Mark. Thank you for your views. Well written also you seem to have a wealth of experience especially with the Searunner. I have a gas califont for heating water for hot showers. Maybe using my yanmar heating with a water cylinder is safer but then I would have to use the motor too heat the shower water and because I have good solar and wind power I dont normally need to start the yanmar up.
If that all makes sence.
I like modern appliances with plenty of power. Running the navigation instruments is important for me so having power is great.
Top down refridgeration makes good sense. Efficient systems is the key for cruising. But gas is always a worry in the back of your mind.
Because of the space outside of the main hull gas can be positioned and vented but like you say the lines to the source are under pressure . Enough gas to make a bomb.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:11   #1975
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

Glad to help Ross, just trying to pass on what I've learned, not push an agenda...

HOT WATER SHOWERS:
We also take hot water showers, but sitting on a boat cushion in the cockpit's footwell. This keeps the moisture outside of the cabin, which reduces clamminess in summer, as well as reduces condensation in winter. Under the bimini, in the lee of the dodger (with the two connected), it is very pleasant... We use a 2.5 gal black plastic garden sprayer, with a thumb button actuated dish washing nozzle on it. We can both take a nice shower using 1 gal each, (including washing our hair). It moderate conditions, or on the hook, the bottle is "solar heated" by having it tied on the sunny side of the bimini frame. On cloudy cold days, we pump up the sprayer and fill a tea kettle from it on the stove, then we pour it back into the garden sprayer and shake. Once again, a nice warm shower. This simple set-up minimizes water consumption, watermaker run time, and the electrical power required to make water.

If it is really hot, or for rinsing ourselves and gear after diving, we also have an alternate (plumbed into the boat but not heated) coiled up hose, stored in a small pail that we store in the cockpit's side wall cubby. This hose has an identical thumb actuated dish washing nozzle on it, and the on off valve at the connecting end of the hose can be left just partially open for water conservation, if desired.

Another advantage of the garden sprayer, is that when we collect rain water from the bimini run off, or out of the RIB dinghy after a good rain, we have a way to wash ourselves, dishes, the decks, or dive gear with it. We bag this non potable but fresh water in collapsible 5 gal water bags, pour it into the sprayer when needed, and bathe with rain water. On occasion... After bagging 15 gallons from the dinghy full of fresh water, we wash some clothes in what's left. (FURTHER minimizing the watermaker's run time).


Small/Simple/complex systems:
It is by always putting our money, time, and thought into simplicity & "conservation" of water, fuel, LP, and amps, rather than increased storage or production of these things, that has been our key to success. On our little 34'er, we have solar hot water, pressure water, a 12V water maker, computer nav, RADAR, WeatherFax, home theater, refrigeration, SSB/HAM, an electric windlass, auto pilot, dozens of lights and fans, inboard diesel propulsion, Etc... All of this has been run, (mostly anchored out), for well over a decade of real cruising, solely using our total of 280 W worth of solar panels. Because of our average of around 40 Ah/day of consumption, We only need to run the engine for electrical power (for 30 minutes before sun up), when we're at sea... doing multi day over nighters. The other 95% of the year, we are not just 90% solar self sufficient, we're 100%! In fact, we're usually charged back by 11:30 AM!

This simple lifestyle, but having "all of the comforts of home", is not camping. It is just "different". While not plush, it IS very nice, and needing so little LP, Diesel, buying of water, etc., it is far less expensive, and a "less repair hassle" lifestyle. My carefully installed, small & simple versions of these niceties, have made my gadgets the most reliable systems on the boat. Almost all of the work we've done on the boat while cruising off a third word country, has been done to the rig or structure, not the complex gadgets.

I would NEVER suggest that someone change out their current systems, (if it works for them), OR that this concept is for everyone! It really applies to those so inclined that are starting out equipping their boat from scratch. I would make the point, however, that with thoughtful judgement calls as to what to add & what size, as well as careful installation & maintenance, one can have these comforts, they will be ultra reliable, and being almost totally solar powered, they add almost nothing to our carbon footprint. If averaged out over our 17 years so far, this smaller/energy efficient route is a fraction of the total cost of the other more common route... (= LOTS of big, energy consumptive gadgets, requiring that you buy, store, or produce more of everything to run them).

I never make value judgments, or promote one way over the other. It is all "preference". I just talk about "this way", because it is what has worked so well for us, it is what I know best, and it seems to be a relative unknown. It does require more care on installation, perhaps more investment up front, and small lifestyle adjustments. (Like living without ice).

IT APPLIES TO LAND LIFE TOO, BTW:
If I ever build or own a house again, it will be like my previous attempt, (among the most self sufficient and energy efficient .1%) A lot of folks think: "Yeah, maybe when the prices of solar panels come down". The thing is, IF one applies the same minimalist thinking to their land home that I have on our boat & previous house, it is by far the least expensive route on land too! (That is IF one looks at the big picture costs, averaged out over decades of living in it).


OTHER BOAT REFRIGERATION OPTIONS:

ENGINE DRIVEN COLD PLATES:
These systems are seen mostly on boats without solar, that are such energy hogs they will be running the engine for an hour in the morning and again each night, anyway. I have cruised on such a boat, and what a pain in the ass! We were tied to the boat and a battery/coldplate charge-up schedule. We would be on the other side of the inland for entertainment or to buy supplies, and want to stay in town longer, but we had to return to the boat to run the damned engine. Being in Trinidad, and HOT, we sat in the cockpit, listening to the engine's noise and huffing the exhaust, twice a day!

THERMOELECTRIC (Peltier effect) units:
These are OK for temporary coolers in your car, or perhaps for an occasional weekend on a boat. For cruising or liveaboard, they are useless! They use way too much 12V power for the meager cooling that they provide.

12V DC compressor driven:
These units, as I have described, would be my first choice, as I have pointed out, but most boats hate them too. That is because 99.9% of the boats with refrigeration are production boats, with only a fraction of the insulation that is required to make a good refrigerator box.

I have worked on hundreds of production boats, and am amazed at the shortcuts taken here!

Manufactures are trying to make a profit, and their spending time & money on something totally unseen, like good refrigerator insulation, is bad business. Then, over the years, that 2" of unsealed foam, gets water saturated from exposure to the air. This cuts in half the poor R value that they started out with. In the heat of summer, 12V compressor units for such a box will run more often than not, sometimes 80 + % of the day! This much run time requires a HUGE amount of power, creates heat & noise, and eventually causes an early death of the unit.

IT'S ALL IN THE BOX:
IF, on the other hand, one makes their own super insulated box, like Roy will be and I have, everything changes. With our little 2 qu/ft box, and not making ice, it just kicks on for a few minutes every couple of hours. The unit will then perform perfectly, even if just air cooled, and even in the tropics. It should then last for decades with "0" maintenance.

Our Searunners are perfect for this sort of box, if it's located in the nice & cool sterncastle floor. Due to the space available for the box here, to get the equivalent of 7" of foam, in a 100% sealed box, one needs to incorporate vacuum panels, as I have previously described. This will be 10X as insulated as what is commonly found on production boats, or any type of pre-built refrigerators.

WHATEVER cools your super insulated box, if you make it as described, that $1,000 spent on vacuum panels, will pay great dividends for years to come.

For full time cruising or liveaboard use, it is money well spent. In our case... Being that the refrigerator is over half of our daily Ah consumption, our entire success story hinges on the refrigerators efficiency.

Mark
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Old 03-04-2013, 17:07   #1976
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LP REFRIGERATION VS 12V DC:
I have had experience with a Dometic 3 way LP fridge when we lived in a camper trailer for a year, (while we were building a house between boat projects, 22 years ago). It worked great in that application, and RVs are the only application where they were designed to be used or are considered safe. I agree that 3 weeks per 5gal bottle is a good estimate of consumption. That's >16 bottles per year, VS 2 or 3 max, for just a stove! In the third world, this much searching for LP can be VERY inconvenient.

Here's the other thing... If you are actually out cruising, (= living on the hook), that may run > $2,000 in gas over 10 years, which will cover BOTH a good house bank of batteries, AND the solar panels required to run a 12V DC unit. Not to mention the fact that you are needlessly burning fossil fuels for refrigeration, (a practice which we all need to minimize if our species is to survive).

Then there is the safety issue... Propane is VERY explosive, and a Bic lighter's worth can kill you! I Knew of a person who almost died when a spark from their camp fire jumped into their shirt pocket and blew up the lighter within. (Almost lost their face)...

Also... Propane flame creates carbon monoxide, and if the unlit LP gas leaks, it goes DOWN, into the lowest part of the boat, (being much heavier than air). This, and the non level sailing issue, is why they are not used in monohulls. Any LP gas that can accumulate in the bilge from the smallest of leaks, has no place to go. It will sit there for years. Then when it is sufficiently concentrated, and a bilge pump or pressure water pump kicks on, BAM!
In camper trailers, if ALL safety features fail, any gas that might leak into the room goes to the floor, then right out the trailer's front door. NOT SO IN A BOAT!

With LP used just to supply a stove, You have the gas turned OFF at the externally located bottle, 99.9% of the time. When you shut off the ABYC required solenoid switch (at the stove), you watch the flame go out, and only then turn off the gas at the stove by it's knob. This way, you KNOW that the gas is off, and the lines are purged, at "0" pressure.

If the above practice is followed religiously with your stove, and the system is installed perfectly, AND the regulator as well as lines are changed out @ every 10 years, THEN LP use for a stove on a boat is quite safe.
My rubber LP lines, btw, developed a small leak from a micro crack, after 15 years, but luckily it was outside of the cabin. (I immediately changed out ALL of the installation except the stove. That meant the horizontal aluminum tank, gauge, solenoid, & factory furled hose).

No matter how carefully it's installed, any device that requires the tank's valve to be "on" 24/7, multiplies the inherent risk of propane on a boat by 1,000%!

It's true, that the more level sailing of multihulls, (particularly cats), makes propane refrigeration "possible", but mostly for cats. Like on a camper trailer, they can air tightly install a Dometic, (or equivalent), into a sealed recession, with a "stack" from the top that goes through the cabin's ceiling (to vent the heat and carbon monoxide), as well as venting from the "bottom" of this sealed recession that goes straight down through the wing, (to vent any possible gas leaks). Then the vent holes under the wing will need wave deflectors as well. Any gas leaks will not be pressurized, and will not go up hill at all. This is why this recession for the refrigerator must be "directly" vented for gas from the very bottom, and not through hoses that then go uphill. Salt air or even spray vented around the unit will eventually cause corrosion.

This installation is close enough to being safe, (on a cat), but must be installed perfectly, and will still be FAR more dangerous due to the gas being "on" 24/7. This LP refrigerator will also be less cost effective over the long haul, and far less environmentally conscious, VS DC electric. Therefore, I wouldn't do it, even on a cat.

There is also the issue of front opening refrigerator doors. They spill the cold air right out every time you open the door, and the refrigerator's contents tend to turn over underway because you can't pack them in there tight enough to prevent this. This is no biggie if tied to the dock and running a 3 way Dometic on 120V AC, but it's a real drag when cruising and living on the hook.

The one truly "safe" LP installation that I have seen on a cat, was when a friend put a top opening Dometic "cooler" style refrigerator in his dodger to bimini protected cockpit. (on the opposite side from it's own dedicated LP bottle). This way the boat's internal LP system is on a different bottle and is left "off" most of the time, as it does not run the refrigerator. The Carbon monoxide, AND potential leaks are not an issue, because the unit, (tank / regulator / hoses and all), were "outside" and as vented as is possible. He just stepped outside into the cockpit when ever he needed something from the cooler. It was a great short term solution for him.

Searunners just like monohulls, do not lend themselves to LP refrigerators at all. The best place for a refrigerator in Searunners is below the sterncastle floor, where it stays so much cooler. LP refrigeration can not be put here. For a "semi safe" LP refrigeration installation in a trimaran... The only way that a 100% sealed recession for the refrigerator can be built, (that is top stack vented AND "directly vented" through the bottom, without going up hill), is in the cabin side, as high as possible. This is only feasible on the largest boats, and is unfortunately, the hottest possible place to put it. The described LP refrigerator heats up the cabin, eats up valuable counter or food storage space, is front loading, expensive to run, while burning fossil fuels, and has pressurized LP lines WITH a flame on 24/7, inside the cabin. Yikes!

Just like on a monohull, any gas leaks will accumulate in the lowest bilge, which is next to the forward wing bunks on a Searunner. IMO... Trimarans as well as monohulls should not use LP refrigeration at all, for the reasons given. On cats, it can be done as described, but is still not the best option for full time liveaboard/cruising.

Mark
Mark, I do respect your experience and would recommend to anyone thinking of gas reefer on a multihull to give your advice serious consideration. Changing out the gas line in 10 years is spot on. includes the gas line on monohulls for the gimbaled stove. Your detail of the different systems helps all Searunner owners. Safety is number one. long live Jim Brown...Greig
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Old 09-04-2013, 06:07   #1977
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Have had trouble the last few times, trying to load a photo or two. See how this goes. $13 round trip launch and retrieve.

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Old 09-04-2013, 06:37   #1978
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Re: Trimaran - Especially Searunner - Owners

I guess this means Dale did not buy the boat?
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Old 09-04-2013, 17:03   #1979
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Does anyone know of a cheap DIY yard in Cal top hull my Searunner 31 from 548.00 ..... 60.00 day rate down to 289.00 and 20.00 day rate but $100 per gal. If I don't buy paint from them.
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Old 09-04-2013, 17:24   #1980
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Also does anyone know the diameter and lengths of all the standing rigging and wonder if it would be better and cheaper to convert it to synthetic?
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