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Old 14-06-2006, 19:30   #1
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Upgrading a Charter Cat

I am in the process of upgrading a 45’ charter cat for cruising
Wish input and recommendations related to the pros & cons of different manufacturers brands/models, when upgrading from charter version to cruiser in the following areas.
Solar panels
Wind generators (quiet models)
Genset
Watermakers 12v
Washer dryers
Converting a motor driven freezer to 12v
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Old 14-06-2006, 20:56   #2
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Hi Cameron,

I can only comment on the solar panels. My opinion is that you should go with large output panels. With a catamaran, your mounting space and options allow for the modestly larger size of the higher output panels. I have a Manta catamaran with 4 120W panels, and they will supply up to 30 amps at high noon, which keeps up with the DC draw and keeps the batteries charged. I'm not sure there is a big difference among the different brands. The efficiency difference between monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline design disappears in real use, in my opinion. I think the largest output panels favor the Kyocera brand, butI don't have a lot of data in this area, so google is your friend here.

From what I hear, your biggest problem will be finding high output panels. Seems like the tax situation in Europe is very favorable for solar and the EU is soaking up the supply.

Mark
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Old 13-07-2006, 12:11   #3
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SK watermaker,,,Northern lights genset,,,Maytags new compact units,,,Mark is correct about the solar panels.
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Old 13-07-2006, 15:50   #4
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What charter cat is it?
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Old 13-07-2006, 15:57   #5
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NexGen generator for size and incredible quiet
Spectra watermaker - I know they are pricey but you generally get what you pay for. Ours is a gem and we use it all the time.
Ditto Mark on the solar panels, but we love our Kyoceras (all 6 of them)
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Old 21-07-2006, 16:33   #6
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Cat is a Robertson and Caine 45 or Moorings 4500
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Old 24-07-2006, 09:25   #7
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Go with more solar. Makai has 4 120watt kyrocea with the RV power products controller. The controller actually increases the usable amps from the panels and we regularly se 32-34 amps from 10AM to about 2 PM. Shop at home commercial PV and not marine stores as the are way over priced.

Wind gen--KISS. Quiet, good price, excellent factory support, oh and quiet. More solar before wind.

Washer. We have a Daewood 500 semi automatice washer. $130new.

Love our SK 6gph but am upgrading to 18-20 same brand or possibly echo marine.

SSB radio and or HAM with winlink or sailmail.

12 volt fridge freezer. Makai uses one for each and when we are on anchor we can go 2 months without having to start an engine or gen to charge the fridge and ours is on 24-7. The cost of fuel and being chained to the boat just to keep your fridge/freezer working is a major downside and expense.
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Old 24-07-2006, 10:16   #8
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Bil recommended 24 volt panels to me a while ago. I got the BP 165 watt panels. I love them! I can't say enough good things about them, except perhaps the cost and shipping. Bought them off the internet. Careful of undisclosed shipping!!! You need a solar controller to step the voltage down to 12 volt. I use an Outback MX60. They have the best reputation out there in solar land. Great units. I have a cat also, mounted the panels above the dinghy davits.

I have the Air X marine. I would not recommend it. The output is low in most circumstances. The four winds is a better power/noise solution.

I have a system based on the Spectra watermakers. Spectra is an excellant company, makes great products and has outstanding service. There units are generally the most energy efficient out there. There older 380 system produces about 1 gallon per amp-hour. They, and ALL watermakers are expensive though. I do recommend them though. We love ours!

We have twin Frigoboat units with keel coolers and electronic thermostat and control. I can't recommend them. Their power consumption is excellant. Ours have not held up well in the marine environment and our dealer was not very helpful in standing behind their product.

I am not sure I agree with bill on the winlink/sailmail. If you are a ham, it makes a lot of sense. If you are not, when you start combining the cost of the pactor modem ($800-$1100) with winlink ($300/year), a satellite phone might provide better functionality at comprable cost. We do LOVE the SSB though. Major pain to install though.

ALL of the folks who have the combo washer/dryer that we have talked to say "ditch the dryer part", "useless" ... this was only 6 couples if I recall correctly. But when I get that many cruisers to agree on a thing, I listened. ALL loved the washer though. Make sure you get a higher capacity watermaker to support it.

Gensets arre heavy, expensive devices. Not very cost effective way of generating electricity. But, if you're talking washer/dryer/watermaker probably the only way to go. If you do go genset, I'd probably analyze the 12v watermaker a bit. The 110v water makers might be a better choice.

Have lots of fun and lots of $$$$ I would not be surprised at going through $50k with the options you are considering.


Hey Bil, aren't you up in Maryland now?

Keith
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Old 26-07-2006, 07:25   #9
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Upgrades

Yep we are in Solomons.

The only change in keith's list I would recommend the KISS wind gen. It costs a little more than the airmarine but half the four winds and it is almost as quiet. We found the airmarine to be very noisey as neighbors in an anchorage, but the do generate the best output for the dollar. But they don't make friends, especially the older ones.

The pactor cost can high intially but once you have it the annual cost is the subscription with a great access to email, weather files of all sorts, etc. many of our cruising friends have both or just a sat phone. The sat phone annual cost can be high with the monthly fees and usage fees and in some cases roaming. So which ever one you decide look carefully at the overall costs. We also found many free wifi sites all over the Caribe. And could very easily live without sailmail. We did spend months away from civilazation and that is where the pactor and ssb payoff. Whether you go sat phone or not a SSB is a must for saftey as well as friendly contact.
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Old 26-07-2006, 16:02   #10
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From a safety standpoint, I'd think satellite might be more reliable. There are a LOT of pieces to an SSB. The antenna's can be a major source of failure. If you loose your mast, one of those emergencies, and you have an backstay antenna, it might be sometime before you get something rigged up. I accidentily grabbed the lead on my antenna wire the other day. Broke right off! A portable satellite phone is simpler and has a lot less to go wrong than an SSB installation.

I love SSB for long range contact with other cruisers, but we can't call home to "mom" when we need to, and they can't call to us. (Okay, so that may be a good thing!)

I am partial to Four winds, not because of the lack of noise, but because of the high, low-speed output. Kiss is good, but I think Fourwinds is the best. I am going to rig my Air X marine with 6 blades, that might get me some decent output. But, in the anchorages I was in this summer, i saw on average about 16 amps every 24 hours from my Air X. I have the newer model, so noise was less of a factor for me. I can't hear it when I am inside and I bearly hear it from the front of the boat when outside.
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Old 27-07-2006, 06:39   #11
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Look at skymate.com. We have a Skymate unit and are very happy with it. There are some limits on coverage areas but is OK in the vast majority of the worlds cruising grounds.

It is not much different cost than going with a Pactor, but you aren’t affected by propagation. You pay by the character but if you use it only part of the year, you can go on the “drydock” plan for about $6 a month.

The position reporting ability is great, and up to twice a day at no fee.

We use ours about 6 months a year so it is not out of bounds.

FYI: If you get one, please tell them I referred you. I will get a $50 usage credit.
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Old 27-07-2006, 19:37   #12
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Thank’s for the feed back. The boat is in the phase-out process from the charter company. Spent last week with the surveyor inspecting, not happy, guests apparently like to run aground but that’s life when you try to get a bigger boat than you can afford for less.

Will install generator for dive compressor, with that in mind a summary from your recommendations

Solar panels Kyocera brand 120w +. Solicit clarification on the pros and cons between installing 12v versus 24v

Please technical summary on the function and need of controllers with solar. It appears from comments that quality of product was essential overriding price.
.
Boat presently has a conventional collapsible bimini. Thinking of removing and installing a fixed aluminum (boat yard recommends SS steel) frame for mounting solar panels.
Present dingy hoist is badly designed non functional and in the charter fleet never used, thinking of installing an arch davit. Opinions on pros cons SS steel v alum for fixed bimini plus arch.

Kiss wind generator probable preferable due quieter, although not as efficient as four winds

Water maker Spectra, since will have generator probable better 110v than 12v although I do anticipate restricted generator use. From your experiences, four crew, half of whom will not conserve water, what recommended capacity?

SSB, as cannot afford satellite.

Washing machine yes - dryer out

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Old 28-07-2006, 00:02   #13
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Mppt (multi point power tracking) controllers essentially take the voltage-amperage coming from a solar array and optimize it based on the loads. it will take 75 volts at say 10 amps and turn that into 13 volts at 55 amps. If your batter bank is big enough and low enough to take that load. It will also act as a multi-step controller. It will charge batteries at a bulk, acceptance and trickle level if there is sufficient energy from the array. So, what could be done is to take 3 24 volt panels, wire them in series to maximize the voltage and minimize system loss, step it down to the appropriate voltages and charge your batteries appropriately. Great things!

I have the collapsable bimini, can't wait to get rid of it. The problem I have found with mounting the panels on the bimini is shade from the mast/boom. Shade REALLY does affect the output of the panels. The major reason to go to higher voltage panels is the efficiency in less than optimal conditions. The controllers are more efficient at higher voltage levels. I have noticed a decrease in ouput even from the shade of my wind generator that is mounted near by. But, if there is not a better spot, bimini it has to be.

Love the dinghy davits. We always raise our dinghy at night. The arch is my perfered spot for the solar panels.

Get a largish capacity watermaker. Something in the 300 gallon a day or more range. Ours produces 15 gallons per hour and we only run it for 2-3 hours every other day.

Portable satellite phones and service are LOTS cheaper than an SSB and Pactor model. ICOM m802 $1600, AT140 antenna tunner $200, 100 square feet of copper strap for counterpoise $250, antenna $200, insulated backstay $500, Pactor modem $800+ Coax, terminals, power lines, fuses/breakers monting brackets, $200. Globalstar portable satellite phone $900.

If you're going to have a significant solar and wind array, on second though, I'd go with a DC system. If you generator and invert goes down, you can still make water.

You thinking of a 8kw genset or so? I think you are going to need something at least that big to start up an electric dive compressor. Their starting voltages can be amazingly high.

Big boat, nice boat! How big is it?

Keith
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Old 28-07-2006, 07:07   #14
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If you don't already have a dive compressor, check out Brownie's YP35. It's a Bauer with a bunch of marinized upgrades and a system that reduces the startup draw allowing them to operate on a 5Kw or greater genset.

http://tankfill.com/compressors/YPMedium.shtm
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Old 11-04-2007, 17:27   #15
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Yo Randy,

You must be on the South side. i'm anchored off Coral Gardens in Grace Bay. Great WiFi.

May I weigh in? Spectra sounds very efficient. that said, my Village Marine has been giving me 8 Gals per hour for 8 years now without any failures (KNOCK ON WOOD!).

Compressor info has been filed. Nobody on Provo seems to want to fill my tanks. (they cite "liability". Sure, in the Caribbean!) Methinks they just want captive dive clients.

Cameron:
While you're hooking up watermaker, little aside:

The fellow who helped me install mine added some extra valves both on input and output. Input: to take water from fresh water tank, Output: to divert to hose for other uses. Well, the purpose was to deliver extra pure water to fill batteries. Mine were sealed, so I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward 3 years later.... Girl friend is having me shlep many jugs of water onto boat as my watermaker water is a tad salty. I'm using filters to try to improve quality etc... big pain. Ok, my ex in Cal. has bad tap water and has spiffy RO purifier. I'm thinkin about that down in Carib. about to dink ashore for girl friends water. Wow, wish I had an RO purifier! Duh!! Big Homer Simpson moment. I know, I tested pretty good in school IQ tests but I think I must be STOOOPID!!!

Well, now, i just re-direct tad salty fresh water once more for luck thru watermaker and hose into massive jugs. Water is Deelish!! Girlfriend is Happy. Earth is saved from plastic bottles!!

Anyhow, you need that hookup.

Mike
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