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Old 07-12-2016, 06:56   #1
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1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

My 1983 Catalina 38 has served me well as a coastal cruiser since new. 2 big deep cycle batteries worked well. Alcohol stove still works along with bbq on the stern rail. But now am thinking of more extended voyages. I am asking for advice on adding batteries, if so where? Inverter, how big? Second or bigger alternator? How to make living aboard more pleasant? Microwave? Is wind or solar more effective? Where down the east coast to get some of this modification done, economically?. I can do some, but would take me too long. At age 65, I got to get this dream moving soon. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:22   #2
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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........... But now am thinking of more extended voyages. I am asking for advice ................
I think that it's best for us to know more about how you would describe extended voyages. I have some strong opinions, but my ideas are for my voyages,- many months out at a time, but my range is limited,- 'pretty much East US coast Maine to Bahamas. I'm on the "built for comfort, not for speed" plan. I'm long term anchoring, short passages in the best of weather and sometimes taking several months to poke along one or two thousand miles. I also remain at a good priced marina for a few months at some times.

I know my best advice would be for those who cruise like me! ...'so, what's your "more extended voyaging"?
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:51   #3
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

The plan would be to get her to Florida over a month or so, then on to the Bahamas. Likely doing this by being aboard 2-4 weeks at a time. Hopefully then by next winter, spending more time aboard, 1-2 months. But still wanting to touch base back with family from time to time. Will not be aboard full-time yet. Thanks
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Old 07-12-2016, 18:07   #4
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Ok, elittke, your expected cruising is not far different from mine, so my thoughts n might be useful.

Batteries: I like the AGMs and I keep four of these deep cycle 24 series in an enclosure under my companionway steps. I was able to secure mine within a discarded (and never used) holding tank that I cut down to fit in a lock-pin topped locker. I use these as a combined starter/house bank that is maintained by by solar panel, wind generator and 110 Xantrex Charger when I have 110V from shore or my diesel generator.

My biggest 12V power need is drawn by by freezer/refrig that requires an average 1 amp 24/7. I can leave my boat for a few days without a problem left at anchor with my anchor light and freezer/refrig, but for longer terms, empty & turn off my freezer/refrig a anchor indefinitely.

I keep a separate dedicated starting AGM battery for my 7K Kubota Genset. I like redundant sources of power. Also, with this genset, I have not switched to a larger or second alternator.

As I said, I have an Ampair wind Generator as well as a Seimens 100 Watt Solar Panel. I pleased with this; however, I would have more consistent power with two of these sized solar panels and not the wind generator.

Water: I hold about 150 gallons of fresh water and the two of us can easily do well for a month with this volume and some conservation, such as bathing in salt water before the rinse. We are very careful to not take anything salty below! We don't find a need for a water maker with our use and I'm not favoring the complexity with my typical spans of time away from the dock. We do keep three 5 gallon jugs to transport water from shore by dinghy in rare cases. We have a galley salt water foot pump that is T-fit into our air conditioning water supply just inboard of the through-hull. This is good for a pre-wash of dishes to save water, but we don't use it in closed harbors.

Galley: We do have a small microwave that does well due to our diesel genset. We've never used an inverter. I remain very stingy with my 12V consumption. We keep a 110V 6 gallon water heater, but we rarely use it in the Bahamas. We used to have alcohol stoves on other boats, but we find propane far more convenient and a less expensive fuel for our use. Ours in a three burner Princess stove,- much safety care with the propane including a solenoid cut off swith from within the galley. We also frequently us an electric frying pan, toaster oven, coffee maker and crock-pot and use these when we have 110V from shore or with our generator.

Anchoring: We save money and increase our joy of cruising by frequently anchoring out. This, of course requires a good dinghy. We keep a light 12lb. Caribe 9L on davits with a 6hp 4-stroke Tohatsu. We find a good range of anchoring opportunity with a 45#Bruce & a 45# Mantus (we have a similar size Grapnel, but only for rock in Maine). We most always use one anchor with about 50 to 100' of our 250' chain. By the way, these happen to be my anchors choices, but I respect a wide variety of the "new age" anchors,- no need to debate these here!

Added Comfort: We like anchoring out of current, when possible, to ensure that we face a cabin flushing breeze. We find the best shade is provided by secure covers that do not need to be tended in thunderstorm winds. We wear light and scant clothing that is easily rinsed after a salt water wash. .....and we do run our quiet (relatively) inboard diesel generator as often as we please,- often a couple hours at the end of the day.

We've been living aboard in this general manner for 44 years. Others will have different plans that work well. This is ours. Enjoy your future!
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Old 07-12-2016, 18:20   #5
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Your best selection of repair and refit locations depends upon where you are starting from the north.

I like the DIY yard in Deltaville, Va. at the Deltaville Boat Yard in Jackson Creek on the south side of Stingray Point. Also, some types of work can be found a good prices in Fort Lauderdale due to the volume of competition among providers. We've had some of our best prices for bottom paint and sail repair at Man-War Cay in the Abacos.
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Old 08-12-2016, 06:31   #6
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Hi and thanks for the detailed info. The boat is in Massachusetts. Any boatyard up here is outrageous expensive. So my plan is to make a detailed list with photos, to send out to a couple of places. I have been to a couple of yards in Oriental, NC. They seem more reasonable. Likely first long layover will be Norfolk. Or Virginia as you suggest. Starting with a fabricator to make a decent, removable davit for dingy and solar. I plan to get these upgrades done as I go south. I am pretty mechanically inclined, but lack the time to properly research the possibilities and do the installs myself. And the reputation of the yard/marine technician is important. I have spent my share of $$$ on repairs that were worth 000. The amount of info needed to be processed by this old brain is a bit much. Thanks!
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Old 08-12-2016, 06:46   #7
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Another vote for Deltaville. There are a TON of yards there and a big pool of workers. You're looking at rates at about 60% of what you'd pay in more popular boating areas.

The downside is that it is sort of in the middle of nowhere and if you stay with the boat, there is pretty much nothing to do there other than soak up the flavor of rural Virginia.

As far as suggested refit goes, I would consider adding a propane stove and system out of safety and convenience. A 20lb tank of propane is going to last you 4-6 months and you can just exchange the tank pretty much anywhere. That said, you'd need to design a propane locker and solenoid, valves, piping, etc.

For electrical, you need to model your expected demand and then build a system around that. Some people use a ton of electricity, others not so much, and over-building capacity is not only expensive but it is not great for your batteries either. I would choose solar over an additional alternator and/or wind power if you're going to be primarily solo. Less expensive than either other option and should be enough, depending on how many watts you add.

Microwave? Some can't live without it, others use it only for reheating coffee. It's a convenience, and takes up a lot of space. It's up to you. But, then you'd need an inverter, and a decent one of those, hard wired properly, is not inexpensive either. Do you need one for your other electrical needs? Only you can be the judge of that.
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Old 08-12-2016, 10:09   #8
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

I suggest you plan in stages. How and where you will cruise and what comforts you want will dictate many answers. For example I have a microwave and 1 burner propane burner (1 lb bottle) below and a rail mounted grill with a 20 lb propane supply on a 6' connection in the cockpit. If you need an oven you might want a convection oven like New Wave. Is AC a must? Florida and the Bahamas get hot. Will you spend most nights on the hook or in marinas connected to shore power? That will dictate your 12v power supply. Where will you cruise? North of Cape Canaveral I would use wind power, south of that solar. Do you need a genset or can you get by with inverters? That depends more on peak loads than average amps. I hope this helps you focus your thinking.
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:38   #9
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Hi,I am curious about the 2 votes for solar rather than wind power. Industrial versions of the above come in at 9 to 11 percent efficiency for solar and 25 percent for wind (approx)so are you saying boat versions are different or is it a case of more sun down south and no night sailing when the turbine would be generating.
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:55   #10
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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Originally Posted by robbievardon View Post
Hi,I am curious about the 2 votes for solar rather than wind power. Industrial versions of the above come in at 9 to 11 percent efficiency for solar and 25 percent for wind (approx)so are you saying boat versions are different or is it a case of more sun down south and no night sailing when the turbine would be generating.
more sun in south
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:58   #11
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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Originally Posted by elittke View Post
Hi and thanks for the detailed info. The boat is in Massachusetts. Any boatyard up here is outrageous expensive. So my plan is to make a detailed list with photos, to send out to a couple of places. I have been to a couple of yards in Oriental, NC. They seem more reasonable. Likely first long layover will be Norfolk. Or Virginia as you suggest. Starting with a fabricator to make a decent, removable davit for dingy and solar. I plan to get these upgrades done as I go south. I am pretty mechanically inclined, but lack the time to properly research the possibilities and do the installs myself. And the reputation of the yard/marine technician is important. I have spent my share of $$$ on repairs that were worth 000. The amount of info needed to be processed by this old brain is a bit much. Thanks!
propane hot plate. $10 or so.
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Old 08-12-2016, 13:06   #12
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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Originally Posted by robbievardon View Post
Hi,I am curious about the 2 votes for solar rather than wind power. Industrial versions of the above come in at 9 to 11 percent efficiency for solar and 25 percent for wind (approx)so are you saying boat versions are different or is it a case of more sun down south and no night sailing when the turbine would be generating.

Overall efficiency of the system doesn't matter what matters is the quantity of raw material available.

If we anchored in spots where the wind was always blowing then wind would be the wise choice. But we tend to anchor in spots where the wind is tempered by land, so the velocity is lower and the direction less stable.

On our boat, with a 200 watt wind gen and 200 watts of solar, on average day by day the solar contributes greater than 80-90% of our power. Sure the wind shines at times but its few and far between.
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Old 08-12-2016, 15:18   #13
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

Sailmonkey,I understand more or less what you are saying but need a bit more info before I make a choice of equipment. Starting at the top,for every hour the turbine works you need nearly 3 hours of sunshine to produce the same energy. Does the turbine not generate power when you are actually sailing, or do you spend more time at anchor than sailing? Are you mostly cruising in the sunny south? I am going to be sailing Summer/Winter,North and South? Not going till early next year.
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Old 08-12-2016, 17:00   #14
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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........................ North of Cape Canaveral I would use wind power, south of that solar. ......................
....... more sun in the south .......................
This sounds reasonable and it's certainly true that the angle of incidence for the sun is greater near the equator and solar panels work best at lower latitudes, but there's something else at play.

The southern hemisphere has the "mirror image" of this, but let's just consider the north of the equator. Near the equator there are often little winds, the doldrums. Much of the movement of air here is rising due to heat from the sun.
From these doldrums up trough the Bahamas and South Florida there are the easterly trade winds. These arise from the huge convection cell of the equatorial winds rising, cooling and then falling,- moving back to the equator, but deflected by the Coriolis effect. These are the Easterlies AKA the Trade Winds. In this wind, all through the Caribbean, wind generators excel.

Where this air cools and falls from North Florida and up toward the Carolinas are the "Horse Latitudes". Wild horses are common on the beaches here from Cumberland Island, Georgia up to the Chesapeake. These horse's ancestors made it to shore when dumped from sailing ships that attempted to lighten their load in the mild winds of the Horse Latitudes. Wind generators don't do well here.

Other bands further north known as the Westerlies and the Polar Easterlies are good for the wind generators, but there are light wind areas between these and, of course, there is great variety in these bands with the flow of low and high pressure cells.

The final outcome is that wind generators work very well from areas of the Bahamas and down through the Caribbean, but they don't perform very well north or south of these places.

I do have both a wind generator and a solar panel. Both of them contribute, but at a fresh start, I'd ditch the wind generator and have the two solar panels. Why? ...because I'm often motoring in the "Horse Latitudes"!

If I was spending more time in the Caribbean, I'd still be taking advantage of the sun, but my wind generator would be putting ot!
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Old 09-12-2016, 06:54   #15
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Re: 1983 Catalina 38; Add Electrical Power

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Sailmonkey,I understand more or less what you are saying but need a bit more info before I make a choice of equipment. Starting at the top,for every hour the turbine works you need nearly 3 hours of sunshine to produce the same energy. Does the turbine not generate power when you are actually sailing, or do you spend more time at anchor than sailing? Are you mostly cruising in the sunny south? I am going to be sailing Summer/Winter,North and South? Not going till early next year.

Sailing to weather the wind gen is awesome......the rest of the time, not so much. The apparent wind reduction from running causes the wind gen to be almost useless.

However we do sail in the warmer latitudes, where the sun is plentiful.
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