Friday, December 16, 2011

Gadgets that improve the lifestyle on Sheer Tenacity


Much as old school cruisers mock the need for Fridges,( for cold beer and salad stuff), Freezers,( for fresh meat, ice, and to freeze ones catch),
Calorifiers,( for hot water to spoil ones partner), water makers (to ensure reasonable quantities of drinking, shower and laundry water….to avoid degenerating into “grotty yachties”) ….we new kids on the block would never have been able to lure our ladies to into such a radical lifestyle without them!!

The price is once again, the never ending power struggle! Gensets are the obvious answer… Been there, done that… chucked it out!! Way too big, and too much of a hassle on a 40ft boat.

Another source of relentless pressure, is our ageing, aching bodies! Although the active lifestyle keeps one pretty fit and strong, there are times when the frozen shoulders, or degenerating discs make certain chores a pain in the arse.. or elsewhere! We have to make certain concessions, and start using brains and technology to compensate for our frailties, before we are forced to swallow the anchor!

Some of my friends and readers hate my technical digressions, whilst others are eager to hear more. So , for those who hate it , feel free to press “esc” now! In my defense however, I decided to rattle off a whole bunch in one go, rather than to phase them in like a slow intravenous drip! Some gadgets, I might have mentioned before, but collectively, they have done the job thus far for us!

First up is the 100amp Balmar Alternator, with smart regulator. I have resticted myself to the 100amp unit ,as it was the biggest I could use without changing the crank and water pump pullies from single to dual, which would make fitting the original spare alternator, in an emergency, a BIG job. Besides, I did not wish to use the main engine as my primary battery charging source.

I have changed to an array of 380w of 24v Solar panels, controlled by a Blue Sky MPPT controller. This set up puts in up to 24amps for 3 to 6 hours per day, and is way more efficient during the remaining hours as well. The AirX Marine windgen has been fitted with the new Silent Wind blue carbon fibre blades, which not only kick in at lower wind speeds, but are also quiet, and will not cause your neighbour to throw his towel into your wingen just to stop the screaming banshee!

With this “free” power input, we have added a 2000w Sinergex Puresine Inverter, which can cope with all my power tools, the vacuum cleaner, computers, and even a toaster or microwave if required!

We have added an Echo Tec water maker, which produces 55lts /hr, while using about 30 amps. We chose this ahead of the less power hungry Spectra , because it is so simple and can use non proprietry spares from most hardware shops. We have also built in an addition 60 lt tank to store non chlorinated water maker water, to enable easy flushing , which enables the unit to stand for 10 days between runs, before having to run again , or pickle it. We transfer “made” water in 60lt batches to our main holding tanks, into which we can also pipe rainwater from our rain catching bimini.

The final backup for all our power needs, and to make water without having to run the main engine, is our little 2.0kva Honda genset, which uses inverter technology. It only weighs 11kgs, runs on very little petrol, is extremely quiet, and can pump in up to 100amps via our Mastervolt 100 amp battery charger. !

In this age of “lock it or Lose it”, it is important to get into the habit of lifting ones dinghy every night. A good davit arrangement takes the chore out of this job. Our davits are hinged at the bottom of the two main gantry posts, so as to lift the dinghy clear of the transom hung rudder. A double block and pulley system to one of our secondary winches makes this a quick task .

My one concession to sore shoulders, back ( or to enable Mary to wind in the roller furler easily, or to lift the dinghy), is the hand held 28volt Lithium battery powered Milwaukee , right angle drill, fitted with a winch socket ! A full on power winch wherever we need one! Incredibly powerfulLast up…. To those of you who have made it this far, you might remember my blog about the fellow dribbling humungous nuts along the nudie beach at St Martin…. Well I found the tree in Grenada where he grew them!

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