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2013-04-16

Am I missing something?

I don't typically link directly to the websites of others for my posts, but like "Credit Card Captains", this is too good, or perhaps rueful, not to share.

Swan lurk: The boat that couldn't sink could be yours.

This is basically a recapitulation of this. Please read them and evaluate. You may feel pangs of sympathy. Or contempt. Or a frothy mixture of same. Or, like me, you wish you had a buddy with a helicopter, a winch and a harness. That's a cool half-mil of salvage.

Now, I wasn't there, I can't judge...or rather shouldn't, but does it strike the average reader of these delirious missives that the skipper and crew perhaps gave up a little too easily?

The part about the iPad being at 15% power...I nearly spilled my beverage. And yes, I know I'm sounding like Crusty Old Skipper Who Hates Everything, but it has become common for me in recent years to nail jaywalkers while riding my bike on city streets. They emerge from between parked cars with their eyes locked on their texting...I feel I'm doing the species a service with an elbow check or three. I get a similar feeling reading this story. Sailors like this will eventually make seatbelts and airbags mandatory on boats, if that makes sense. I won't even get into the idiot tax of compulsory insurance.

Could they not have...oh, I dunno, sailed due west until they hit Virginia or North Carolina? Was the siren's call too compelling?
Don't sail from home without them. All of them! There be dragons! And sarcasm!


I don't know. I wasn't there. But it reminds me of an increasing trend in cruising, that of calling for rescue from a floating boat capable of sailing, and particularly of this boat.


A new workboat for my boat club

I don't often discuss my boat club activities, partly because I feel it's of at best small interest to many readers who would prefer I discuss the curing time of various rust conversion paints and the proper lubrication regime of 40-year-old winches...as I do...but the truth of the matter is that almost all of the work done on Alchemy is done at my club in Toronto and it has been by their indulgence with my dilatory methods of boat refitting to which I owe a great deal.

So...today, the long-awaited New Work Boat was splashed.

Hooking up: This 22 footer, which resembles a flamboyant landing craft fit for the invasion of Munchkinland, is pretty light and that hull is sealed...it's basically a giant metal air bubble. So even a light wind can get 'er moving. The old boat was steel, increasingly thin steel, true, but ran about 2.5 tons in weight. This boat is lighter by far.

The fellow in the boat is Don Weston, our club's Vice-Commodore of Marine Operations. This project of vale to the old rustbucket and bienvenue to the new was headed by him. He's got every right to be pleased with the outcome.

Yeah, clearly we skew Boomer. What of it?

The action shots involved a bottle of champagne that proved reluctant....at first.

And this guy works out!

Mazeltov!

Where's that whisky now?


Nice, ain't it?

A tentative tickle of the throttle tests "touchy".
Gratifyingly swift at igniting, the 90 HP outboard (complete with prop shield to reduce prop walk and protect against the large, blade-bending objects this vessel will occasionally retrieve) ran swimmingly.
The usual gang of workplace hazards.
It wasn't long before a number of the Mooring Committee's previous workboat drivers were "certified" (i.e. unlikely to drive it into a wall or another boat) on the new vessel, and mooring servicing began immediately as the club launch approaches.

As for the new name, it's the old name. I'm kicking around a few logos:



I think I like "Safety Orange" the best, even though the club colours are red, black and white.

Anyway, that's the part of the club for whom I volunteer. Gets me out of the paint pots.

2013-04-15

Powerful silence


Pool noodles. Is there anything they can't do?

Bringing along a Honda 2000 is the road less travelled for the modern cruising couple. Most cruising boats that bother with power generation beyond that provided by alternators, wind and sun opt for smallish diesel gensets, installed beneath decks, and usually with discrete cooling and exhaust systems. While there is very likely enough room for that in Alchemy's capacious "engine room", which I can state after spending many an hour down there is more like a steel plated crawlspace, I did not like the idea of a second or third "thing that drinks diesel", if we include a Wallas or Espar heater (to name two popular brands) into the mix. One of our cruising goals is to live in a state of electric frugality from what amps could be wrested from the wind and the sunshine.

Eh, not so much. I rather be Gushing.
That said, having a Honda 2000, or even two of them (the Companion model, which is not a Doctor Who reference), is a way to have 10 or so AC amps for virtually every power tool I would bring, sparing the 2000 watt inverter from a "lossy" conversion from hard-earned DC back to AC.  I picture the inverter being on only occasionally, like when we are underway and making alternator amps, in much the same way as I picture we will make water and do other heavy draw activities. If I'm running a Dremel for a hour, however, or charging the anchor windlass battery, or need to drill a few holes ashore, the Honda or a similarly sized "luggable" genset makes perfect sense.

Not only an example of perfect sense, but a reason to sail to Oswego.
Using it aboard, however, requires stowage and perhaps a measure of protection from the elements, and its somewhat volatile gasoline fuel. Running portable gensets like the Honda 2000s on deck, particularly a steel deck, is a recipe for resonance below, and annoyed anchorage-mates above and across, even given the Honda's relatively quiet operation and near-invisible exhaust. I mean, the Hondas are quiet, but only in comparison to a similarly sized go-kart or lawnmower. They aren't silent...but they can be made nearly so.

So a couple of ideas have been percolating: Bring Hondas, but make 'em quieter and more weatherproof. I got the idea from this thread on Cruisers' Forum, and while the considerations of not poisoning oneself, or burning down the pilothouse or something else tragic and avoidable. Putting such dreams to one side, let's further consider the advantages or rather the rationale for putting two boat bucks into Honda's silly little putt-putt plugs.

My amperage has been thusly embiggened!

The happy new boat owner thinks: Why, I shall obtain for my fine vessel a passel of batteries of the finest make, thereby allowing me to charge via Nature's infinite bounty, and therefore I will have the electron-flavoured juice to watch My Little Pony videos in the inner sanctum of my cruiser's teaky saloon.

Alchemy's crew quarters are admittedly Spartan.
So one has a thousand amp-hours of batteries, for all one's powered needs. How much of that is actually usable? Keep in mind two factors: What I tend to call the "usable band" of battery power is about 30%: from 50% state of charge (SOG) to 80%. You need to have some extra bits to throw charge into a battery bank after 80% or so, and I would think it's worth it, if one has, as the Brony boatie in question, only solar as a charge source aside from the standard alternator on the diesel.

The second factor is battery draw-down. It's not always easy on boats to devise a realistic energy budget that accounts for all the amps being consumed. If you have a fixed draw, like a fridge, an investment in LED lights, foot pumps for water, extra insulation for the fridge and maybe a nice big alternator if you need to pump out 12 NM out and want to take the battery bank to 95%-100% or so, this has to be part of the plan going in. In the end run, I believe we will save on NOT having a genset or burning more diesel in one, and we will have a quieter life in a quieter boat.

Not a robot turkey, merely prudent battery maintenance

Part of this game plan is being honest: We accept that 750Ah of expensive deep-cycle marine battery capacity means about 225 Ah of actually usable power, and that wewill be cycling often enough to want to clap on an equalization charge (which may be possible with the solar, maybe not) and we will want hydrocaps and temperature sensors and SG readings and other care and feeding aspects in order to get a good five or six years out of your (hypothetical)  T-105s.


So the question is not just "how much solar" or "how big the alternators" or even "how many Hondas/Panda/Onans" but "how much use and how much capacity and how much monitoring determine how much solar/wind?"


Such is the way forward on a cruising boat: Work your way backward, doing math.

UPDATE, 14.04.07: If one is interested (and one may be, because of the handiness of using synched up Hondas as baseline hydro for one's house), here's the technical explanation for why You Can't Do That in Canada:

http://forums.motorhomemagazine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/27253477.cfm

Short form is that CSA doesn't allow the type of paralleling circuit in "our" Honda standalones that the States does, or tends to do, as the standards vary state-to-state.

The "fix" is to buy two Companions, as far as I can tell. Canadian or American won't (then) make a difference.

The problem is that then you lose the 12 VDC circuit!

So we're back to one American Companion and one American "straight" Honda 2000...if you think you'd want 12 VDC, and you might on a boat, mightn't you?!