Saturday, May 28, 2016

Where do you go when it rains?

... or something we were asked just last week: "you stay on the boat all night?"  You kind of expect these questions from non-sailors, they only know fishing boats or maybe cruise liners. Because they have not thought about it, they really have no idea what life on a sailboat might be like.

We expect more from fellow cruisers though. We recently realized that the only fossil fuels we have personally used over the last seven months have been about 25 lbs of propane for the stove and maybe one gallon of diesel maneuvering with the ship's engine.

So we announced that to fellow cruisers at a beach pot luck. When they heard we had not run the engine or generator for so long their response was "We have read about people like you with no refrigeration and only a few lights. We could never live that simply".

But we do not live simply. We have used our Torqeedo 3 HP electric outboard daily getting back and forth to beach, we have a built-in fridge with Adler Barbour large vertical freezer, we have ice in our drinks and usually watch 3-4 hours of TV every evening, we make all our own fresh water with a 12V VMT NF-200 water maker, and we leave our LED anchor light on continuously. Oh, and we usually have warm if not hot water for washing dishes and showers and we also keep the phones and laptops charged up.

Some people would say we have taken our shore home life with us . . . and they would be at least partly correct. It is nice that the solar panels and wind generator are set-and-forget methods of maintaining our life style but it did take some thought on systems and implementation and no small initial monetary outlay. For example our 480 watts of solar panels ($500) are controlled by an MPPT control box ($550) that diverts excess afternoon solar power to a 12V/120V dual element water heater element ($100). When we have excess power, why waste it? We use a 1500 watt Prosine inverter ($1100) to supply clean AC power to all but cell phone chargers.

We know people can live extremely well with little or no electrical power. We are not in that group tho.  It did take us a while to realize we could live without ice cream in the drawer freezer or keeping 12 bottles of drinks in the upright refrigerator. By simplifying only a little though, we gained hugely from not having to listen to the generator every evening and especially not having to make frequent trips to the gas station.

Most of the cruisers we were around could not fathom our ability to live without a generator or running the main engine an hour in the morning and evening. I think now they are rethinking their systems.

Our no-interaction-required lifestyle changed this week though. Our Torqeedo outboard started acting strangely. I think fishing line that wrapped around the prop compromised the integrity of the seal around the motor shaft, letting seawater in. We had to mount the old 15 hp Mercury outboard on the dinghy so we will be back to gas station runs for a while.

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