Power On The Hook

By J. Rodall

Boaters who prefer to be on the hook, such as ourselves in our Islander 36 sailboat Holole’a, greatly extend their cruising experience. There are many more bays and nooks and crannies available when using the anchor. And it is free! However, the one big issue is electrical power. The boat has to be self-contained for storing electrical power (batteries), recharging the batteries, and providing 120 Volt electrical power (main engine with alternator or dedicated genset). Solar panels can help recharge batteries also.

Most boats use deep-cycle batteries for the house battery system. These are batteries that can tolerate hundreds of cycles of a 50% discharge. Without getting too technical, they are generally robust batteries of lead-acid, gel-cell, or AGM (absorbed glass matt) construction. The common physical sizes for 12 volt systems can vary from Group 24 (common car size), to golf-cart 6 volt batteries (connect 2 in series for 12 volts) up to massive and very heavy 4D and 8D. Battery banks can be added in parallel for more capacity.

Charging systems (when not on shore power) generally run off an engine of some sort. The only other options are solar power and wind turbines, but those are different topics. For a sailboat such as mine, typically the only engine has the secondary duty of battery charging through its alternator. A big improvement over the stock 60 amp (or so) alternator is a 100 to 150 amp externally regulated unit such as made by Balmar. These alternators are controlled by a “smart 3 stage” regulator mounted nearby to properly charge batteries, but of course require the main engine to run. This system is strictly 12 volts. A better alternative if space and budget permit is a proper genset, using whichever type of fuel the main engine(s) use. Gensets provide household quality power of 120 or 120/240 volts to receptacles and to the same battery charger that is used when on shore-power. This hopefully is a smart 3 stage charger. Electric stoves and such notwithstanding, only run gensets at appropriate times of the day.

Now, seriously consider adding a battery monitoring system. These are essentially a very accurate fuel gauge for the batteries. These units accurately track outgoing power and incoming charging power.  They are a voltmeter, an ammeter, a temperature sensor, a small computer, and display all in one unit, but are simple to read. They need to be programmed initially for the type and size of the batteries. Batteries are more complicated than they appear, and using a battery monitor will tell you the state of battery discharge. When charging the battery, it can be determined when to shut down the genset or main engine. This will minimize engine running time.

Adding a high quality (true sine wave) inverter of at least 2000 watt size, but more preferably 3000 watt size, will provide quiet AC power any time. Some of the better units combine a good battery charger with an inverter. When shore power, or genset power is available, they automatically become a battery charger. When the shore power or genset is disconnected, they switch to being an inverter which provides 120 volts AC to receptacles. A true sine wave unit provides high quality 120 volt AC power not unlike the utility power ashore. A true sine-wave inverter will power anything up to their rating. Bear in mind that motors such as a vacuum cleaner and large power tools have a large inrush current when starting, and may temporarily overload an inverter. Most good inverters will tolerate this.

Cheaper inverters are available and provide modified sine-wave AC power. This will work for devices such as vacuum cleaners, toasters, and hair dryers, but are not suitable for electronic devices such as microwaves, televisions, computers, etc. Electronics can overheat and be damaged when subjected to the poor quality AC power of cheap inverters.


The one big advantage of inverters is providing silent AC power; the big disadvantage is the large power requirement from the battery bank. Inverters require very heavy gauge cables to work properly. A rule of thumb is roughly 10x current out for current in. Simplified, a 1200 watt toaster draws about 10 amps from a receptacle; the inverter draws about 100 amps from the battery bank to provide this. Fortunately this heavy power drain is only for a few minutes at a time. Electrical appliances and tools that run for only minutes are very practical, as are electronics used for extended periods. High draw devices like electric stoves and hot water heaters are not practical with inverters.  The aforementioned battery monitor is almost mandatory when using an inverter.

An obvious but often overlooked energy saving scheme is…turn off the lights and appliances when not needed. Also consider using LED bulbs, including the anchor light. These bulbs are getting less expensive and the power consumption is considerably less than incandescent bulbs.

Always remember, electricity can be dangerous and life-threatening. Even 12 volts, while not likely to electrocute, can cause a devastating arc-flash which can seriously burn and blind anyone nearby. And 120 volts can definitely cause electrocution. Batteries for the most part are filled with highly dangerous sulphuric acid. Always wire devices to applicable standards for wire size and fusing using the ABYC standards. A fire on a boat can be deadly. If you are not competent to set up marine electrical systems yourself, many good marine electricians are available.

A good reference: Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Nigel Calder, ISBN 0-07-143238-8.

Destinations

  • Prev
Toronto sailor and former RCYC coach/sailing instructor Ryan May is now a US coast guard captain ...
Just before the weekly party at Shirley HeightsSunsail staffer Chris Donahue conducts our chart ...
Chartering in the Caribbean conjures up images of turquoise sea, palm fringed beaches and great ...
Since anyone who opens an independent bookstore is at least as brave as a small boat shop owner, I ...
You’re on your way east to the 1000 Islands or the Trent-Severn. By entering north of Prince ...
I have lived in Ontario my whole life but have only recently had the pleasure of visiting the City ...
My trip to the Northwest Passage started long before I boarded the flight to Kangerlussaq with ...
During the summer of 2016, my wife and I cruised through the North Channel in Lake Huron on our ...
It’s like we’ve waved a magic wand and disappeared into a picture perfect painting, our ...
The Schooner Cove Yacht Club is situated between Nanaimo and Parksville, on the east coast of ...

Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay – Almost the Gulf Islands

Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay – Almost the Gulf Islands

 By Catherine Dook

“So you’re going offshore to Genoa Bay,” said an old salt at coffee that morning. Genoa Bay was 15 minutes away from our homeport of Cowichan Bay and hardly counted as offshore, but it was our first destination that fall. The fog had socked us in all that morning, so John and I drank coffee and gossiped with the neighbours while waiting for the weather to lift. We’d provisioned with cans of chilli, a sack of apples, and tanks full of water. We’d tested the engine and the anchor winch. We were ready.

Read More of Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay.....

 

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
One of our most enthusiastic contributors, Rob Dunbar sent us this photo from Halifax.   ...
Checking back into the US was quick and painless. We made the call to Customs but we needed to ...
Two-hundred-year-old homes are what ghost stories are made of, and Beaconsfield Yacht Club (BYC) ...
This time our photos come from Gimli where Katie Coleman Nicoll was on the scene. She’s an ...
Recently we celebrated our country’s 150th anniversary, and in true form thousands of ...
   We left off Part 1 at the year 1914, and will here pick it back up, running through ...
This week’s POTW comes from across the pond. Who knew we had a European audience   ...
Here is our boat anchored at Hockey Stick Bay. We live in a beautiful country.     ...
Michelle Jacques of Cambridge ON share this memory of her adorable pooch. “This is Frodo. ...
  Our 150 year history began in 1867, but Canada was no stranger to watercraft prior to our ...

 By: Katherine Stone

Do you know how many boaters you run into while standing in the lift lines of Blue Mountain and the surrounding private ski clubs? Quite a few! Start some conversations on the ski lifts and you might be surprised how many avid boaters you can meet.

Many who boat say that winter sports are just there to pass the time until the ice clears and you can get your boat launched and start boating again. As a ski instructor, you tend to meet even more interesting boaters… Read more about the Reef Boat Club ....

 

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
Cruisers Yachts debuts the all-new 42 Cantius. The sporty, luxury cruiser will make its first ...
Hull #1 ZINNIA, the all-new, twin outboard MJM 35z left Boston BoatWorks on July 5 for Newport and ...
Following a 10-year hiatus, Richmond, BC-based Crescent Custom Yachts is once again launching ...
According to the folks at Fraser Yacht Sales, you couldn't ask for more - the new Azimut Atlantis ...
During those cold, cold, sunless, dreary months of January and February, I want to remember the fun ...
The Rossiter 23 Classic Day Boatis both a logical extension of the Canadian-built Rossiter line and ...
It's rare for Canadian Yachting magazine to report on the same boat twice, but that is how ...
When French naval architect Philippe Briandand the Jeanneau design team started working on the ...
Canadian Yachting magazine readers will certainly be familiar with the Cruisers Yachts line of ...

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
With all the devastation in the eastern Caribbean a natural question to ask is ‘is our boat in that ...
During the heat of summer, many boat owners turn on their air conditioning units. Whether portable ...
A milestone has been reached. The new D13-1000 sees Volvo Penta move into the 1000hp marine leisure ...
  Still looking for the perfect slip for your boat? Look no further!    
Canadian Yachting traveled to Newport to review and sea trial the new MJM 35z.     ...
Erik Pawson Of Watertight Boatworks here in North Vancouver, BC, is really passionate about the ...
Hydro Clean Hull Wash is Canada's first automatic, mechanical hull wash system and the company has ...
For 2017 there were a total of 31 events planned and 2 were cancelled for a total of 29 events. All ...
When Terry Conrad, of Conrad Marine, offered me ride in a brand-new Sea Fox 288 Commander that he ...
EMCS Industries Ltd. has a unique antifouling system that’s quite clever and incredibly ...

By Owen Hurst

Since the initial article of this series we have looked at the iPad and its use as a marine navigation instrument. We have discussed its functionality, available apps, relevant hardware and compared it to traditional charplotters. This focus on iPad led one of our readers to an interesting question that we have yet to address.

Question: Why has the focus been solely on the use of iPads for marine navigation rather than Android devices?

Read More Going iPad or Android.....