The Care & Feeding of Batteries on SV Apolima
30 May 2018 | Marshall Islands
Raining, almost everyday this week.
100 years ago a sailboat was much simpler than it is today. At that time boats were made of wood, canvas, galvanized rigging and Stockholm tar covered over with oil paint. Some had a small simple engine, usually hand started. Lighting was Kerosene lamps and candles. Navigation was DR supplemented with a good steering compass, a pelorus, paper charts, tide tables, a lead line for depth, a fog horn and maybe a patent log. For longer voyages a sextant with a Nautical Almanac and HO 249 tables. Many successful voyages were made in such basic (by modern standards) craft.
After a voyage there were chores and repairs. These usually consisted of sail repairs, chaff protection on all lines, adjusting rigging, painting, trimming the lamps wicks. These well built wooden boats were quite reliable as long as the running preventive maintenance was done on a regular basis.
Modern sailboats are another ‘kettle of fish’. Todays boat are mostly fiberglass which is strong and long lasting with minimal maintenance but other systems take more care.
Just about all have diesel engines for propulsion and generating electricity to charge batteries to power electrical and electronic devices such as: radios, SSB, TV, stereo, lighting, fans, computers, GPS plotters, depth sounders, Nav lights, autopilots, washer=dryers, anchor windlass, bilge pumps, inverters, refrigeration, water makers, weather fax, Satellite phone, and various other devices. These devices are by their very nature high tech electrical and electronic construction which do not do well in a salt laden environment. Most modern boats have high electrical demands which must be met by a well thought out system sized to handle the loads. These systems require constant monitoring and preventive maintenance.
It is said that modern cruising boats sail from port to port to replace and/or repair modern technology devices.
The heart of these systems is batteries. There has to be a means of storing electrical power which means having a batteries of a suitable capacity.
APOLIMA’s electrical setup:
• We have 4 six volt L16 wet cell batteries with a 840 amp rating. They are arranged in 2 banks but we run them on Both as one set.
• There is 4 solar panels for a total of 500 watts controlled by a Midnite Solar MPPT regulator.
• As we have an engine driven refrigeration compressor with holding plates that runs for 40 minutes a day it also charges house batteries with a 150AH alternator.
• An Ampair wind generator puts out about 30 amps/day in 10 kts wind.
• 3000 watt Inverter/charger.
Battery maintenance(wet cell):
▪ Keep batteries clean, well vented, topped up with distilled water to the proper level.
▪ Charge regularly to keep between 50 to 80+% charge.
▪ Check specific gravity with a battery hydrometer and log results regularly.
▪ To keep individual cells even they must be Equalized periodically. If the cells are not the same voltage, the higher voltage cells leak into the lower.
▪ keep battery cable connections clean and protected from corrosion. I use a copper infused product called Molyslip COPASLIP on all electrical connections.
To equalize on AV APOLIMA this is what we do.
▪ My procedure to equalize is to isolate one bank connected to the solar and the other as house use.
▪ Solar charges the one bank until the specific gravity of the acid peaks. At that point I select the Equalize setting on the MPPT regulator,
▪ Once the first bank is equalized the other bank is selected for equalizing.
Good battery care enables more reliable performance and longer battery life.
10 Things We Have do Before Leaving for Fiji
15 April 2018 | Majuro, Marshall Islands
Raining, under the ITCZ, again
s with all boats and passages the lists seem to get longer rather than shorter. Who knew.
Yesterday, Gary discovered that our oil seemed to be growing on the dipstick. Since it wasn’t milky, he assumed that we had diesel fuel in our oil, so he changed the oil and changed the fuel pump, hoping that that was the problem, altho he really thinks that the seals on the fuel injection pump will have to be replaced. We shall see, altho, he has been researching where he can order the seals because we should have them anyway.
Sail Repair: We have a rip in our main sail on the leach, and altho it isn’t a major, it runs between 2 battens, so the battens would have to be removed to do a good job.
Chain moved to Centre: This is a thing we do for all passages. Keeps the weight out of the ends of the boat, and makes for a more comfortable ride.
Hatches secured: We have a number of large hatches that insist on drip, drip, dripping, and even changing the seals didn’t fix the problem, so we need to add a few more dogs to so if that will cure it.
Wind Vane: Our present wind vane sail is too small, so Gary wants to increase the size and maybe the vane will work better.
Bilge Pump: He wants to add another bilge pump, the ones we have at present are just fine, and we haven’t had a problem, but you can never have enough bilge pumps.
Clean the Bottom: This is an ongoing problem, we usually each go in the water and scrape at it a couple of times a week, and every time it looks like no one has ever cleaned the weed off the bottom. No barnacles at the moment, and we only hauled a year and a half ago, but it still needs constant attention.
Fuel: Gary is now running the dinghy back and forth to the cheapest place he can find fuel, so it is 20 minutes over, haul the jugs (6) across the street to the garage, load the dinghy, get back to the boat, haul on deck and strain thru the baja filter. Repeat. Only 5 more loads to go. But at a $1,00 a gallon difference on 200 gallons, makes quite a difference in our budget.
Install maps on inReach and iPad: Unfortunately our xoom tablets with the Navionic maps decided to die, and I had to download another Navionics onto my iPad, which means I have to do all the maps again! Hours of tedious work. Only doing from here to Fiji at this time, I understand that internet is cheaper in Fiji.
Provision: The trick is this time, to not over or under provision. Don’t need to leave a lot of meat or veggies for the Fijians to throw in the trash.
Probably forgot a few things, like laundry etc. and cooking up stuff to freeze, so if it is rough we don’t have to cook, but those are just normal day to day stuff. And people keep saying “what do you do all day, must be boring, living on a boat” LOL
A Quick Synopsis on our Whereabouts
24 March 2018 | Marshall Islands, waiting out the cyclone season
Just a quick overview for anyone who hasn't been following us on Facebook.
We left from La Paz, BCS, Mexico, and headed for French Polynesia, the normal milk run from the North American coast. We had one of our granddaughters on board, Hannah, who was great. It was nice to have 3 watches instead of 2, and also to have help in the kitchen and on deck. Oh to be young again.
Things didn't start to go wrong until we were about a week out of Cabo San Lucas, and then the starter on our engine quit. Well,.....we needed the engine to charge batteries, and keep the freezer cold, run the water maker etc. So the rest of the trip we were enginless. We had taken the charger in the week before we left La Paz to have it looked at because we thought it wasn't working as well as it should. They replaced everything but they didn't check the field and the windings, and there was a short in there. Wouldn't have been a problem if we hadn't been out on the open ocean.
All in all it wasn't a bad trip, we hove to a couple of nights because of no wind in the Convergence Zone, and of course we couldn't motor, and it was roly because we had the swell anyway. And we trashed our spinnaker because we got hit with a 30K squall that we didn't see coming. But we managed to sail into Nuka Hiva, and got towed the last ½ mile to a good spot to anchor.
And there we stayed for a couple of months. Poor Hannah, we had told her she would get to see, Tahiti, and Tonga, and Fiji, and really all she saw was Nuka Hiva. But Canadian mail being the way it is, our parcel (which cost $400. to mail) went via Hong Kong, and 6 weeks later arrived in Nuka Hiva, all correctly addressed even, ???? So Gary got the new starter installed, and we put Hannah on the inter island freight ship and she flew back home and off to University.
We also left, and spent a couple of days in Danielles Bay, just 5 miles out of Nuka Hiva. A great little anchorage to clean the bottom, and a long walk to the huge waterfall.
After that we sailed on to Raitia and then Bora Bora, both great sailing spots, with too many activities to write about in this synopsis. ( if you want a list just email me and I can send maps etc). It was interesting to go to the Bora Bora yacht club, which we had spent some time during the 1980's when we were cruising that area with the kids. It has definitely grown, in fact the whole of Bora Bora has grown, but they have done it nicely, so it isn't too obvious, and you can still find plenty of spots to be alone with just the sea breezes and the palm trees.
From Bora Bora, we hopped to Am. Samoa. A great place to fuel up and get all the American stapes we are so use to. Again, we noticed a lot of changes, the tram that ran over the bay is gone, there is only 1 tuna packing operation now, and they have done a lot to clean it up. Lets face it, it is not pristine, but the garbage in the water is less. Had a great time taking buses everywhere, and I just can't miss mentioning the friendly and helpful locals. They have 2 or 3 cruise ships come in every week with thousands of camera toting tourists, and they still keep their cheerfulness.
And from there, we jumped off again to do the run up here to the Marshall Islands, for the tropical typhoon season. Again, it is an American protectorate, or some such. It is now independent but they still have supermarkets with Am food, as well as Australian and New Zealand. And they have the Am postal service. Diesel is $5.15 a gallon tho.
We are presently in a lovely anchorage 4 miles from Majuro, with lots of good snorkelling and diving. So that brings us up to date.
The photo is of the Tiki seen from the water in Nuka Hive, FP
La Paz to Escondido, Cold
09 March 2011 | Back in Escondido
This trip up from La Paz has been the longest in our history. Loads of northerly winds, so lots of days of sitting and waiting out the weather. We spent almost a week at Bahia San Fransico, which is a terrific anchorage when the weather is warm enough to swim, but this time Gary got in once to work on the bottom, and it took a number of hot toddies to warm him up. We did try and get up the San Jose channel one morning when the bay looked smooth as glass, but we didn't even make it to Everisto before we were burying the bow in the waves, so not having a heavy schedule we turned around and returned to the anchorage for a couple of more days.
Did manage to get a sock for the genoa almost made, found mucho yards of multi colored rip-stop nylon in one of the ceiling compartments, so we got busy and sewed it in a 55 foot sock complete with trim, the only thing not done is the zipper, which is still hiding somewhere on the boat. Bought the zipper months ago, just for this project, and it is in an unspecified spot, to be found probably by accident one day. We hunted, and tore into every space we could thing of, but the zipper is still hiding.
Saw lots of whales on the way up, mostly fin-backs, altho, we had a super view of a large blue whale right off our bow on the run from Aqua Verde to Escondido. They are huge, average somewhere around 80 feet, and it was the high point of the trip seeing it so close.
We are going to be here for a week or so, and then wander around the north here for a month or so. Hoping it will warm up so we can get back to regular swimming rather than having to work up enough nerve to get in the cold water!
08 February 2011 | La Paz
We spent a glorious month up in the frozen north of Canada, and arrived back in Escondido, to a battery bank that said 10.5!! EEks, Now I know very little about batteries, but even to me that sounds pretty horrible. Considering that we have 4 large solar panels as well as a wind generator, I must admit that I was puzzled, but batteries aren't my strong suit so I didn't pay too much attention when we were leaving for the north. But according to Gary, we, and I repeat he did say WE, left the engine room light on, (obviously my favorite place to hang out!) which caused a drain, because he had turned off most of the solar stuff so that it didn't overcharge the batteries while we were gone. Well, that wasn't a big success, but Gary was hoping that he could do a revival, and get them back up.
Well, on the trip down from Escondido to La Paz, we found that altho we could charge them, they wouldn't hold a charge, Since we didn't have any wind at all and had to motor, that wasn't a big problem, just go to bed when the sun comes down, at this time of the year that is around 7ish, so we got lots of sleep.
We are now the recipients of 4 new golf cart batteries, only 4 out of our 8 house batteries had to be replaced, they were the oldest, and Lopez Marine gave us a great price on them, so as soon as all this thing Gary calls "equalizing" is finished, we should have lots of power to run the microwave again.
What is "equalizing"?? Who knows, it has been explained to me a bunch of times, but to me it means,-- only running on one set of batteries, and conserving electricity!!
Until next time, Keep the shiny side up!
In hot water about no hot water
15 December 2010
The Sea of Cortes in summer is hot, sometimes between 100 and 110 F during the day. The water temperature climbs up into the low 90's. Since the fresh water in the tanks of Apolima matches the temperature of the sea water, showering with water at ambient sea water temperature is pleasant from about June to early October. The rest of the year I get complaints about the ice water coming out of the shower head.
As a good conscientious husband I listen to my wife and tell her I will arrange for her to have pleasantly warm showers. When I put my mind to solving this problem I found that there are a number of options open to us.
Run the engine so that the engine coolant will heat the water in the HW tank via the heat exchanger coil installed in the tank. Unfortunately the idiot who last replaced the hot water heater bought one without a heat exchanger coil. The only way to have hot water on Apolima is to have 120VAC. It works fine when we are plugged into the marina but we are rarely resting at a dock.
The easiest option we now have when away from the dock is to run the engine to produce 12 volts, to charge the batteries, to run the inverter, to heat the water. The downside is that this results in increased wear and tear on the engine and electrical system, noise and needless fuel consumption. Needless to say it is an expensive way to provide a warm shower.
Of course we can replace the hot water heater with one that has a heat exchanger coil so that water is heated every time the engine is run. Free heat, so to speak, as long as the engine is running for other purposes. The $600 + initial cost plus installation seems to be a serious downside to us retired on pensions. And the present heater is not broken yet.
The sun shines in Baja Sur just about every day of the year so lack of heat is not usually a problem so I designed a solar solution. Beautiful; yes, I'll Go Green. Simple. A coil of hose in a shallow box with a Plexiglas top is warmed by the sun. The warm water in the hose is circulated by a small pump to the hot water heater and the cooler water back up to the coil in the sun.
David on the catamaran 'Puddy Tat' pointed out that there was free heat available from the refrigeration system. EUREKA. Currently our refrigeration system is cooled by salt water pumped through a heat exchanger. If I cooled it by circulating the water in the hot water heater instead of salt water I would be able to make hot water for showers as well as eliminate salt water corrosion of the refrigeration heat exchanger.
I choose the last option. It required some hoses and valves and some plumbing changes. Now we have hot water every day when we run the refrigeration. It works.