We have just returned from our long weekend away, where we entertained friends to our now usual short cruise to Wrenbury and back, (2.5 hours each way on a good run). This time we travelled there alone on Friday morning in glorious sunshine, and then spent the next day there, again in sunshine, chatting to some of the motor-home owners that were at a rally weekend behind the The Cotton Arms. (I quite fancy buying a motor-home to spend our Winters on the Continent, but I have yet to convince Margaret of the benefits of my plan apart from using up yet more retirement cash). After heavy overnight rain, our friends joined us on Sunday, and we cruised back in fair weather laced with the odd shower.
Sterling PDAR to maximise the charge, and minimise the charge time from the engine alternators, but with no built in mains charger as such. I think costs had much to do with his decision, and his plans at that time were to use the boat to live on at its home mooring, with mains, rather than go cruising with it. He never intended it to be a cruising live-aboard. This of course greatly limits how much electricity can be used between running the engine while out and about, and in practice, renders the boat as being suitable only for weekends and holidays away from shore power, with approximately only 100ah of battery resource available for use.
|Care should be taken using petrol generators|
This weekend was a test of new equipment and living methods for our coming holiday. We now use a small digital TV that was designed for a caravan / motor-home when we are travelling, as opposed the the mains flat screen domestic one. Not only does it have a digital tuner with a far superior 'gain', which helps enormously when using a portable aerial and amplifier, but it also has a minimal 12V power consumption. I then experimented with lighting. I have tried the odd LED in the past, in place of the standard 15W filament bulbs, of which there are 16 throughout the boat, but wasn't too happy with the effect. I have now deployed a floor standing mains fitting with up to 3 X 9W low energy bulbs. This provides as much light as necessary for constant use in the evening, and my thinking is, that even taking into consideration the current that the inverter itself draws while in use, the lights will be more energy efficient than the filament bulbs.
This seemed to prove correct, as this time we enjoyed our overnight stays without running out of power, charging the batteries back to full, (as shown on the charging scale of our C-Tek M100 charger ), by using our small Suzuki generator for 5 hours during the following day, taking care that we were not annoying others while doing so. This of course also enables all the boat's facilities such as the fridge, to be run off mains while this takes place. Mooring in open country for overnight stays would also ensure that using the generator wouldn't cause annoyance to others. Great care should be taken when using generators and that the exhaust is directed well away from the boat's interior, so that invisible carbon monoxide doesn't become a problem. Also the generator should only be used on a deck that is drained to the outside, in case there is any fuel spillage. From an electrical point of view, it would probably be better to have the generator placed ashore, but that brings with it other problems, such as obstruction and the possibility of theft.
The other alternative of course would be to 'finish' the boat with a very large, modern, leisure battery bank complete with a suitable built in inverter / charger, but, that would also prove too costly for us, and in the way we use the boat - not strictly necessary.