My Hunter 340 came (to me) with a Rule bilge pump, it is the kind that automatically fires every 7 minutes. If there is no resistance on the pump, indicating no water to pump out, it shuts down. So far this season (May – September) the pump has fired 70,000 times according to the counter at the Nav station.
While I appreciate the security of a pump that is always checking, I can’t imagine it is doing anything but slowly, unnecessarily wearing the pump out. It also makes a racket that I’ve gotten used to. Given I’ve got solar panels I don’t worry about the battery drain either, but that could be an issue for some owners. Continue reading Bildge float switches→
As a computer literate sailor, and convert to digital charts, I thought it would be a good idea to get all my systems talking together, ideally using the processing power of a real computer (not a phone, tablet or overpriced doodad from WestRaymin. Systems like autopilot, chart plotter, depth, wind speed, compass, and GPS should all be interconnected.
Here’s what I want to cobble together.
MacMini – or other
screen, keyboard mouse
openCPN and all apps.
Pulling data from instruments -seatalk or NEMA 0183
External GPS – USB to computer
wifi remote desktop to iPad at helm – VNC over local mac Wifi
Below is my scratch pad for research, in a coming post I will outline exactly what I actually build. I have some components and as usual, am trying to execute this in the most cost-effective manner possible.
The first pump died after 15 seasons. It sounded like a jack-hammer but was a reliable crew member on our boat, sort of like Relic on The Beachcombers. Part of my bedtime ritual was turning the breaker off so as not to be awoken but sporadic bursts of pump.
This pump was made in the USA in 1999 and judging by the date, I’d say it was the original freshwater pump. It started weeping at the end of last (2014) season and I ignored it. At the end of this season, shortly after finishing out trip to the 1000 Islands, it quit (almost exactly like the fridge did last year). Upon inspection the inner sealed-bearing failed and flooded the electric motor. Rust-brown water trickled out of the motor case, it was done.
This summer I fried the old Xantrex xpower 1000 inverter. I can’t remember if it was the blender the did it…. This is a 2007 square wave inverter and I think the “digital” speed controller on the blender did a number on the inverter as well as frying the blender. I should upgrade to a pure sign wave to keep my electronics safe. but it will be nice to have a backup inverter to the older Xantrex onboard.
We had just left Kingston Marina and were motoring east past the scenic Kingston waterfront to begin the trip back to Toronto. I headed down into the boat for some reason (stereo? chart? sunglasses?) when I heard a very faint high-pitched whine for a couple of seconds. I dismissed the noise but immediately began to smell something burning.
As every sailor soon learns, ignore unusual sounds, smells, or vibrations on a boat at your peril. If the noise didn’t trigger a response in me, the smell certainly got me busy.
I lifted the step and peeked into the engine compartment and didn’t see anything amiss – no flames, no billowing smoke. I took a second look and realized that the alternator wasn’t turning but the belt wasn’t broken. Alt seizure? I immediately shut the engine down to take stock of what was happening. It turns out the belt was toast, literally. It was crisp, hard and smoking. It was so worn out that it wouldn’t turn or flex.
I think the noise was the alt spinning down.
I did a quick replacement as we slowly drifted towards the rocky shore, past a few sailing dinghy’s and stand up paddlers. I put on a Genuine Yanmar 25132-003700 (old part no# 128670-77350). We were back up running in 5 min, I think Rufus was impressed.
Lets get this out of the way first. I have taken the Canadian Power Sail Squadron’s Seamanship course which has a heavy emphasis on traditional chart plotting, so I know how to work with paper charts, but as a digital native I prefer the convenience and accuracy of electronic navigation. We can all agree that paper still works when the batteries run out.
On our trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa last summer, I used a chart book and my Android Samsung SII cellphone with Navionics for way finding. There really wasn’t any plotting involved because you just need to follow the trail of red and green bouys, but occasionally you get into open water and need to know which end of the lake to head to. Despite the small screen size, that setup worked except the GPS function and the screen brightness on full, drained the cell phone battery. To keep it alive, I plugged the phone into an AC charger via an extension cord to the AC/DC inverter. It was a messy but functional set up. I resolved that I could do better for the next trip. Continue reading Charts schmarts.→
Now that I’ve got four nice new Costco batteries, I have to get them into the boat. The original setup on the Hunter 340 was to have all the batteries in the starboard lazarette, sitting on top of the holding tanks with a few nylon straps. These batteries are 63 lbs each, four would be 240 pounds of battery on one side.
I’m told the boot stripe is painted higher on the hull to compensate for all the weight on that side of the boat. My plan is to put two in each lazarette. This works for several reasons:
weight balanced between port and starboard
batteries can sit closer to the centreline
being 6volt in series it makes sense to keep them in pairs.
The starter battery an AGM yellow-top Optima and will go down below behind the aft berth bulkhead. It will sit low low and on the center-line, ignored for the season.
The boxes will have nylon webbing over top to secure the batteries in the boxes and the boxes will have stainless carrage bolts through the lazarette floor to keep them still.
I’ve decided to paint the boxes with epoxy coloured black with 423 Graphite Powder, as I have it left over from the rudder slop repair.
“423 Graphite or powdered tempera can be used up to 10% by weight.” as per West System, I’ll go with 5%.
Aquatic Park Sailing Club has a mooring field, not docks, and the Club House itself is solar powered so our situation necessitates some thought into electricity generation and conservation. This is fine, as I love being independent of the plug.
Hiding under winter covers.
You can bareley see the panels.
I opted to install two solar panels, big solar panels, on my Hunter 340. They fit perfectly on top of the bimini, and provide as much power as you can squeeze out of a solar panel. The panels are Kyrocera 270w each running at 24v with a MorningStar MMPT charger. I am pleased with the installation as they are pretty inconspicuous, hovering about an inch an a half above the bimini. I have since replaced the old 12v batteries with two sets of 6v batteries.
In terms of performance, the panels are great. Even on overcast days I have more electricity than I can store. During the day the batteries don’t dip, so the only cycling that happens is from evening usage for the fridge/stereo and lights. I am adding some LED strip lighting from Ikea, which should help reduce the impact from the Halogen bulbs. With something like 14 lights I don’t think it makes financial sense to swap out the bulbs for LED, besides, we never turn them on all at once.
There is some boom shading on the forward panel. I have the panels on separate breakers so I should check to see the performance impact from the shade. Two panels of this wattage is overkill but the panels were not that expensive and I figured if one is good, two would be great!
The panels were installed for the 2014 season and I spent last year on the old batteries. Spring 2015 I upgraded the batteries to 4 x 6volt, paired in two, with a set in starboard and port lazarettes.
I did the installation myself, anchored one end of the panels to the arch and the other end to a rail that runs parallel to the bimini. This arrangement creates a bit of spring on the rail end but I’m not concerned. Ideally I could run a pole to the rear railing and perhaps tab the front one to the bimini railing. I cut small wedges out of starboard keep the mounting square.
Slight alteration to the wiring configuration, one battery switch vs three.
Actual installation – using existing battery switch.
I’ll keep chipping away at this post, apologies if it is a bit brief.
When I bought Tortuga it had what appeared to be the original batteries. They were monsters and I very nearly fell off the ladder carrying the 90lb Surette (far right in the photo).
After failed attempts to resurrect the old batteries I replaced them with three used Group 27s for the house bank and an isolated automotive starter battery. The house bank are showing their age. With the fridge on overnight they draw down to 12v by early morning. Time for new batteries.