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Fresh Water Onboard by Bob Salnick

Tonight, Eolian has a pronounced heel to starboard. Not that she is ever level and completely stationary, but it is enough where we are noticing it. I just came in from outside, having put the dock water hose into her port water tank. That heel is an indication that we are about to run out of water, and as everyone knows, that never happens at an opportune moment. People who live in houses don’t get to use the tilt of the floor as an indication that their water is about to be cut off. Or to use water to trim their house until the floors are level.

Eolian has two water tanks – 160 gallons on the port side, and another 160 gallons on the starboard side. She also has two equivalent diesel tanks, one on each side. At the moment, the port diesel tank is empty and the starboard one is a little more than half full. Thus we are keeping the starboard water tank empty and filling the port one. This keeps things more or less level.

This task is one that is enjoyable in the summer, often an opportunity to socialize or to just enjoy the scenery out here at the end of the dock. But tonight, in the dark with rain spitting, it is not so much fun. So I am back inside and while I am typing, I am listening to the liquid sound of water running into the tank.

Some boats on the dock choose to bypass the hassle of this ritual, and hook up a dock hose direct to their onboard water system. Having seen two boats nearly destroyed by this practice, it is one we do not follow. In both cases, some portion of the onboard water system failed. Fresh water then […]

I learned about sailing from that: Wind vs. Current

It had been a long day.

We anchored on the south shore of Hope Island in a narrow finger of water 2-3 fathoms deep.  This little channel runs part way along this shore, surrounded by depths of 2 feet or less.

We were anchored near the east end of the “deep” channel. The eastward tidal current in the area had us facing west (hint: important). We chose this spot because a gale was forecast in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (just to the west of us), and we would be sheltered from the worst of it here.  We were tired and went to bed a little after dark.

At 22:30, we were awakened with the howl of wind in the rigging. It had  arrived, and indeed we were protected from the worst of it. We were seeing 10-15 kt, with the occasional gust to 25, all out of the west. So far the plan was working, but neither of us could sleep so we sat in the saloon or the cockpit, keeping watch and talking quietly. By 23:30, we were both quite tired, and things had not changed – the wind continued at about the same strength from about the same direction, and the anchor continued to *not* move. I think we may have both dozed off.

Suddenly, Jane shouted, “We’re loose!” I bolted to the cockpit and sure enough, we were sideways to the wind and facing the island. I started going over in my mind what we would have to do – when a boat is sideways to the wind, it is drifting, and there wasn’t much deep water to the east of us. But as I watched, I realized that despite our unusual attitude, Eolian was not moving. My next thought was that we had […]

Solar Panel Installation by Paul Andron

Solar Panel installation

thought process:

The first thing I need to do is buy some aluminum bar stock and drill some holes in it. Then go out and measure… or… wait… no, first buy a solar panel then measure… no that’s not it either. Oh, I know! Install a controller FIRST, THEN buy aluminum bar stock, then drill holes, then measure, and then buy a solar panel!

Finally I settled on this process:

The first step is to approximate what your daily power consumption is. Sounds pretty straight forward, but it turns out that it depends much more on what kind of person you are than what kind of stuff you have that runs on electricity. An organized person would take their boat out for a week and every time they turned a light bulb on, transmitted on the radio, turned the radar on, ran the engine, or did anything else that would in any way affect the charge state of the battery. Unfortunately, even after 4 years of engineering school, and 4 years in the military, I’m still not an organized person.

First a checklist (because I like lists):

1) Figure out what you will be using the panels for. Trickle charging your starting battery while you’re away from your boat, or providing power to watch TV and run the microwave and dishwasher while cruising?

2) Budget? (In my experience any project on a boat costs exactly $1000)

3) Do an energy budget. See below for a poor example of one.

4) Where and how will you mount it? It needs to “see” the sun, the sun moves (so does the boat and the earth) and the more direct the sun the better, and yes, apparently this really matters.

5) What is your battery capacity?

6) How many battery […]

Anchor Windlass Installation by Paul Andron

Anchor Windlass Installation

$750 – ProSeries 1000 (West Marine) $ 25 ($12.50/ea X 2) – Extra Long Drill Bits (Local) $800 – 300 ft 5/16 HT Chain w/ X-large links on each end (www.1st-chainsupply.com) $160 – 60 ft #2awg marine grade wire (eBay) $ 15 – Nuts/bolts/all-thread (Local) $ 20 – Wire terminals (Local) $ 30 – 20 ft 3×12 AWG wire for switch (Local)

$1800 – Grand Total

-$200 – Sold 300 ft of old PC chain -$650 – Sold old manual Windlass on eBay (seriously)

$950 – Our Grand total

We dropped the hook in 60 feet of water in Tea Harbor, a narrow steep walled (at least underwater) inlet just north of Juneau, AK. Out came 150 feet of 5/16 inch Proof Coil chain. We backed down to set the anchor, and I thought to myself “I should really let out another 50 feet or so to improve the scope, especially in this 20 knot breeze, but if we do we’ll be too close to shore.” But I didn’t, and we spent the next 8 hours fretting about whether the anchor was dragging (I think it was) instead of sleeping. So why didn’t we just pick up the anchor, move over a bit, and drop it again? Simple: the next morning when we started to hand crank the chain with our manual windlass we had to take turns because it takes about 3 cranks to pull in each FOOT of chain!!! 150 feet, You do the math! After zero sleep, an aching back and arms, and a headache the size of Alaska I decided that we were going to get an electric windlass.

So, as usual, I did research. Way too much research to the point where I could spout out the dimensions of almost any […]