We’re currently enjoying life at the famous Musket Cove Yacht Club. Basically a cruisers hang out next to a nice resort. I suppose we’re all part of the tropical scenery for the resort guests so management doesn’t mind having us around. Besides we pay a modest mooring fee and buy beer at the bar. This is my first “yacht club” membership. Lifetime membership cost $1 Fiji (50 cents US) but to qualify you have to have sailed at least 1000 miles from a foreign port. No burgee or T-shirt to buy but they do carve your name, year and yacht name in the beams at the fancy restaurant. Look for ours when you come through. From here we’ll head to Vanuatu or New Caledonia before heading back down to New Zealand for the next cyclone season.
I finally gave up on my old Windbugger and replaced it with a new KISS generator built in Trinidad. More power, brushless motor, fiberglass case and all new parts. What a treat to have something new on the boat.
Our combined power generation is: the wind generator, five solar panels (18 amps with the sun directly overhead), a shaft driven alternator (10-15 amps) while sailing, and a 190 Amp alternator for the house batteries. In the trade wind belt, with days of continuous 15-20 knot winds and bright sun through scattered cumulus clouds, typical output from the KISS wind generator is 8-10 amps and, during mid-day hours, solar provides 12-15 amps. Our Grunert refrigeration and Spectra water maker are both 12 volt and we can sometimes rest at anchor for days without running the engine for charging.
Of course there are plenty of days with no wind and solid overcast skies when we run the engine for one and 1/2 hours. The four liters of diesel consumed gives us a cold ice box, solidly frozen meat in the freezer and 24 gallons or so of very fresh water.
Our water heater works by circulating engine cooling water. I’ve seen systems with the electric elements and know boats who shunt extra power from wind and solar into making hot water. After a couple of days without running the engine we resort to a more basic solar heater – green, 2-liter soft drink bottles laid on the back deck. They get plenty hot after a couple of hours. The only problem is getting around to taking your cockpit shower right after your sundown gin & tonic. If we wait too long and the heat quickly leaves the bottled water.
The Spectra water maker continues to work well. It truly produces 16 gallons/hour drawing only 16 amps. I definitely prefer the flexibility of a 12 volt (or 110 volt with generator) over mounting the high pressure pump to your main engine. The flow rate of the pump, and subsequent system pressure, depend on the RPM of your engine. With a belt driven system you have to decide if the water maker is going to run at idle or motoring speeds and size the drive pulley accordingly. With a 12 volt (or 110 volt) system you can run the system whenever you have sufficient power.
We have been relaxing in Fiji and enjoying some of the local entertainment. shipped home a kava bowl and some carvings. There’s also a few bundles of kava in the forward head and a bag of ground stuff somewhere on the boat.