Cleaning and Sailing — This is the life

The galley is finally starting to feel like we live there again. We spent four days aboard; I did my day job from the boat using Herrington Harbour’s WiFi.

CA has cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. And investigated stuff we hadn’t looked at in years, and probably don’t need on the boat.

A Whitby has two deep insulated bins where refrigeration goes. (We’ve removed the cooling plates and compressors. For us, they’re not a fridge, they’re storage.)

There's another bin outboard of the sink. Plus shelves. Plus the secret space under the stove (where up for 14 wine bottles can be kept.)

It’s a lot of odd, unusual places to keep clean. CA pulled out every dish so she could clean all of it.

Surprisingly, we have a lot of dishes. Maybe service for six, I think. In addition to the galley, there’s the bar, with yet more glassware to be cleaned and stowed.

Here’s a view of some clean shelves. And the clean cooker.

Batteries

When you leave your boat for an extended period of time it’s very important to take the batteries out of everything.

This isn’t a casual “most things.” This is every damn thing on the boat with a battery.

That includes the AA battery that ignites the Force 10 cooktop. (It’s underneath the stove. Release the gimbal and tip it up.)

That includes the Brother PT-1290 Labeler. It has a handful of AAA batteries. We use it rarely. And it was hidden in the bottom of a cupboard. But. The batteries hadn't exploded (yay!) It seems designed for extended periods of being powered off.

I didn’t check my photo tachometer (used to measure engine RPM’s.) The batteries had exploded. It was almost salvageable. I got the ground wire soldered back on, but could not get the positive lead cleaned up and soldered back into place. Sigh. 

Everything else had the batteries removed. They’re all clean and waiting for the massive battery replacement.

Old Wiring

Some of the old wiring was sketchy when it was new. It hasn’t gotten any better with age. 

This dark image is two MC-4 FFM solar panel branch connectors.

The bits of white and black wire connect (eventually) to a pair of SunWize 24W solar panels on the foredeck. These panels had a simple wire harness with no connector. I put something together and wrapped it in electrical tape.

Electrical tape.

Exposed to the elements on the foredeck.

(And a rat’s nest of wires that are too long and coiled up in the cockpit. It’s pathetic. And has been pathetic for years.)

I’ve decided to start replacing the sketchy electrical mess with some better, IP67 connectors that involve much less electrical tape. That also means new MC4 connectors to the existing solar panel power feed. (There are five panels on the foredeck, four interconnected to one controller, and the fifth has no good explanation. There are way too many wires.)

I think this points to an interesting change in the way panels are sold. When I put the two 158W panels on the dodger, back in 2013, the wires were both black. I’m pretty sure they both ended in a female MC4 connector. 

I vaguely recall simply buying the only thing available: FFM MC4-style branch connectors. Since both wires were black and and had female terminators built-in, I had to label one as power and one as ground with loops of tape to be sure I wasn’t shorting something out. I suspect the panels might have been on sale for cheap because they were not compliant with the modern standards.

It appears that some time between 2013 and today, solar panels now have mixed Male (ground) and Female (positive) connectors, black and red wires, and less confusion about connecting them to a controller. There are kits with FFM plus MMF branch connectors, since you’ll need both pairs. Also. Now that adapters and parts are more common, I think I can remove the rat’s nest of writing used to combine two dodger panels and two deck panels in parallel.

Upgrades

I think I need to move some of the planned 2023 maintenance up a few years, and replace *all* the solar panels before their 10-year life span. Why? Efficiency.

The existing deck panels are SunWize SC24 units, 13″ x 21″, producing 24W each. Nowadays, the Solarland SLP080-12M is a single 80W panel 13″ x 58″, about 16″ longer than the pair. There’s a SunPower CMP23070F that’s 70W and only 21″ x 28″. The Solartech SPM110P-FSW panel is 110W, but an immense 26″ x 48″. The replacement size may be too big for the spot between the hatch cover and the grab rail. If it can fit, though, we get 1.5× or maybe even 2× the power output. And cleaner wiring. And 5 more years of happy battery charging.

ty  © Steven Lott 2020