Monday, June 25, 2012

Boat life: rain, daily life, electricity

My cousin Carol sent me an email the other day saying it looks like it rains a lot in Hilo. Oh my, does it ever! Some days, it’s just too much work to go to shore. A few days of that and I’m ready to do whatever is necessary to get off the boat. It’s never cold, we don’t have umbrellas (just another thing to carry around), and rain jackets keep you dry but they’re also too hot and sweaty. So we just deal with it: get wet, dry out … repeated endlessly on some days.
When we leave the boat, we try to remember everything we might need to complete our errands. We have a checklist taped near the doorway to help us remember:
---Do we have $$$, the shopping list, bicycle helmet/lock/key, the computer, cell phones, sunglasses, hat, shoes? (Yes, we’ve forgotten to wear shoes once or twice.)
---Is there a bag of garbage for the trash can? Empty water jugs that need filling?
---Is the propane valve turned off? Hatches closed and locked? Anchor light off?
You always plan on getting soaked - what you take either goes in a dry sack (computer, cell phones) or it gets wet. While my bike is always onshore locked to a chain link fence, Dick’s bike is loaded into the dinghy. Once ashore, what we’ve brought either gets thrown away, strapped onto a bike, or put into a pull-cart if it’s a day for walking. Laundry day makes for an even bigger load - so big that I’ve decided I’d rather go more often and do one load at a time.
The rain has another consequence for boat life: less sun = less electricity generated. We have two 65-watt solar panels which gather enough power for our daily needs, whether sailing (autopilot, chartplotter, navigation lights, etc.) When not sailing, Dick might use power tools, I might have my sewing machine humming.
But on cloudy days, we do watch the battery monitor. 14.00 is the high number we like to see and it shouldn’t go below 12.00.
I’ve learned to minimize electrical usage and unplug anything not being directly used at the moment. Battery charging is a big deal on our boat - computer, iPad, Kindle, rechargeable batteries, toothbrush.  If the sun’s out, I’ve got things plugged in. An inverter changes the 12-volt power to 115 volt which is needed for the items listed above. The cell phones are charged with 12-volt charger (like the cigarette lighter-type chargers in cars). 

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