This article gives a brief overview of the aftermarket equipment we have fitted to our boat.
For those of you reading this as you explore options for fitting out yourselves, I promise that where manufacturers or suppliers are mentioned, I am not sponsored or paid to endorse them. In fact as time passes, if the products dont fare too well, I will update this part to reflect this. However, most of the suppliers are small companies who seem to deliver above and over the expected norm, and I don’t see how a mention of good service can be a bad thing.
Our Southerly was delivered with a moderate amount of extras, mostly electrics and some upgrade options on fabrics and alike. However, the costs of their options were extortionate,and so we decided to do most of the fitting out ourselves. It also gave us a chance to see how to fit and service the equipment we were going to install.
As travelling to sunnier climes was the long term plan, one of our first purchases was a bimini. For this we approached Tec-Sew. Their website was the most comprehensive of the manufacturers we found. It is a small company run by John and Ally Bland. As with most of the 3rd party suppliers, they were a pleasure to deal with. They also took time to explain how their biminis differed from others, as they had more supporting struts. We took some measurements , it arrived about a month later and it was fitted in a day. Over the last two summers it has proved invaluable in keeping both the sun and the rain off our heads. No complaints whatsoever.
One of our second considerations was energy generation while at sea. We had always decided to try and circumnavigate which meant moving away from dependancy on shore power, while still retaining some of the our home comforts.
First on the list was a wind generator. Again we did a fair amount of research into which would suit us best. Essentially the market seems to be split into those low cost units that are able to trickle charge the battery, and those more expensive units that can generate enough energy both at anchor and at sail to run equipment and charge the batteries.
Once again we went back to the YBW forums as well as some PBO articles comparing the units. Another trip to another boat show , and we ordered an Airbreeze unit. This time from Barden.
The installation should have been easy. However it was carried out the day after a friends wedding, and lets just say if I hadnt been hungover it would have been easier!
In addition to this we wired in a BMV battery moniter, which at just shy of £100 is compact and so far has worked well .
The wind gen we have is a bit of a double edged sword. At wind over 15 kts it is happy. It can generate anything upto 15amps which is more than enough.
The downsides are that at lower wind speeds it generates very little. Also some people don’t like the noise it makes. I personally don’t find it that offensive and we leave it running all night long and still sleep well.
Next on the list were solar panels. Now this took a lot of research as we didnt want them to be obtrusive, but yet we wanted at least 200w. After much research we came up with a company called Solbian who make semi felxible panels. Barden ( i think) supplied the units, and we specified them with zips on so that we can zip them to the bimini.
A quick trip to the sailmaker to sew on the zips and we were away.
As with most solar panels they are very sensitive to being even partially in the shade. So the shadow from a backstay for instance reduces the output considerable. I also have heard tales of woe regarding the panels delaminating over time. However it think that the solbian ones come with a 5 year warranty.
But in full sunshine we can get 11 amps from them. Another bonus for our power hungry lives.
Finally with our green energy requirements was a hydrogenerator. Now ideally we wanted one of those watt and sea hydrogenerators to attach to the boat. However they were eye wateringly expensive.
In the end a chap on YBW was selling a used Aquair , complete with the wind generator adaptor for about £300. So a couple of quick messages exchanged and the deal was done. 5 amps from this unit.
Aside from the battery monitor, we fitted 3 separate analogue ammeters at the chart table to monitor individual output from our units. They cost a couple of quid each on ebay and have performed well over the years.
Hopefully this coupled with an 80 amp alternator will allow us to keep the essentials and some non essentials running all the time.
In the future we will look at buying a suitcase generator to better deal with our energy requirements.