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  #1  
Old 11-26-2010
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Equipment Check List

Greetings esteemed SailNet members and participators. I am preparing to outfit a 28' Cape Dory for self-sufficiency and I wanted to request some help from some of you here.
Basically, I want to make the boat able to be self-sufficient without use of land hook-ups for power/water. To make it easy lets pretend I am trying to rig the boat so that if I wanted I could live on the hook indefinitely and never need to dock again (except for fuel of course). So if those of you who have done similar modifications before could provide me with your check-list and specifications it sure would make my life a lot easier.

As of now the boat has no solar panels or other similar devices. It has an 11 HP yanmar diesel for an engine. If any additional info is needed just ask and I will provide.
Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old 11-26-2010
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You'll need a water maker and you'll need some sort of passive charging capability. I'd recommend reading the primer I wrote on Solar Power on Boats as a starting point about the passive recharging capability, and this website for basic information regarding watermakers, specifically the Pur PowerSurvivor 40E. However, much of the information regarding the Pur PS40E is applicable to other brands/makes/models.

BTW, you would still need to refuel the engine and also re-supply the cooking fuel.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 11-26-2010
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Might want to consider a composting head.
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Old 11-26-2010
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As with most hypothetical questions, getting a quality answer is going to be almost impossible.

As Dog says, you'll certainly need some kind of passive power generation. Exactly how much, what type, and best combination thereof will depend on your location and your energy consumption.

Chris also raises a very pertinent point -- you need to have a plan to deal with your waste. Pump outs are going to be needed unless you've got a composting head.
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Old 11-26-2010
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It is pretty simple to plumb a head so that the holding tank can be easily pumped out. A composting head may be more trouble than it is worth, since disposing of the waste on land may be an issue, especially since the waste really isn't safe to dispose of unless it is fully composted, and in most cases that won't be true.

You will need all the standard safety gear: Flares, Horn, PFDs, etc., in addition to the cruising gear.

Some things to consider:

1) Electrical usage--One of the best investments will be a good battery monitor to see what your actual electrical usage. Without knowing this, you can't plan your battery bank size or passive recharging system with any real accuracy.

2) Fresh water--This is a scarce commodity, and not always available or free in the Caribbean. Having a watermaker is really your only option, unless you really want to cart jerry cans of water around on a regular basis.

3) Refrigeration--The only choice for refrigeration on a boat like yours is 12 VDC based refrigeration. I'd point out that refrigeration isn't a necessity, but it is awfully nice to have. Engine-driven or 110 VAC refrigeration really doesn't make sense on a boat that is going to be anchored out most of the time. A small 12 VDC refrigerator, like the Engel portable refrigerators, can be run off of the house battery bank and the load can be handled solar panels. I keep my boat on a mooring and run the refrigerator all season long using solar panels.

4) LED-based lighting--This is one of the simplest ways to reduce your electrical load. However, you do have to be careful about your navigation lights. Using non-USCG certified navigation lights can leave you liable in a collision.

5) Cooking Fuel--Propane is probably the best fuel to use overall. However, it can be somewhat difficult to get at times. Getting composite LPG cylinders reduces the problems of rusting, and they're far more economical than the aluminum cylinders. Diesel is another possible option, but temperatures can be difficult to control on diesel cooktops. Alcohol is probably the least desirable fuel, as it is more expensive than diesel or propane per BTU.

Be aware that you'll probably want to learn to cook using basic staples, like flour, beans, rice, pasta, as canned goods and fresh foods can be very expensive in the Caribbean. TVP and fresh caught fish can help supplement the diet in terms of protein, as can beans. However, I would recommend avoiding the reef fish and trying for pelagic species instead due to the risk of ciguatera poisoning. There is no reliable test for ciguatera toxin, so avoiding the fish that can be contaminated with the toxin is probably your best bet.

6) Trash--Be kind to the environment and responsible for your trash. It is probably best to avoid disposable plastic containers as much as possible. Also, avoid bringing cardboard containers aboard, as they're often a source for cockroach eggs and can lead to cockroach infestations of your boat--something to be avoided if at all possible.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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  #6  
Old 11-27-2010
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Thank you all for your replies. Water makers are expensive and eat up large amounts of electricity if I am not mistaken. I was planning on taking out the head and using the extra space for an additional holding tank for potable water to go along with the tanks already present. So long as I can carry water for at least 2-2 1/2 weeks I think I will be ok. I will do the research on the electrical and solar systems. As for the refrigeration.. I am sort of on the ropes about it. I know it can be a great convenience, but it takes up valuable storage space unless I converted the center table to act as both a table and ice box... Also, I have read countless stories of them failing and resulting in electrical failures for other systems, leaks from the condensers, and costly maintenance/repair fees. Perhaps a well insulated cooler with another insulated icebox inside of that would be able to keep Ice from melting for about a week. I do not foresee any voyages in THIS boat that will be longer than 4-5 days so most likely I will forgo refrigeration and implement a more simplistic system. The LED lights is a must.
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Old 11-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harborless View Post

Original: Basically, I want to make the boat able to be self-sufficient without use of land hook-ups for power/water. To make it easy lets pretend I am trying to rig the boat so that if I wanted I could live on the hook indefinitely and never need to dock again (except for fuel of course).

Current:
I do not foresee any voyages in THIS boat that will be longer than 4-5 days so most likely I will forgo refrigeration and implement a more simplistic system. The LED lights is a must.
Lots different question yes?

For 4 or 5 days you may want to hold off on any changes to the boat until your plans change or your knowledge of what you really want increases to the point where you have a real need.
For 4 or 5 days the fuel should be fine as it is.
For water just fill up your current tanks for dish washing and showers and bring some jugs for drinking water.
Your boat was designed for the exact use you are planning 5 day excursions, why change anything?
I would be fun to put in the battery monitor SD mentioned so as you do your 5 day trips you can monitor your usage and get an idea of what you might need for longer trips.
You are right about the refrigeration. We got one of the large top quality expensive ice chests from west marine and it keeps food cold for 5 days even in 90 degree days.

Less work more sailing is almost always good advice.

Last edited by davidpm; 11-27-2010 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 11-27-2010
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The one problem with ice chests is that ice is not always available. If you are going to require refrigeration or an ice chest, and can afford to have a reliable 12 VDC refrigerator installed, I would recommend that over going with an ice chest, due to the problems not being able to find ice can cause.

That said, there are many long-distance cruisers that do without both ice chests and refrigerators.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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  #9  
Old 11-27-2010
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David, the main reason for making the boat self-sufficent is because when I arrive in my destinations I do not want to shell out the money for costly dock fees. I would much rather be able to drop anchor and stay for a week or two or three and only have to dock for fuel/water if need be. The outfitting is not so much for the voyages as for the destinations if that makes any sense.
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Old 11-27-2010
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To reply to what SD said It is not so much the cost I am thinking about but the space and amps it will take up. I have a lot more options about where to store the ice chest than I do the refrigerator due to the wiring and installation. Also, I would most likely have to run the engine more even with solar panels to account for the constant draining in amps that refrigeration requires.
I am a minimalist if you have not noticed as of yet
Also, with the current boat I will not be going anywhere besides the Caribbean and perhaps the north-east to Canada. So as far as Ice is concerned I feel as though I will be able to find it in most of these places.
Now in a few years when I get my ocean crosser I will do a different set-up as I want to visit very remote places that will most likely not have ice.
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