Being fairly new liveaboards (2yrs) and having hopped from secluded anchorages to marinas, we now find ourselves in a very crowded anchorage. I'm wondering what is proper generator running etiquette? Time guidelines? Perhaps this has been discussed in another thread, but my "search" isn't functioning correctly. Thanks!
I say we ban Ellen for starting such a controversial thread!! (She and I are friends, btw... see you in a couple of weeks or less!)
On topic: After sunrise and before sunset. Interesting timing here Ellen, because we all anchored out for one last hoorah at Longboat this last weekend, and someone had a generator going that night and the police stopped by the next morning and told all the boaters, "No generators after 1000 pm." For those that do not know, Longboat is a VERY tight anchorage with boats generally anchored within a few boat lengths or less. In fact, we saw a nice, high speed collision this weekend.
This thread seems to have taken a "don't take or use a generator" bent to it. All of you that are arguing against generators, or their use, do you cruise fulltime?
I get the weekend warriors that can somehow make their battery banks last a few days. Of course, many of you are the same ones that leave the dock with two coolers full of ice (also called Cruiser's Gold)!! But after a few days (even with a large solar bank), your batteries are not getting fully charged and you will be surprised how quickly you will lose your power.
I personally have 780 watts (6-Kyocera 130 watt panels) on my boat and I still have issues when the sun does not participate. Now my example is a bit extreme because all four of us (the kids included) require computers and have to use them during the day (the kids are home schooled). However, 150 ah/day is not unreasonable for a cruiser with a fridge. I understand that there are some who can do without refrigeration, and Capt Aaron has my immense respect, but most cruisers I know who have tried to go minimalist do not last very long. And that is just for batteries!! We have not even disccused a windless night where the lows are in the mid 80s. We have not discussed hot water which goes very fast in cool/cold weather. We have not diuscussed making water, the microwave, toaster, coffee pot, etc. Sure, you can go without a lot of that stuff, but other than the fact it always makes the boat feel like you are camping out (compared to a home), now you are eating up propane. Diesel and gas are easy to get, but propane is a right PITA to get as a F/T cruiser. Sorry... just reality. If you do not run your generator, you will need some other way to charge your batteries. You can plug into a marina every other night, you can run your main (not much quieter with the spalsh-splash, incidentally), or you can put in a very expensive electrical charging system (solar, wind, large battery bank, etc).
Personally, I periodically use a Mastervolt Diesel generator. It is very hard to hear unless you are in the cockpit. You can hear the splashing though. It burns about a pint/hour of diesel. I can tell you that if you are a few boat legths away, you will not hear it. It does produce some fumes, but they are minimal. Its cost? Well, I guess installed around $15,000. How many of you want to go dump $15,000 in a quiet diesel generator so you do not upset the anchorage? I wouldn't. Solar? Well, you will likely need in the neighborhood or 4 130 watt panels to stay off the grid if you are conservative. Let's see... $2400 for the panels, $500 for the controller, $4000 (aluminum)-$10,000 (Stainless) for the arch (mine was $4), few hundred dollars for the wiring and connectors... and for the grand total of $7500-$13,500 (assuming you do the entire install yourself) you can be quiet... assuming the sun participates. You will still run low on power eventually and have to recharge as it is unlikely that you will always (sometimes never) get your batteries back to a full SOC. Oh, and that does not get you hot water.
So, if faced with putting off cruising for a while, or getting a little red Honda, which would you choose? If the choice was staying out cruising longer, using less money (boat dollars) or dumping $8-10,000 to be quiet, which would you choose? I mean, many people on Sailnet do not even have a $10,000 boat!!! $10,000 might be the total costs for cruising for a year.
All I am saying is have pity on those who run the generators. Many abuse it. I get that. But many more are doing what they are doing because they have to and took the least expensive option they could. And if I could do it all over, that little red thing would look awfully tempting versus the rediculous money I have spent to do without it.
PS Ellen - Kick Bob for me, ok?