SeaKnots


There are people who have written to me and asked about the snorkeling and diving in the Abacos and they have tried to remind me that the beauty of this part of the world is all under water. They are right. I can’t argue that point. However, that isn’t why I am here.

I have to go to work every day. Okay, sure, I am in paradise if you are a sailor and a diver, but the fact is that I must finish this book. I know people who live in some lovely places in the world, but they insist on placing their desks away from windows or distractions of any kind. Writing isn’t easy in the best of circumstances, and most of us are quick to leave the project at hand for the slightest reason. I decided to come over here this summer to get away from the distractions of every day life and find a quiet anchorage where I could write. What I didn’t think about is how much power my computer would require.

I am the sort of writer who likes to work for AT LEAST eight hours a day. I talk to myself and pace and search the Internet for details. Now, I am on a boat running my laptop through a 200 watt inverter and it is sucking my batteries dry. I have three solar panels and a wind generator and often I find myself having to shut down because my batteries are crying UNCLE. Normally, this just means that I should start the engine to charge the batteries, but recently I’ve had issues with my engine overheating.

I am not a mechanic. My eyes usually glaze over when sailor guys start talking about diesel engines. But, hey, I need the juice to write. Suddenly, solving this raw water flow issue has become the center of my writing existence. I was down bent over the engine for the last couple of days pulling off hoses, checking the raw water strainer, pulling off the water pump and looking at the impellor and examining the diagrams of the raw water system in my engine manual for hours. Now you have to realize that these were hours that I should have been writing, but I can’t write if I don’t have the amps.

Finally, I figured it out. The wingnut at the top of my raw water strainer was leaking water out and I figured if water was getting out – then air could be getting in and I fashioned a gasket out of some gasket material I had and presto – water was flowing, the engine was cooling, the batteries were charging and I could write.

It’s a domino effect on boats, but once you find the root problem, the sense of accomplishment is as sweet as the rum drink you allow yourself to toast the cure.

Fair winds!

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Comment by Aria on June 19, 2008 at 9:45am
Then it becomes, "It's all about ice, baby" (grin)
Comment by Christine Kling on June 19, 2008 at 9:05am
Yeah, the only problem with that is that I am a Mac person. I have two Mac laptops aboard - one older Powerbook I use purely for navigation (using a great program called MacENC http://macenc.com/) and the other is my newer MacBook used for everything else. I was able to buy a 3rd party voltage transformer for the older Mac, but the newer one, forget it. Apple changed to the Magsafe power cord (weird end) and while Apple sells a transformer for use on airplanes (different voltage), they haven't made one for cars or boats. I suppose I could try to cut cords and rewire something to the plug that will fit this computer, but I'd rather just use the inverter.

Also, the suspend business... for some reason the Abaco Out Island Internet wireless service here in the Bahamas is very finicky. I have an external wi-fi antenna and I get a great signal, but I sometimes have a heck of a time grabbing an IP address. The system does a self-assigned IP. If I disconnect and then try to reconnect, I wind up having to restart the computer to get an IP. It's very frustrating. I am at work over here - not cruising. I am trying to recreate my work environment. That means I want the Internet to be there when I need to look something up. I can't spend thirty minutes trying to renew the DHCP or restarting the whole dang computer. On the other hand, everyone else I talk to around here is having to cart their laptops ashore because they can't connect on their boats at all. For me, it's all about amps and if I can get by with cold beer, Internet, 8 hours of writing and only having to run the engine 1-2 hours a day, life is good. The problem is when the engine quits. Then I'll have to decide - reefer or computer?
Comment by Lee Strong on June 19, 2008 at 4:11am
I assume your laptop requires DC voltage (my IBM requires 16VDC 4.5Amps, but yours may be different).

Instead of using a 12VDC-120VAC inverter, and then converting that back to 16VDC with your existing laptop power supply, consider a 12VDC-16VDC voltage transformer like those used in cars ==> http://www.powerstream.com/ADC.htm

It should be more efficient to convert 12VDC to 16VDC.

Also set your laptop to automatically Suspend after 5-10 minutes of idle time.
Comment by Aria on June 18, 2008 at 12:00pm
I do have a wind generator, but when that proved insufficent (and since I'm a coastal cruiser at this point), the Honda made the most economic sense. It certainly isn't for everyone, but it is effective. Eventually, I'll get some solar panels, but the kitty is squawling loud enough already !!
Comment by Christine Kling on June 18, 2008 at 9:11am
Yeah, lots of folks have recommended that to me, but I prefer to stick with solar panels and a wind generator and augment with the engine. I'm not crazy about having to carry more gas and "not that loud" is still too loud for me. When it's sunny and the winds are at 15 knots, I only have to run my engine an hour a day. Right now, it's rainy and squally and in the calms when the fridge kicks on together with the laptop, I'm drawing 10+ amps. Ouch!
Comment by Aria on June 18, 2008 at 8:57am
Unless I'm mistaken, I saw the boat in your picture, in Carolina when I was heading south last fall. More than the name, the rudder stuck in my mind.

Have you ever thought about getting one of those Honda generators? I have a 2000, and I run my laptop on it, while charging my batteries. They aren't that loud, and at a thousand bucks, aren't as pricey as some other options.

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