We spent a while deciding on what tender to take. Read lots (probably too much) about different options.

We wanted something that would last well and take the abuse that we would throw at it. Its not that l’m not careful (mel will disagree) its just that I have a habit of using things quite hard.

Inflatable: Most common choice. Easy to stow if you have enough locker space. (not already filled with sails, ropes, jerry cans and a folding bicycle. fabric will degrade in the sun and it will get a hole it at some point.

Hard dinghy: Cheap, bombproof, rows well, but where do you put it? We don’t want davits on the back. Our friend Chris had a Portland Pudgy. Great tender and doubled as a life raft so you don’t have to carry and pay for both. Unfortunately we we don’t have anywhere it would fit. (He used davits but said he would rather  not have them again for ocean crossings).

Folding/stacking: Seem to offer the advantages of the hard dinghy (except price) but fold up so that they can be stored. We measured up and couldn’t fit a stacking one in a sensible way on the foredeck in front on the baby stay. We have a solid vang so it couldn’t go behind the mast.

We liked the idea of the hard dinghy but couldn’t make it fit. So decided to try and find a folding one. We bought a 2nd hand 10ft Portabote on ebay. Picked it up took it down to the boat and decided that it was going to be just too big to assemble on the foredeck. Fortunately we managed to sell it for what we paid for it.

What we finally ended up with was:

New Tender - Seahopper
Seahopper Scamp

A Seahopper Scamp.

It is a folding pram type dinghy. 8ft long and folds to about 12cm thick.

We have tried it round the harbour. It rows really well (I didn’t think i could row and have had lots of friends laugh at me trying to) and puts along with our 2.5hp outboard. We could get a sailing kit for it if we wanted to but not going to think about that yet.

It fits down the side of the boat along the guard rails and we can put it together on the foredeck.


2.5hp honda out board from our old shared boat. On the back of the boat with the cover made by my mum. Testing in a wheely  bin after we serviced it.



The batteries that came with the boat were:

House bank: 2 x 110Ahr
Starter: 1 x 110Ahr

One of the house bank batteries died (it started sulphurating and then wouldn’t hold charge) while on our shore power charger. This forced us to think about the batteries.

We have left the starter battery as it is as this seemed pretty good. For the house bank we now have 4 x Trojan T-105 6V 220Ahr batteries. So we now have 440Ahr capacity (double what we did have). We have built a new battery box to house the extra 2 batteries.

We also solved the problem of how to connect everything to them.

Home made battery terminal extensions
Home made battery terminal extensions

6mm x 25mm copper bar (made from of copper tape lightning conductor) drilled and tapped with M8 brass bolts for terminals.

We need these because we have the following directly connected to our batteries:

  • One 1 both 2 switch (that feeds everything on the switch panel)
  • A split charge relay & sensing cables
  • A shore power charger & sensing cables
  • Two solar panels MPPT controllers & sensing cables
  • The alternator & sensing cables for smart regulator
  • The battery monitor sensing cables
  • The windlass

Nothing we think shouldn’t be there but too much to fit onto a single short M8 stud.

Solar Panels

We wanted renewable power on board. Solar looked like the best option for sailing in the tropics. We now have 400W installed on our custom frame.

2nd Solar Panel
First two panels going on (Dan and Jay)
4 Solar panels and extra supporting fixings
All four panels in place with extra support for the corners

Thank you Jay and Ella for your help getting the first two on.

These also provide a nice bit of shade at the back of the boat.

They stop the rain but while we are on calm pontoon it tends to puddle on top and then pour itself onto you when you walk under them and tip the boat slightly.

They provided enough power to keep our fridge going in a northern hemisphere winter while we aren’t on board and keep us in power for about 3 days between charges.

We hope that when we are further south with a  bit more sunshine they will keep us going indefinitely at anchor and enough for 3 or 4 days on passage.

Since we don’t know exactly how much our autopilot uses or our fridge when it gets hot it is all a bit of a guess at the moment.

The Specs

Solar Panels: 4 x 100W from Photonic Universe.

  • Peak power: 100W
  • Maximum power voltage: 17.5V
  • Maximum power current: 5.71A
  • Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
  • Short circuit current: 6.17A
  • Power allowance range: +/- 3%
  • Dimensions: 945*670*30mm
  • Weight: 7.2 kg
  • 4 mounting holes 9 x 11 mm
  • 2x5m of high quality single core solar cable 4.0mm cross section
  • Male and female MC4 connectors

Charge Controllers: 2 x Victron Energy BlueSolar MPPT 75/15

These should maximise our output from the panels and having 2 will give us some redundancy. It was also cheaper to buy two of the smaller controllers than one that was big enough for all 4 panels.


The panels are wired as 2 sets of panels. Each set wired in parallel to two charge controllers. Wiring in parallel although theoretically slightly less efficient should minimise any effects of shading on a single panel.

All the connections have been done with MC4 waterproof connectors. These were easy to use and means that it is straight forward if we need to change the way the panels are connected.

Each panel has 4mm2 cable running from it. Each pair of panels has 6mm2 to the MPPT controllers and connected directly to our house battery bank.