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