This entry has more technical discussion than most. After 3 months of cruising we are figuring out our energy budget. This is not about how we fight sloth and remain active. It is about how we generate and use electricity on the boat. We can generate amps with the two 85 watt solar panels or the 110 amp engine alternator. We have many many ways we can use the amps. The lighting inside and outside the boat has become a minor issue because I switched to LED bulbs , at some expense, over the last two years. Interior lighting used to be a major power consumer. Now , the major major power consumers are all the electronic toys and tools we have aboard. We have 4 laptop computers.Five digital cameras with rechargeable batteries. Four ipods. Two cellphones. Three handheld radios. They are all recharged using the invertor. Also we have the ham radio and the two vhf radios that don’t use much power to listen, but to talk or transmit e-mail requires lots of juice. The refrigerator, a novelty in this boat,is deluxe and draws 2.2 amps for 2 minutes and is off for just over 5 minutes and so on. At the moment , all we have in the fridge is a bit of cheese, some jam , some margarine , and some leftover rice and tortillas. We have no beer left. It has been a month since we left the grocery store in San Diego.
The solar panels are good , putting in 6 -8 amps at mid day , but the days are short and some are cloudy. Today , though , I decided to try to improve the solar panel output and modified the mounting system to make the angle of the panels more easily adjustable. Today I was able to get up to 11 amps flowing , so the attention to angle is well worthwhile.
Since San Diego we have either been at anchor or sailing so the engine has een very little use.All of the anchorages on the west coast of the Baja are open on at least 2 quadrants so sailing in and out is easy , and that is what we usually do. The 55lb Rocna anchor so far has set well without using the engine. we may be pushing our luck in that regard , but I’ll wait until we drag a bit before changing behavior. So far we haven’t had over 40 knots. We have gone for 7 – 10 days without starting the engine – and then it was for less than an hour.
It is a little surprising to me that in this land of sunshine we are coming up a bit short in the amp department. Now that I can adjust the solar panels that will help. Perhaps we should motor around some more and burn diesel.
Get a wind generator? We already have too much stuff at the stern of the boat. Probably we will just be more careful with our radio talking , photo-editing, e-mailing and blog-writing.
On a completely different subject ; two days ago we made a day trip up the buoyed channel to Puerto San Carlos , about 8 miles from where we are now anchored. It is a quiet sandy fishing village where we had agood lunch and procured a few groceries in a good store. The anchorage was adequate off an industrial fish-processing quay. We were prepared to deal with any port officials as needed but we were not called on the radio or approached on the waterfront or in the town. Our paperwork is all in order so this would not have been a problem. A well-known and widely used cruising guide explains that there are few services at Pto San Carlos and that it is best bypassed by cruising yachts. It is possible that is why so few visit San carlos. Too bad , the tacos and cervezas were great.