Our Insatiable Lust (for Power)

Now that the title of this post has your full and undivided attention, I’ll apologize in advance for the bait and switch. No bodices will be ripped in this post but there may be some sighing, heaving and even a swoon or two.

As Michael manfully heaved the 8D battery from the swooning bosom of Galapagos, Melissa sighed womanfully.

As reported in our last post, The seven year old engine battery, a 150 pounder that came with the boat died just a day after we launched Galapagos from the San Carlos Marina. We weren’t terribly surprised by it’s passing; we had gotten long and reliable service from this battery. The only thing I dreaded was pulling it out of the engine room and then getting it off the boat.

But like many dreaded tasks, the reality was only a little dreadful. Once it was out of the engine room, Curt Brownlow of sv Slow Motion helped me get the beast up the companionway and onto the dock at Marina Real. Other than the loss of a pair of pants to battery acid (sorry Curt), it was a relatively painless procedure.

Curt and Michael hurking the old start battery off the boat. Thanks, Lynn Brownlow for the photo.

With that job out of the way, the next step was to buy a new battery. This battery is used to start the engine but is also used by our Lofrans Falkon windlass, two really important jobs. That windlass can pull up to 200 amps and runs for a few minutes.

With the recently deceased big battery in the back of our minivan, I ventured out once more into the wilds of Guaymas. We have been very grateful to have a car here in Mexico as we prepare the boat for launching and this is but one of many reasons.


Michael and Curt wrestle the old battery into the car.

I already knew that I wasn’t going to put another huge 8D back in. The effort of replacing such heavy piece of equipment is a risk I just don’t need to take. Instead, three smaller, Group 27 sized batteries take up the same room and can be wired in parallel to provide nearly the same capacity as the one big battery.

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Three Group 27 batteries fit perfectly in the old battery box that the old 8D battery sat in. Just one of these batteries would be more than enough to start the engine but the windlass has its own insatiable lust for power and we rely on ours like a third crew member.

You can buy just about any kind of battery you want in Mexico as long as it is an LTH. The brand has been around forever in Mexico and the rest of Latin America and has a pretty good reputation. At this point, I was in no position to be too choosy about brands anyway but I was able to find three marine deepcycle batteries that hopefully will give good service. The price of the three batteries was about $250 US and that included the new cables to jumper the batteries together. The cables were made on the spot by a little old man with a hammer and cable crimper on the floor of the parts store.

Installation of the our new batteries was a breeze; light as feather at about 55 pounds a piece. With care and maintenance we should get four or five good years of service.

And how do you take good care of batteries? Proper charging is one important step and in the past we have used our solar panels and the 110 amp Balmar Alternator to handle all of our charging needs. But using the engine to keep the batteries topped up presents some problems. If we are in an anchorage for more than two days, we have to run the engine just to charge the batteries and diesels like to work harder than that.

And so it seemed that all the cool kids in our little cruiser community, are now carrying a small generator on the boat. Desperately wanting to be cool, we bought an awesome little generator from Costco when we were in Tacoma.

Happy Little Trees make this Generator Environmentally friendly. Sort of.

With this little guy we can run the shore power electrical battery charger, for hours at a time using very little fuel. And that is one of two new solar panels we brought down to replace the flexible panels that failed within a year.

It also provides AC power to allow us to run a troubling array of electrical appliances. I think we could write a picture book titled If You Give a Boat a Generator

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The generator even  allows us run our hot water heater  instead of using the engine to heat water.  While we have used the crockpot on our small inverter with great success, We would never have been able to use the new to us Insta-Pot. Cressie of S/V Blue gave it to Melissa before they headed home for Christmas. Thanks Cressie! And my editor would like to emphatically point out that she has NEVER! used a hairdryer away from the dock and that the above pictured hairdryer was hidden way in a cabinet that I had to dig furiously into find for this clearly staged and possibly sexist photo.

So with our new batteries, new generator and two new solar panels, will our our lust for power finally be sated? Probably not. But as Melissa will readily attest, I worry over our batteries more than just about anything else. Hopefully I can worry about them a little less now.

8 thoughts on “Our Insatiable Lust (for Power)

  1. hmm, our solar panels gave all we needed and more while in Mexico….

    (On the other hand, in the 2 cruising seasons we spent in Mexico, we only used our Honda generator for a total of 4 hrs. Indeed, we didn’t touch the generator for our 3-mos cruise to Haida Gwaii this past Summer.)

    Can’t imagine how we cruised before getting our (360 watts of) solar panels!


    Cheers, David
    SV Pelagia

    • I entertained such dreams as fully charged batteries by noon with our 400 watts of solar power but it has not come to pass. We do run a large refrigeration system and a Engels freezer which work pretty hard as the temps rise. Other than this two power hungry devices our other power demands are fairly modest.

  2. Nailed it again. Well done you guys. You are wise to take advantage of your time in Mexico. It is a great place to hang out and perform any semi-final tune-ups before venturing off to places where it won’t be nearly as easy and convenient…

    And the food there can hold most sailors captive for quite a while…

    May your list of items needing replacement be dwindling…

    Cheers! Bill

    • Yes we are enjoying our time here. We are getting much more comfortable getting things done here in Mexico but I don’t think we’ll ever be done done.
      And you are sure right about the food. Our friends in Loreto took us to a taco joint that was definitely not for tourists. Melissa and I had a great lunch of tacos Assada for less than five dollars usd.

    • The hairdryer has been used for that purpose, yes. Another device that I neglected to put in that photo was the Bissel spot cleaner. Melissa pulled that out last night after a spill on the vberth cushions. I fired up the generator and she cleaned the cushion in a few minutes.

      I was hesitant to get the generator because it meant carrying more gasoline aboard but we have gasoline for the outboard so the risk is already assumed.

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