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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.