"We’re thinking we will have to construct a rather large and ugly addition to the back of the solar panel arch using stainless steel pipe..."
We have exciting news for you: Our Starlink has arrived!
Unfortunately we haven’t been able to test it yet. The equipment runs on mains power (110-240 volts) and we only have battery power (12 volts.) We are trying to get space in a marina to test it on the mains. We are also planning on getting an inverter installed, which we hope to get done this week. This will allow us to run devices which require mains power, (such as the Starlink, Luciano’s monitor and charge our power tool batteries) through the batteries. This has involved quite a bit of research for the requirements of the inverter for our needs. You have to work out the watts of the devices you will be using; then multiply by the length of time you will be using them for and take into account any surge power (the higher rate of power that may be used on starting up the device.) This is something that is very variable for different types of device. You have to plug in the devices one by one to avoid overloading the inverter. Then you need to calculate whether your existing electrical system can handle what you want it to do. In our case, it should be fine as we won’t be running a huge amount of power hungry things on it. Some boats have hot plates, microwaves, coffee machines, washing machines and air conditioners. We can do without all of these.
We have decided to go for an inverter without a battery charger as this is much cheaper and we also have more than adequate solar power to charge our batteries. Our main concern is possible power cuts in Curação. We will be in a marina and therefore plugged into the mains and so won’t need to use the inverter most of the time. The issue is that Curação has had power cuts on a fairly regular basis (last in 2020) and so we need to be able to still use the Starlink in this case as Luciano will need to be working on it. Due to the time difference, he will have to start work at 4.00am when it is still dark. This is when our batteries are at their lowest point as won’t have received any solar power since sunset the night before. In a marina we wouldn’t be able to turn on the engine to charge the batteries as it would be very anti social for liveaboards trying to sleep. What we will have to do in that case is to turn off our fridge in case of a powercut. The fridge is the biggest drain on our batteries and by turning it off, it should hold the batteries with enough charge overnight to use the Starlink through the inverter from 4.00am until sunrise in the event of a powercut. Installing the inverter will also mean that once we leave the marina, we can use Starlink at anchorage too. This will work for daytime use.
We’ve also been researching and locating the parts to install the Starlink atenna. It needs a clear and unobstructed view of the sky. This is not so easy when the entire back of your boat is a solar panel arch and the solar panels overlap the arch on all four sides. In front of the solar panel arch is our boom, so we cannot put it anywhere in front of the arch without the boom hitting it. Further forward, both the boom and bimini can cast shade and further in front of that we have our mast and headsail, which are also obstructions. We’re thinking we will have to construct a rather large and ugly addition to the back of the solar panel arch using stainless steel pipe. It will have to be triangulated from about halfway down the solar panel arch to ensure that it is stong enough. Hopefully it will do the job.
We’ve also been making the most of being in Martinique and the range of products it is possible to buy here. We found a big shop where we were finally able to buy tofu and eco friendly cleaning products. Living on a boat, all of our cleaning products must be eco friendly as waste water goes directly into the sea. White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda do a lot of heavy lifting. But it is nice to be able to use products that smell nice! We’ve also visited some homeware stores to try and make the boat look a little more homely. Our boat dates from 1987 and the condition inside is mostly pretty good - we are lucky that previous owners kept up with keeping the interior wood in good condition and this wood also adds character. We still need some plants and art works in the small amount of wallspace we have to give a bit more personality. However, the bathrooms look very dated and ‘80s. Magnolia walls, cabinets and sinks with the chrome taps corroded and green. The mirrors have pink corrosion spots on them. We’ve bought some new taps, bins and mirrors and just these few things should help give the bathrooms a little facelift. We’ll wait till we get to Curação to install them so we can focus on the battery, inverter and Starlink installation, but we’ll share the mini bathroom facelifts by video in a few weeks.
So everything is still a work in progress, but we hope to be able to show you the Starlink installed next week and also to confirm whether our preliminary speed tests hold up to the demands of controlling a remote computer. We won’t know for sure if Luciano will be able to work with it until we get down to Curação and in the location where we will be using it. Fingers crossed!
This week's Vlog.
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