Monday, February 16, 2009

Life on the Hook

On the Hook, Little Shark River

For the first time since I took possession of Lucky almost four years ago, we spent more than a lunchtime at anchor.  Being "on the hook" is living life off the grid.  No power, no water, no nothing.  The closest comparison I can come up with is "dry camping" in an RV.  How is that different that living in a marina?  Steph's done a great job of highlighting some of the environmental differences - eating breakfast alongside a pod of dolphins fishing for theirs is just too cool for words - but the systems involved need watching closely.

Yes, this is going to be another post full of technical details.

Still reading?  Thank you, all three of you.

Once we're there and the anchor seems to be set (a subject worthy of a blog all of its own), I only worry about three things:  water; power; holding tank.

Water usage is a pretty constant thing.  We don't wash the boat down from the internal tanks, so usage is around 30 gallons a day.  That doesn't sound like much until you realise that we only hold 120 gallons - barely 4 days worth - and our water maker makes water at 15 gallons an hour (give or take).  So we could make water once every four days, taking 6 - 8 hours.  Running the water maker means running the generator (it draws 25 amps) which means staying aboard.  So far we've made water once, filling the tanks in 3 hours while at Little Shark River.  We also cooked and ran the AC at the same time, getting maximum use out of the generator while minimizing its use.  It's not the quietest in the world, but sitting in its sound shield inside the engine room it's a lot quieter than the little Hondas sat on the swim platform that a lot of the sailboats seem to run.  So I'm a lot less worried about noise pollution running it.  I'll still try to avoid running it during the "quiet times" - sunset to a few hours after dawn.

Most power for Lucky comes from the five house batteries.  These get charged by external power, the generator or 2 150 amp alternators, one on each engine.  Each engine has another alternator which charge the engine batteries.  When we arrive at an anchorage, the batteries are fully charged from the passage.  Monitoring at Little Shark showed that they lasted a full day before starting to run down and a three hour charge from the generator was enough to top them off.  Nicely coinciding with water maker usage for the same period.

The generator uses less than 1 gallon an hour when loaded, so fuel isn't going to be a problem.

The holding tank fills up quicker when anchored as we don't have access to marina facilities.  Even so, it'll be a week before it needs emptying.  If push comes to shove, we can leave the anchorage, head off shore (3 miles in the US), empty and then return.

So Lucky does really well at anchor.  The new anchor sets easily and holds well, even in a reversing current.  With the tender we're not limited to staying on Lucky.  I think we're going to be set for the Bahamas.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Martin, I read the whole post -- I'll have you know! So, I guess I'm one of the 3.