Power power everywhere and not a drop to drink.
This has been said about the salty sea water, but it’s also true to some extent about power in general. There is power in the waves, power in the wind and power in the sun. But turning all that power into usable, stored electricity to run my equipment and electronics isn’t all that easy for me.
I have been concerned about my electrical power requirements and I’m not sure that I will be able to collect enough solar power to run all my equipment and electronics due to the very small surface area of the top decks on WiTHiN to hold my flexible solar panels.
To supplement what I can collect from the sun, I purchased an AmpAir 100 wind generator a while ago, but when it arrived, I realized that at a hefty 30 lbs, it would be far too heavy to mount a few feet above the top deck. So I searched high and low for something smaller and I found the Rutland 504 from the UK – a nifty little unit that only weighs 10 lbs. It’s not as efficient at producing power at low wind speeds as the AmpAir 100, but for it’s light weight, I think it will work for me. Another advantage is that I can remove it if the wind is really blowing.
I welded a short aluminum mast with braces for the Rutland and we mounted it on the top deck aft of the main hatch.
Shown below is a graph showing watts of power produced by the Rutland for varying wind speeds:
I am hoping that wind in combination with my solar power is enough, but I won’t really know for sure until I get out onto the ocean for sea trials this April. I have all kinds of data on average wind values and sun energy levels for my departure month of July, but I won’t really know exactly how that will convert to usable, storable power until I actually test it on the water. I’ve had WiTHiN out in the low winter sun here in Calgary and the panels barely produce any power at all. However, there is a huge difference between the angle of the sun at this time of year way up north here in Canada, and mid-summer when we get over 16 hours of daylight per day.
As shown in the spreadsheet right HERE, I am making a conservatively pessimistic estimate of collecting an average of only 168 watts of power a day from both solar and wind. I have also shown as estimate of what the equipment loads are, and three scenarios for use:
1. a full-on / power party / use it all with reckless abandon mode = 386 watts
2. conservative / realistic mode = 153 watts
3. bare-bones / suffer / safety first mode = 28.8 watts
I have not yet measured actual loads yet on most of these items, but that will be easy once we have installed the watts meters. Brad Wealey from pedalpoweredgenerator.com recommended that I add a “watts-up” meter, so I got 3 of them. I’m going to put one of the meters on the wind turbine, one on the solar panels and one for the equipment load. This way I can monitor exactly what is going on with my supply, what is stored in the battery, and what I am consuming.
Ken has been hard at work installing and wiring the remaining electronics (VHF radio, wind generator, AIS receiver, Watt’s Up meters, satellite phone antenna) and as well, he has completed assembly of the spare drive leg. The spare drive leg is an exact replica of my main drive leg – complete with pedals and a prop. If my main drive leg fails for whatever reason, it is a simple matter of just pulling the DL out of it’s bay and dropping in the spare unit. Then I can disassemble the busted drive and use the spare parts I am taking to repair or overhaul it.
There is only one issue I have yet to resolve – maybe you have an idea for me? When a key broke on the shaft of the drive leg during our first lake test on the Glenmore reservoir (and again on Vancouver Island, but this time a roll pin in the gear box), we had a very difficult time centering the prop in order to remove the leg. The drive leg fits into a tapered hole in a raised torque tube that runs down the center of the cockpit on the floor. The top of the torque tube is above the water level, so the drive leg can be removed without flooding the boat. The hole in the hull at the bottom of the tapered hole is just large enough to fit the lower gear box and prop – only about 2″ wide by about 5″ long. The only way to get the drive leg up through this hole is to make sure the prop is completely VERTICAL. Normally, this is done by aligning a pedal crank up to a mark etched on the gear box. But, when the drive leg is broken and the pedals don’t turn the prop like they are supposed to (ie: the prop is freely spinning), there is no way to align the prop vertically to fit through the hole. We got the drive leg out when it broke on the reservoir by wearing my immersion suit and going for a chilly swim. I was able to swim under the boat and center the prop while Jordan pulled the drive leg out.
When I’m on the ocean, I won’t have someone to help me pull the leg out, and I might not want to just jump into the water to center the prop. The only way I can think of doing this is to have some kind of wire or pole or something that I can push through a port light and maneuver under the hull to move and hold the prop in a vertical position.
The other challenge is that this centering method needs to be quick and easy. If the drive leg broke at an inconvenient time on sea trials near the coast (like it did on Vancouver Island when it broke right in front of a giant ferry), I need to be able to remove it quickly and insert the spare. The spare will be easily accessible and ready to go, but getting the busted drive out of it’s hole while aligning that prop is the tricky part.
Training is going well. I got up to 16 hours last week with a double long ride of 6 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. I’m doing most of my training on the indoor trainer downstairs that I built rather than actually inside WiTHiN because we are busy working on her. Ken and I expect to be finished on January 8th. After that, the plan is to start putting in some really long days inside the boat for both training and also testing everything.
During these long training days, I want to simulate living on board as closely as possible. I’ll will make my water using the electric and manual desalinators by drawing salt water from a tub. I also plan on using my electronics as often as I can – like writing a blog post and transmitting it using the sat phone, using the Viliv S5 computer, the GPS, and all of the back-up electronics. I am also going to boil water using my JetBoil and make all of my dehydrated meals. I’m even going to sleep in the cabin over night. I want to make sure that everything works as planned, and there isn’t anything that I want changed, modified, moved, fixed, replaced, adjusted, removed or added before Ken departs on a humanitarian trip he has planned to Mexico on January 20th.
I am planning at least TWO sets of sea trials. The first will be at the beginning of February where my buddy Bryon Howard and I will attempt to navigate the right coast of Vancouver Island (east coast). I think getting out on the west coast during winter months is too dangerous, so a complete circumnavigation is no longer possible. Bryon used to by a kayak guide in Johnston Straight and knows the east coast very well. Our goal is to start either at the south end, or north end – depending on weather and wind forecasts – and do a non-stop, 24-7 effort with both of us rotating between the sleeping cabin and the cockpit.
I think this ‘right side of VI’ trials will be a great opportunity to test the boat, it’s drive, equipment and ourselves – basically to accomplish what Jordan and I failed to do in October due to the drive leg failure. (That blog post is here).
The second sea trials will be with Clive and his yacht on the LEFT coast of VI – out in the Pacific ocean off the west coast near Tofino during the first week of April. The objective here would be to do a few overnight sea trials – get some experience in wind, waves and swell. Also to gain a bit of experience and work out a process for deploying the sea anchor, drogue, go over safety and emergency drills, etc, etc. I al also very anxious to measure the effect of wind on WiTHiN. I’ve had her in moderate wind so far and have not really noticed much of an effect – she seems to slip through a head wind pretty well. I have no idea how she will handle 50 knot winds, and I would really like to find out.
I’ll still have May and June to fit in another trip or two before I depart on July 1st from Tofino.
Check the calendar at the adventuresofgreg.com web site for exact dates: