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Date: 28 July 2021. Computer Mistake (off-grid error)


Recently I was asked what I did wrong when I first bought Seaweed. What items were mistakes? These are errors I feel most of us have made in one form or another. It is the "quiet anchorages and life of ease" fantasy world versus the reality of life afloat. For those of us who prefer life off the grid, here are some of the changes made during those initial months afloat.


When I first was contemplating my boat I bought a laptop computer with a DVD tray. I envisioned long hours watching movies at anchor. Then I bought a 75 watt solar panel with a Morningstar-10 solar regulator.

Later I upgraded to a MorningStar ProStar-30 solar controller.

ROUGH solar power calculation:
At the Florida/Georgia border (30th latitude North) take your wattage, divide by 3 and you'll have your average amps per day with the cheapest solar regulator (not MPPT). So my 75 watt panel generates on average 25Ah (amp hours) a day of usable power.

My old laptop used 7 amps per hour. Ouch!!! Newer models do require less power. Still, it is these "little things" that can bring your power consumption up dramatically. Thus I needed to make a change.

Additionally, the old 15" Toshiba laptop weighed a lot. I had imagined myself carrying the computer to shore in a waterproof bag, using it at a coffee shop and generally being the cool boat-girl. At my age, how silly was that? Well, the computer was heavy so hauling it to shore was a pain in the transom. Toting it, along with groceries, laundry and propane back to the boat was untenable. Basically, if there was a way to mess up the whole computer aboard a boat thing, I managed to tick every wrong way to do it.

In my defense, I did drag that dang computer to a coffee/bagel joint... twice. Because surely it couldn't have been "that" heavy the first time, so I tried it once again. It was too much. The second trip was the last time the laptop left Seaweed before being shipped to my daughter's house.

The option I chose was to replace the 15" laptop with a Toshiba netbook that used 15-18 watts (1.5 Ah)

The netbook has a 10" screen. It is perfect for my desk. I don't want something that takes a lot of space.

You may notice that the netbook is raised. That is to accommodate a height that doesn't require me to tilt my head downward. "Posture is important." Did you hear my Mother telling you that too?!?

So, to make this long tale shorter, I replaced the heavy power hungry laptop with a netbook that used 15-18 watts. Now I can use the netbook essentially at will. No more movies on the 15" screen though...

You see, when first aboard your vessel unless you are very fortunate your new boat will need things for life away from a power cord. This is why I strongly suggest that new boat owners stay at a dock for at least two months in order to more easily work out kinks where folks (and stores!) are nearby. You will definitely require both.

Friends can make early times aboard your vessel great. I met Tessie and Bud Hinckley
(yes, he's one of the Hinckley brothers of Maine boat building fame) who freely offered advice.

Boat folks like Tessie and Bud aboard the Edge can provide valuable advice. They were both gems.


Bud Hinckley along with Chuck from S/V Kairos repaired my Singer221 Featherweight sewing machine. Later Mabe and her sister were able to find another Featherweight machine which I used to make the quilt shown below. That *millennial quilt was sewn at anchor while the wind was blowing. The Air-Breeze wind generator I purchased from Ken powered the sewing machine.

*In the year 2000, millennial quilts were all the rage. They were to be made with 2000 squares of fabric. Mine has just over 1000 different fabric squares.

Boat friends make a world of difference.


The Featherweight Mabe found for me.

My Utilitarian quilt with Skipper.


What this article is saying in a rather convoluted fashion is that friends made out here can make a world of difference. No matter how smart we think we are, mistakes will occur. Goodness knows I've made more than my fair share of them.

Choosing a laptop computer that required so much power as to make it unusable at anchor was one of the first mistakes I made.

For more details on starting life aboard a boat, the articles Boat Search for Beginners (DIY survey) and Boat Buying with your New Partner may be of use to you.


One of the best parts of boating is making new friends. I hope you meet some great folks too. Thank you for reading.

Did anyone else have a "great idea" purchase for the boat that turned out to be not-so-wonderful?
And, what was it?

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2021, 2023

Categories:  Boats, Characters, Entertainment, Gear, Locations,

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