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Date: 16 September 2021. Power to Obtain Freedom (penguin request)


When I first bought Seaweed she had potential. That means she was bare-bones with many improvements necessary to support my long term life aboard, especially when at anchor. For me being able to observe wildlife in remote spots is important to my happiness. The desire to live away from the dock means I need a way to power the accoutrements of my now decadent lifestyle.

Please Note: I am well past the half century mark. What would have been tolerable and even enjoyable a few decades ago simply won't cut it at this point in my life. I enjoy the niceties, and have managed to acquire same over the past dozen years. This was not easy, nor was it quick.

Though initially I was satisfied with minimal power, I knew that more would be better. Thus began my quest to ensure adequate power aboard Seaweed. I wrote about this in the Solar, Batteries and an Inverter series.

Side Note: For folks not aboard boats, the primer Solar, Batteries and an Inverter is a great place to begin understanding the how's and why's of power when away from civilization. What works for me can indeed be scaled up for small homesteads, folks who worry about power outages, and others who prefer life off-grid.

Seaweed is 23' long. She carries enough solar panels and a wind generator to power my life at anchor.

What folks need to understand is that when I purchased my boat all those years ago, she had zero solar, no wind generator, and was a basic boat. The improvements I've made over the years have been deliberate, planned and executed as the budget allowed.

Of course it would have been grand to have had the resources to add everything immediately. For most of us, we start with what we can afford. Gradually we make improvements. That is what I have done. Having the patience to live with less than ideal circumstances is pivotal to achieving success. My goal is an independent comfortable life afloat, with a level of decadence that meets my desires.

I was indeed fortunate in having little money. This forced me to choose with much deliberation.

Quite frankly, Seaweed is smaller than most could imagine living aboard full-time. That is okay. She is similar to the tiny homes that are so popular nowadays, except my home floats. The life I lead is terrific. I am grateful too.

For the record, yes, I do have the latest edition of Calder's though I have not yet taken a picture of it.

Life aboard Seaweed is indeed wonderful. That is not to say there have not be problems. As I wrote in the Computer Mistake (off-grid error) article, having friends is beyond helpful when starting out. If you have no one, you're going to need the preeminent reference book for cruisers. In that regard please read and purchase A New Calder's (2015, 4th Edition)

This book (Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4the Edition) is truly one of the best investments you will ever make in your life afloat. When things go wrong, and they will, pull out Calder's. Turn to the appropriate pages and read. For me, it takes more than one read-through before I comprehend. It is my firm belief that anyone who is capable of learning can make a success of life afloat.

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Calder's 4the Edition


As a side note, I did purchase the Kindle version of Calder's. That one I returned. It was too hard for me to navigate. I need to be able to open my book, thumb through, and add notes regarding my own situation, etc.



In other words, you do not have to "know it all" before buying a boat and moving aboard her. You do in my view NEED to own a copy of the *latest edition of Calder's.

*Latest edition: Previously I had considered an old Calder's adequate for older boats. As so much has changed, I now believe the best option for all cruisers is the newest version available. I seldom recommend paying full retail prices, however for Calder's I make an exception. When mine was loaned out an not returned I bought another. It is that good.

What I'm hoping you will understand is that even if your first boat is bare-bones like Seaweed was, she can be improved upon. It is critically important that you have the basics though. Having a plan is helpful too.

Adding solar panels is one way to provide power. Thus, having a flat space is important.

Some opt to hinge their solar panels, which is what M/V Freedom did on their flybridge.

As Seaweed is my Last Boat having her able to protect me is critical. I want to be able to live off the dock without a change in my comfort levels. The ability to generate power, and store same is one of the core components to a successful life off-grid. Over the years I've made a lot of changes that enable me to enjoy a great life without an electric cord.

Now, recently a reader (thank you again kind Sir!) made a donation to me via PayPal. I purchased an additional 100 watt solar panel. The plan is to mount it above the new Dometic Penguin II High Capacity W/Heat Pump (13.5K BTU though a 15K BTU is okay too) ... I prefer white, though black is acceptable because I am desperate.

HOWEVER, I have spent literally days on the phone trying to locate such a beast.

I am hoping a reader can find the elusive Penguin of my dreams, with a heat pump. The heat pump is important too. This is a major infrastructure improvement and I would rather wait than "settle" for the wrong unit. So, can anyone out there help?!? If so, please write so I can secure this unit for my Seaweed. And, thanks!

That's it from the water. I thank you for reading.

Addendum. 17 September 2021. Rob found the ac unit of my dreams and I bought it today. Thank you Rob.

In this article I expressed my frustration at not being able to locate a Penguin II rooftop RV air conditioner made by Dometic. I specifically desired the heat pump version. A kind reader named Rob found one in white (my preference) and it is here awaiting installation. I am SO THANKFUL to have acquired this item.

Of course this is going to complicate my life because at anchor I might want to power said ac and at present have no means to do so long term. Not yet.

Does anyone have any experience with the Penguin II ac unit with a heat pump?
And, is there anything I need to know before installation?

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2021, 2023

Categories:  Boats, Books, Gear,

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