The goal of SailBits is to tell a story about how technology and boating work together, to share ideas about projects, and help others learn from the experience.
2016 was a year of major projects on Grace, one which will not likely be repeated in terms of the depth and complexity. That is mainly because she was brand new to us in 2015-2016, and had some gaps in major systems we needed while out on the water.
Recently I had the chance to spend a few weeks working on a local marina WiFi system. The biggest issue was the perception of the boaters throughout the marina, and the need to invest in equipment to improve the signal within their boats.
I have an extensive automation system in place at home and the family cabin, and recently started realizing I had done next to nothing on Grace. I use SmartThings for most of the automation, and thought “why haven’t I done anything with this technology on the boat?” So I did.
Our boat gets dirty – all the time – and a good vacuum is essential to keeping it clean. The Dyson v6 car+boat vacuum performs amazingly well and lasts a lot longer than you would think on battery.
Amazon Echo is perfect for the sailboat. The number one use is choosing what music to listen to, which is important for the crew. In addition, quick access to various news and fact sources comes in handy while on the water.
Charging while away from the dock on the sailboat is a critical piece to enjoying your time on the water. In part 3 of my power upgrade project, I replace the alternator and regulator to ensure my new Firefly batteries are topped up.
The arteries and veins of your electrical system are the wires, and you need to ensure they are taken care of just as much as the batteries and other parts. In part 2 of my power system upgrade, I replace the majority of my main system wiring to ensure a healthy system.
Grace came with a very basic power system which had some major problems. I chose to update it using MasterVolt as the primary charging, distribution and control system, Balmar for engine power management, and Firefly carbon foam batteries as the heart.
My ongoing solar project at our family cabin in Eastern Washington took a simplification turn this last weekend. Much of what I’ve learned rewiring boats and working on DC systems has helped me fine-tune this installation.
BlueSea terminal fuse blocks saved my Firefly batteries from damage after a short circuit.
Drink holders are critical to ensuring your crew (and you) are kept happy while on the water and at the dock or anchor. Finding holders that don’t dump your drinks overboard or otherwise suck has been a challenge, until now.
Quality ambient light throughout the sailboat is a must. Getting this without high power use bulbs is easy with LEDs if you know where to start. Many manufacturers “white” LEDs look terrible, so choose carefully.