Tuesday, June 5, 2018

We're Building This Plane as We Fly It

Yup! We started this trip with many systems still undone. Some are no big deal. Some are, well, mission critical.
In the "no big deal" department: Before we left, we replaced the trademark red canvas stern canopy (shown at left and right) with solar panels, but we DIDN'T fill in the gaps left open when we placed those rectangular panels on a half-round frame. The gaps let in the rain!

Cap installed white plastic panels to fill those gaps yesterday morning, literally while we were underway. (Don't worry, the crew was at the helm while he was up on the roof drilling holes in the support bars.)

Fifty Percent More Solar from the Roof!

Bill Carlsen builds the boat while cruising it!The new stern canopy doesn't have the charm of the old one. It decreases the likelihood that bystanders who see us approaching will exclaim, "That boat looks like a giant floating box of Animal Crackers!"

But the new panels boosted our solar capacity from 1400 watts to 2000 watts (a nearly 50% increase!)

Bigger Better Motor Controller!

Now for the slightly more mission-critical stuff that's getting bolted onto the plane while we cruise at altitude.

  • Cap has a new motor controller yet to install. This is a device that shuttles 48-volt DC power from the battery to the motor. Once it's in, we'll be better able to control the speed of the motor, which is super useful for fine control of the boat when approaching a dock.
  • Bill will also install a 48-volt inverter-charger. This not-so-little device ca n not only 1) charge our propulsion batteries and  2) move power from the generator directly to the motor, it can 3) produce a 120-volt current. 

Item  #3 is a particularly big advance. On our Great Loop trip, we used our solar power only to move the boat through the water. Once the inverter-charger is in place, we'll ALSO be able to run the "house systems" on solar power--our LED lights, the water pump, the fridge, etc. That means we can anchor out--the boater equivalent of wilderness camping--a lot longer.)

Busted Battery

Did you try Boat Finder today? Did you notice we are still in Lyons? That's because one of our propulsion batteries had a meltdown.

It's a long story why; Cap has a bead on the problem and a new battery on order. Let me know if you want more gearhead details, or if you're just waiting for the "What IS It" quiz to start back up.

What do you think of our sleek new look?


  1. Nice photo/ Good luck getting things upon running.

  2. Love it! Wish I was riding the canal this year! Plan is to ride it next year.