Technical projects and chores

Since we arrived on Blue Pearl a month ago we have done and finished several technical upgrades and projects .

First Stuart from ArcGlow Almerimar finished the new Arch for the solar panels and wind generator and mounted the solar panels but a few days prior to installing the solar panels Stuart dropped me an email saying that ‘It looks like someone walked all over the panels as the boxes have footprints on the outside !’ Imagine my frustration as I was sure that the panels were broken !

After unpacking them though they seem to have survived their ordeal unscathed and the glass panels were all in tact after which he mounted them

The Arch looks and works fantastic :

full arch

and also doubles as a mounting for the wind generator

wind gen mount

triples as davits for the dinghy , which we haven’t done yet and quadruples as a place to hang the hammock which have have tested extensively 🙂

The 2x 335Wp solar panels are hooked up to a Victron 100/50 , which can handle 100 volt input & 50 Amps output max

The next project we tackled was the installation of the washing machine . Last time we were on Blue Pearl I measured the space where we wanted to put the washing machine and I made a ‘bracket’ out of PE plastic to ensure I had a flat mounting space to actually fit the washing machine. As the washing machine is now mounted over a small sink both the water supply for the washer and the drain were very close by. So I took off the faucet , hooked up the pipe for water and dropped the water drain pipe in the sink . We only need to remember to open the through hulls so the water can actually drain away ! (once bitten , twice shy 😉

Next on the list was to clean up some of the 12V system wiring and add a few more components to our Simarine monitoring system  As the solar panels we have now are double the power of the old system I had to upgrade the wiring and also use 2 25A shunts instead of the single shunt . As this seemed like a pretty straight forward job it only took me a day and a half (!!!!) but now we can monitor almost all power systems.

the next small job was to replace the inverter , an inverter is an electronic piece of kit that makes 220 volt from 12 volt ! its like magic but the old one was not up to the task of running our Nespresso coffee machine and as anyone that knows me can attest to “Rene runs on coffee” so having only access to that horrible Nescafe stuff is not really an option . The alternative is to run the diesel 6.5KVa generator for the coffee maker. Now I will admit to having run the generator to make coffee but its not a really long term good solution , the generator burns diesel , needs maintenance and makes a lot of noise whereas the Whisper Power 2000W doesnt make noise , runs off solar energy and powers everything we use , the choice was made to upgrade the inverter . So we now have 2000 Watt solar powered 220Volt that runs all of our 220V equipment including the power guzzling Nespresso and also the washing machine !! score !

So out with the old and in with the new .. 10 minute job ! .. really .. it took me about 10 minutes to swap them , no idea why it went so quick ? has to be my faultless planning and meticulously preparedness 🙂

Anyway , enough about my planning prowess , onto the next job

The watermaker

When we bought Blue Pearl she actually had all the parts needed to assemble a 10 gallon per hour (40 liter per hour) watermaker which I planned to use , but when browsing the local craigslist a few months ago I actually found a complete 12 volt watermaker so I set out on the massive task of removing all the old parts and mounting all the new parts and run 12volt wiring . totally I planned 3 days which was more or less what I needed . So first the old parts out

and then puzzling to put the ‘new’ parts in into the same space the old parts were , in the end everything fit where I wanted it even using some of the old filters that were already there . A watermaker is , basically , a quite simple piece of equipment that needs a few things
– salt water supply , preferably a bit presurized
– 2 pre filters to filter out ‘gunk’ algea , fish sh*t etc
– high pressure pump (800 psi or 55 Bar)
– reverse osmosis membranes that allow pure H2O through but not the salts and other stuff
– line for ‘product water’ into the water tank
– line for ‘waste water’ to the outside

As Blue Pearl has an airconditioner (running off the generator) that we hardly use I decided to use the through hulls from the AC and repurpose
them for the watermaker , I can always put some 3 way valves in there at a later point if we decide to use the Aircon as well , so the water in is done , the water out is done and running the line into the water tank as well. All this was day one .. time for a cold beer

The next day I ran 12 volt wires for the feed pump and the high pressure pump and putting a shunt in place for the Simarine monitor. All in all sounds like a pretty straight forward job so this only (!!) took me the second day

The 3rd day I actually connected the 12 volt system and gave the system its first try , everything worked great up until the point where I wanted to increase the pressure so the membranes could start dojng their magic (the membranes need 800 psi / 55 bar to let pure H2O through) but somehow the pressure didnt want to go up , only after a few bleeding rounds to get the air out of the system the pressure started to rise and pure H2O started to flow

Its a magical thing to get potable water out of salt water using solar energy !! it may not be the most productive system in terms of liters per hour but it doesnt use any diesel and runs off solar energy

while checking the system I only found 1 very small weep of salt water in the high pressure side which was easily solved but loosening and retightening the connector .

here you can see where the solar panels pump out some 30 Amps ,

the watermaker running at 16 Amps , the freezer 6 Amps and the rest of the boat as well, the washing machine is running off the inverter at the same time as I took this pic ! and we still have 10 Amps going into the battery bank . pretty amazing power management if you ask me !

so all in all a quite productive month in terms of projects that needed to be done and needed to be finished and best of all , the 2x 335Wp solar panels work amazingly well keeping everything powered and topped off so we can run all of these amazing systems without draining our batteries

sooo.. stuff to do :

  • drink a cold beer , right about now
  • put temperature sensors in the cabin , freezer and fridge to the Simarine , why ? , because it can be done
  • hook up the watertank sensors to the Simarine , reason , see above , and it will help to keep an eye on our tanks
  • go snorkel
  • have another beer
  • eat and sleep

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