February 19, 2016

Lighten Up!

Bill has been doing all of these somber, (but educational), posts lately. He's documenting our (and I use the term, our, in the loosest of ways, I don't actually do any of the research), research, purchases, installations, (I don't do the purchases or installations either), and outcomes (I do enjoy the outcomes however). Since we participate in several boating forums, he responds to inquiries, and this way he only has to type up our experiences once, and direct people here.

Makes sense, but time to LIGHTEN UP already! ;-)

Cleaning the boat...a never ending job.
Or this:

So you can see what we actually do.
But then there are times,

And if you want to learn about the positions of sail:
Zone of embarrassment means stop, no sailing directly into the wind....physics.

If you have ever been seasick, you need to know this:

Think about it....
We have this also, but not the same:

Don't worry, we will try and avoid this.
This is a fun one, except when you are the one at the helm!
Sh!t happens...
And for you cat owners..(us included):
No CAT 5 for me!
I have many more collected, but I will leave you with this one to ponder: 

February 18, 2016

Fuel Systems & Consumption

The following post was converted to a permanent and maintained page in our Stuff we have and use... sidebar on 25-Mar-2016.

Please go to that permanent page for the most recent information and updates.


Original Post:

This post is part of a series describing some of our common boat systems and their operation. 

We refer to these often not only for our own use, but also when asked specific questions about systems on Denali Rose, and when participating in discussions on various forums.

We have a single 90 hp diesel propulsion engine [Ford Lehman SP90] and a 10kw diesel generator [3 cylinder Kubota]. [Both are naturally aspirated.]

Our SOP is to use 10µ filters in our twin Racor 500 filters, but keep 20µ & 30µ filters on hand in case of problems with contaminated fuel. [So theoretically we could motor for longer periods between filter changes if needed due to abnormal circumstances...]

More details follow to provide context regarding fuel handling, storage and maintenance, fuel types, consumption, monitoring, etc. if you are interested in how busy our filters are.

Fuel flow management:
We have an a couple of 12VDC fuel pumps that perform several functions depending upon which valves we open: [I mention this because all of these functions pump through the Racor filters.]
  • Help bleed the fuel circuits [propulsion engine and generator]
  • Runs the fuel polishing loop [recirculate or fuel transfer to another tank]
  • Transfers fuel between tanks or into external jug [through the Racor filters]
  • Backs-up the fuel pumps on the engines [will provide fuel flow in the event an engine pump fails]

Fuel Storage:
Our two steel tanks each have 10 x 12 inch clean-out hatches above each baffled section of each tank [and were last mucked out and cleaned in 2009.]

Each tank also has sump drains which [to date] routinely yield pure fuel in the samples [no water or sediment... yet...]

We also installed H2Out air dryers on each fuel tank vent to help reduce moisture ingress via the vent lines.

Consequently- knock on wood- so far the fuel remains in great shape. [And local conditions in some of the straights we routinely transit make sure our fuel is well agitated several times each year...]

2 tanks; 216 US gallons total: 86 gallons #2 diesel for engine and generator: 130 gallons #1 for the heater. [For the curious: The 130 gallon tank is original. The 86 gallon tank was the max size the previous owner could reasonably fit when the other 130 gallon tank needed to be replaced...]

Both tanks have analog fuel gauges [and calibrated sight gauges with shut off valves...]
Design note about the sight gauges: The sight gauge is plumbed to a 3-way valve which is plumbed to the tank sump drain hole. Therefore the 3-way valve can be: off [normal position]; open to drain/sample fuel from the sump; or open to charge the clear sight gauge [and then closed after the gauge has equalized and is read.]

After fuel fills we let it settle overnight [when in a calm anchorage or at the dock...] before opening the sight gauge valve on each tank. Since the gauge is filling from the tank sump- and the fuel in the sight gauge is lower than the fuel in the tank after a fill- we get a visual inspection of the fuel from the sump when the sight gauge fills...] 
We can also see the fuel from the sump by pushing the fuel out of the sight gauge through it's top valve with a couple of strokes from a bicycle hand pump. When it refills we see what's in the bottom of the tank... [I call this non-invasive sampling...]
Future plans include replacing the factory analog fuel gauges with the CruzPro digital fuel gauge which also tracks consumption per hour once calibrated.

Fuel type considerations:
The Espar heater prefers #1 fuel oil with no additives [extends time between maintenance periods; it can also run on #2 without issues, just more frequent maintenance.]

Therefore we dedicated one of our two tanks to #1 diesel to accommodate the heater since we are dependent upon it year around in our current cruising grounds.

The engine and generator both prefer #2 diesel [with temperature dependent additives to prevent waxing. [They can both also operate on #1 without short-term issues per manufacturer's documentation.]

The other tank is full of #2 diesel.

There are times when we are 'out there' when we need to transfer #1 diesel to the #2 diesel tank for the engine. When we do this, we just add the appropriate amount of additive to the engine tank to up the lubricity rating of the fuel to keep the diesel engines happy. [Note: both engines can run on straight #1 without any short term issues (according to the manufacturer's documentation) so if needed, we can just switch tanks and keep motoring/generating...]


  • Engine [Ford Lehman SP90; 4 cyl, 90 hp] 
    • 1.3-1.8 gph @ 7-8 knot- depending upon conditions
  • Generator [Kubota D 722; 3 cyl]
    • 0.3-0.8 gph- depending upon load
  • Forced Air Heater [Espar D5LC]
    • 0.15 gph- on high [worse case]

In our current cruising grounds where we motor ~80% of the time, we typically top-up diesel fuel once or twice a year.
[Note: When buying fuel from a low volume source, we run it through our large Baja filter on its way to the tank...]

Annual consumption currently averages around 200 gallons in our current cruising grounds- with 30-40% of that being used by the Espar heater while at anchor...

Fuel filter plumbing and monitoring:
Design note: Our twin Racor 500 filters are plumbed so we can use one at a time [SOP] with the other as an instant fail-over, or run them in series. [e.g., Put a 30µ filter in the first Racor, and a 10µ filter in the second.]
Future change: Add a vacuum gauge per filter to facilitate use in series; not necessary when used individually. Additionally, as currently plumbed we can sample pressure on each filter by switching the 3 way valve the vacuum gauge is plumbed to. 
The Racors are mounted in the engine room and, while very accessible, are not visible from either helm station. Therefore, I installed a vacuum gauge that reads the active filter, and the gauge has a red tell-tale needle to show the highest reading on the gauge since the last reset. Very handy.

I intend to install a second gage (with tell-tale) in the overhead display with the other engine gauges at the lower help position in the near future.

We also installed water sensor alarms on both Racors to get an early warning that the active filter is at risk of shutting-down due to water in the bowl...

Related References:

February 9, 2016

Cruising to Alaska; Thoughts and Resources

This is the beginning of what will become a series of our thoughts and guidance- as locals who live and travel in Alaska on our boat-  for those considering visiting Alaska on their boat. 

We occasionally participate in various boating forums. [See our Some Forums We Read sidebar for links...] 

Some of those topics may be relevant here, so once in a while we will repost on our blog for reference.

The following may be one of those cases. To accommodate our non-boating blog readers, sometimes we add some {additional information and links} to the original forum post. (below)

Link to original post [2-Feb-2016]

Re: Anchoring [Etc.] recommendations in the PNW [Pacific Northwest and Alaska]?

Originally Posted by Dancin' Bare View Post
I am cruising the Inside Passage of BC towards Alaska in early spring.
I hope to spend most of my evenings on anchor. I currently have a #40 Danforth and #45 Mantus. Both are on 50 feet of chain. The Danforth has been fantastic in sand and has been my primary anchor, but I gather from my readings I will mostly be over clayey bottoms with significant tidal surge. The Mantus is a plow type anchor that in theory resets well if I catch a tidal change and float back over it. I haven't been challenged while using it so far. I do my best to anchor up stream/wind from the charter boaters when I can't avoid them. I usually end up in deeper water 35ish to let out a good scope. I mostly single hand and prefer not to stern tie. I am looking for recommendations from those who have been there dun dat…..

Am I reading more into the tidal change/currents than I need to be?

Recomedatiosns/tips/experienced insights….. favorite anchorages away from the crowds?????

Thank you!
Hi Dancin',

It sounds like a fun trip you have planned. Your questions are somewhat broad and will require you do do some additional research and reading...

My goal is to help get you started in the right direction and provide some resources we use and rely upon, as well as some of our own writings covering the broad categories you ask about.

RE: Anchoring as you head north:

From my experience you will need at least 300 ft of all chain anchor rode to be safe in our often deeper than usual anchorages on the northern part of this coast.

You mentioned 50ft of chain, but didn't mention how much rope rode you have. Assuming you have a combination chain/rope rode, you will need more like 500+ total ft of rode to achieve 7:1 scope for your Mantus in deeper anchorages. More to use the Mantus recommended 10:1 in windy conditions.

For comparison: On our present boat, I put in a new windlass with all new chain in June 2014 to accommodate simultaneous use of 2 permanently installed anchors on the bow (5 anchors on board) The main bower has 360ft of 5/16 G4 chain (the max I could fit on that side of the anchor locker...) attached to 100ft of 1in 3-strand rode. [The Hail Mary rode to be let out in an extreme situation where we might have to cut and run...] The secondary anchor has the remaining 190ft of the chain [550ft/barrel of 5/16in G4...] attached to another 100ft 1in 3-strand... I also have 3 other 300ft 3-strand with 40ft chain in bags for deployment of other anchors as needed... you get the idea. Why? In years past I've been blown off my anchor in williwaws in the dark and I don't want to ever experience that again...

Here is our inventory of all ground and safety tackle.

Pay attention to tidal variations when setting your scope. If you don't have electronic tide tables, learn the 'Rule of 12ths' with regard to tides so you can interpolate the tide change based upon your current time and depth. We use it alot when sea kayaking so we can estimate where to pitch our camp and how far up the beach to moor our kayaks to keep them accessible at high tide... [You will be transiting areas where the daily tidal range is as low as 14ft and as high as 22 ft. consequently you will also need to plan for the currents in various passages as they will impact your transit scheduling.]

You will find quite a bit more on anchoring in this area on our Blog, linked below. You may want to investigate my post on using shore lines as well...

Many of your other questions will be answered in the cruising guides for the areas you will be transiting.

The free one you are likely already familiar with that will take you through the BC coast is Waggoner's. [There is sometimes a pdf version on their website.]

For planning we prefer the volumes published by Fine Edge authored by Douglass and Hemmingway-Douglass. They are more detailed and among the few that publish somewhat timely updates online.

Charlie's Charts North to Alaska is a good resource as well.

Don't forget to download or purchase the Coast Pilots 7 & 8, and the Sailing Directions [There are two versions. You need the Enroute #154 covering BC, and if you plan to venture into outside waters, download the Planning Guide #120...]

I hope this helps get you started with your planning, and look forward to hearing about your adventures.

Ask away if you have more questions....



February 5, 2016


This post has now been added to our Stuff We Have and Use [and Do...] sidebar...

Please also see that version of this information, as it will be updated over time...


As we have mentioned in some of our posts about living aboard a boat in cooler climates, we run a dehumidifier inside our boat during cooler weather when at the dock and sometimes while at anchor. [We can also fire up our air conditioners (we have 3 separately controlled units built-in.) They take care of excessive moisture quickly.]

Earlier this winter, our not so old, heavy duty [and noisy!] workhorse name-brand compressor type dehumidifier quit working. The GFCI outlet it was plugged into was tripped. It immediately tripped upon reset, and did the same to any other GFCI circuit it was plugged into. Therefore it was no longer safe to use...

It also had other issues inherent to that technology. For instance, if the interior temperature of the boat got much below 40°F in that it would frost-up [This would happen if we were away from the boat traveling...] And the electronic controls had to be manually reset after a power outage because it wouldn't automatically start back up when the power was restored. And did I mention how noisy it was?...

Our search for a replacement revealed a new technology that doesn't rely on an air conditioning compressor. It uses a self-recharging desiccant technology [not Koolatron 12 volt cooler technology, which we tried in the past. They frost up quickly and stop removing moisture even though they continue to run after freezing-up...]

This new one is really efficient, very quiet, lightweight and compact [we can actually store this one onboard...] It has an optional drain hose [which we lead to a shower sump] which eliminates manually emptying the built-in tank when it is full. 

This new unit also puts out a small amount of heat, and has a high setting to facilitate clothes drying; all using far less power than the old compressor style dehumidifier. It also continues to operate normally down to 34°F [per the manufacturer- we haven't tested this yet...]

Low setting is 330 watts [120 VAC] so we can easily run this on our inverter as needed.

After extensive research we bought the model linked below with manual [vs. electronic] controls that allow the unit to resume operating after a power outage. [This is important if you leave it running while away from the boat (at the dock) for extended periods as we sometimes do...]

We couldn't be happier.

EcoSeb DD122EA-SIMPLE Desiccant Dehumidifier, 15-Pint, White, 120V

February 1, 2016

Tidbit: AC electrical consumption when living aboard at the dock...

This is one of a series of brief, no nonsense posts that we call aTidbit: 
noun; small and [possibly] particularly interesting item of gossip or information...
The purpose is to share succinct posts about lessons learned, or things we use or do that work [or don't...] that are common to most of us boaters. 

The goal is to garner feedback from those of you having first-hand experience with a different approach/ solution/ product/ or additional useful information to share...  
We never assume what we are sharing is the ideal or only; it just seems to best suit our needs [and/or habits and/or budget] from our experiences thus far...
Sometimes these Tidbits originate from a topic of discussion on one of the forums we participate in, and this happens to be one: Link to original forum post [9-Nov-2015]
Note: The original blog post [below] has been inducted into Tidbits since it qualifies, but was published 3 years before we initiated the Tidbit series...
Since we are asked this question often, it made sense to post a more detailed response.

                               ➛ ➛ Peruse the right-hand sidebar for the up-to-date list of Tidbits ➛ ➛                               

Original Question from Cruiser's Forum:

Originally Posted by AFKASAP View Post

What size is your boat?
What significant appliances do you have running?
Is it winter or summer where you are?

How much electricity do you use per day [kWh/24 hr day] while living aboard (Longterm, not weekenders).

I am talking about comfortable living...

I'm assuming you are asking only about shore power AC consumption when at a dock full time.
Here is our off-the- dock consumption reply from Nov-2015, and here is an updated version published Feb-2019
We are not often at the dock full time, but sometimes spend weeks at a time during inclement weather in winter.

I generated some numbers by dividing my average electric meter bills by the KWH rates, so the are just estimates, and will be on the high side since I'm not subtracting fees and taxes also included on the bill.

Our worse-case usage is when we run electric heating at the dock in winter.

In winter [currently laying latitude 56° N in Wrangell, Alaska, with average temps around freezing] we average about 36 kWh/24 hr day.

Note: Our AC electrical consumption [when using our electric vs. diesel heat on shorepower]  can temporarily spike 2x or 3x during cooler weather spells [e.g., at 10° F (-12° C) and colder we can easily consume 100 kWh/day.]

On our 3 cabin, 2 head 43ft pilothouse ketch with 2 adults this includes running the heating side of one or more of the 3 air conditioners [maintaining an ambient temp of 20° C; 68° F] clothes washer/dryer, multiple laptop computers, water heater, battery charger, etc. Everything for creature comfort. [We've already proved in times past we can live without all the comforts... now-a-days we have nothing to prove...]

This is facilitated with a 50A 220V AC shore power source. [We only use the 30A 110V AC shorepower cord in summer- mainly for hot water and battery charging/equalization during brief stays in a marina.]

Away from shore power our AC electrical consumption goes down because we use a diesel fired heating system.

I don't have direct comparison figures for AC consumption when away from shore power, but can say we get by in winter running our 10kw generator for about 6-12 hours/week [depending upon solar and wind generator contributions] to keep our 900AH 12V DC (nominal) battery bank happy, run the 12VDC watermaker, make hot water, and wash/dry loads of laundry, etc.

It might also be interesting for all of us to compare what we pay per kWh. [We have our own electric meters at our slips here... i.e., electricity is not included with slip fees, but water is...]

Following are our hydro-power rates [US$] for Wrangell, Alaska:

Residential: Base monthly rate $8.00
0-300 KWH $.126 per kWh
300 -1200 KWH $.102 per kWh
>1200 KWH $.08 per kWh