As we celebrate our first anniversary of cruising aboard Happy Times, the crew shares what’s on our minds.
Worries by Capt. Mike
When we left Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton, FL, I had no idea of the things that I would worry about on a daily basis. Let’s be real. There a lot of things that I had no idea about. What I am constantly aware of is our fresh water supply and our power supply (battery level).
With all this (salt) water around Happy Times, you would think that I wouldn’t need to be worried about the fresh water. We have a 100-gallon fresh water tank. The crew uses about seven gallons of water a day. Washing dishes, washing ourselves and drinking consume most of daily fresh water needs. (Some of you might suggest that if we drank more beer then we would need less water.) When we wash clothes on board, we can easily go through 15 gallons. Happy Times water rules: Don’t leave the water running; e.g., when brushing your teeth, wet your tooth brush and immediately turn the water off. Same goes for showering. I like to soap up and jump in the water, then take a quick fresh water rinse.
We have a few ways to replenish our water supply. First, we capture rain water through a simple gutter system. The design came from our friends on Bunter Vogel II. In a good dousing 10-15 gallons can replenish our supply. Next, we haul water in 5-gallon jerry cans. (Not sure why they are called jerry cans.) In two or three trips with our five cans, the tank is full. Our Village Marine Tec Watermaker provides another source of water. Through a reverse osmosis process, salt water is turned into fresh water at about seven gallons per hour. The trade-off is that it takes about 12-15 amps to run the watermaker. (Currently it has a problem and the salt level is a little too high for drinking.) So with all the different water outputs and inputs, we manage quite well.
Still I constantly keep tabs on our water supply, especially when the fresh water pump goes on. Our friend Maria Lapointe on s/v Joana cleverly handled this situation. When a high water usage guest asked what “that noise” was (the fresh water pump), she replied, “It’s the High Water Usage Alarm.”
Another worry is power. Battery power runs almost everything on Happy Times: e.g., the fresh water pump, reading lights, laptops, refrigerator/freezer, and fans. Again, conservation is key to having power when you need it. The 600 amp-hour battery bank provides the storage for these needs. There are two additional separate batteries whose sole job is to start the engines. How does the house bank get charged up?
Again, we are blessed with many inputs. First, when we are motoring, the engine alternators charge up the house bank after they charge the starting batteries. Next, we have a diesel generator which uses about ½ gallon of fuel per hour. When the generator is combined with our battery chargers, the batteries get filled up in about an hour. It used to take from two to two-and-a-half hours until I bought s/v Kamaloha’s old Heart Freedom 10 battery charger/inverter. What sold me on getting it was that Charlie, an electrical engineer, said that he would help me install it. Even Mikayla jumped in and help with the physical installation.
I don’t like running our NextGen generator so I looked at other ways to add more power. When we bought HT, she had four 50-watt solar panels on top of the bimini. She had room to add two 240-watt panels. They were installed in Grenada under Cheryl’s supervision. We also added a D400 wind generator. Now we don’t even run the genset while anchored because the sun and the wind, mostly the sun, give us ample power. Less worry but still constantly aware.
When I lived on land, electricity and water were always there. A simple flick of a switch or turn of a knob supplied an endless amount of power and water. Well, there were those darn monthly bills. Now I am much more in tune with our needs. I guess these are not worries so much but more of a constant awareness.
Top 10 Reasons to Sail Young by Mikayla
1. It is way cheaper to travel than buying all those plane tickets.
2. You learn what not to do at parties by watching adults make fools of themselves.
3. You learn to accept a lot more cultures.
4. You don’t do as much school work because your parents want you to embrace the surrounding culture.
5. You see things people only dream of.
6. When you tell someone that you live on a boat, they want to be your friend right away.
7. You learn how to work with your family in high stress situations.
8. You gain a strong trust with your parents because they are forced to trust you.
9. You learn new languages because some countries and cruisers don’t speak English.
10. You can basically live in a new country and leave whenever you want.
Random Thoughts by Cheryl
After a year of cruising, I still feel like a newbie. There’s so much yet to learn…Homeschooling is the hardest task aboard HT…I miss our family and friends. I wish more of them would email or Skype or FB…Night crossings can be magical…I have consumed more alcohol in the past year than in my entire life…I need to exercise more frequently…Boats require more maintenance than houses…Anchoring is still a pain in the neck…My family ducks whenever I say, “Oh, for crying out loud!”…It’s too easy to get caught up in boat projects and neglect the sunsets…I miss church…Mikayla is a better sailor than me…It was hard to celebrate our first Christmas without our family in Michigan, Alabama, Florida and Georgia…I can live without TV but not wifi…I’m glad that we brought Belle with us…Happy Times is a good name after all…NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” provides great entertainment, especially on long passages…The stains on my T-shirts look worse than the stains on my shorts…I could never live 24/7 on a sailboat with anyone else but Mike…Cruisers will do anything to help other cruisers.