MAIL: Cruising with Renewables

The Bandersnatch
The retirement boat Bandersnatch features 1,300 watts of Kyocera PV modules and two KISS wind generators.
The Bandersnatch

I have spent most of my life building and traveling on the Bandersnatch, the boat shown here. Back in the 1960s, I got the itch to have a boat because it was the closest thing I could get to a spaceship. I thought I would have to charter in the Caribbean to make a living with it, but I got older faster than the boat got built, so now it has turned into a retirement boat. I launched it in 1981 and retired from the Merchant Marines in 1996. Shortly thereafter, I met Jan and we have cruised aboard Bandersnatch ever since.

We have 1,300 watts of Kyocera PV modules, two KISS wind generators, and an 8 kW diesel generator aboard. We get most of our electricity from the PV, use the generator for a while on cloudy days, but don’t use the wind-spinners much.

We are nicely set up with satellite TV, a couple of laptop computers, several printers (Jan loves photography), and all the usual comforts of home, including three cats. We do have air conditioning, but have to run the generator to use it, so we rarely do. Instead, we adjust to the local climate!

The dinghy, which we call “The White Rabbit” (an Alice in Wonderland connection with the “frumious bandersnatch,” which is in the poem Jabberwocky), is a 10-foot inflatable. We put a PV module on the dinghy outboard to keep the battery topped up. There is no regulator. The loads are: the starter, running lights, bilge pump, and depth-finder. 

After some months of use, the module failed. I opened the PV housing and found a postage-stamp-size PC board with a resistor for the indicating LED and a diode for preventing reverse-current. All of them were corroded and a wire was broken. I removed the diode, installed it in the negative line, and discarded the rest. I soldered all the connections, buried it all under clear RTV silicone, and put the housing back together. We’ll see how it holds up. The PV module is especially useful when rain causes the bilge pump to operate. And it recharges the battery so I get good engine starts.

Home Power has had a large influence in my life. I was a charter subscriber—if you can call receiving a free magazine being a subscriber! I first learned about many of our renewable energy system components, including our Staber clothes washer, Trojan batteries, Trace inverter, SunDanzer freezer and refrigerator, and lots of other things, in Home Power. It has been delightful watching the magazine grow from almost a mimeographed newsletter to a slick publication for sale at national bookstores!

Norm, S/V Bandersnatch • Lying Julington Creek, Florida

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