Thursday, December 02, 2021

What stuff costs battery edition...

A thing about language, a suggestion from EBM, and about that gas in your dinghy...

It's come to the point where I have to replace the batteries aboard "So It Goes" and I've been doing a lot of research on what to replace them with. 

Just about everyone is telling me that I should go with Lithium and their talking points seem to have merit and at first glance they are somewhat compelling. According to just about everyone Lithium has twice the usable energy, charges faster, and when the overall life of the battery is factored in less expensive than lead-acid.

Almost too good to be true.

A resource I follow where lithium batteries are concerned regularly tears down commercial lithium batteries and far too often the build quality appears to be somewhat problematic. Another resource who is big on harvesting surplus cells has been something of an eye opener as the whole act of harvesting cells is based on batteries that, for one reason or another, have failed.

Throw in the fact that while companies producing (or just rebranding) batteries have warranties that don't quite reflect the longevity they're claiming.

Warranties tend to say a lot about how good a product actually is so I take them quite seriously. Then again I recently had a couple of "Lifetime Guaranteed" solar panels which failed and the vendor refused to replace them because the company that built them was no longer in business. Which makes me wonder how many of the lithium battery sellers of today will still be around in five or ten years.

I'll also point out that the battery in the computer I'm writing this on is no longer accepting a full charge and cuts out on a regular basis and it's only a couple of months old. Fact is, battery failure on this computer has been an ongoing issue and I don't think a single battery has made it to the end of a warranty cycle. As it is, I'm replacing the computer battery about twice a year which does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling where lithium batteries are concerned.

My current 400+ amp hour battery bank has lasted six years nine months and is still working albeit in a tired and grumpy manner. While we could get by for another year it makes sense to replace them now where I can get a good price on new batteries in a place where the old bank will be recycled and not just dumped in a landfill.

The decision to buy lead acid golf cart batteries is mainly about the fact that I have experience with lead acid and know they will work for the next six years or so without any issues as they're simple and don't have a lot to go wrong. Lithium, on the other hand, has complicated circuits (BMS) which can fail and are not user repairable. Several people I know advised that installing a second lead-acid bank as a back up to a lithium bank would be no bad thing which does not exactly fill me with confidence.

But what about the cost? The new bank (four six-volt golf cart batteries) is going to cost $732, including free delivery. Using the current bank as a model means I should expect to get around eighty-one months of service and the cost to the budget will come to about $9.04 a month.

I suspect, that eighty-one months from now when it's time to replace the new batteries, there will be a newer, hipper, and better battery chemistries that do not require rare-earth materials to build while lithium will have become passe.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the future brings...

Listening to Petite Amie

So it goes...

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

on the subject of bicycle physics and sailboats...

Some interesting reading, Michael Moore getting it right, and on what once was and is no longer...

I saw a very interesting video on the premise that most folks don’t actually know how their bikes work and to say it blew my mind is an understatement. I mean seriously, everyone knows how a bike works... Right?

Then again, when you step back and think about it, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a real thing.

Where boats and sailing are concerned, it’s kind of the same thing and explains why I’m often flummoxed when talking with people about the mechanics and physics that make sailboats work...

For instance, back when we were sailing in France on Loose Moose. A design which was considered odd by many because the free-standing masts were not stepped on the center line of the boat and we had only a single “off-center dagger board” to provide lateral resistance.


I’ve lost count of the number of folks who would lecture me on all the various negative issues with such a design. All of which seemed to be based on a mistaken view of how sailboats actually work. I remember fondly a French guy sailing a 12 meter Endurance freaking out and telling me that my boat was impossible and could only sail to starboard. That said, I quite liked the idea of doing a circumnavigation where you could only make right turns...

The thing is, it’s not just weird-ass Bolger sharpies people don’t get right. It’s really basic concepts like keels, placement of ballast, rigs, draft, monohulls, and multihulls that people sailing just don’t quite understand and that lack of knowledge just baffles me.

Am I alone wrestling with this conundrum?

Listening to Willie and Lukas Nelson

So it goes... 

Monday, November 29, 2021

an interesting 24-foot scow...

The cost of hate, some folks doing stuff right, and this really excited me...

Here's an interesting review on a scow I really like from Yachting World.


Listening to Ak Dan Gwang Chil

So it goes...

Sunday, November 28, 2021

How to avoid the dreaded compass rose trap...

Somewhat uplifting, a very good cause that could use your support, and a cartoon too close of the mark for comfort....

A longish time ago, I had something of a burning bush moment while building a boat. It was not something someone said or a cunning plan. It was just a simple question I asked myself...

Is this actually essential to this boat?

Which, I’ll admit, is a fairly simple question. But it got me thinking about what defined essential and nonessential where building or refitting is concerned.

For instance, a couple of boats over from my boat was a cold-molded sloop that was only partially planked and still needed a couple of courses of veneer before being glassed. That being the case, I wondered just why the builder was working on an inlaid compass rose for the chart table before the interior fit-out was even a thing. Just for the record, I’ll go public and say that while I think inlaid woodwork is a very cool addition to a boat, it is never an essential part of a boat.

Most boat plans or production boats show or come with all the essential bits. My usual way of building a boat is that if it’s in the plans, you can consider it to be indispensable. The same goes for the design of a boat while doing a re-fit, as what’s designed in should mostly be essential.

Where it gets iffy is where the designer has left important bits to the whim of whoever is building or refitting the boat. Frankly, there is a special place in hell for designers who do not design in systems. Raceways for wiring, places to put the needed instruments, and stowage of propane bottles. Better yet, it would be no bad thing for designers to include provisions for dinghy stowage and sensible locations for solar panels in their plans.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a clue what you think is essential for your boat. I go with the idea that simpler is always better than complicated. Not that I’m against progress and realize that I should always build in space for potential additions to systems in the future. This includes things like building in extra space and large enough wiring races to add instruments when needful. Not having to resort to tearing the boat apart to run a couple of cables.

Sure, there are many non-essential bits that make a boat livable or a home. The trick is not to let them get in the way of actually building or re-fitting your boat. Consider it essential to plan for them in the overall scheme of things but avoid getting caught in the compass rose zone.

Listening to an albums worth of Neil Young coverage

So it goes...


Thursday, November 25, 2021

regarding a day in November...

Why liveaboards in marinas are a good thing, some needful Thanksgiving backstory, and in the "Well this is certainly interesting" department...

I'm of two minds about the whole idea of Thanksgiving.

On one side, the entire premise of a day devoted to the giving of thanks is goodly and something we should not just confine to a given Thursday in November. We have a lot to be thankful for. If you’re reading one of my blogs, you have the time and money to at least consider having a boat and sailing while too many in the world whose only acquaintance with boats is part of a desperate means of getting to a place of safety.

The Thanksgiving story is a fiction. The holiday has become a shameful exercise in greed and consumerism, creating no small amount of depression in what really should be a time of shared thanks and friendship.

Oh well, such is life in the year 2021.

I’m thankful for the readers of Boat Bits, who (with a few exceptions) have become friends, shared their lives with me, corrected my typos, and lifted me up when I’m depressed. Boat Bits is a reader fueled enterprise and the audience feedback lets me know I’m not alone and that there’s a glimmer of hope in these heinous clusterfuck times.

Thank you.

Listening to the late but still great Doug Sahm from a long past Thanksgiving

So it goes...

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

An offer too good to pass up...

A test we failed, how the average person can make a difference in climate change, and over in the "Bought and paid for" department...

One of the best media outlets on the web where boats and things boatish are concerned is Off Center Harbor which is now ten years old. Which, in the world of boat related media, is one seriously impressive accomplishment.

Since it's the holidaze now and OCH is in a celebratory mood they're offering a pretty awesome subscription of $10 for ten months. For those of you who are math challenged that's a whopping $1 a month.

A buck a month.

Seriously, it's a pretty unbeatable deal and of limited duration so you really should take advantage. 

Click here to go to Off Center Harbor and check it out.

Listening to Rise Against cover CCR

So it goes...

Monday, November 22, 2021

a bit of tongue-in-cheek would be no bad ting...

Some needful situational awareness, five stupid rules, and a forward looking cruising destination...

There's a YouTube channel I watch from time to time to answer whatever clickbait they present that tickles my sense of absurdity. Most recently was an episode that entailed an engineless cruise on St Thomas that was presented as a major feat of seamanship. Which, I suppose, for some a less than two mile voyage without an engine is an incredible accomplishment or an inspired bit of self parody.

Well except for the fact that they actually did have an engine in the form of a 15HP outboard on their dinghy and they did resort to using it so it would seem there was no self parody involved.

Way back when there was a wonderful picture on a Class-5 catalog of a guy climbing that grabbed a lot of attention. At first glance it's a great climbing shot but the second glance let's you see the punch line.


Sadly, the purveyors of the current output really seem take themselves way too seriously and there's not a punchline in sight.

Listening to Flipturn

So it goes...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

a real accomplishment...

Turning consumers into ATMs, some very interesting statistics, and in the "We're just so fucked" department...

I just got a note from Frederik who is currently building a junk rigged Chris Morejohn design which has reached the turnover stage of the build.



A happy man with a job well done!

More information on the design can be found over on Chris Morejohn's site

Listening to some Guy Clark

So it goes...

Saturday, November 20, 2021

a cause worth supporting...

A must read on the subject of curiosity, stuff you need to know about the oil industry, and Webb Chiles makes a point...

Some familiar faces want you to support a good cause... 


More about what you can do to help on the MOcean crowdfunding page.

Listening to Coverville

So it goes...

Friday, November 19, 2021

Something interesting about rope...

A whale of a tale, something from the inappropriate files, and in the "Why the fuck is no one in jail?" department...

Yeah, I know it pisses some folks off when I link to or have things in French but all you need is the visual so you could just turn your sound off.


But better if you leave the sound on because you might learn something.

Listening to a bookish playlist

So it goes...