We Upgraded Our Boat to Lithium

Living on a boat has made us very aware of power usage. Our boat mostly runs on 12V power – lights, fans, water pumps, instruments – which comes from batteries on the boat. In this post, I’ll detail why and how we upgraded our boat to lithium batteries. We think it’s a good decision.

Rules of Batteries

Batteries on a boat are challenging. There’s all sorts of rules on things you should and should not do with traditional boat batteries. The main rules as we understand them:

  • Replace them all at once
  • Never let them go below 50% charge
  • Make sure they are all the same type and brand

It goes on. But the world of batteries is changing rapidly with innovation going on in other industries finding its way into the world of boats. The new technology uses Lithium Ion and is far more efficient and takes up far less space.

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Getting better on Sava

A couple weeks ago we posted about the issues on Sava. Overheating engine, freezer not working, Domino, battery challenges, and more.  And that was before we hit our lowest point yet with the electric head!

Well, we have good news: things are looking up right now.

The Engine

When we were in Tortola we hired a diesel mechanic, Wilbert, from Parts and Power. Wilbert and I worked for three days to diagnose and fix the overheating problems. We systematically went through the whole raw water coolant system and discovered that the pipe that fed water through the transmission was almost completely clogged. Three days of hard work later we cleaned it up and replumbed the system to prevent the clogging in the future.

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Sailing Overnight Alone (and together)

Part of the reason we hired Jeff, the captain who came with us from Provo to Luperón, was that we were nervous about our first night sail. While that passage was not easy, and a few things went wrong, we made it fine. Next up: getting to the south of the D.R, by sailing overnight alone.

Long Passage For Two Sailing Overnight

The next passage, from Luperon to Samaná, was almost the same distance. And we knew we had to do it with just the two of us. Sailing at night is challenging, especially when the auto pilot isn’t working, which ours wasn’t at the time. Someone has to be at the wheel the entire time. So shift work is required.

Being Scared, and Getting Used To It

Melinda has been convincing me to write a post. So here is a bit of me. I am living on a boat being scared, and getting used to it.

Perception vs. Reality

Folks watching and reading about this adventure may have the perception that it’s easy and relaxing. But, to be honest, almost no day has gone by without some level of fear and terror. Sava is a big boat with a lot of moving parts, some of which break down quite often, and already have.

When we left the mooring just over two months ago and motored down The New River, not knowing how to steer this boat or even where we were going to spend the night, I was literally shaking all day.

Stressful Times

Then the next day we ran aground a couple of times. It was then that I realized lots is going to go wrong, and we just need to deal with it.

Since then there’ve been numerous very stressful hours and moments.

On our first outing after being on the hard in Fort Lauderdale, heading to Miami in a hard east wind and under power, the motor failed. We had to take quick action and drop anchor. We called Seatow to get us to Miami. It was rough, but during the tow, I managed to solve the problem.

Sea Tow boat Miami living on a boat being scared
We needed Sea Tow in Miami
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