22 Aug

The past few weeks have seen the crew of Tango rushing to install upgrades to make her ready for the grand adventure that is fast approaching. Our bank account has been hemorrhaging as we have made some major purchases as of late. One will help us to generate our own electricity and the other will help us to “see” other vessels, objects, or land masses so that we don’t collide with any of them.

Solar Panels  –  We purchased two Kyocera 245 watt solar panels that we installed on our new stern arch. (Wait…that’s another major purchase…eghads!) Robin did a masterful job of designing an aluminum frame which holds the panels in place. They are sturdy and, as of this writing, still in place! The real test will come into play when we take Tango out in nasty weather, but I think the arch is sound and will perform well.

We spent the majority of last weekend putting the frame together and hoisting both the frame and the panels to the top of our arch and securing them in place. Thanks to Bob and “brother of Bob” aboard “Wake Me” who helped us with the stressful task of lifting a thousand dollars worth of glass and metal over the murky waters of the bay. It was quite a sight to be sure.

In a nutshell here is how the solar panels will work. On sunny days they will capture the solar energy and send 480 watts of electricity to a computerized controller that regulates the current into the appropriate voltage/amperage to charge our house batteries. What is a house battery you ask? A house battery (we have two) powers all of the things we need to live a somewhat normal life aboard Tango. Things like navigational instruments, radios, radar, and our refrigerator run off the 12 volt house batteries. Our TV, PS3, laptops, blenders, etc. run off of the house batteries as well but, because they use AC power, they must be run off of our inverter which turns the 12 volt into 110 volt AC. The pictures below will illustrate this process much better I think.

Radar – The Garmin GMR 18 was our choice for being our lookout when we can’t see through the rain, fog, night, or other hindrances to visibility. The first thing that attracted us to this radar solution was the price. We don’t believe in skimping on items that directly relate to our safety but we do have a budget to adhere to and spending $6000 dollars on radar just isn’t going to happen. The other attractive feature was that it hooks directly into our Garmin 740S chart plotter with ONE Ethernet cable. Routing cables through a boat is a pain in the butt to say the least so the concept of one cable sounded great! I should back up and mention what a chart plotter is. A chart plotter is the boater’s version of the turn by turn GPS devices that many of you have in your cars.

When we are out and about the GMR 18 will “look” around our vessel for any potential things to bump into up to  a range of 36 nautical miles. We can even set up a zone around our boat and the system will let us know if an object (boat) has entered this zone. Very handy when we are anchored in a sketchy location and we want to catch a few hours of sleep. This will give us some piece of mind that we won’t be run over by a Carnival Cruise Line on its way to Barbados. That would be bad. Very bad indeed.

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