Living the Dream

Some people assume wrongly that they first need money in order to achieve their dreams. With this attitude they may never achieve them until after they retire, if that's even possible in this economy. It might seem safe to assume that someone is rich because they have a web site and nice pictures (mouse over the images for a better view), but it is all appearances. The best riches are in caring and a thirst for knowledge. This boat was practically free. It had to be moved. The mast was broken, the rudder was missing, and the boat trailer was falling apart. It took a couple days of tire changing, painting, and scraping to fix the trailer and another day bolting metal patches inside the mast and scrubbing a thick coating of moss and debris from the cabin and deck. Locating cheap materials to build a good-quality pine rudder and pintles required several more days. Anybody can achieve their dreams without (much) money, but it helps if they are willing to work for them. The dirty little secret is that even with money owning something requires constant maintenance.

Wind Power


There is something magical about being able to go anywhere with no gas, powered by the wind. It was fun sailing this around Puget Sound and it would be great to do it again, but it will have to wait until after fishing season when we come back from Alaska. Maybe someday we will take a longer journey. Much more work would need to be done before it can confidently sail long distance. It would need survival suits, radio, depth sounder (got it), survival gear, a better heater, cabin insulation. Interestingly, a rain suit is not not necessary. In one week of rough sailing it never took spray and the bilge pump never even activated.

Solar Power

To further enhance its oil independence, the sailboat uses solar and electric power to get in and out of the harbor. Two electric trolling motors came from local second-hand stores that were glad to be rid of them. 140 Watts worth of unbroken solar cells from eBay commanded a rock-bottom price. They made two 70-Watt panels. A 12 Amp charge controller regulates the panels and charges the battery in 36 hours, the time it takes to charge lead-acid properly. For quick-charging, use a different type of battery.

We estimate we are getting close to one horsepower-hour per 105 Amp-hour 12-volt deep-cycle battery. More solar panels and batteries would be needed for a dedicated electric boat, but for a sailboat like this one a few minutes is plenty to motor out of the slip and begin sailing. The throttle response and torque of electric motors is excellent and there is something to be said for instant-on performance, without the hassle of priming, hand-cranking, buying and mixing cans of outboard fuel, etc.

Electrical System


The boat's cabin is wired with 110 volts and can charge laptops, thanks to an inverter obtained from a local liquidation place for next to nothing. All the outlets were rusted pretty badly, but the replacements were cheap. Durable grease inside increases their life-span. The boat is wired as though it was a simple appliance. It plugs in to shore power or to the inverter, which runs off a battery. For safety, a ground fault interrupter (GFI) like those found in bathrooms is necessary. The GFI cuts the power if it notices stray current leaking through the ground (and possibly a person). The most expensive part of the electrical system is the heavy-duty cord to plug in to shore power. They can cost $50 or more.