Destination Reviews

Road to solar power: The Beginning

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   Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer. – Joseph Campbell’

We accepted a gift in the form of a small pontoon sailing boat from my brother-in-law who is now living with his family in Townsville Australia.  It lacked sails and rigging lines. Those are all very expensive items, but I felt the need to get this boat onto the water and propel it in some way.

August 2016

I decided to try electric propulsion and bought a small trolling motor and a lead acid battery.

A wooden deck was constructed onto the boat.  A transom to clamp the motor on was constructed at the rear and the battery was placed in a wooden box that also formed the seat for the skipper.

We took the boat to a nearby dam and with our very first cruise we fell in love with the situation. It was not a speed boat but we managed to explore the whole of the dam within an hour. The boat cruised in total silence, allowing us to chat normally and we could hear the wild geese and ducks. Also we could come very close to them without scaring them off.
How do we extend our cruising range?
Lead acid batteries are the cheapest, but very, very heavy! On the other hand, Lithium batteries are much lighter but very, very expensive!  What about using solar? Will solar panels be sufficient to power such a small  boat? How much area of solar panels will be required?
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