Solar Charger

Over the past few weeks as I’ve sailed around I’ve been happy to find that Watari handles so well I rarely need to use the engine. It really is just an auxiliary. The only times I’ve had to use it are for getting in and out of narrow marinas and to charge the batteries. Well, now there’s one less reason to use it as I finally got around to installing a little solar panel and solar charge controller.

The solar panel is just a small one I recovered from the boat yard trash bin. I didn’t really expect it to work, so I was surprised when I hooked it up and got a good strong current from it. It probably only generates about 5 watts, but it’s been enough to keep the batteries topped up. And it fit nicely on this bench in the stern:

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This connects to a little digital charge controller which regulates the output to the batteries and shuts off the current when the battery gets full in order to keep it from overcharging. It also lets me know when the battery is low which is nice:

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Yesterday I hooked all this up and was very pleased with how it all works! 🙂 I also took the time to wire the depth sounder properly to the switch box with its own fuse. Now most of the electronics I need are working. I just need a VHF radio.

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I did all this yesterday while anchored in a little bay just south of Katsuyama. It was sheltered and quiet, with almost no one else around. I spent the whole day there at anchor as I completed various projects. The water was fairly clear, so I snorkeled around for a bit to check the bottom of the boat (no marine growth yet), observe how the anchor was holding, and look for fish. I only saw a few bottom fish, but a little while after I got out of the water the surface of the bay suddenly came alive with some kind of small tuna-like fish finning as they fed on a school of baitfish. They looked like sea bass but jumped and fed a bit differently. Perhaps mackerel? A flock of gulls quickly formed to feed on any baitfish that floated to the surface. I considered casting a jig into the school, but before I could get out a rod the feeding frenzy was over and the school dispersed. That evening I sailed back to Katsuyama at and walked into town for dinner. It was a bit late, but I found a little Chinese restaurant still open and to my surprise it was really good!

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I was pretty tired and full after dinner, so walked back to the boat under a clear sky full of stars and fell asleep early.

The next morning I got up with the sunrise, had a coffee, apple fritter and a yoghurt bought at the convenience store the day before, and got to work scraping the deck. I was hoping to finish prepping the deck in time to paint the new non-skid on today. Kiwako came out around 10:00 am and she cleaned inside while I scraped. After the last few weekends and the fishing trip it needed cleaning:

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I got the prep work done, but decided to cancel painting today as Sekine-san, owner of the boat next to me came out and together we went to visit the head of the fisherman’s Union to officially announce that Watari is here to stay, then proceeded to secure Watari’s mooring lines better. This required diving down to explore the network of lines criss-crossing the bottom of the harbour and figuring out which lines were meant for my mooring. After clearing off all the marine growth and affixing a new buoy the job was done, but by then it was too late to paint. Oh well, at least the prep work is done. Next week I’ll mask and paint:

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