Posts Tagged ‘Costs of Cruising’

Turning Dollars into Pennies…

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Cruising; Throwing Money Away….

Yep, sometimes it does seem as if the saying: “A boat is a hole in the water in which you throw money” is true.

It all started four years ago. Our friends on Quixotic were changing out their refrigeration system. They had a Sea Frost holding plate system. We had a holding plate system. And I helped them.

The plate they had was larger than the plates we had. And even though I had worked out all the energy details, size, heat load, heat loss, holding plate time etc, somewhere, somehow I missed something. My target was a run time of once per day for an hour. Generator or Large compressor I didn’t care. I had one large plate in the freezer and one slightly small one. At the present I was needing to run the system twice per day. This tied us to the boat and often effected our ability traveling freedom as the generator needed to run often or the batteries voltage would go too low. At the time we had roughly 150 watts of solar which we had purchased for about $1,500 bucks a decade earlier. All that would need to be replaced and there goes another 1,500 bucks…. into the deep blue.

Anyway, back to the project I envisioned. The plate was larger so I thought if I replace the smaller plate with the larger plate I will achieve better hold times out of the system. So, I inherited a new / used plate. There were a couple of issues. Somewhere in the past blogs I believe I have said “If it’s free it’s NOT for me”. I violated that mantra. First issue, it was a refrigeration plate, needed to change the eutectic solution, not a big deal. Second it only had one set of tubing and I have a dual system, I need to add a second set of tubing, and third, the tubing exits in the wrong place. All of that can be changed….. for $$$$. I was remiss in thinking how much.

The cost of the changes were just at $1,000 NZ. Had I been really smart I would have scrapped this idea and simply ordered a new plate, shipped from the US exactly the size, the solution, and the plumbing as I wanted. I would have saved an estimated $250 bucks up front.

Lots of Cu

Lot’s of Copper

So…. now I have the larger plate and spend about a week worth of my own cheap labor jockeying it into position and connected up. Then I vacuum the system (yes I have a vacuum pump with me, clean the condenser, pay a refrigeration mechanic to install another charging port and sight glass, check for leaks and we’re good to go.

Everything is fired up and running. Plates frozen, I still get 12 good hours out of each charge. One hour on 12 hours off. Well, more like I could go 14-15 hours but that puts me in the middle of the night and the 1/2 hp 12v compressor does make some noise, way too much noise.

We have lived with that system for about 3 years. I play with it trying to figure out why I only get the limited hold over. Never a good answer. I need to add refrigerant to the system as leaks tend to pop up every so often where they weren’t before. I seal it and recharge and in 6 months need to do it again. There just is a lot, and I mean a lot of plumbing running two sets of copper from two different compressors to three plates in two systems.

Twenty years ago when we planned this out holding plates were the Gold Standard. Not anymore. Mike on Infini tried them for about 5 years and changed them out in Hawaii. I, being quite stubborn, lasted longer.

Thus stuck in Australia with Covid running rampant in the world, W/ and I figured this would be a good time to move into the 21st century. We would switch to Engels and evaporator plates.

We bought an Engel MDF 40  chilly bin; an igloo with a compressor for the boat while we destroyed the old system and put in new. We pulled out the holding plates and I listed $750 dollar plates on the local site for $150 bucks each. No one wants them anymore. 🙁

So I pulled the new plate apart, drained the eutectic solution, removed all the cooper and took it to the recycle place. My free plate, that I paid $1,000 NZ to have made as we needed, returned $26 AUS.

If you think cruising is in anyway an investment; put your money somewhere else!

Am I going to give up this lifestyle. NO WAY! The adventures and the love of working on boats is not…. FREE… and most certainly worth it!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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