Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to those that keep it as we do, and Happy Holidays to every one else!

Also, I would like to express my gratitude to those who follow this blog - and that includes you visitors who do not comment - because to know there is such interest in this project is very inspiring and has helped me during periods when energy and enthusiasm are low.


Today is the one year anniversary of our beginning to build Autarkia!

Here is what she looked like on December 24th, 2015





Saturday, December 17, 2016

Electrical Inlet

In this cold weather there have been a few electrically related fires on liveaboard boats in the Vancouver area over the last week.  Most can be attributed to shore power electrical inlet, which overheats when the connections become poor and resistive.  This can happen because it gets wet and corrodes, and because it can be constantly moving and wiggling due to the motion of the boat.

Hower there is a product available from these folks that provides some protection from the above risks.  It's called a Smart Plug.

The Smart Plug breaks the circuit if it heats up at the connection.  A little bit of extra insurance that is worth the money.

I installed the inlet on Autarkia yesterday.

The inlet portion of the Smart Plug goes through Autarkia's cabin side and into the utility space in the forward most cabin.

It goes into a plastic junction box from Home Depot.  I will mount the ELCI breaker, and then two circuit breakers for the individual outlets right into the front cover of this box.  The two outlets will then be fed via flexible plastic conduit glued to fittings on the bottom of the box.  Each of those outlets will be GFIs.

This should keep the surveyor and the insurance company happy!

They are calling for rain and above freezing temperatures for next week.  I'll be happy when that happens....

Thursday, December 15, 2016

LED Lighting Continued...

I sure am looking forward to the typical Lower Mainland winter weather to return - otherwise known as rain.

 It's nice though - the colder temperatures and the sun - but it is stopping me from getting some things done, like bringing Rosebud home for one thing.  But this weather down in the harbour is nice, the boat is cosy, and we're looking forward to being here much more often.

Anyway, lots to do - and all of them fun jobs!  Now, I'm making up the LED light fixtures bandied about in the last post.  Here they are:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A DIY 12 Volt Light Fixture

Here is a simple 12 volt light fixture that is suitable for reading and task lighting.  I prototyped this one together with a 12 volt LED MR16 bulb, bought at Home Depot for around $16 Cdn, along with a 1/2 inch pipe flange, and a 1/2 inch 45 degree fitting.  This makes a pretty nice fixture for well under $25.  I'm thinking we'll mask off the bulb end and spray paint the whole thing.  The bulb sticks into the pipe fitting and holds well under friction, but I may use a bit of epoxy when I make them up.  The power draw is about 5 watts, and it provides the equivalent of 35 watts of light.  Not too cool at 3000 Kelvin... I guess I'll make up 6 or 7 of them.

I owe the idea of making fixtures with pipe fittings to Merlyn Horton, builder of a tiny home called Merlyn's Grace.

Pretty funky looking if I do say so myself!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Shore Power and ELCI's

Our 2 wheel drive Ranger without snow tires

Autarkia in her Winter element

We had our first major snowstorm of the year and it has basically stranded us at home for the weekend.  Unable to go anywhere, I have sat down and spent some time designing the electrical system for Autarkia.
Not that there is a lot of designing to do, since it will be quite a simple system, but I do want to make it safe and legal, so that when the final survey is done there will be no issues with my insurance.

My plan is to have a simple shore power system that can hook up to any 30A single phase shore power outlet, that will supply a total of 3 outlet plugs only, and nothing else.  There will be one GFI protected outlet in the utility room forward, that will have a slave outlet in the stateroom.  That will be one 15 amp circuit.  The remaining 15 amp circuit will supply a single GFI protected outlet in the galley.

The new regulations concerning shore power for any boat built since 2013, require ELCI protection on the whole supply.  The ELCI breaker is much the same as a GFI breaker that is typically installed in a house, except that it trips at around 30ma of leaked current, as opposed to 5ma of leaked current for a household GFI.  This prevents a lot of unnecessary tripping in a marine environment while still providing protection from lethal current.

I hesitate to provide exact details of my installation because if you do not know how to look this up, understand it completely, and safely wire your boat then you are taking a chance.  Hire a professional please! I should point out now that I am a licensed Industrial Electrician...

Now about my 12vdc power:  In actual fact I will have 2 DC systems.  One of them is associated with the outboard motor, and comprises the starting battery and the motor's charging system.  I intend to supply LED running lights with the motor's battery, as well as the chart plotter and VHF radio.  This system is completely independent from anything else on the boat.  The motor by the way, has a starting pull cord and starts very easily without the battery - so running it down is not a problem.

My other DC 12 volt system will simply be a single deep cycle battery for the LED cabin lighting, anchor light, and phone/computer chargers.  I will keep this charged with a solar panel, and will also have a charger on it that plugs into a shore power outlet.

We will also have on board a 2000W Honda generator, capable of supplying 12volt charging current as well as 120VAC.

I think that, along with our wood stove and propane cooking set up, oil lamps for light, and 3 separate and independent electrical systems backed up with a portable generator, we will have a lot of redundancy should something fail on the boat.  All eggs do not occupy one basket!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Last Terse Post

Yes, it was a little terse and I apologize.   But truth be told, there really isn't that much to report since we are just trying to get some painting and cleanup done prior to installing and fitting out.  Winter has also set in a little early in Mission.  Normally we'd see this kind of weather in January.  I must say though that I am very happy with the decision to put that little stove in.  Autarkia is very cosy and snug in this weather with a little fire!

Anyway, here's a little video for you.  More to come.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Not Much to Report

Still alive. Still working on the boat.  I'll post some pics soon but it will only be the interior painted up.  Once that messy stuff is done we can start installing things, and that will provide some great visual progress.

In the meantime we have been dealing with life.  Also, I'm getting set up to put Rosebud on the trailer and bring her home - it would have been today but it's too windy and cold.  Maybe the weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cubic Mini Install Complete

I got down to the harbour today and spent the afternoon putting in the flue and deck fitting for our Cubic Mini wood stove.  We haven't fired it up yet - probably will some time this week.

We have an electric heater going that keeps the boat pretty warm and dry inside, but if we get a real cold snap this winter we are sure to be warm with the stove going too!

Monday, November 14, 2016


Autarkia is tied up at the dock in Mission and is bobbing happily there awaiting Lorri and I to go down and finish prepping and painting her insides prior to fitting out.  She has an electric cube heater going inside and is quite cosy and toasty.  We probably have about a week's work in doing that:  I need to go in with a cut off wheel and buck off some bolts and screws, chisel away some beads of PL Premium, and fill cracks and blemishes with either DAP or polyurethane caulking.  I will also be installing a proper forward companionway hatch asap.

We would have been down there sooner than this but life, and for me, norovirus, has gotten in the way.  I have only begun to feel like my old self this morning.  I still have quite a few chores to complete at home as well before we start in on the boat - mainly wrap up cleaning and organizing the garage, which in the mad rush to complete her to the point of launching, became very, very, cluttered and disorganized.

So please stay tuned, the saga will soon continue.  Meanwhile, here's our shopping list for the near future:

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

Dickinson Propane Drop In Cooktop

Dickinson Sea B Que Large 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Photo Essay From Launch Day

At the boat launch ramp in Mission Harbour.  I was a bit worried because the river is low this time of year, and also the tide was out too.  But Norm from Agonic Boat Movers, the ever consummate professional has launched and retrieved many large boats at this ramp and alleviated my worries!

Of course my jitters re-occurred as the stern went in; I have above water line openings for the galley sink drain either side that are not yet connected.  Surely she would begin to float before they would be awash...

And float she did!  Right now drawing about 5 inches of water...

I got to work and lowered the motor, connected the steering linkage and hooked up the battery and gas tank.  The battery, tank and propane tanks will eventually go into deck boxes that provide seating on the bridge.

Once out in the current we started drifting down river.

But that 30 hp Etec took care of that.  I didn't have a gps with me but I'm sure she goes hull speed at less than 3000 rpm.

We noodled around outside the harbour for a few minutes.

Bring her in was hard though.  At low speed she would not steer and we had hard gusts from two directions. A leeboard and rudder will make all the difference.  Also loading her down a few more inches won't hurt either.  At speed steering with just the motor is fine.

Autarkia tied up at the dock, a ceremony with rum tots was in order.

The first one went to King Neptune.

The second to Autarkia herself.

The third into her builder...

And then all around!

And a Cyber Tot for you, my devoted blog followers!   I would not have gotten this far without your help and encouragement!

Everyone boarded for a chat, and to further dent the bottle of Lemonhart...

My next job is to build a proper opening hatch in the forward cabin for safety (it's just closed off with plywood screwed over the opening now), and then Lorri and I are very much looking forward to taking our time over the winter to finish and fit out the interior.  I'm really pleased how that galley area functions as entertainment space.  It's roomy and the views outside are great from sitting level.

Mission Harbour views.