Plumbing decisions and progress

So we now have some of the key parts for our, all new plumbing. As we are not very confident in this area we are buying things gradually so that we can can get the installation fully planned without buying anything unnecessary.

The galley sinks have arrived. Made of a granite resin, they will be mounted underneath our worktop (makes it easy to create chopping boards to give as much usable worktop as possible). I’ll be using the router to create some drainage channels into the left 1/2 bowl sink. Now that these have arrived I can order the holding tank to go below them with the right sized fittings for the drain.

Then we have progress on the supply side.

The red “bottle” is an accumulator tank. It is a pressure vessel that goes between the pump and everything else. It stops the pump (middle bottom) from needing to respond instantly to any tap opening. So if you fill a glass of water in the night the pump won’t need to come on and disturb anyone. By reducing the number of times the pump needs to come on you get more responsive taps and less wear on the pump.

On the bottom right is a carbon filter for drinking water. I’m a little undecided about this at the moment. I think it will go on the pressured cold water supply to the galley sink. However, I’m wondering if we should have one on the manual backup pump too. Maybe I’ll make it so that it could be swapped to that tap if we have a power failure.

At the top of the picture is the hot water heater and tank. After a lot of thought we have gone for a mains electric heater. So it will run from the inverters. We won’t be getting “free” hot water from running the main diesel engine. That is for several reasons.

  • we want to remove temptations/excuses for running the engine
  • long term we want an electric motor which won’t have the side effect of producing hot water
  • we don’t want it positioned close to the engine because that made the old one so inaccessible, and we need the space for our batteries.

We chose mains electric with a small 6 litre tank over 12 volt because it can heat the water much faster (850 watt element instead of between 100 and 200 watt). So a small tank that you heat just when needed (and when you have enough battery power) seems more effective.

The most important use will be for showers although we will run hot water to the galley and basins (after all shaving is much nicer with hot water). We would expect to put it on whenever the batteries are getting fully charged from solar and rely on the insulation to keep it warm until needed. This way we can avoid wasting solar power when the batteries are full (in the winter the excess energy is likely to go to space heating rather than hot water). The hot water tank has a temperature control so we can tune the water temperature to the renewable energy available.

We are going to put all these under the end of the U shaped saloon seating near the galley. This way they are easily accessible and have short, simple hose routes to both galley and forward heads.

More comfort and visible progress

As a quick fix for warmth and to protect the original floor I’ve fitted the foam tiles available for car boots. Just had enough for the aft cabin and corridor.

Meanwhile, Jane has been painting the forward heads with white bilge paint above the waterline, and grey below. This will eventually mostly be hidden hy cabinetry and shower lining, but at least this will look clean (and be easier to wipe clean) for the next couple of years.

Not Friday progress #10

We only made it to Vida in time for our evening meal yesterday. Fortunately, a free Saturday means we are still able to make some progress.

First, I had assembled my new table saw at home. So I was able to cut up a full sheet of 12mm plywood and we now have tops on all the seats in the saloon (covered with stuff at the moment so not visible for a picture).

This morning the first job was to finish removing the insulation from the old fridge and the last few bits of wood. Looking much better now.

Then I’ve been in the cockpit locker making space for the new batteries. I’ve cut the end off the old battery box and done some cleaning.

That little shelf has come out. The two green hoses will be replaced and re-routed. So

This is two of the (empty) boxes that the batteries come in. So 2 batteries on top of each other (the top one will be a bit further forward (to the right in the picture) when the hoses have been re-routed). The third house battery will be to the left of the lower box. The engine starter battery will be on to of the third house battery,

I’ll be building proper boxes for them that will be fixed in place. Then there will be new sound insulation between them and the engine (it needs it all the way round). They will take some space from the cockpit locker, however, from all the other tidying up I’m doing as part of this it will end up slightly larger and a lot easier to access.

Meanwhile, Jane has been fitting the foam “headlining” to the sides of the aft cabin. These get quite a bit of condensation. The idea is to hold the foam in place with velco, and we hope to paint it white. Got to do some experimenting to check the paint doesn’t just crack off when the foam is flexed.

We are just having some lunch and then are going to drive over (about a mile) to see what the access to our mooring looks like at low tide. Possibly a bit more work this afternoon, but so far very pleased.

Towards getting afloat, from home

A few updates from late night chats and planning.


We now have a mooring, a place to keep Vida afloat during the season. The process of getting a mooring is complicated by the lack of any clear, documented, standard process. Anyway we found one through the North West Venturers Yacht Club that we have joined. Sadly, a member’s husband died in the summer and so she did not need the mooring any more, so she has sold it to us.

It is a deep water mooring off the Gazelle Hotel which is between Beaumaris and Menai Bridge (opposite Bangor pier). We will check next time we visit when low tide is in the middle of the day but it does look like there should be all-tide access to the water. Gallows Point, where we are now also has all-tide access but at low tide it is a long walk across wet, soft shingle to get to the water. That wasn’t an attractive option if we arrive late at night. It should also be a bit more sheltered than the main deep water channel at Beaumaris.

We have now formally taken over the mooring with the Council, who we will pay an annual fee to. Whilst we will own the actual equipment we will be paying a local firm who maintain it. Currently it is in “winter” mode with the mooring ball and main chain ashore and a place keeper buoy there. We will get it fully lifted and inspected in the spring although the anchors etc are only about 3 years old.


In the post Balancing minimal viable vs no redos, I mentioned painting the bottom with antifouling paint as a job that needs doing. We have a bunch of work to do before it is time for that, but we have been doing some thinking.

Antifouling paint is one of the worst environmental impacts of boats. While not as toxic as it used to be (in the past TBT paint was a poison painted on to stop growth). However, most paints now use copper (in various ways) to prevent growth and it also has negative effects on marine life.

Again, Sailing SV Delos have done some experimenting with this and have a helpful video explaining what they have found.

Beyond this, something that Delos didn’t explore is the environmental impact of removing old antifouling paint and having it get washed into the sea. The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) as some useful guidance.

We have read a few reviews of Seacoat Sea-Speed V10X, the environmental credentials seem great. However, it will be a challenge. The only UK applicators are in Southampton, Plymouth and Aberdeen. DIY application doesn’t seem to be recommended (although Delos did it themselves). Until we live-aboard I doubt we will be moving enough (although maybe tide speeds and movement in the Menai Strait rather than a marina will help).

Our hull has been epoxied (creates a barrier coat to protect the GRP hull from osmosis) and not all that long ago. So hopefully we could remove the existing copper based paint fairly easily and not need to go all the way back to the gelcoat and multiple primer coats. But the application is going to be the challenge (we have no good experience of airless spraying and my painting skills have long been mocked).

It also looks like the Ultra-sonic system to discourage growth needs to go with the Seacoat and at a quick glance that could be over £1,000

So more work to be done, but at least there is hope that better solutions are on the way, in the meantime at least the mooring is in an area of fast tidal flow and not many boats so concentrations to poison the local marine life should be low.

A helpful example from Sailing SV Delos

Sailing SV Delos is one of the big, successful YouTube channels. We have just been watching a series on their electric setup after they switched to Lithium batteries and induction cooking a year ago.

They have been sailing around the world for more than 10 years in a much larger and more complex yacht than Vida. Their key motivation for this change seems to have been to get rid of propane due to it’s inconvenience (filling up around the world with many different connector standards), unreliability and dangers.

Our initial solar setup isn’t going to be very different in size (although ours are going to be less fit and forget due to the limitations of where we can put them). Our battery bank is a bit larger and will be 12volt rather than 24volt (for reasons which are complicated and which I’d rather not be the case, but it was driven by space and finances as much as anything).

However, we are not planning on connecting to shorepower, not going to have a generator nor are we expecting much changing of the domestic bank from our engine (because we don’t want to become reliant on the engine given that the goal is to use it as little as possible and replace it with electric as soon as we can) . This should be fine until we get to being liveaboards (not for a few years yet) but by then we will have a much better idea about both consumption and generation (very little to go by on large boat solar systems in the UK).

Fortunately, with only 2 of us and far fewer electrics (they have 4 busy videographers with their computers, plus freezer and a couple of fridges, electric toilets, and only an electronic autopilot) our consumption should be much reduced.

Anyway enjoy these 3 very helpful videos (with 4 more to come in the series):

Sustainable becoming cheaper and more convenient

We very much enjoy watching Sierra and Billy’s youtube channel “Tula’s Endless Summer” this particular video of them preparing to sail from St Croix to Grenada emphasised the difference we hope the investment in Sustainable Sailing will make.

In particular there are three Sustainable goals that we think have the potential to save a lot of time and money (as well as be a lower environmental impact).

The savings will come because water, fuel and laundry required an expensive stay in a marina as well as the money spent on each item (spending money to get water that doesn’t taste good is particularly galling).

So before living aboard we will definitely have a watermaker. They seem to be an area where there are lots of new developments at the moment, so we will leave it for a while (although while based in the Menai Strait there are no close places where you can fill up with water directly from a tap and hose so a watermaker will soon be attractive.

I’ve mentioned before that we will definitely make space to be able to do laundry aboard, probably the combination of a hand powered washing machine and an electric spin dryer. eg a “Wonder Wash“. Keeping on top of washing by doing small amounts frequently and without the hassle of finding, paying for and waiting at laundromats is our preferred option (but is only going to be possible with a watermaker as otherwise water will be too restricted).

While our long term goal is to replace the diesel engine with an electric motor (which would mean no need to pay for marina’s/docks or fuel) we will minimise our need to refuel by preferring to sail whenever possible (hence the work in progress to improve the sailing performance of Vida, especially, we suspect, in light conditions).

From what we have been reading the crossover point has come where watermakers are financially the better option, however, when these 3 things (watermaker, laundry and electric motor) are combined the impact should be significant in all of our sustainability goals.

Friday progress #9

After the gentle start, we have made more progress.

Biggest job was to finish cutting out the old galley, especially the fridge. Now almost done, just the expanded foam to scrape away.

Despite trying to protect the rest of the cabin from the dust it got everywhere. Because the plastic sheet we had tried to tape up fell down part way through.

Plus Jane made a huge mess sanding the forward heads, but it is now nearly ready for bilge paint to quickly tidy it up.

Then we played hunt the hose as we took more of the boat apart to find where the water hoses connect to the water tank. In the process we found some very encrusted inspection hatches and fixed the water tank gauge (well it now correctly says the tank is empty).

In the end we found them under the floor of the “wet locker” behind the steps down into the main cabin. Rival did not believe in making things accessible!

Turns out there are 4 hoses in the tank. Not sure why there are so many. Guessing we have:

  • Water fill (very obvious, bigger hose)
  • Cold water supply (connected to internal pipe to bottom of tank)
  • Hot water supply? (connected to internal pipe to bottom of tank)
  • Vent? (not connected to bottom of tank)

Now just finished eating, packing up and heading home. A good day (and the new heater is maintaining 16 degrees C despite a cold and windy day).

Gentle start to Friday #9

A quiet and gentle start today after a busy week.

First job has been to fit our 2nd Radiant wall panel heater. This is 320 Watts and is in the main cabin (no printed image at the moment). Again using a radio thermostat and timer that controls the 13 amp socket that the heater is plugged into.

Of course when not posing for pictures the thermostat isn’t tight next to the the heater.

We won’t know for quite a while whether we can generate enough electricity to use this when afloat. However, even if we are only able to use it when in the boatyard it is still a cost effective way to heat the boat.

Of course the real benefit is when the electricity comes from renewable energy. We have no control over the boatyard electricity supplier, which is why running it from our own system would be preferred.

I’m working on long term plans to automate the maximum use of our renewable energy when the boat is unoccupied. Even in winter our full solar panels (when installed) will be far more than is needed to keep the batteries fully charged. So normally a lot of the solar power will be thrown away.

Our Victron solar panel controllers (MPPT) have an open interface and tools so that a computer can talk to them. So does our Victron battery monitor.

How can we use that? Well I’ve started playing with Raspberry Pi zero w computers. I’ve used bigger Raspberry Pi’s before, but these are tiny. I can connect temperature (and humidity) sensors. I can control mains sockets and I can get information from the Victron systems.

So eventually I should be able to have a Raspberry Pi in each cabin measuring the temperature and knowing roughly how much energy can be generated each day. It can then control the heaters to use exactly that much energy so that the boat is as warm as possible while still fully recharging the batteries each day.

I’m also going to be able to use Raspberry Pi’s to run our navigation systems (using something called OpenPlotter), act as a media player, general purpose computer for Internet browsing, wordprocessing etc. All with a far lower power need than a PC or laptop and no moving parts. Plus very much cheaper and more reliable.

[UPDATE] The heater is keeping the main cabin at 19 degrees C, even with the hatch open (the cover for the wheelhouse is nearly fully closed). And we can see snow on the mountains 😍