Work Zone

August 4, 2018

Being tied to the dock, both literally and figuratively, I decided to take on some of the larger projects that will turn the Tardis into a cruiser capable of both marina living and independence from the shore while on the anchor.  I’ve been working in bursts between other commitments when it’s not uncomfortably hot and humid in the boat, and it seemed like things were going slowly.  But I have gotten a lot done, so this will be a two-part post.

Solar Panel

A couple times cruising up and down the Florida Intracoastal Waterway, I either anchored, or for one reason or other didn’t hook up to shore power.  But I found that while the batteries never got really depleted, they didn’t seem to get much charge from the engine.  I had Brown’s Boatyard check out the alternator, and it was putting out juice, but they pointed out that the alternator on an outboard really isn’t meant to do much besides charge the start battery.  Another friend noted that outboard manufacturers rate their alternators at wide open throttle to make them look bigger.  Mine is rated at 27 amps, but putting along I would be getting much less output.

Since the fridge is pretty essential to long-term cruising (and the instruments, which suck up a surprising amount of power) I decided to move ahead on a solar panel.  I’m starting with a Go Power 100 amp unit that is particularly good for Tardis, since it will bend enough to make a nice low profile installation on the coachroof.  Solar ain’t cheap — even at Defender pricing, the kit of panel. controller and wiring was $639.

Figuring out how to get the wires down into the boat and a good location for the controller between the panel and the batteries was the toughest part of the job.  Installation was really pretty easy, although getting the double-insulated wires to bend was a bit challenging.  The controller is an inset type, but I had to surface mount it, so I built a little cherry housing that looks pretty good.

So far, so good.  I’m getting the rated 6 amp output even when it’s pretty cloudy, and during the day it runs the fridge by itself pretty easily.  If you are thinking of going solar on a boat from the very beginning, I think it’s useful to note that the controller is actually a battery monitor that gives you a lot of information on voltage, charge state, charge input, etc.  I have a very fancy Balmar battery monitor that I might not have installed if I had known how much info the controller would produce.


The deckhouse and forecabin deck areas have a xynole covering that has the weave left a little open for traction, but that creates a wear area at the top of the weave.  So I wanted to overcoat them with something tough that would look better.  I was thinking that the Hatteras Off White from the cabin sides might be a little too much over the large expanse of the roofs, when the GM of our club, Scott Clingenpeel, recommended a really white, white shiny paint to reflect heat and sunlight.  So I applied two coats of Brightside White and they look great.  And on some of the really steamy days we’ve had recently you can actually see the heat radiating off the boat.

Driver’s Hatch

From the time Mark Smaalders and I first took the Tardis out on a longish trip, we had been thinking about a small hatch over the control area to direct air down toward the boat driver when underway, since the manufacturer of the windows (which have turned out to be great) doesn’t make any kind of opening unit for the big front windows.  Plus we have found that it’s very hard to hear a crew member on the foredeck from the control station.  The sound just seems to wrap around the boat and never gets in the side windows.

So I took a deep breath and cut a hole in the roof for a low-profile Lewmar hatch.  Looks good so far, although I was disappointed there was no interior trim ring.  But the space between the deck and the hatch was only about an eighth to a quarter inch, so I put on tons of sealant and smoothed out the squeezeout to fill it.  Looks pretty good, but #634 on the to-do list is a cherry trim ring.

Next post — windlass installation.

Solar controller.  I’ve ordered chases to cover up the wires.

Solar panel

Wiring from panel into boat

This picture sort if shows the new paint scheme — Seattle Gray hull, Hatteras Off-White cabin sides, white roofs

New roof hatch

Hatch from the interior

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