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Location: my narrowboat
Before I start sailing the 7 seas, I mean canals (and all the rest) there are some things that I am going to do to to improve my boat so that it is a nicer place than it already is. I have done the main thing, which is to install solar panels. The solar panels are amazing and I find that they can power my boat from March to October with no other power inputs. I do have to say that I don’t yet live on my boat full time, so that reduces my power usage. Even so, they really help charge up my boat batteries, and I know that I will need to run a generator less because I have them.
My solar panels
There are a few main things that I need to do. The first thing is to build a cratch cover over the front of my boat. It will give me an extra few foot of usable space and somewhere to store coal and change from outdoor shoes to indoor shoes (outboat shoes to inboat shoes?) without getting wet in the rain. The cratch cover will also keep warm air inside the boat as the air will be warmed before it comes in the vents in the front door. This will keep the boat warmer in the winter, which is only a good thing. Also in the summer it will be a cooler place to sit with the windows rolled up to facilitate a breeze and a cover overhead.
The second main thing that I want to do to improve my boat is to buy more batteries and a larger inverter. If I have more batteries, with a larger capacity, I can store more of the solar power produced over the summer. I also want good quality batteries that will last for years rather than ones that will last six months and then give up the ghost. I have been researching the different battery types (lead-acid, AGM, flooded, maintenance free, traction, Ni-Fe, lithium ion, etc) and makes (Victron, Mastervolt, and many, many others) and voltages (2V, 6V, 12V). It takes a lot of reading and so many people have so many different opinions. A larger inverter would mean that I can run an electric kettle without blowing the inverter or I can run more than one electrical appliance at once. I am thinking that I will need a 2.5kW to 3kW inverter for the level of power that I will regularly be using.
Another thing connected with batteries that I would like to do is to get a wind turbine that I can mount on my boat to charge up the batteries when it is windy. I know that there are mixed feelings with wind turbines but as I care about the environment I feel that it would be worth trying, and if it works it will be a big help in the winter months when there is less sun for the solar panels to use. Also it can charge up the batteries overnight, good for when I fall asleep reading and leave the light on all night (a regular occurrence).
Apart from these, other things that I would like to do are get a composting toilet – they are supposed to be better for the environment. I have found a few different companies that make them and I think that I have found the one that I want. It separates the two different types of waste so that the urine can be emptied out easily on a regular basis so that the toilet does not take so long to fill up and gives more time for the composting to happen. (Sorry to be so explicit but boaters have to dispose of their own wastes, that is why boater towpath talk so often is about batteries and toilets).
I would also like a water filter system, so that I can drink water straight out of my kitchen tap when I am travelling around. There are a range of these from the all singing all dancing ones that cost in the thousands to simple filters that cost £6 but don’t do much except take out the sediment. I will probably go for something in the middle of these two extremes, something that will make the water reasonably safe, I have never been one of those people who never drink tap water before it has been filtered, I figure that safe enough is good enough. I also want to make sure that the filters can be cleaned or can be cheaply and easily replaced, there is no point buying a cheaper system and having to spend a fortune on replacement filters every six months.
This is the one that I went for
I need to build some cupboards so that I can store my stuff more easily (I still have too much stuff!) and finish drilling my curtain rails so that I can open my curtains (they are currently being held up with drawing pins at the corners). I don’t mind when I first set out not having a place for absolutely everything as when I am travelling along I will be able to get rid of the stuff that I don’t use and everything will shake down in to place eventually. The curtain rails are going to be a quick job I just need to get the net curtain wire and round hooks to attach it too.
I would also like to repaint my boat before I go so she is nice and fresh. This is my run down of improvements I want to make to my boat before I set off.