Re: [BCC Forum Post] Stan R: Re: Solar or Wind Power for a BCC

Hello everyone:

We have spent many wonderful cockpit hours discussing different
alternate energy forms. For us it was a bit of a no-brainer: we found a
used 2-blade WindBugger for a very decent price and snagged it. We knew
we were going to be sailing mostly in the Caribbean (trades) so were
looking that direction anyway. Our fridge is not electric either
(engine-drive), but if I remember correctly it would have cost us
significantly more to get panels for a similar output.

Calypso does have some differences that make our choice more obvious.

  1. We have no lifelines (though I like Stan’s method of attachment) 2)
    We have a forward bunk, so dropping the Bugger to go sailing was almost
    literally opening the hatch and lowering away.

In the Bahamas we were pigs in electricity heaven. There were many
times when we had everything running, and more times when we just shut
the thing down because we had no need of the power. The anchorages are
all windy (we were there between December and May 2 years out of 3) and
the Bugger hummed along very happily most of the time. We patted
ourselves on the back and headed south.

In the Caribbean it was almost a different story. The anchorages are
all behind quite high hills, and we often failed to get much of a charge
from our wind gen. We looked longingly at our friends with quiet,
useful solar panels . . . but never felt the need to change.

We haven’t had much chance to cruise the Chesapeake yet (stay tuned for
news of Calypso’s imminent launch!) but I’d guess (particularly in the
summer months) we’ll have similar feelings as we did in the Caribbean.
But then again we’ll be weekending for the most part, and so will
probably not even take the Bugger out of storage.

Bottom line for us is that we feel it makes a difference where you
cruise, as well as what’s important to you. Certainly noise is more of
an issue (and some wind generators are far far worse than others)
Output to dollar ratio needs to be factored in, but taking into account
not only the manufacturer’s specs but condiitons in the area you plan to
cruise (I’d guess solar panels in the Pacific Northwest would be a
colossal waste of money most of the time). If we were going to be based
in the Bahamas (which is our favorite spot, by far) - the wind gen would
have no comparison. But also, as Stan pointed out, output needed is
important. If all you are running is three lights and a stereo, you
need far less capability than if you are firing an AdlerBarbour 12-volt
fridge in Martinique. Sure, ideally you’d have both (and a magically
growing boat to house it all) but it is all about compromise, isn’t it .
. . our compromise is that our Bugger is paid for!

Thanks, Stan, for starting this very interesting discussion. Brings
back all kinds of memories.

BCC #6, Calypso

BCC Forums wrote:

Author: Stan R
Username: Stan R
Subject: Re: Solar or Wind Power for a BCC
Forum: BCC Forum

Hi, we use solar panels mounted on our starboard lifelines. Solar vs wind generators is a tortoise and hare comparison.

Wind gens are fast and high output when they are working…but are not working much of the time…and make noise, and wear and require regular maintenance.

Solar panels are more tortoise like…actually more like a dead tortoise since they make no noise and don’t move.

Panels won’t give as much power in a breezy location but they will any day the sun shines. I have had both, but much prefer panels for our useage…we have no electric refrigerator.

Our are mounted litterally on the lower lifeline, starboard side (Trade winds are easterly on anchor and sun is mostly to our south) with heavy duty wire ties acting as pivot points on the frame(passed through holes on the frame and around the lifeline). A short piece of small diameter line is used from the other side to the upper lifeline to support the panel when it is folded outboard like a wing. Since they are folded outboard, they don’t interfere with deck space. And they also are clear of any shade produced by the boom and mast most of the time.

I should point out that these are the older style 36 watt panels that measure roughly 1 x 4 feet. When pivoted upward for stowage they fit between the two lifelines and the short support line is utilized to tie them in place in a folded up position. The larger 75 watt panels would be a bit heavy and too wide to be mounted this way.

I know there might be more secure and ‘neater’ ways to attach these panels with metal clips(stainless re-acts with the aluminum frame)and stiff arms, but this has worked for us for more than 20 years and I’m not about to change now.

The panels are hardwired direct to the batteries with an attachment point on deck using standard pull-apart wire connectors so they can be easily removed for anticipated rough or long passages. But they have been left on the lifelines through many blows on anchor and even a nine-day passage to the Virgins …without damage.

I tried attaching a photo but it disappeared somewhere into the forum.

All, I can say about wind generators is that I don’t like the ones permanently mounted on poles aft. They are noisy when sitting in cockpit and require attention. I have had the one’s that string up in the rigging on the foredeck…which is a better place for noise abatement as well as a natural dampening of vibration and they are a PITA everytime you want to pick up anchor and go sailing.

The Chesapeake in Summertime:

During the day in late July and August, there won’t normally be much wind during the day. However, a soon as darkness falls, winds will get up to about 17 knots for a couple of hours, this should be time to set the Bugger and recharge.