Spend any time on or near boat docks in the summertime and you will likely hear some variation of this question: “Where are you planning to go?”, “Where are you off to?”. There are certainly some safety reasons behind the question (sailors like to take care of one another) but, more so, the question is asked to learn about what else is out there to see and do. It is inspiring to hear of new anchorages or places to see and explore or even learning different routes to the same old places we have enjoyed before.
For us, one of those places we like to head to is the Toronto Boat Show. The show is held the third week of January and has always been a great place for us to check out boat gear and to learn about some of the places we intend to visit one day. But, with Ontario in lockdown until at least the beginning of February, we thought the show would be cancelled. Not so! Instead, it was held virtually, with exhibitors online and seminars on Zoom. It was a great experience - there were no technical difficulties and reaching out to exhibitors was easy. And, personally, it was nice to avoid show lineups and Toronto traffic 😊. Even better, we found the gear and equipment we need to advance some of our boat projects.
The biggest one? We purchased our new lithium iron boat batteries and a new solar array to feed them. Our existing set up is 340 watts of solar energy feeding a 444-amp lead acid AGM battery bank, which allows us to run our boat freezer and fridge, boat pumps, cabin lights, the TV and our laptop and other electronic equipment. We do pretty well for about a week at anchor if the sun is shining. But if we get a few days of clouds, we have to start to conserve our energy. It also doesn’t let us run our air conditioner, microwave or our soon-to-be-purchased water maker. Enter the beauty of lithium iron. These types of batteries are gaining huge popularity with live aboard sailors for lots of great reasons.
Installing these batteries on Wild Horses has been a project in development for at least two years. Lots of research has gone into what sized batteries we will need and then also how much solar is required to keep those batteries properly fed. This type of project is definitely not for the faint of heart as, up front, lithium iron costs several boat dollars.
Where did we end up? This spring we will be upgrading to 1,050 watts of solar feeding a 960-amp lithium iron battery bank. With this set up, we should be able to meet all the energy needs of Wild Horses, including running our air conditioner for a few hours a day. We will be comfortable, cool and fully off the grid. Amazing. Speaking of comfortable, we also connected with a great custom boat bedding company (Sea Swag) who will be crafting us a new mattress for the V berth in our master cabin. Sigh – a comfy new mattress in air conditioning while swinging at anchor. Wonderful!
We were also treated to some really great seminars at the Toronto Boat Show. Since the show was virtual, experienced sailors were able to chime in from around the world to offer their insight on places to go, what to take, what to know and how to navigate the new world of COVID while exploring the world by water. Definitely inspiring. We finished the boat show even more excited about heading south to the Caribbean this fall. We hope you are also charting new courses for yourself and finding yourself inspired in 2021. 😊
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.