Systems Aboard

Wahoo is its Own Little Village. 

We have to take care that there's power, water, communication and various forms of waste disposal available. Complicating things this village moves which means we need to navigate and get from one spot to another.

POWER is provided by our sails, a Yanmar diesel engine and a diesel Kohler generator and off the grid with our solar panels and wind generator. We get fuel along the way from marinas and fuel docks. Three solar panels were installed 2/14/14 - A great valentine present! A wind generator was added Sept 2015. House batteries collect and hold the power that is generated and we use that when neither the engine nor the generator are producing power. The freezer and refrig and most of our lights and fans run directly off the DC current but we also have an inverter that converts the power from DC to AC allowing us to run a microwave, computers and even a hair dryer. Wahoo has two Air Conditioners that can run off of the generator but we mostly just use them when we're in a marina.

WATER is carried in our two water tanks. A total of about 150 gallons. This feeds all the faucets onboard.  We get water in the same way we get fuel, no watermaker aboard. The toilets just use salt water and they are connected to a holding tank which needs, well you get the idea.

Fruit & veggie hammock

COMMUNICATIONS are extremely important aboard and there are various ways that we do this, First is our VHF radio. We have one at the helm. We also have a hand held one as backup and to take off the boat when we take the dingy out snorkelling and exploring.

We also have a send and receive SSB aboard but do not have the modem necessary to use it for email. It's used for talking and listening to the various cruisers nets each morning. We can also get weather info during times when we cannot get internet and cellphone service. We subscribe to a weather and trip routing service by Chris Parker. He broadcast weather and vessel specific routing information over SSB. We're still improved our send/receive signal by installing a KISS antennae.

Our iPhones have a data plans with just a tiny bit of data to let us get email if we're away from an internet source. Whenever we have a WiFi signal we pick up email and surf the web using our onboard system. Our favorite VoIP is Viber as it works with our own cell phone number and can make calls or send texts for free to Viber subscribers or, for just pennies, to non-subscipers. We have an unlocked 3g iPhone that can use a local sim card when this is available.

Dale in front of the bulkhead mounted iMac 
Computers serve so many functions aboard Wahoo. Must be why we have so many. We carry 2 iPhones, an iPad, a 13" MBP and a bulkhead installed 24" iMac. There is also a Time Capsule which acts as a modem and handles backups. There are several separate hard drive that holds lots of movies. Navigation on the macs will be covered later. The computers are our favorite way to obtain weather information. Lots of sites to check as long as we can get online. The computers are also used for email, web surfing and budgeting just like at home.

Roy top of mast - WiFi antennae left of his head
INTERNET CONNECTION This is a constant issue. Right now our system is built around the  Ubiquiti Bullet M2HP connected to a long distance omni directional high gain 8db antennae purchased from Island Time PC. The Bullet and antennae are mounted on the top of the mast and a cable runs down through the mast and is fed under the floor board back to the sea talk module and then to the Time Capsule (modem). Power to the Time Capsule is controlled by a switch at the nav station. The Bullet is powered by POE. The 24" iMac is plugged into the Time Capsule but can be turned off and on at its own power switch to conserve power as it's a large power draw. Either computer can control the connection between the Bullet and the onshore access point and once connected we have WiFi throughout the boat. We have connected to a strong WiFi access point as far as 3 miles away. Other times even though the access point is closer, things get in the way or its too weak and we can't connect. The iPad can also connect over 3g if you can get a local sim, iPad's are unlocked devices which is nice.  

Helm right to left
VHF, Depth, Wind, Speed, Auto Pilot topped by Chartplotter 
NAVIGATION, RADAR, DEPTH SOUNDER In 2011 we upgraded to a e7D Hybrid Touch Raymarine Chartplotter with Radar. It uses the iPad as a repeater. For those who don't know a chart plotter is a GPS integrated with your chart. This gives a great view of where you are, how fast you are going both over water and over land (think about currents). In fact it shows the current and by "talking" to the AutoPilot can adjust your heading to compensate. By charting your course using "waypoints" to mark your future positions your current trip is laid out and you clearly see your path to that next sunset. The radar is also integrated so that either as an overlay or a separate screen you can see weather, land features and nearby vessels. An AIS system is in our future.

In addition we have a Raymarine Depth Sounder. These all "talk" to each other over Seatalk, a Raymarine protocol for its marine instruments to communicate with each other. By using a NMEA multiplexer this information can be used by other instruments. In our case it talks to our AutoPilot and in time will also talk to the macs.

e7D Raymarine Chartpoltter

We use MacEnc, a wonderful navigation program, to plot our overall course for each year's cruise. By attaching a usb GPS module to the computer it can also be used daily as a backup GPS to track Wahoo through its current course. As of now we still have to manually transfer waypoints from our Macs to the Raymarine chart plotter. Thankfully the MBP and the iMac can transfer waypoints between each other.  The iPad acts as a repeater for the Raymarine Chartplotter and also has its own stand alone charting program called iNavics. Because the iPad can easily be in the cockpit it is a great backup should the main chart plotter go bonkers. (As it did on our trip in 2012 to Belize traveling down the Mexican coast).

MacEnc on the MBP(macbook pro)
In general, we chart our overall course on the larger screen of of the Mac Book Pro. This way we can set our general schedule for the entire cruising season. This lets us know how far between ports and gives us a time schedule. We then put in lots of weather and tourist days to make the trip length more accurate. We know that you can't sail to a schedule but if you can't get from point a to point b under perfect conditions you certainly can't get there in a real life cruising time. So we adjust.

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