Sunday, 16 December 2012


The latest set of large portholes have been delivered and they look amazing.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Fuel Cell

Fuel cell technology appears to have made some progress in the last year.    For those who do not know what a fuel cell is it is a generator of electricity that runs on hydrogen.  You supply it with hydrogen and it creates electricity and water is the output.  Its a green technology.  So why have we not all got one?  There are a few reasons.  The first is cost.  Wow, they are expensive.  But they are coming down in price.  When I looked at them a year ago they were around £25K.  There is now one online that produces 3K Watts of power for just under £8K.

The price reductions are parallel to flat screen TVs.  As production ramps up the cost will fall.  I suspect within a few years they will be £2000 - £3000 (guess).  They will be immensely useful things.  The purchase price is only half the story though.  The second issue is the cost of the fuel.  They can use methanol, natural gas or hydrogen.  But hydrogen needs to be 99.999% pure which makes it expensive.

Current estimates show that it is cheaper to run a hydrogen power engine with generator than a fuel cell.  But that will change soon.

With 3K Watt fuels cells now available (one will run from LPG next year) you can see that at 240V you could get a useful 12 amps per unit.  This is a useful addition to the shore power of 16 amps.   At the moment they would not power systems directly as voltage fluctuates a lot.  But they can be used to charge batteries which would produce more consistent power.  The other option would be to feed a Victron Quattro system which would then stabilise the power and if too much power was being drawn it would take from batteries.

There is a solution in there somewhere.  Probably something usable by late next year.   It does then suggest that any design of the electrical system of the ship should enable this to be done.

Monday, 10 December 2012


Having now laid out the rooms in terms of sockets etc it is time to start to look at ring main designs.  The trick is to try and make the ship comply as best as possible to standard house wiring standards as a minimum.  So ring main cable at 2.5mm seems to be standard.  But the distances to various parts of the ship are considerable when you start to run cables (recall what it took to get them out).

What is clear then is that I will need to have a network of local consumer units fed from the utility room consumer unit.   This will also provide a few advantages (but not cost ones),  The main one being that tripping a consumer unit (as seems to happen regularly) will not trip the whole ship (I am guessing).  It should also mean that I can run lighting locally so a tip will not wipe out the entire ship lighting but just local areas.  Not a major issue.  I am considering one unit for each of the cabin areas (so no stairs are required to reset a tripped MCB), one for the mess and toilets and bathroom.  One for the kitchen and lights.  One for the wheel house, radio room and battery room.  Finally one for the main chain room and front bedroom (as it will be).

The advantages are that I will not need to run hundreds of cables out of the utility room to various places but single cables (I think) to the satellite consumer units (the viability of this to be looked into).  My theory is the less cable running around the better.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Things not to do in a wardrobe

There are many things you should not do in a wardrobe and standing in one which is no more than 2ft by 2ft with a concrete breaking device in almost no light is probably well up the list.

But you have to do what you have to do.   There are two sea ports in the hull in two wardrobes.  Both are now sealed up but I have asked Dave to fit two pipes which will run from these ports down to the water tanks.  One will be for pushing air in, the other the vent.  This venting of the tanks is important.  All Dave needed to do was drop the two pipes through the floor.  No problem?

Problem.  Yet again, massive over engineering meant that about an inch and a half of concrete had to be taken out first.  I tried with a hammer and chisel and made a small dent after about 20 mins.  So out with the titan concrete buster and bingo, 2 wardrobes cleared in 20 more mins.  Its all about the tools.

The portholes are now fitted on the other side of the boat and the amount of light on that side of the boat is considerable now.  The views from the portholes is also wonderful.

The wardrobe (top of the pic) is where the new tank breathing pipes will go.

The material in the floor is strange and the smell is like tar with concrete layer on top.  This must be for insulation.

The portholes are now in the other side of the ship.  The difference is here that there is no other boat on that side blocking the light and there is a massive difference in the amount of light the portholes let in.  The good news is that the captains ready room is on this side.

This is the view out of the river side cabins.  Awesome.

Look at how light the rooms are.