New "Super" House Batteries  Möbius Update 9 Sept. 2023

New "Super" House Batteries Möbius Update 9 Sept. 2023

The newest update to Möbius is that our all new House Bank batteries are now fully installed and up and running!

As you may recall from THIS post almost a year ago, our original FireFly Carbon Foam batteries had sadly lost most o f their “fire” aka capacity and repeated efforts using the FireFly prescribed “Restoration Charge” was not able to bring the capacity back.  Fortunately the combination of having a total capacity of 1800Ah @ 24V and our large solar capacity from 14 320W solar panels allowed us to go for almost a year of full time live aboard cruising running all systems other than extended AC use, without needing to ever plug into Shore Power.  So we did pretty well I think!?  But about a month ago while docked here in Norfolk, one of the four FF banks started to overheat and so their time was up.


PXL_20230809_174026276With our new situation (details if interested here) I had hoped that the FF batteries would last until we find the new owners and they take over so they could chose the new replacement batteries that were just right for them  But the “fire” had sadly gone out on the FireFly batteries and so I needed to make that call and have all new House batteries installed. 

For those interested, this post will give you an overview of how that progressed.


CHOOSING the GOLDILOCKS NEW BATTERIES

The quick summary of my requirements and priorities to determine the just right Goldilocks batteries for Möbius’ and our use case is as follows: (in no particular order)

  • WEIGHT:  Somewhat unique to us perhaps, weight is not a factor for choosing the batteries.  In fact we actually want/need as much weight as possible as we had designed the boat around the batteries to some extent and treated the 1022Kg/2250 lbs of FF batteries as part of the lead ballast of the boat.   
  • SIZE:  Battery size is also not a factor as we had to some extent designed the hull around the battery compartments which ended up being three large watertight and positively vented compartments which spanned and were centered on the 1″ thick x 18″ keel bar that runs from the transom all the way up to the top of the bow.  See the GA drawing below to see this layout.
  • WIDE TEMPERATURE RANGE:  Working well and safely within in as wide a range of operating temperatures as as possible.  Our intended use case for Möbius was to go everywhere from the Arctic/Antarctic and high latitude cccccccold climates to scorching hot locations. (which seems to be more and more locations in our world these days!)
  • FAULT TOLERANT:  In addition to temperature it was also important that the new House batteries were as robust as possible in that they would be able to deal with the typical “accidents” that happen over the years with the battery systems on boats.  Things like full discharges when the boat has been left for long periods of time and the charging system fails for some reason.
  • SAFETY:  Always a top priority of course but in the end I had no concerns with safety of either Lithium or AGM as I’m of the opinion that battery safety is all a matter of good design and installation of the electrical system and battery management, as well as sticking to top quality manufacturers.  So I did not consider any of the “off brand” batteries and companies.
  • VALUE:  Cost is an ever present factor for most of us but I think in terms of overall value rather than price alone.  I will gladly pay for quality and other features listed above to get the best match of batteries and our use case criteria.  I think this is well evidenced by all the equipment we have installed on Möbius.  So I did not consider any batteries or companies that were not IMO offering high quality batteries. 
  • EXTENDED 100% SOC + FLOAT TIMES:  This is a relatively new factor I have come to appreciate and which I believe may have contributed to the early demise of the Carbon Foam FF batteries.  Most of us have experienced how leaving things like laptops and phones plugged into their chargers and kept at 100% fully charged for most of the time leads to them loosing more and more of their capacity and shortening their lifespan.  I don’t have the expertise to prove this but my first hand experience over the years and my research into that of others has led me to suspect that there is a similar situation with LiFePO4 and Carbon Foam batteries. 

Due to our large almost 5KW solar power the batteries on Möbius sit at 100% fully charged state almost all the time.  With the large overall available capacity we typically only take the House batteries down to about 85% SoC or less between the end and start of each solar day and most days the solar charging brings them back to 100% fully charged by 10 to noon depending on solar conditions, time of year, geo location, etc.  You would think that this would be ideal for battery health.  However, I am finding increased evidence and examples that not only do LiiFePO4 and Carbon Foam type batteries deal very well with being in PSoC or Partial State of Charge for extended periods of time, they actually PREFER to be in a PSoC condition the majority of time.  Being kept in Float mode at 100% SoC can lesson their capacity over time.  It is possible to deal with this by carefully customizing the charging profiles of all the charging sources on the boat and our WS500 regulators for the alternators, MPPT controllers for the solar panels, and MultiPlus chargers all have this ability.  However based on my experience to date I think that AGM type batteries actually prefer to be kept at 100% fully charged SoC which is the situation as I’ve outlined above on Möbius.  I’m sure this factored to some degree in my final decision.

I should add that the rest of the equipment that forms the overall House Battery system would work well with any of the LiFePO4 or AGM batteries I considered.  Things such as the twin 250A 24V Electrodyne alternators with external rectifiers, WakeSpeed 500 Smart Regulators and Victron BMV712 battery monitors, would all work for any of the batteries I was looking at be they Lithium or AGM so this was a non factor in my decision making.  Lithium batteries would of course require equally high quality BMS either internal or external so I only considered LiFePO4 batteries with dedicated BMS from their manufacturer.

11 GA Battery CompartmentsClick to enlarge and see the location of the three battery compartments on Möbius

BATTERY CHOICES:

I’ve written about this topic of batteries for Mobius multiple postings here on the blog and I spent a LOT of hours discussing this with experts and other boat owners and researching the latest offerings of high quality batteries.  This lead me to narrow it down to a choice between Lithium (LiFePO4) and AGM batteries from the likes of Victron, Battleborn/DragonFly, Lithionics, etc. all of whom had some very high quality options.
Box
Dragonfly Battery Images (Transparent Background)For example, this new form factor of “12V 270Ah GameChanger 3.0” LiFePO4 batteries from DragonFly had some very attractive features.


Victron OPzV battery photoI also went back to the original batteries that I had considered for Möbius during the initial design phase which were these type of OPZv Gel type “traction batteries” and they were in the running again in this most recent search.
I paid close attention to how “bullet proof” the batteries were in terms of being able to deal with such factors as the likelihood of a few times in their long lifespan where they would end up being completely discharged for some reason or another.  Never planned of course but always possible and when we start talking about lifespans of 10+ years the probability of such “accidents” becomes quite high.

Lithionics batteryThese intriguing 24V 275Ah LiFePO4 “modules” with external BMS from Lithionics ticked off a lot of boxes were also recommended by OPE though came with a deservedly high price as well.
There were several other batteries and companies which I researched and made it onto my short list but the ones above cover the top contenders. 

and the WINNER IS …………..

I’m well aware that many of you would make a different choice for YOUR boat, but I do my best with all equipment decisions to find the “Goldilocks” just right choice that best matches with Möbius’ use case. 

In the end, this is what I chose; (drum roll please …………………….)


Victron SC AGM battery shot………….. After a LOT of deliberation I decided to go with Victron and chose their “Super Cycle” AGM batteries
PXL_20230426_213319964We chose Victron equipment for the entire electrical system on Möbius including their Isolation Transformer, MultiPlus Inverter/Chargers, MPPT controllers, Octo and Cerbo GX monitoring, etc. so they are a company that we have come to know well and not doubt have a bias for and I’m sure this did influence my final choice and Victron offered multiple batteries in both LiFePO4 and AGM to chose from.
These Victron SC AGM battery model are 12V @ 230Ah C20 and one of their more interesting qualities that caught my attention was their stated ability to withstand 300 complete 100% discharges without any damage to them although it certainly would shorten their lifespan if you were to do that.  Having gone with Victron for almost all of the equipment that makes up the overall electrical system on Möbius, I have come to trust and respect them as a company but I still wanted to verify these claims and was fortunate to find that Bruce Schwab at Ocean Planet Energy OPE, was able to personally verify Victron’s claims of these Super Cycle batteries based on OPE’s direct testing and he wrote:

Being a Victron distributor, we have tested the Victron Super Cycle AGM 125Ah (G31 size) in our PSOC regime. Nearly all Pb batteries suffer permanent capacity loss when run through this 30-cycle PSOC test.  We’re happy to say that the Super Cycle AGM passed with flying colors, with no discernable loss of capacity.


bruce-schwab-energy-systems-logo-SHORTI was therefore delighted to be able to work directly with Bruce and his tech Kevin at Ocean Planet Energy and can not recommend them more highly.  Bruce was incredibly responsive throughout the whole process, answering all my barrage of questions leading up to the choice of these Victron batteries and then getting the new batteries along with some additional Victron equipment ordered and delivered to the marina here in Norfolk VA. 

Bruce and Kevin worked with me very closely during the entire installation and configuration of the whole new electrical system to get it dialed in “just right”.  It is all too rare in my experience that you find such high degree of expertise along with truly exemplary service and so my hat off to Bruce and Kevin, can’t thank you both enough.  If any of you have any electrical needs for your boat I’m sure you will thank me later for contacting Bruce and his staff at OPE and similarly benefiting from their expertise and incredible customer service.

* NOTE:  Just to be clear and transparent, I am not sponsored by OPE or Victron or any other manufacturer, just a very satisfied customer wanting to share my first hand experiences with these high quality companies and people.

OUT WITH THE OLD;

XPM 6S4P House BatteryHere is the schematic showing how the original House Bank of 24 FireFly L15+ Carbon Foam batteries was setup.

     (click to enlarge this or any other photo)


PXL_20230727_154145252This is one of the three sealed battery compartments that are built into the hull with the batteries stradling the 1″ thick center keel bar so that all their weight acts as nicely centered “lead ballast”.  As per the schematic above, each of the four banks of FireFly batteries were wired directly to the positive and negative main bus bars inside the Grey DC Distribution box you see here.  All cables are of equal gauge and length, hence the looped Red & Black cables,   Positive cables from each bank have their own Off/On Battery Switch (Grey switches top left corner) and the negative cables each connect to the Neg bus bar through their own shunt for the Victron BMV712 battery monitors.  Fortunately I was able to reuse all these cables and battery monitors for the new batteries.
PXL_20230727_154208403This is the forwardmost battery compartment with the lid removed to start disconnecting all the batteries.
PXL_20230727_162322153With all the interconnecting battery cables and copper bars removed these 8 batteries are ready to leave the building.
IMG_3076Each FireFly battery weighs 43Kg/94lbs but fortunately they had very good handles on both sides so lifting them up and out went well.  This is the first eight of 24 batteries out on the dock beside the boat.

OUT OUT OUT with the OLD!

PXL_20230821_150439744A bit of a sad end to what should have been a much happier relationship with these FireFly batteries, but it is what it is.
PXL_20230821_145518401Enlisting the generously offered assistance of the marina staff and their golf cart to make the looooooooong trek along the maze of docks to get from the boat to the shore, we were able to transfer the batteries from boat to shore to pickup truck to take them to the battery salvage yard.

A forklift sure makes life easier once I got the batteries to the salvage yard!
PXL_20230821_150422017At least I was able to offset the cost of the new batteries with the money for the 2317 lbs of lead contained within the 24 FF batteries. (less weight of case, gel, etc.)

Bye bye FireFly; Hello Victron!

IN with the NEW

PXL_20230809_174034822The new batteries were delivered a few days later and with some help from the marina staff and their golf cart, we were able to bring the new batteries out to the dock beside Möbius.
IMG_3077.With the old FF batteries removed I could take out the fiberglass pans and modify them to fit the new batteries.  Not actually required by ABYC for these sealed batteries but a smart “belt & suspender” safety feature I think. 
PXL_20230802_200212279Each of the three pans needed to be extended in length so I just cut them in half with my circular saw ……….
PXL_20230807_154258855and then glassed in the space between with new cloth and resin.


Just visible on the far left end of this pan you can see the new SS tie down D rings I installed for the ratchet webbing used to secure the batteries in place.

Now all that was needed was to lift each of the 125lb new batteries from the dock down into the Basement and then lower them into their new home inside each battery compartment.

IN WITH THE NEW:

New Victron House Bank schematicThis schematic illustration will show you how the new House Bank is wired up.  Over the many years of boat ownership I have come to appreciate how important it is to keep ALL batteries very well balanced as they are being charged and discharged. 

    
NOTE: this is a schematic diagram only, cable sizes and lengths not shown to scale


This boils down to ensuring that each battery has the exact same resistance as their electrons flow in and out which is mostly determined by having the exact same size and length of cable connecting them to each other in the parallel and series arrangement required for such a multi battery bank setup.  It is similarly important that each individual battery bank also has the exact same cable gauge and length for their connections to the main positive and negative bus bars.

Also worth noting that all battery cables are oversized to 120mm2 (two sizes larger than AWG 4/0) to have less than 1% voltage drop.

Nigel Calder Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manaul coverI have also come to appreciate how much it helps to go the “extra mile” with the interconnecting cables to make all the series and parallel connections between each of the four batteries that make up each bank.  I first learned this method many years ago from Nigel Calder’s invaluable “Boatowners Mechanical & Electrical Manual” which you can see in Fig 1.21 page 22 if interested.

This is the wiring I used for each of the four batteries in each battery bank.

PXL_20230817_165919952You can see this in the schematic above and here in the actual cables installed on the new Victron SC AGM batteries. 

Small gauge wires you see here are for the various temperature and voltage sensors for monitoring these batteries with both Victron and Maretron.
PXL_20230815_140431433Christine’s son Tim flew up for a visit during all of this and being a very good certified electrician he generously worked with me for the whole installation process.  Here seen crimping the lugs onto the new interconnecting cables that needed to be made up.
PXL_20230817_165943879Tim does very high quality work which I certainly value highly and is also great to see in this new generation of electricians and workforce.  Good example here of affixing the SS ratchets and straps to this battery bank.
PXL_20230816_220800754Tim also took on the finicky mounting and then wiring of the three Victron Battery Balancers that we added to the installation. 

Thanks Tim, couldn’t have done it without you!!
Victron Battery Balancer connection diagramFor those interested, these battery balancers work as follows:

The Battery Balancer equalizes the state of charge of two series connected 12V batteries, or of several parallel strings of series connected batteries. When the charge voltage of a 24V battery system increases to more than 27V, the Battery Balancer will turn on and compare the voltage over the two series connected batteries. The Battery Balancer will draw a current of up to 1A from the battery (or parallel connected batteries) with the highest voltage. The resulting charge current differential will ensure that all batteries will converge to the same state of charge.

With the kind of $$ we boat owners invest in our battery banks, every bit that we can extend their lifespan helps and is well worth doing in my experience.
PXL_20230815_140513199Not quite finished, still need to tidy up the cables and small wire sensor cables with zip ties but here is what House Bank #1 looks like.
PXL_20230816_190334080And this is the aft most Bank #3 just about ready to have the lid bolted on to finish this installation.

It took a few days working with Bruce and Kevin at OPE to get all the settings setup just right in the MPPT controllers, WakeSpeed regulators, MultiPlus chargers and BMV sensors and they went the extra mile and then some to help configure and finish up the installation.  We have been running the new Victron House Battery setup for about three weeks now and it is performing flawlessly.   I’ve tested it both with and without shore power and the each battery and each battery bank has stayed perfectly balanced and performing just as hoped. 

A very good feeling after nursing the original House Battery along for the past year but we now have a great setup that should continue to meet all the significant electrical demands aboard Möbius.  This is very much a “battery based” boat with all DC and AC power coming from these batteries so this really adds to the SWAN or Sleep Well At Night factor on our beloved Möbius.

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far in this all too typical “brevity challenged” update.  With any luck there won’t be any more big jobs like this to report on but I will post updates from time to time as things evolve aboard and soon hopefully off of the Good Ship Möbius.

-Wayne

As Wayne’s World Spins; Möbius’ World Turns Upside Down

As Wayne’s World Spins; Möbius’ World Turns Upside Down

Christine and I are still working our way through our recent “difficult but clear” decision to send our beloved dog Ruby off on her final passage which you may have read about in my last update I posted here. We both want to say thanks to all of you who sent such kind thoughts in your comments, text messages, Emails and calls. All much appreciated and we are most grateful for bringing us even more memories of all our adventures and travels with Ruby the Wonderdog.

As the randomness of life would have it, it turns out this was just the warmup for us as we now find ourselves confronted with an even more “difficult but clear” decision to make which I will explain as best I can below.

Mobius World PNG Logo WITH Words Under FINALI won’t bore you with too many of the details, but I have recently received confirmation that I have a rare condition called Ménière’s Disease that affects my inner ear and balance. In my case, the primary symptoms are sudden onset Vertigo which makes me dizzy and disoriented without any warning when I am moving around and increased tinnitus that has been ringing in my ears for many years. Currently, there is no cure or treatment for Ménière’s disease, and the symptoms are predicted to increase in frequency and severity over the coming years. We will just have to wait and see.

Right now, these random bouts of vertigo are not too frequent and only occur when I am moving around. The bigger problem is when I am unable to grab onto something, and I lose my balance and fall. In several instances over the past months while we have been underway on Möbius, I’ve hit my head badly and worse, I’ve aggravated the four cracked disks in my back from a serious motorcycle accident I survived many years ago. This has triggered severely painful spasms that incapacitate me for several days.  I’m no stranger to pain and can deal with that, but as you might imagine, with this all happening on a moving boat while underway, it has been very stressful for poor Christine. She has often reminded me that her worst fear is waking up for her night watch and finding herself alone on the boat. With this news, and her first-hand observation of a fall or two, she tells me her anxiety level has skyrocketed.

After much discussion of our options and processing through stages of denial, anger and frustration we have both come to accept the painful but clear conclusion that it is no longer safe or sensible for us to continue our nomadic adventures exploring the world by sea aboard the good ship Möbius. After investing and immersing ourselves so completely for the past five years to bring our Goldilocks “just right, just for us” dreams to the reality that is Möbius, ending our voyages just as we were getting started is sad and disappointing to say the least.  Yet for us, this does not diminish in the least the incredible experiences we’ve had joining forces with SO many eXtremely talented people to collaboratively design and build this boat of our dreams. We remain eternally grateful to each one of you. In the short time since setting off to eXplore the world on her, we have already had so many truly awemazing adventures together visiting places we had never seen before and making the transition from sail to power. Mirroring our recent experience with losing Ruby, it will be painful to let Möbius go, but it is equally clear to us that this is the smart and right thing to do. She is an amazing boat, and we adore her, but she deserves and needs owners who can take her on the ocean-crossing voyages she has proven to be so capable of and is currently tugging at her dock lines to continue.

I’m not sure that it has fully sunk in for either of us yet, but we are going to be “swallowing the anchor” as the saying goes. However, we have accepted the eXciting new challenge of dreaming up a whole new home for us and new way of equally eXtreme eXploration of the world by land. At this point in time, we have no idea just what that will look like, but we’ll figure that out over the next few months and are anxious to get started on this as soon as possible. We love these kinds of challenges, and we think we have been quite successful so far. Why would we change now?! Heck, we made the transition from voyaging by sail to power and transformed our aquatic Goldilocks dreams into reality by designing and building Möbius, and we have just covered over 8200 nautical smiles since leaving Turkey at the end of October. How hard can the next transition from sea to land be? Maybe we’ll end up following that natural progression with age I’ve heard some mention: Sailboat –> Powerboat –> RV –> Hearse. hehehe

So, what’s next for us? Our immediate plans are to stay living aboard Möbius safely docked here at Tidewater Marina in Norfolk VA where we recently enjoyed having our son Skyler here for a week long visit and our two Granddaughters and their parents aboard for the July 4th week.  Now that we have been able to spend time with our thee children and grandchildren and discuss our big decision with them, our top priorities are to get our personal gear down to the bare minimum on Möbius and get her spick and span and shipshape as we seek out her new owners. As most of you know, Möbius is our full-time home and everything we own is onboard so it will take a good bit of time and work to transfer all our personal gear from the boat to shore.

Trust me when I say that I know this is a LOT to take in and process! We are feeling more than a bit overwhelmed by this sudden and complete change in plans, but we both wanted to deliver this news to you as directly and transparently as possible as we work our way through it all. It won’t be fast or easy to find the new owners for Möbius, but now that we have made the decision we are highly motivated to find them so she will be the deal of a lifetime for someone out there such that we and they can both begin our new adventures right away.

And of course, if YOU have been dreaming about exploring the world by sea sooner than later on a boat that has proven herself an eXtremely capable exploration passagemaker, here is your chance to fulfill those dreams NOWl!  So, if this boat is calling your name or you know anyone else who might like to become the new owner of Möbius, please email us at wayne.christine@mobius.world.  It will take us a few weeks at least to get Möbius decluttered and ready to put on the market and we will create a “Möbius for Sale” blog post with videos, photos and details of all her equipment and systems and publish that as soon as we can.


I realize that this is likely as unexpected and surprising to you as it has been to us, and I apologize for veering off onto this personal tangent on the Mobius.World blog. Having each of you choose to join us on this grand “Project Goldilocks” adventure has been a huge part of what has made the journey so far so special and meaningful for both me and Christine, and we are grateful for your encouragement and companionship throughout. Therefore, it seemed only appropriate to share this unexpected new development with you directly today.

That’s more than enough from me for now. Please don’t fret or worry, as this is NOT a life-threatening condition, just a lifestyle-threatening one. I’m still very appreciative and grateful for everything I am so fortunate to have in life. At 70 years young, I still lead a very charmed, adventurous and eXciting life. Despite this new wrinkle, I’m otherwise very fit, healthy, and energetic. I have the best partner in life and love, my Captain Christine at my side. And I have more love and care from more family and friends like you than I deserve. So, could I be any more fortunate? Methinks not!

I appreciate that you may be feeling the urge to respond to this update, and I thank you for that, but no response is needed nor expected. For us it is onward and upward, as we close out one set of adventures and begin the next.

So don’t worry, we’re not done yet! We’ll keep you posted here on our next steps as we continue our newest round of awemazing adventures in life.

-Wayne

Way to Go Christine!

Way to Go Christine!

A very quick but important update for those who might not otherwise be aware.

An article entitled “Project Goldilocks” that Christine wrote several months ago has just gone live and been published on the web site of PassageMaker magazine. 

As per their byline PassageMaker is “The World’s Cruising authority” so this is a premiere magazine for the community surrounding those out cruising the world, mostly in power boats. 

As such, many of you may not subscribe but I am delighted to pass on that the article is now available to the public via the Passagemaker web site which you can access HERE. 

Screenshot Christine Passagemaker article on Project Goldilocks

Part of the interesting back story for you is that Christine began her professional writing career back when she was in her twenties and wrote an article about her experience of riding her bicycle solo down the entirety of then just completed Baja Highway on the West coast of the Mexican peninsula.  This article was published in “Bicycling!” a major bicycling enthusiasts magazine at the time. 

Christine has written quite a few magazine articles for a wide range of magazines in the years since and back at the beginning of this year the editors of Passagemaker magazine contacted her asking if she would be willing to write an article about her experiences with Möbius for an upcoming edition of Passagemaker magazine.  The magazine publishing business still works quite slowly and the article has only just now appeared online and will be featured in the July/August 2023 print magazine.

For those with sharp eyes who might be confused to see that this article says it was written by “Christine Kling”.  No, this is not a typos as this is Christine’s Nom de plume or pen name under which she writes all her best selling mystery novels.

I am SO proud of my awemazing and talented partner and Captain in life for this most recent opportunity to share her writings with the world and hope you will enjoy reading this great summary of the experiences of transforming the dreams of Project Goldilocks into the reality that Möbius now is.

Enjoy!

-Wayne

Ruby the Wonderdog Weighs her last Anchor; 13 Oct 2007-15 June 2023

Ruby the Wonderdog Weighs her last Anchor; 13 Oct 2007-15 June 2023

Baby Ruby 1st picI don’t recall just when or how she acquired the moniker of Ruby the Wonderdog, but it was very early on as a pup and my First Mate aboard the Good Ship Learnativity as we sailed out of San Francisco back in 2007 and set out to explore the world together.  This is my very first photo of her the day I picked her up on the 12th of October, 2007 when she was about six weeks old.

Today, almost 16 years later, Ruby weighed her last anchor and headed off on her final passage.
baby Ruby floppy earsAs you might imagine, Christine and I are riding life’s rollercoaster of emotions today which includes a lot of sadness but if you chose to continue reading, I hope you will indulge me this personal detour. I’d like to remind myself just how much Ruby was THE Wonderdog as we celebrate and appreciate the profound joy she brought into our lives and that of countless others she met along the way.
Ruby Gramma Grace Like most of the awemazing events in my life, Ruby came into my life when the forces of serendipity and synchronicity combined to have us meet and be bonded forever after. 

As I was preparing to head off sailing around the world singlehanded, I had thought I might get a cat at some point but my dear friend Grace happened to mention that her two dogs had just had a litter and she was looking for a good home for the last one.  It was the classic love at first sight ,and we’ve been together ever since.
Ruby PigletRuby was a “Spoodle”, cross between Poodle and Cocker Spaniel and both her parents, Grace’s dogs, were Spoodles.  And when I say she was small I’m not exaggerating as you can see here in this picture with my daughter Lia’s little Papillion “Piglet”.
Ruby PFDAnd Oh, the places we did go!  We started by sailing down the West coast of North, Central and South America to Rapa Nue aka Easter Island where we turned right and headed West to Pitcairn, Gambier and on through most of the Polynesian islands.
Sky's pics 3-3-08 079Westward to more islands such as American Samoa, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu with multiple passages between all of these for about the next five years. 
P1040038_1024Aboard Möbius this past year, the Wonderdog sailed with Christine, myself and her buddy Barney, along the coasts of Turkey, Greece and Sicily then across the Med and North Africa, across the Atlantic to Martinique in the Caribbean and up through the Bahamas to Florida and now her final port here in Portsmouth Virginia. 
Ruby me equator XingBeing all Black other than a small White blaze on her chest, Ruby was typically difficult to see in photos but if you look closely or click to enlarge, you’ll see her on the other side of me as we crossed the equator in 2009.  This would be our first of seven times we crossed the equator together.
80444437In 2013 when serendipity and synchronicity again combined to have the awemazing Christine and I meet for the first time in Fiji, Ruby was there too as seen in this first photo ever taken of us a few hours after we met. 
Ruby Coleen Ian SSThat first photo above was taken on our dear friends Ian & Coleen’s boat Summer Spirit in Vuda Point Marina.  Ruby fell in love with both of them, and vice versa, probably spending more time aboard Summer Spirit than Learnativity in all the years we were back and forth to Fiji and Vuda Point.
P1030199Ruby loved running up and down beaches and this one in Majuro in the Marshall Islands was one of her favorites.  In multiple passages up to Majuro from Fiji, we probably spent over a year’s time there, the last two with Christine aboard as well.
Ruby dinghy Captain The Wonderdog was always a marvel of balance that would make any gymnast or circus act envious and perched herself at the bow every dinghy ride no matter the conditions and never fell off once. 
Ruby the WonderdogThough she jumped off as soon as we got near the beach as she just couldn’t wait to swim ashore and hit the beach running. 
IMGP0161_1024Another of her many skills, she became and expert and sniffing out and then digging out crabs no matter how deep down under the sand they went, and then eat with great gusto and lips carefully bared so as not to get bit by their claws.  On rare occasion she would take a back seat to her best buddy Barney as long as it meant another trip to the beach.
dogbeachWe soon became a family of four when Christine’s dog at the time Barney joined us, and he and Ruby became best buddies immediately almost more than did Christine and I. 
IMG_20140620_094343_1024However it quickly became apparent that Barney was “my” dog and Ruby was velcro’d to Christine from the very first day they met.  In any case, we were now a family of four.
IMG_1720Both Ruby and Barney were great snuggle buddies,
F69E957E-06A8-4612-B31A-943353E049C4sometimes along side us
IMG_2712sometimes alongside each other.
IMG_1471Always at the ready for the next adventure, or the next meal.
84518368Can’t say that it was her favorite thing to do but Ruby was no stranger to dressing up for special occasions such as being Bridesmaid along with Barney as Groom at our wedding in 2015.
3DB96471-68BA-4EC6-AEB5-EB0AC9F59E4EAnd celebrating each Christmas with us as Santa’s little helpers.
LiaRubyPiglet LTYAlong for the ride with all our family and friends such as one of Lia and Brian’s many times aboard starting with this first one in Puntarenas Costa Rico along with their little dog Piglet.
IMG_20140615_145722_1024Son Skyler on one of our many visits to Vancouver BC.  And my apologies to SO many other friends and family I’m leaving out here.

IMG_2870 If you believe in dog years, Ruby would be about 110 years old now and Christine and I have known for the past few months that age was beginning to catch up with her.  She had lost most of her hearing the past year and was developing cataracts in both eyes, but she was still as frisky as a pup at times racing up and down the side decks, eating, drinking, pooping and sleeping well and seemed to continue to enjoy life together with us.  So we’ve been keeping a close eye on her, and this past week she started to go downhill down rapidly.
PXL_20230611_234328741.MPBarney noticed the change as well this past week and in an apparent common scenario, for the first time he began to give her some very serious grooming sessions licking her head to toe for half an hour or more multiple times a day.  Ruby seemed to signal us as well as her appetite diminished as did her weight this past week, and she ate and drank very little the last 24 hours. 


The decision was not easy but it was clear to all four of us that this fateful time had arrived.  So a few hours ago, we snuggled together with our dearest friend and crewmember for one last time, shed more than a few tears and kissed Ruby the Wonderdog Bon Voyage for her final passage in this life, with us by her side. 

Ruby _ Wayne_1024Over our years together the boats Ruby and I have lived and sailed upon have changed, but I’d like to think that we have both stayed largely the same and as bonded together as ever. 

This was us in Fiji in 2009 and …..
Wayne & Ruby last photo crop…… this is us this morning in Portsmouth Virginia, fourteen years later.

FYI, totally unintended coincidence but yes of course I’m still wearing the same shirt!


IMG_0272We have seen a lot of the world together and watched a lot of sunsets over the years, my dearest Ruby.  My rough guesstimates are that together we’ve checked into more than 33 countries, flown almost one hundred thousand air miles, tens of thousand road miles in cars, trucks, RV’s and motorcycles, countless more miles on trains, taxis and busses and sailed over 60 thousand nautical miles.


Ruby, words can not possibly articulate how rich and charmed my life has been since you first entered it.  I will never be able to thank you enough for all the many gifts and profound joy you have given me during our almost sixteen years together.  I think I may be ready for a world without The Wonderdog in it, but I’m not at all sure if I will ever be ready for a world without my partner Ruby. 

Lucky for me, there really is no such world as I will always have and cherish the treasure trove of memories from all our shared experiences in life together.

Thank you my friend, my partner, my beloved Ruby.  Fair winds and following seas as you weigh anchor and set out upon your latest voyage with me at your side as always!



Last Leg of this Turkey to Norfolk Journey Completed! Möbius Update May 18-24, 2023

Last Leg of this Turkey to Norfolk Journey Completed! Möbius Update May 18-24, 2023

We have just completed the last leg of our journey that actually began when we left Turkey back in October and headed West across the Med, across the Atlantic, up through the Caribbean and Bahamas, across the Gulf Stream to Florida and then North mostly up the ICW to were we are now safely docked at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth Virginia just across the river from Norfolk.  My last post “Skinny Dipping our Way to Florida” update on May 18th covered our travels from Florida up to South Carolina and this is now the final Update from there as we are now safely docked in Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth Virginia just across the river from Norfolk.  We arrived here on May 24th having covered just over 8200 nautical smiles since leaving Turkey and we will now hit the “Pause” button and stay here for the next few months.  But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s go back and pick up where we left off in the last Update.

Bull Creek anchorageWhen I last left off in the “Skinny Dipping” post above, we were anchored in a bend on Bull Creek just off of the Waccama River in South Carolina where we were enjoying the serenity of that great spot we shared with the alligators and waited for three days while a storm front went through.


Bull Creek to Tidewater route mapOur patience was rewarded with none of the wind or other effects from the storm reaching us in our little hideaway in Bull Creek and this map is my best attempt to show you our route and anchorages from there all the way up to our final spot at Tidewater Yacht Marina.  The many riverways, canals and Inter Coastal Waterway ICW we were on are too small to show up at this scale on the map so I’ve just put a Red marker for each anchorage along the way and then connected those Red dots with the White line you see here.
IMG_2858We first made our way from Bull Creek up to the small Mile Hammock Bay where we anchored for the night with a few other boats.  This spot is also right beside the somewhat infamous military Camp Lejeune but was a very peaceful anchorage for us.
PXL_20230522_130943388Next stop we anchored in was just outside the very cute little town of Oriental where we went ashore to the local grocery store which kindly and conveniently offered a free shuttle service to bring us and our groceries back to the dinghy dock.  This whole section of our travels through North and South Carolina has been this kind of small and laid back towns that have been a real treat to enjoy their hospitality.
IMG_2881 And as if that weren’t enough, Oriental also treated us to yet another fabulous sunset on this trip.
IMG_2877Captain Christine managed to catch this fun shot of that sunset in our SkyBridge windows.
IMG_2886For our next stop Christine found the tiny R.E. Mayo Seafood Company that offered us a night tied up to what was left of their dock.  We also took advantage to stock up on freshly caught shrimp and Cod.
PXL_20230521_165205497Möbius continued to perform flawlessly and our eXtremely small wake was a very big plus as we motored past all the many docks in front of riverside homes and marinas along the way.  We are doing just over 9 knots in this photo so you can see how small the wake is.  We still slowed down when passing through “No Wake” zones but we got a lot of waves of appreciation from home owners and boat owners along the way.


PXL_20230519_131304129Our travels through these inland waterways has also treated us to a fascinating variety of bridges and locks we need to pass through on our way.  The bridges are all quite different as well such as this “swing” bridge that rotates on a central foundation in the middle of the river. 
PXL_20230519_131350013Some of these bridges have specific set opening times so we do our best to time our arrival to get there just before they open while others are “on demand” such as this one where we call the Bridge operator on the VHF radio when we are a few minutes out and ask for an opening.  And then through we go.
PXL_20230524_181333998These lift bridges are perhaps the most common and vary a lot in size.  We missed the opening of this Great Lift Bridge and we had to wait two hours for it to open on our last day of the trip just before the lock at Great Bridge just inside the Virginia border.
PXL_20230524_181408708The Great Bridge Lock (yes, a bit confusing as Great Bridge is the name of the town as well) is immediately after we passed through the Great Bridge opening and we had to wait for about another hour as the Alexander Duff tug and barge had first priority to go through the lock so we all had to wait for him to arrive and get into the lock.
PXL_20230524_183104647We had passed him a few hours earlier but he got the last laugh as he now passed us to be first into the Great Bridge Lock.  Fortunately Möbius is very skinny at 5m/16ft beam so the lock attendants were easily able to have us pull in a long way up the Port/Left side of the barge and this allowed them to fit a few more ships behind us to pass through the locks in the same go.
IMG_2863This trip has also been fascinating with the huge variety of boats we have seen such as this good sized commercial fishing trawler.  If you think our paravane booms are big, click on this photo and check out these ones!  They use these booms for suspending their nets on either side but if you look closely you can see their paravane hanging off the end of the boom.
IMG_2893There was some nasty weather on its way so we decided to put in a bit longer last day and go all the way up to Tidewater before it got to us.
IMG_2891And Wow! what a difference in scenery and culture as we covered the last few miles after entering Virginia and found ourselves going through the large commercial industries and military shipyards surrounding Norfolk.
IMG_2912Turned out to be another very good decision as we pulled into Tidewater Yacht Marina in the late afternoon on May 24th with blue skies, sun and almost no wind and were soon able to side tie ourselves up to this long T-dock.
Tidewater Yacht MarinaWe stayed there for the past week and then two days ago the great staff at Tidewater had us move over to our new home dock. 
I’ve labelled both of these docks on the aerial photo above to give you a better idea of our new home for the next few months.
IMG_2897Christine has been exploring the fun town of Portsmouth and was able to find the Memorial Day parade for a bit of experience with the local culture.
IMG_2898She reported that the parade consisted mostly High School bands, gym clubs and the like so very much the feel of the small American town vibe which is part of the reason we chose Tidewater for our extended stay.
PXL_20230605_125523496So this is our and Möbius’ new home for the next few months.
And that’s a wrap folks!  Both for this set of Updates and for our latest series of voyages for the past seven months.  We’ve successfully completed our plan to bring Möbius across the Atlantic and up the East Coast of the US to this area where we can now hit the Pause button for several months as planned and let the severely overworked Captain Christine hang up her Captain’s hat for awhile and FINALLY be able to restart her life as a best selling author and get her next few novels written and published.  I can’t begin to tell you what an immense set of responsibilities she has taken on to get us here so safely and comfortably and just how proud and grateful I am that she choses to be my Captain aboard Möbius and in my life.  Thank you my awemazing Bride!

This is also mission accomplished to put us closer to our Grandchildren and other family and friends as we have definitely been lamenting the lack of time with them.  As you may have read in the last few blog posts we have already been able to have our Grandson Liam with his parents come stay with us twice in the last two months and up next we have our two Granddaughters from California and their parents flying in on July 4th to stay aboard with us for a week or so.  Life doesn’t get much better than that!

I will continue to keep you updated here and I do have the promised Part II to the review of our experiences of these last 8200 NM of voyages on Möbius that I will get posted in the next few days so please stay tuned for those.

Just before I sign off and post this, I want to extend our most sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of you for taking the time to join us on all these adventures for however many months or years in many cases that you’ve been following along here via these blog posts.  Your presence has been a HUGE part of what has made these experiences so special and we can’t thank you enough for being there and taking the time to also add all your comments, questions and suggestions along the way.  We’re not yet sure where to from here but that’s what we have the next few months to figure out and will let you know as our ideas evolve and form.

-Wayne

Skinny Dipping our Way to Florida  Möbius Update May 1-18, 2023

Skinny Dipping our Way to Florida Möbius Update May 1-18, 2023

Another 2+ weeks go zipping by and May is already half over!  Lots of changes for us in this time as we crossed over from the Bahamas where we left off in the last update, and entered US waters for the first time on Möbius as we begin to make our way North along the East coast of the US.  Here is a quick summary of our travels the past two weeks.

Bahamas to Florida

In the last update we were anchored off of Coopers Town on the NE coast of Great Abacos waiting for a storm front to pass and provide us with a good weather window to make our second “Atlantic crossing” over to Florida.

Coopers Town to West Palm route We left Coopers Town on May 3rd and anchored for the night on the NE corner of a tiny little island Mangrove Cay which Christine knew from past visits here on her boat, would provide us with a good jumping off point for the crossing.


IMG_2761Speaking of jumping off, SpaceX was thoughtful enough to provide us with quite the send off as you can see in this great shot Christine captured with the twilight launch of their latest “Falcon Heavy” rocket on our last night off Coopers Town.  It was much more spectacular when seen from this distance compared to the close up view she got when we were anchored off Cape Canaveral last week.


IMG_2769Not to be outdone, Mother Nature also helped to send us off on our crossing with this beautiful sunset as we were anchored off Mangrove Cay.


Bahama Banks sat photoMy reference to “skinny dipping” in the title is because we have spent most of the past month dipping our very skinny boat in the very “skinny” waters with depths of under 3m/10ft in most places.  In the Bahamas this is known as “The Banks” and you can see this very vividly in the sat photo here with all that light turquoise coloured skinny waters.  This is one of the many reasons we worked so hard to keep Möbius as “skinny” as possible with a draft of about 1.3m/4.3ft so we are good in up to about 5 feet of water.  Seeing these skinny depths is a bit disconcerting at first but you soon get used to it and just pay a lot more attention to depths on the charts as you go.


Gulf Stream sat heat mapOur spot off Mangrove Cay was very peaceful and next morning we had the anchor up by 7am and headed for West Palm Beach which was just a bit south of due West.  In this heat map you can see the warm waters that create the Gulf Stream that flows North at up to 6 knots at times so we “crabbed” our way across it with the boat pointing ESE at times in order to make the straight line across to West Palm Beach. 
Our Furuno Auto Pilot worked well to make this very easy and the crossing went without any problems taking about 10 hours with an overall passage average of about 8.2 knots in spite of fighting the current a bit. 

Back in the USA!

west-palm-beach-floridaWe have both been into West Palm Beach inlet on previous boat trips in the US and it provides a very easy entry and is an official Port of Entry which we needed as this was our first landing in the USA.  As with most countries the checking in process is getting much faster and easier being done online and with aps on your phone.  In the USA this is done with the “CBP Roam” app from US Custom & Border Protection which we have been using in the USVI and Puerto Rico so it all went without a hitch once we had anchored inside the inlet near the bottom of this photo.


IMG_2778With one more passage in the logbooks, it seemed worthy of a celebration so we popped the cork on a cold bottle of bubbly fresh out of the fridge and took in all the entertainment provided by all the commercial and recreational ships and boats in this very busy spot in the good ‘ole USA.


Port_of_Palm_Beach_Expanded_View_of_the_Channel_and_the_HarborWe anchored in the lower Right corner of what is labelled as the “Turning Basin” in this chart as this is where lots of the big cargo and cruise line ships dock over on the far Left of this chart.  We were also back in more skinny waters anchoring in 5-8 ft of water but all worked out fine.  Next day we took the dinghy ashore in the dinghy and I went to the nearby CBP office to get a Cruising License while Christine headed for the grocery stores to top up our fridges and freezers for the next few weeks.


Fun with Family & Friends

IMG_2789Our Grandson Liam lives just a few miles South of West Palm so Christine had made arrangements for Liam, Tim, Ashley to drive up for some more time aboard on the weekend.  Ashley’s Dad Dan was also able to make the trip so he got his first visit onboard and even caught a feisty little Mangrove Snapper from the Aft Deck! 
IMG_2795Christine and Tim cooked up some burgers on our grill to top off the evening.  Tim & Liam stayed for a sleep over to put the icing on the cake and then Ashley came and picked them up on Sunday afternoon.  Way too short but a great visit none the less.

ICW mapFrom West Palm we made our way North along the coast before heading into the Intercoastal Waterway or ICW at Fort Pierce near Jensen Beach were our dear friends Steve & Kathleen live.  A good anchorage on the South side of the bridge with a very well done dinghy dock to make it easy to come and go ashore and we spent three days anchored there enjoying some extended time with Steve & Kathleen both on Möbius and in their home where Kathleen treated us to a “low country boil” meal of shrimp, sausage, corn and more.  Steve was kind enough to loan us his pickup truck for our stay so we were able to get lots done and had a great visit with them.


IMG_2822We continued up the ICW to Coco Beach that is close to where our friends Pam & Dave live and we were able to host them aboard Möbius for their first visit and then go ashore for a craft market that was going on that day.  In the next few weeks we will be day-tripping our way North to Norfolk and we will do quite a bit of that travelling along the amazing ICW that you can see in the map above.  The ICW is quite fascinating and though it keeps you busy steering the constantly winding narrow channel we enjoyed more “skinny dipping” our way along this scenic “Ditch” as it is often called. 
IMG_2816

The deepest sections are typically about 8-12 feet deep at best but is well marked on the charts and with Red/Green markers like this one to guide your way.  Popular amongst the animal kingdom as well!
PXL_20230512_154643238Traversing the ICW involves going under lots of bridges, some that are fixed such as this one and others that are draw bridges where we have to time for an opening to get through. 
PXL_20230512_144814286We have an air draft of about 8.2m/26.9ft so there are also some bridges with clearances of around 30ft that we can go through without needing them to open.  From Coco Beach we decided to head back out of the ICW to make the jump up to Charlottesville South Carolina offshore and avoid the tighter sections along Georgia that Christine is not too fond of having spent a LOT of time cruising the ICW in many of her previous boats over the years.

Launching Off Shore

IMG_2819Even better though was that this gave us a chance to go have the very interesting experience of traversing the lock at Cape Canaveral and


IMG_2825….. have a truly front row seat of the launch of yet another SpaceX rocket in the wee hours of the 14th that Christine stayed up to grab this photo. 


Port Canaveral LockIf you click to enlarge this photo, the one below and the chart above you will see how interesting this route out to the Atlantic was.  We took a hard right turn off the ICW just North of Coco Beach as per the chart above, to traverse the canal you can see at the top of this photo.  That involved just making it in time for the 17:00 opening of the bridge that is just off the top of the photo that is looing due West.


Port Canaveral Lock looking East Here is the opposite view looking due East towards the Atlantic with Cape Canaveral off to the far Left.  We anchored just to the Left of the breakwater sticking out near the bottom of this photo to put us right beside the entrance into the lock on the Left.
PXL_20230514_101214520The Canaveral lock opens for business at 6am so we had the anchor up about 5:50 to catch the sunrise and round the end of the breakwater into the lock just after six.  Christine slid us alongside the well built rails on our Starboard/Right side and I tied two lines fore and aft just to secure us while the doors closed behind us and then soon opened in front.  Not too dramatic as there is less than a foot of height change but still a fun experience.
PXL_20230514_103104393Exiting out of the lock we called the bridge keeper to ask for his next opening and soon slid our way through.
PXL_20230514_104252320Passing several large cruise ships and then some commercial docks you see here as the sun rose to welcome us back out into the Atlantic. 
PXL_20230514_213606681As usual, Weather Wonder Woman Christine continues her masterful work at scheduling our passages in just the right weather windows. 
PXL_20230515_043213291.MPThe passage up to Charlottesville was about 300 nm/345 miles/556 km and we had the anchor down in the ICW just North of Charlottesville just under 31 hours after entering the Canaveral Lock.  That averages out to 9.7 knots which is our fastest passage time ever thanks to getting off shore enough to catch some of the Gulf Stream which had us doing up to 13 knots at times.  Fuel burn for this trip was equally as great averaging 1.38L/nm or 2.75 USG/nm
PXL_20230515_145746768We knew when we left that we would likely get “spanked” a bit by Mother Nature just before arriving in Charlottesville and things were a bit more “sporty” for the last two hours as we made our way back to shore and into the welcoming arms of the breakwater.
PXL_20230515_164820140However we were soon back into calm waters once inside the breakwater leading into Charleston.

Back in the ICW

Charleston ICW to our 1st anchorageOnce inside we turned Right to get back into the ICW for about an hour of smooth sailing up the ICW and pulled over into a small waterway in the tidal grasslands where we enjoyed a very peaceful anchorage and a great sleep that night.
route up ICW to Butler IslandThe green on this screen grab from Google Maps is all grasslands and marsh and will give you a bit of an idea of our fascinating scenery the past few days as we snaked our way along rivers that all interconnect to provide a shallow passage inland.  We anchored for the night of May 15th just off the SW corner of Butler Island which I’ve tried to show on this crude little map.
Bull Creek anchorageThere was a big blow forecast for last night (Wednesday May 17, 2023) so we motored about 15 nautical miles (28km/17 miles) further up the Waccamaw River and then took a fork to the Left at Bull Creek where we have now been anchored for the past 2 nights just off to the side of this narrow river.  So far we’ve only seen two small boats with local fishermen go by so we’ve been enjoying the eXtremely relaxing scenery and wildlife.
PXL_20230517_152431454The tidal based currents flowing through these rivers gently swings us around about twice a day and this our view looking South.
IMG_2845It is quite the amazing feeling to be so truly isolated in this magical wilderness where the only sounds are the wild birds ashore,
IMG_2846the buzzing of dragonflies like this one that wildlife photographer eXtraordinaire Christine managed to capture on one of our lifelines.
IMG_2841and the occasional splash of alligators alongside the boat.  Click to enlarge and look close in about the middle to see one that stopped by yesterday.  Turned out to be a smart spot to lay over as we have been far enough inland that we hardly got any of the 40+ knot gusts apparently happing over on the cost beside us.  Today (Thursday) has been an overcast and drizzly day so we’ve been enjoying a quite day in the SuperSalon surrounded by this ever so peaceful greenery surrounding us allowing us to catch up with some online jobs such as getting this update put together and posted for you. 
IMG_2840We’ll pick up the anchor tomorrow and continue to day hop our way up the ICW and various rivers as we make our way North to Norfolk where we have a reservation in a marina there starting on June first and where we will likely stay put for the rest of the summer.
Lest you think I’ve forgotten I am still working on the second installment of what has worked out best and least well of the features and equipment on Möbius and will get that uploaded in the next week or so as time allows with cruising every day.  The logbook says we just passed 7900 nautical miles in the past 8 months with an eXtensive range of experiences along the way and hope that sharing those with you will be of interest and use so do stay tuned for that and my chronicling of our travels as we work our way North through all these awemazing waterways.

Thanks for taking the time to join us here and please do leave any questions, comments and suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.

-Wayne