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

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

Part II: Our Most & Least Favorite Features after One Year and 8200NM Aboard Möbius 11 June, 2023

Part II: Our Most & Least Favorite Features after One Year and 8200NM Aboard Möbius 11 June, 2023

At the end of April I published “One Year & 7300nm later; Most & Least Favorite Möbius Features April 17-30 2023” which was Part I of the first year review reporting on what has now been well proven to work the best for us and were our favorite features.  Since that post we have put another thousand nautical smiles under our keel as we meandered our way up to our final destination for a bit at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth VA just across the river from Norfolk Virginia.  That passage totaled just over 8200 nautical smiles and we are going to push the Pause button and stay here for the next few months.  If you missed it, I provided a more detailed update on this last leg of our latest journey in the previous post you can read HERE.

This will be Part II with our review of those things which have not worked out as well as hoped, our least favorite features and things to add/change to make Möbius even better than she already is.  I’m delighted to report that our least favorite list is much shorter than our most favorites so this Part II will be much shorter than Part I.

As with Part I there is no implied ranking in the order of these items and I’ll group them as Design based or Equipment based.

DESIGN BASED CHANGES

I’ll start with Design based changes and note that given the enormity of this project and that we pretty much started from scratch, we have been pleasantly surprised at how few design decisions we and our brilliant Naval Architect Dennis Harjamaa made that we would have done differently.  Even these are all best categorized as things that would be improvements to the current design and build.  We have also passed on all these observations and recommendations to the new owners of the two XPM’s that are currently under construction in Antalya right now and to the builder for future new builds.

Extended SuperSalon/Pilot House

Depending on weather, this space is where we spend a majority of our time at anchor, especially for meals and evenings and it continues to be a joy to live in.  However, we have come to realize is that it would have been very easy to extend the length of this superstructure by one frame which would have made this room about one meter or three feet longer.

011 SuperSalon LayoutIf you click to enlarge the plan view from our design files and the rendering below, you can see the layout of the SuperSalon as it was deigned and built. 

MOBIUS_SALOON_RENDER (4)As you can see, we had intended for two lounge chairs to go in the space to the side of the dinette table.
Fridge - Freezers dry fitted to cabinetryHowever, along the way we ended up deciding to install the two drawer style fridge/freezers inside the cabinetry on the Port side which is at the bottom behind the backs of the chairs in this rendering above.
Eames Chair metric dimensionsWhen we moved aboard, we put two admittedly large comfy lounge chairs in as per the layout you see here, but after using for a month or so we found that this proved to be impractical needing to access the Fridge/Freezer drawers and so we have removed one lounge chair.
This is has been our setup ever since and works out fine but means that when we are having our nightly “dinner and a movie” time watching the large 50″ TV in the forward Port corner, one of us needs to be seated in either the Helm chair or on the settee with the table put down into “coffee table” height. Having that extra meter of length would have allowed each of us to have our own lounge chair which would make our evening entertainment time even more enjoyable and comfortable. I know, I know, poor pitiful us right?!

On the plus side we discussed this with Naval Yachts and with Chris and Sebrina when they were designing the layout for their XPM78-02 Vanguard and decided to add that extra meter and it has made their SuperSalon even better than ours.

Ventilation

We made natural or passive ventilation, especially when at anchor, a high priority as we were designing Möbius and most of the time it has worked well but when the weather is warmer but not quite hot enough to justify running Air Conditioning and when the winds are low ventilation in the primary living spaces, the SuperSalon and the SkyBrdge, are places where the ventilation can be improved the most. 

Ventilation: SuperSalon

MOBIUS_SALOON_RENDER (1)One of the many great things about being at anchor is that you know that all the wind is going to be coming over the bow and flowing aft so we took advantage of this to bring those breezes into the boat. There are three ways we bring natural ventilation into the SuperSalon area, two which bring the breezes into diffusers in the ceiling and a third with the air that flows through the large hatches in the Master Cabin and up into the SuperSalon.  Ventilation via the Master Cabin flow through works well but the two independent ventilation systems for the ceiling diffusers do not provide as much ventilation as we had hoped. 
Underside PH Vent under overhangOne of the ways the air enters the boat is through a series of slots cut into the roof overhang in front of the negatively raked front window which is highlighted in Red in this rendering.  This location creates a slight high pressure zone that we wanted to take advantage of to help bring some fresh air inside.
PXL_20230611_163839514This is what the real thing looks like.  The space behind this grille connects through pipes into a large plenum or box in the ceiling overtop of the Main Helm Station.
PXL_20230611_170000087In the ceiling overtop of the Helm station these five Black diffusers connect into that plenum and are adjustable to change the volume of air and the direction of the air flowing in.  All good but there was supposed to be ducting used to bring the air from the grill box through to each diffuser and because this was not done all the air fills up the plenum and loses all its pressure and so there is not good flow of the air into the boat.
PXL_20230611_163800540The second fresh air intake is located up here but is hidden from view when these three solar panels are in the closed or down position for when we are at sea.
PXL_20230611_164123055Those three panels are mounted on a single frame that is hinged on its back side such that it can be lifted up and held in place horizontally like this.  Very simple and quick operation to remove two locking pins on the front and lift the panel up and lock the support braces in place.  Having the solar panels horizontal can also help increase the power when the sun is overhead.
PXL_20230611_164145235This position creates this massive wedge shaped wind tunnel which directs air coming over the boat to flow through the “mist eliminator” grill my finger is pointing to which removes most of the humidity and airborne salt as the air flows through.
PXL_20230611_170036378Similar to the forward Black ceiling vents this air flows through into a large plenum above these White diffusers you see here which directs the air down into the Salon.

Unfortunately, this system was built the same with with no ducting and so the flow rate is similarly compromised and produces much less air flow than expected.
PXL_20230611_191502273Our interim solution for now has been to use this vertical rotating fan which works surprisingly well and is very quiet but longer term we will retrofit some ducting to the ceiling diffusers which should be much more efficient at bringing the breezes into the SuperSalon.

Ventilation; SkyBridge

IMG_1577Up in the SkyBridge there is excellent air flow available because each of the acrylic window panels are easily removable.

PXL_20230605_232209013To provide great ventilation up in the SkyBridge we came up with a very simple and easy way to remove/replace each of the 8 side and 2 rear acrylic sheet windows so that we can open up or close in the SkyBridge as the weather changes and this has proven to work really well.  To remove any of these windows you simply lift it up the bottom of each panel and as you can see here the bottom edge now just clears the cut down inner sidewall section of aluminium U channel that holds each panel in place.

PXL_20230605_232141278The top edge of the panel slides up into the extra space at the top of these upper U channels so as you pull the bottom of the panel inside and down so it slides out of the upper frame channel you see here.

A good example of the KISS Keep It Simple & Safe approach we used throughout the boat and takes mere seconds to remove or replace a window panel.
PXL_20230605_231943739Even though it is June 11th as I write this, the weather here in Portsmouth has been surprisingly cold, dropping down to 14C/57F last night for example.  Brrrrrrrrrr!!  So right now we have just removed one acrylic panel from each side and this allows us to slide the other three panels back and forth to block any wind or rain.  In this photo I’m pointing at the edge of the acrylic panel that is behind my hand to the rear and the area to the front on the Right is wide open.
PXL_20230605_232001715This different angle might show this opening a bit better with my finger again pointing at the edge of the acrylic panel with the open space forward.  If we removed all 13 acrylic panels all four upper sides of the SkyBridge are open and air flows through. 
IMG_3122Very often too much breeze coming through especially through these three front facing windows so we tend to keep these in place all the time. 

So once again, what’s the problem Wayne??!!  Best description is the lack of the “Goldilocks” just right amount of ventilation up in the SkyBridge when we are at anchor.  Too much if we remove these front three windows and not enough if they are left in place.
IMG_1573The problem is that with the wind coming over the bow, if these front windows are in place they deflect almost all the air down the sides of the SuperSalon and even if these side window panels are removed the airflow is such that it all flows straight back along the sides and too little air flows into the interior of the SkyBridge especially up at the front in the lounge area.

PXL_20230611_163749715Fortunately I think that the solution is relatively easy to create.  The idea would be to convert these glass panels from being permanently fixed in place to panels mounted into hinged frames so each glass panel can be open and closed.  Perhaps this would only need to be done to the three front facing panels and leave the side glass panels fixed as well as being able to remove the upper side acrylic windows making it an even easier modification.

SkyBridge Windows View Obstruction

IMG_1572The SkyBridge on Möbius has proven to be our most favorite area for both helming the boat underway as well as lounging up there when at anchor so this is where we spend most of our time unless the weather turns cold and wet, which in the past two years has not happened much at all.  The 360 degree views from up here are difficult to capture in photos but you’ll get some idea here with this view forward from the Lounge area.
IMG_1577and this view from the Upper Helm chair.  So what’s not to like Wayne??
IMG_1569It may seem very minor to most, but when you are sitting down in the Lounge settee your eye level is the same height as the horizontal aluminium break between the lower glass windows and the upper acrylic sliding windows.  So when I’m looking out that seemingly thin bit of aluminium gets in the way of your view and has become a pet peeve for me.  You can sit lower or higher to see over/under this but the views would be so much better if your sight line was about 30cm/12″ higher such that you were looking through just the acrylic windows.
IMG_1570The best solution I think would be to build a raised platform about 30cm high for the lounge settee and table to sit on.  This could be a welded AL platform but what I think I will do when I have the time is build a wood frame for the platform and cover with marine plywood as a first prototype and see how it works. 
The floor of this raised platform could be covered with the left over vinyl flooring that has worked out so well in the other living spaces  and there would be the bonus of having a very large storage space under the platform floor for larger and bulkier items such as deck/beach chairs and such.

That covers all the most significant design based changes of we have recommended for the next XPM78 boats which are built.  Other minor ones are things such as decreasing the height of the stair risers, basically adding one additional stair step to each to make it easier to go up and down these stairs.  The current ones are a bit too much of a step up and down for most people and not quite that Goldilocks just right height.  Easily fixed during the build process but not something we will change on Möbius and instead see this as a feature rather than a bug by keeping us in good physical shape each time we use the stairs.

EQUIPMENT ISSUES:

The other area where improvements and changes would be recommended is with some of the equipment that is used in some of the systems onboard.

FireFly House Batteries

IMG_20190920_122217The most disappointing equipment issue has been my decision to go with FireFly Carbon Foam batteries for the large 1800Ah @ 24V house battery bank.  If you’re interested in the fully detailed description of the situation you can go back and read the post I wrote back in August “No Fire at FireFly Batteries?”   It really is a very sad and disappointing situation as these Carbon Foam type batteries are a fabulous solution for many boats and owners and I’m hopeful that another company will pick up the patents and start manufacturing more soon.  The problem was not with the chemistry but with the lack of quality control at the factory which resulted in far too many of these batteries losing their capacity very early in their life. 

 
IMG_20200706_125429In our case, the capacity loss began after about six months of use and has continued to slowly decline more and more ever since.  On the good news front, we have been able to continue to use the boat full time every day with almost no problems using the existing capacity these batteries do have so it has not been disruptive to our day to day living and cruising.  In fact we have only been plugged into shore power twice in the past year on some brief stays in marinas.  This is all thanks to having so much capacity to begin with in the 24 individual 4V @ 450Ah batteries that make up our House Bank, as well as having so much solar from our 14 320Watt solar panels that brings the house bank up to 100% SoC each day.  Plus anytime we are underway we have the two Electrodyne alternators able to crank out up to 9kW of power to charge the batteries if we need to go days without much sun.
This is another reason that we will be staying put here in Portsmouth so I can decide what to chose for the new battery replacements.  Right now this is most likely to be some good quality AGM batteries or perhaps Gel based “traction batteries” but I’m still researching what the Goldilocks replacement choice will be.  Lithium is what most people would think of but in our case they don’t make as much sense as we actually value the weight of our House Batteries providing part of our overall ballast and we have plenty or room as you can see above.  There also appears to be growing evidence that one of the odd characteristics of both Carbon Foam and Lithium is that they prefer to NOT be kept fully charged to 100% all the time and I believe that this was part of what caused our batteries to fail prematurely.  More research to follow and I’ll provide updates here whenever I make the decision on the new House Batteries.

Reducing Engine Room Extraction Fan Noise

Vent Box ductingOne of the other equipment based changes we would make is to find ways to reduce the noise from the extraction fans which ventilate the Engine Room.  These run whenever Mr. Gee is running to keep him supplied with fresh air and to exchange the air in the Engine Room frequently to help extract the heat and keep ER temperatures as low as possible.  Not able to photograph the whole setup as it is welded into the hull and ER but you can see how the Red boxes are welded to the Aft Deck plate and then the Purple aluminium ducting runs in/out of the ER below.

Aft Deck Vent Boxes The existing fans do the job very well and as extraction fans go they are not too loud.  However, because the entry and exit grilles are located in these two vent boxes on the Aft Deck the noise they do make travels up into the SkyBridge and can be a bit distracting.  One of those things you don’t notice so much until you do.  I’m not sure how much this can be reduced but I will be researching fans that have been specifically designed to be quieter and look into whether moving the fans from inside the Vent Boxes to down inside the ER itself might reduce the decibels a bit.

Circuit Breakers as On/Off Switches

PXL_20230611_211123293There are two circuit breaker panels on Möbius, this one on the Starboard/Right side of the Main Helm for all the 24 Volt circuits that are best accessed from there such as deck lights, navigation equipment, etc.  These are all double throw circuit breakers so they control both the positive and negative sides of each circuit and this has al.l worked out very well. 
PXL_20230611_211221017Then there is this larger panel with all the circuit breakers for the remaining equipment in all four voltages; 120V + 240V AC and 12V + 24V DC. 

The issue is a minor one of convenience.  Because there is a circuit breaker for each individual piece of equipment, no On/Off switches were installed where the equipment is installed.  In most cases this is just fine but for things like pumps for transferring fuel and water, desk wash pumps and things like that, it would be handy to have an On/Off switch right there when you want to turn on a Deck Wash pump for example.  This would simply save me a trip up to the circuit breaker panel so this is just a matter of convenience
Easy enough to solve the problem and I have purchased some nice On/Off switches to mount nearby these types of devices and just need to find the time to install them all.

Bosch washing machine

PXL_20230611_213126010I’m not sure if this is a common problem with this model perhaps but our Bosch washing machine has failed three times since it was installed and has been very annoying to have to remove and repair.  The first two times it was under warrantee but it failed again while we were making our way through the Bahamas and so is on my list of repairs while here in Norfolk. 

What makes this particularly annoying is that none of the Bosch service technicians seems to be able to identify just what is causing the problem and they simply replace every circuit board inside and reinstall. 
PXL_20230611_213134139Even worse, once the washing machine does quit it shows an error code on the LCD screen but as soon as you shut it off, it will not turn on again, not even the screen, until after the problem has been fixed.  So unless you take a picture of the screen when it happens there is no way to turn the machine back on and figure out the problem!  Fortunately I take photos of these error codes but even with that none of the service techs or my searches online can tell me what the problem is so I’m at a loss to know what to fix. 
Will just need to break down and have them come out to the boat to replace the circuit boards for a third time but sure is annoying!


I should add that all our other appliances on the boat such as induction cooktop, oven, etc. are all Bosch and are working extremely well so no knocks to the company, just the lemon of a washing machine we seem to have lucked out with!

 

And that’s about it for the list of things which we’d recommend change on next builds and things we will be doing to improve what has already been a fantastic boat.  Surprisingly few breakages in the time we’ve been underway and living onboard which says a lot for any boat and makes us VERY happy.  About the best testament that can be given I think to ALL involved with converting our dreams into the reality that Möbius now is and we are eXtremely grateful to each of you and our special thanks to Dennis Harjamaa for his brilliant design work and everyone at Naval Yachts for their work building Möbius.

 

Hope this review of both what has worked the best and the least well will be of value to other boat owners out there or future ones.  I know that I value first hand experience over just about all else and so glad to pass on what I’ve learned in our experience with Möbius so far.  Please do let me know if there are other specific questions you have related to all this or of any kind and I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as possible.

 

Thanks,

Wayne

One Year & 7300nm later; Most & Least Favorite Möbius Features  April 17-30 2023

One Year & 7300nm later; Most & Least Favorite Möbius Features April 17-30 2023

Not as much to post about the past two weeks as I have been out of commission after hurting my back badly when I tripped and fell last week and aggravated the four cracked discs I have had from a nasty motorcycle accident over 25 years ago.  But the spasms are lessening each day since and just a matter of time before I’m back to just the usual back ache which is my normal state. 
bahamas_map routesNo complaints from me though as we continue to enjoy taking our time to weave our way generally north through some of the hundreds of postcard like Bahamian islands.


PXL_20230421_175816562When I left off in the last post we were in Red Cut Cay and after a few days there we continued up and anchored at Black Point then on to Allen’s Cay and then a very neat fully enclosed very tiny little bay on Royal Island as seen here on our chart plotter.
PXL_20230421_174626444This will give you a better perspective on how small the entrance was and if you click on the photo I have circled in RED the two short pieces of white PVC pipe that marked each side.
PXL_20230421_174718305Captain Christine guided us through as she put the entrance in our wake and ……
PXL_20230421_175223227…… I soon had the anchor down into the sandy bottom 2.5m/8ft below and we were soon enjoying our very own little anchorage with wine up in the SkyBridge.  THIS is why we worked on the design so hard with Dennis to have the least draft possible; 1.3m/4.4 ft
route to Coopers TownAfter Royal Island we made our way over to Lynyard Cay where we anchored for four days and had a chance to meet up with some sailing friends Mark & Shawnae who were anchored nearby on their latest boat s/v Big Sky Blue Waters (they hail from Montana).  Difficult to show on maps as most of these spots are too small to show up but you can get a rough idea of our route and anchorages along the way.  We are now anchored up near the north end of Great Abaco Island just off of Coopers Town. 
There is a storm front coming through this weekend with winds out of the West and South rather than the usual Easterlies so we’ll wait out here for that to pass and then make our way West as we get ready to jump off and cross over to West Palm Beach area in Florida in the next week or so. 

That catches you up on our most recent travels and anchorages and now I thought that something a bit different might be of interest to many of you.  Read on to see what you think and let me know your thoughts with comments in the “join the discussion” box at the end please.

Year in Review: Top Features We Like Most and Least on Möbius

Hard to believe but we started writing this Mobius.World blog back in March 2018 so we’ve just passed the five year mark for that and the primary motivation for creating and writing the 262 posts since then has been the hope that sharing our experiences here provides a good way for us to “pay it forward” for all the other people who went before us and shared their experiences from which we learned SO much.   In keeping with that hope, as the calendar turns over to May (how did THAT happen so fast??) we have been actively cruising Möbius for one year now.  Also on the hard to believe list is that our log book shows that we have just ticked over 7300 nautical miles (8400 miles/13,520 Kilometers) and most of that in just the last six months since leaving Turkey at the end of October.  Last year we were in and out of a number of marinas so we have been through our share of Med mooring, docking, fueling up and the like.  This year we’ve been on anchor every night for the past four months in quite a variety of conditions, bottoms and weather.  We’ve done everything from short day trips, lots of overnight passages and some longer ones such as our trans Atlantic crossing of 14 days.  With these cumulative experiences I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what we have learned over the past year about what is working out best for us as well as what has not worked so well and we would change or do differently to make Möbius even better.  I will write this up as two blog posts grouping what’s worked best into one and then a second with what changes we would make to follow.  In my experience I have found that first hand experience from others has proven to be the best and most useful for making my decisions and so I hope these twin posts will do likewise for some of you.

A few caveats before I go any further:

  • All of the points I’ll be covering are simply what has worked so well or not for us and our use cases with no suggestion that these would be best for other owners, boats and use cases.
  • There is no implied order or ranking of these items, simply a list.
  • Any mention of specific products is done for clarity only, these are not endorsements and we have no sponsors or affiliations with any of the products mentioned.
  • In the years of posts here on this blog, I have provided lots of detailed coverage, too much perhaps, of each of these items during the build so in this posting I will just be listing the reasons why each item is on the list.  If you are interested in more details you can refer to these previous posts and I’ll provide links to some of these.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s jump right into our top favorite features on Möbius.

Anchor system

IMG_2709Starting up at the Bow, our whole anchoring system has proven to be eXtremely strong, reliable and easy to use and has perhaps contributes more than any other system to our SWAN factor that enable us to Sleep Well At Night in every anchorage in all conditions.  The “SideWinder” mounting of the anchor off the Port side of the Bow which Dennis and I designed, has proven to be a great setup eliminating the anchor and roller assembly from sticking out over 1m at docks and keeps it very securely pressed against the hull in pounding seas with nary a sound or any movement.
PXL_20201014_082740608.MPThe primary components of our Anchoring System are

110Kg/242lb Rocna anchor

100m/330ft of Galvanized DS40 13mm chain
PXL_20230426_203728345

Maxwell windlass VWC4000 w/Maxwell controls at both helms and wired remote in forepeak

Lewmar Deluxe Heavy Duty Chain Stopper 13mm chain

Lewmar EVO 55 Self-Tailing Winch for kedging
PXL_20230426_203658604The chain all stows inside of a round aluminium chain bin inside the forepeak which has worked out eXtremely well as there is no “castling” of the chain as it is stowed.
PXL_20210210_113928698and any anchor mud and muck that gets in there is easily flushed out through the drain in the bottom that exits out the side of the hull just above the waterline.


PXL_20230427_142622061Once the anchor is set we attach a 25mm/1″ nylon snubber line using a loop of Dyneema with a slip knot that goes through one link on the chain.  This takes seconds to attach or remove and the snubber from the chain and absorbs of any shock loads on the anchor chain and eliminates any chain noise into the boat. 
PXL_20230426_203523246Letting the chain out until the snubber is taking all the tension the line comes up through the large round “nose cone” in the very front of the Bow and ties to the Samson post.  Leading the snubber line through the center of the Bow reduces side to side swinging at anchor and the hyperbolic curve machined on the inside of the sold AL snubber cone prevents chaffing of the line which still shows no sign of chaffing after over 150 nights at anchor so far.  The large degree of forward slope of the anchor deck also worked out great making it easy to hose down with all the debris draining out the nose cone back into the sea.
All together this is a super dependable and easy to deploy/retrieve anchor system that sets first time every time and resets immediately on severe wind shifts.  Depends on water depth of course but typically we have about 30m/100ft of 13mm anchor chain out which adds an additional 120kg/265lbs to the 110kg/242lbs of anchor on the bottom so we SWAN very well every night and is definitely one of our favorite systems!

Foul Release silicone bottom paint

PXL_20210521_132919072Our last minute decision to go with silicone based “Foul Release” bottom paint instead of CopperCoat has turned out to be one of THE best decisions we made.  This Foul Release type of bottom paint never ceases to amaze me with how it prevents almost anything from growing on it and what might be there after months of sitting still comes off completely with a simple wipe with a sponge or cloth to bring it back to like new.  We used the International version called InterSleek 1100SR but several other manufacturers such as Hempel “Silic One” are also available.
PXL_20210521_133015028This paint has been in the water for over two years now and it still cleans up completely with just a sponge or cloth if we’ve been sitting at anchor for a long time and currently shows no sign of wear or age.  It is supposed to be good for 5-7+ years and so far looks like it will achieve that easily which would be a HUGE benefit in terms of efficient hull speeds and no costly annual haul outs.  I can’t say for sure but I think that having such clean and slippery silicone hull surface contributes to our overall hull efficiency, speed and great fuel burn rates.  What’s not to like??!!

Open and Accessible system installation

IMG_20200527_095915All of the system components, wiring and plumbing were given dedicated locations with completely open access.  This reduced the time for initial installation during the build but more importantly continues to put a smile on my face every time I need to do any work or maintenance on any of the systems as everything is easy to access and mounted at a just right height for working on.
PXL_20230426_213319964Here in the Basement for example you can see how all the components such as all the 14 MPPT controllers on the Left and the three 240V Victron Multiplus inverter/chargers on the Right, are all mounted such that when I’m kneeling or sitting in front of them they are at the just right height right in front of you to see and work on.
PXL_20230426_213832093Same story back in the Workshop area where all the major components on the Right such as the DC Distribution box, Kabola diesel boiler, watermaker and AirCon chiller system are mounted on top of the shelves to put them at just right height as well.
PXL_20230426_214004899At the far end, the front of the Day Tank has been used to mount all the fuel filters, Alfa Laval centrifuge and fuel transfer valve manifolds are out in the open and at perfect height when standing in front of them.
PXL_20230426_213903037Underneath that shelf the electrical wiring, external rectifiers and water distribution manifolds are also open and easy to access. 


PXL_20211212_100924297All of the plumbing is similarly open and easy to access such as this manifold with valves for all the cold water consumers in the Master Cabin.

One of our four primary principles for the design and build of Möbius was Low Maintenance and having all the components, wiring and plumbing open and so easily and comfortably accessed has been a big factor in achieving this goal throughout the whole boat.

Propulsion Perfection:

PGL sketch 54 Nogva-HelsethAs we did for all the major components, we took a “systems” approach to the propulsion system from front of the engine to the prop.  coupled to a Nogva Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP) is also way up at the top of our list of favorite features on Möbius. 


PXL_20210401_133343724Our choice of a Gardner 6LXB engine aka Mr. Gee,
IMG_20191118_102450coupled to a Nogva Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP) via a Nogva HC-168 2.95:1 reduction gearbox is also way up at the top of our list of favorite features on Möbius. 

The combination of the slow revving engine and lack of any transmission shifting created a seamless and smooth propulsion system.  This was our first experience with CPP and it did take some time to learn how to run a boat where you first set the throttle at the RPM you want and then don’t touch it and just use the Pitch lever to increase pitch through an infinite range from zero/neutral to maximum pitch for the load and speed you want.  With no shifting involved to go from forward to reverse it is eerily quiet and smooth when docking and when underway we essentially run the boat based on the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature meter to get the just right pitch for any speed we want.


We cruise between 8.5-9 knots and after 7300 nautical miles our overall propulsion efficiency has us averaging about 1.85 L/NM @ 8.5kts which we are eXtremely pleased with.

PXL_20230426_213808786The dedicated “propulsion room” is another of my most favorite design decisions as it similarly provides open and easy access to Mr. Gee and all his components,
PXL_20210129_124430339….. as well as the Nogva gearbox, coupling and Tides Marine dripless prop shaft seal.  I am able to stand, sit or kneel on the grated composite flooring on all sides and with a full meter of width all around and each grate can be easily lifted out of the way to provide access underneath if needed. Having a dedicated engine room with nothing but the engine inside keeps everything inside easy to see and work on, easy to keep well ventilated and all the other components typically found in engine rooms such as fuel filters, batteries and system components are kept OUT of this environments heat and vibration.  More examples of how well the open and accessible systems design is one of our favorite features.

Layout (cabin locations, balance living vs functional, up/down)

Interior GA plan snipThe overall interior layout also makes it way to the top of our favorite aspects of live aboard Möbius.  For us it has the Goldilocks balance between amount of living space vs functional systems space and our decision to have a very large forepeak up front and then an even larger engine room/workshop space in the rear has resulted in a great layout as well as keeping these spaces completely separate with their own dedicated access so you never need to go through a living space area to get to something in the forepeak or engine room or workshop.
012 Interior GA inboard profile Rev C snipThe vertical layout has also worked out eXtremely well for us with each cabin a few steps below the SuperSalon and the SkyBridge up above.  One of the most useful features of our layout is having an enormous “Basement” area below the floor of the SuperSalon.  We designed this to be 1.2m/ 4ft high such that you can easily move around by bending over and not hit your head on anything and then sit or kneel to access any of the equipment mounted on intermediate floor to ceiling walls or access any of the many storage bins and shelves in the Basement.
IMG_0620The stairs leading down into the SuperSalon from the Aft Deck on the Left and then around to the stairs down into the Ships Office and Guest cabin on the Right provide excellent access between all these areas.
IMG_1506Very difficult to photograph but hopefully this pano shot of the SuperSalon will help convey why we like this layout with the 360 degrees of glass so much.

SkyBridge

PXL_20210926_072850258We knew we wanted a Flybridge overtop of the main Salon or House so this was part of the design from the beginning but I don’t think either of us appreciated just how much we would enjoy this feature and how much time we would spend up here both when at anchor and underway.
IMG_1568Part of what makes this space work so well is our decision to put the Upper Helm at the Aft end of the SkyBridge.  As we’ve done in several areas of the boat we have created an initial prototype for the seating in this SkyBridge Lounge area by using patio furniture which we rearrange from time to time to figure out what will work best longer term.  So far this L shaped layout has worked out best.
IMG_1570There are great sight lines when sitting in the Helm chair just outside this photo on the far Left and yet still takes full advantage of the height for sight lines through the 360 degrees of windows that surround this entire space. 
IMG_2511The Bow and the side rub rails are all fully visible from the Helm chair.
IMG_2510 The roof overtop of the outdoor galley down on the Aft Deck does prevent a direct view of the transom but otherwise the sight lines Aft are great and we have a camera that displays a birds eye view of the transom on the Helm displays if needed when backing into a dock.

IMG_1514The Helm down in the SuperSalon duplicates the Upper SkyBridge Helm.
IMG_1580But unless the weather is very cold or wet we much prefer to run the boat from the SkyBridge with its added height and even better visibility.

IMG_1574At anchor it also makes a great office space and a comfy bed for naps and off watch time as well.  So the SkyBridge definitely makes it onto our top favorites list.

Hot Water & Heated Floors

PXL_20220110_133823995Another example of the advantages of taking a Systems approach is our Domestic Hot Water system or DHW and probably fair to say that the heart of our DHW system that puts his solidly on our top favorites is our decision to install a Kabola diesel fired boiler.  Located with all the other system components in the Workshop it is out of the way yet easily accessible. 
IsoTemp Basic cut awayThe 75L Kabola boiler is our primary source of DHW as it circulates through one of three heat exchanger circuits in our Calorifier that stores all our hot water as can be seen in this cutaway demo.  The second heat exchanger circuit routes hot water from our Gardner engine and so whenever we are running the boat this provides all our hot water instead of the Kabola boiler.  The third heat source is a 240V electrical heating element which we can use if the water based heat exchangers should ever fail.

IMG_20200723_175120However the one feature of our DHW that truly steals the show in cold weather is mostly invisible and that our Heated Floors.  Underneath the vinyl flooring in all the living spaces there are circuits of plastic PEX tubing that circulates hot water and provides a creature comfort in colder climates that is difficult to adequately describe in words.  A detailed description of the whole heated floor system can be found HERE in this previous blog post


Open Direct HEATING Mode illustrationAs you can read in that more detailed blog post, this is quite a simple system really but does take a bit to get your head around how it works as this is all part of the overall domestic hot water system so that all the water flowing through the floor PEX is coming from the Calorifier in the Basement circulating the same water as distributed to all the sinks and showers on the boat.  No valves to adjust or turn on/off it all works by virtue of how this “Open Direct” plumbing design dictates.


IMG_20200724_153643Overtop of the PEX tubing and rigid foam, these industrial vinyl floor planks provide a fantastic floor in all weather conditions and are specifically made to work well with heated floors.  Critical for our use on a boat, these vinyl floor planks have a simulated wood grain texture molded in which has proven to be completely skid proof even with wet feet and any spills clean up easily.  After two years of rigorous use these floors show zero signs of wear or marks which helps keep them on our top favorites list.


PXL_20220110_133737110There are three independent zones for the two cabins and the SuperSalon and each is controlled by one of these easy to set thermostats which maintain whatever temperature you want.


In Floor heating manifolds   pumps installedThe manifolds and pumps are mounted down in the Basement up against the Aft bulkhead and yet another example of how easy this whole system is to access. 


Battery & Solar Based Electrical System

XPM Electrical System v5Yet another systems approach on our top favorites list is our overall Electrical system.  It is “battery based” in that all four voltages; 12V + 24V DC and 120V + 240V AC comes from our 1800Ah @ 24V House Battery bank.  AC is created via the 5 Victron MultiPlus inverter/chargers and the DC is provided via three DC distribution boxes; Central Main in the Basement plus one in the Forepeak and one in the Workshop for the high amperage circuits there.
PXL_20230305_194435025Solar is our primary source for recharging the house batteries most of the time but when we are underway the two massive 250A x 24V Electrodyne alternators with WakeSpeed 500 regulators provide up to 9KW of power and we also have the option of connecting to shore power whenever we are in a marina. 
PXL_20220614_084653028There are eight 320W solar panels that form the roof of our SkyBridge as seen in the photo above and then three more mounted on top of the cantilevered roof over the Outside Galley on the Aft Deck as seen here.
PXL_20230421_174621920And then three more mounted in a hinged frame in front of the SkyBridge.  These 14 solar panels add up to just over 4kW of potential power and most days our battery monitors show an actual input of between 1kW during the winter months and up to over 2.5kWh of power during summer hours.
14 MPPT croppedEach solar panel has its own MPPT controller which are mounted in the Basement and feed into individual circuit breakers for further control as seen here.  Having a dedicated MPPT for each panel reduces the impact of any shading on any panel and helps with the overall performance of our solar system.
2023 Solar screen shotThis screen shot from our Victron VRM display shows a summary for our solar output vs electrical consumption so far in 2023.
Solar screen shot 2daysAnd this summary of the past 2 days, April 28+29 2023 lets you see how it varies throughout a 24 hour day.
We have not been in a marina or connected to shore power in the past four months and the combination of solar and alternator power is keeping our batteries 100% charged every day and so easily makes it onto our favorites list!

Handholds Everywhere for Everyone

Safety was another of the four design principles we had and one example that has proven to be a big favorite is the way we were able to ensure that there were super solid hand holds for EVERY person onboard from children to adults.

PXL_20230429_221424227On the exterior the handholds are all 30mm diameter thick walled AL pipe such as these on the aft end of the house roof near the Aft Deck.  These pipe handholds also make for eXcellent strong points for fastening things with Dyneme and other lines.
PXL_20220410_045308681Perhaps one of the most important spots for handholds is along the side decks when you are moving between the Fore and Aft Deck areas.  On the left you can see the continuous length of AL pipe that runs along the entire edge of the house roof and then the three rows of Dyneema landlines that Christine rigged between each of the sturdy vertical AL stanchion pipes.  The top lifeline is 1 meter above the deck so hits most adults about waist height which ensures that even if you were to be thrown against these you would be stopped and not flipped over top.
PXL_20220409_122230625.MPUp at the Bow there is a very solid set of AL pipe railings that wrap all the way around and make this area extremely safe and fun spot to be for dolphin watching or just dangling your feet overboard and taking in the scenery at anchor or underway.
PXL_20230429_221545056At the far end of the Aft Deck there are solid AL pipe railings for the corner of the deck before the stairs going down to the Swim Step and then a solid AL pipe railing on the other side of the steps.
PXL_20210401_133333873In the Engine Room, Mr. Gee has a full set of AL pipe railings wrapped around him to ensure you can’t be tipped over onto him in rough seas and these have worked out very well to also provide good support as you are leaned over working on various parts.
PXL_20230429_221349601On the interior of the boat one of our favorite esthetic features of the gorgeous Rosewood cabinetry is the design we came up with to incorporate built in hand holds to the design that are located on all the cabinets in all the cabins and SuperSalon.  This example is on the corner of the Galley cabinet across from where the fridges are located.
PXL_20230429_221334439These solid Rosewood edges wrap around the whole boat to form what we call our “Blue Horizon Line” and their key feature is that they have a deep groove that is at about waist height where your fingers naturally slip in to provide an eXtremely secure hand hold.  We have had our grandchildren onboard several times now and these have worked out as designed to be at Goldilocks height and size for their fingers too.

Interior Materials:

Possibly saving the best for last, something that brings us joy every day is the choice of interior materials we made. 

IMG_0926The Rosewood we chose for all the cabinetry really steals the show and this shot of the Galley cabinets will give you some idea. 
IMG_0622We were very fortunate that Naval Yachts happened to have their very best cabinetmakers throughout the entire build and they were a joy to work together with to produce details such as how all the grain is bookmatched such that it literally flows from one piece to the next.
IMG_20190509_140446This was made possible because after months of searching we were able to purchase an entire flitch of Brazilian Rosewood that had been flat cut from the same log. 
IMG_20190510_111038As each slice comes off they stack these in order and therefore the grain of each slice follows the next.
IMG_20190509_140503The other key was finding a matching stack of solid Rosewood that would be used to build the frames and every edge of every panel.  NO veneer edging allowed!
IMG_20190515_125458Unlike more typical construction, all plywood edges had these T shaped pieces of solid Rosewood glued in place and then the veneer was applied AFTER so that it overlapped the solid wood edging.
IMG_20190515_125524What this does is ensure that there are no glue joints exposed and they become invisible as they gradually transition from veneer to solid.  When these panels would be used for a corner of a cabinet, a thick piece of solid Rosewood was glued glued on and then this solid edge was rounded over in a shaper to create a large radius corner
IMG_20190516_152458The Rosewood was more than 11X the cost of any other hardwood so to help stretch the prized solid pieces it was sometimes possible to glue on a piece of cheaper hardwood like this and then round the Rosewood for the corner.
IMG_20190517_172430For the very large radius corners, strips of solid Rosewood were edge glued up and then radiused like this.
IMG_20190516_181601Or like this.
PXL_20230429_221349601When combined with the Turquoise Turkish marble and the inset Blue Horizon line strips, the end result was well worth the extra time and expense to build.
IMG_0601We carried the same combination of materials throughout both cabins, Salon and Galley and I hope these few photos help you see why this puts a smile on our faces every day.
DJI_0034There is a LOT more that we like about our dear Möbius and she has definitely lived up to being “Project Goldilocks” by being just right, just for us but the above items hit upon most of our top favorite features and I hope this review was worthwhile.  Of course there is always the other end of the spectrum and so in the next blog post I will follow up by reviewing things that have not worked out as well or are things we want to change so do stay tuned for that.


USVI is Home for March Möbius Update 6-12 March 2023

USVI is Home for March Möbius Update 6-12 March 2023

IMG_2561Thanks to Christine’s forecasting with PredictWind we had a super smooth ride all the way from where we left you last week in St. Martin to the US Virgin Islands. 
St Marting Mobius tracksWe left SXM out the drawbridge on the northern French side (Green on the map) for its 17:00 opening and then anchored in the outside bay to enjoy dinner and the sunset. 
SXM to St ThomasWe got underway about 20:00 for our overnight 103NM passage timed so that we would arrive in USVI after sunrise.
IMG_2557Mother Nature not only gifted us with calm flat seas but also a near full moon to light our way.
IMG_2559As you can see it was a very exciting white knuckle ride for the crew!
PXL_20230308_104050678Our timing worked out just right as we arrived at the southern coast of St. John Island just after sunrise.
usvi-1We headed for Cruz Bay (Red on map below) to check in at the US Customs & Immigration office and anchored just off shore and launched the Tender to go ashore and do all the checking in formalities.  That all went well so we headed back to Möbius to go find a nice spot to anchor for a few days.
Route map Cruz Bay to Charlotte AmeliaFound a great little spot in a small protected harbor on the West side of Great St. James Island (Green on map).  Crystal clear water, not too many neighbors and the Pizza Pi boat anchored nearby.  We stayed there till this morning (Sunday) and then headed over to Yacht Haven marina (dark Blue on map) on the East end of Charlotte Amalie to fill up our water tanks (more on that later).
IMG_2568We blend right in with the other boats on the dock don’t you think??!!
IMG_2572The dock hand was super helpful and we enjoyed chatting with him as we whiled away the few hours it took to fill up two of our water tanks.
Charlotte Amalie Bay aerial

After filling up with fresh water, we motored over to the south end of Hassle Island, which was NO hassle at all, and we we are currently anchored here as I write. (dark Blue on map above)
PXL_20230311_195901275This is the reason we had to go fill up with water today; our watermaker high pressure pump is broken.  Both the Low and High pressure pumps were not wanting to work when I went to start using the watermaker after many months sitting dormant but I was able to get the Low Pressure pump working with just a good cleaning. 
PXL_20230311_210527407However I wasn’t so lucky with the HP pump as one of the ceramic pistons was broken and so I’ll need to find a way to get some replacement parts sent over.  With a water tank capacity of 7300 L/1900 USG and only Christine and I onboard we can go about six months but with family and guests arriving soon and now ability to make our own water, we needed to head over to the marina to get some fresh water and took on about 2500L/660 USG which should be more than enough till I can get the watermaker working in the next month or two.
charlotte-amalie-st-thomas-usvi-susan-e-deggingerCharlotte Amalie is the “Big City” here on St. Thomas and the airport is not too far away so we will be checking out this area for a good spot to anchor when our Grandson Liam and parents fly in on the 22nd.  May head over to check out anchoring spots off of Water Island which Christine has fond memories of in her days chartering on her boat Sunrise when son Tim was just a young boy so fun for him to revisit this and share with his son Liam.

So that brings you up to date with the Good Ship Möbius and thanks so much for taking time to join us on this latest leg of the adventure.  Hope you’ll be back for the next update and in the meantime please leave your comments and questions in the Join the Discussion box below.

Thanks!

-Wayne
 



The Stars have lin(k)ed up in SXM  Möbius Update Feb 20-March 5 2023

The Stars have lin(k)ed up in SXM Möbius Update Feb 20-March 5 2023

St Marting Mobius tracksWhen we left off in the last update, we had arrived in SXM aka Saint Martin (France) or Sint Marteen (Netherlands) on Valentine’s Day.  We anchored for the night on the south side in Simpson Bay (Red on map) and then headed inside to the large “Great Pond” lagoon through the Bridge on the Dutch side, then over through the Causeway Bridge to where we have been anchored ever since. 
Saint_Martin_travel_map

  We are anchored about equidistant from the dinghy docks on the French side to the North and the Dutch side to the south so our location has worked out well and we’ve spent time eXploring SXM by foot and pretty much circumnavigating this fascinating island by rental car.
Cost U Less SXMSXM is home to many super yachts as well as being a popular tourist destination so we have been enjoying the largest supply of groceries, marine supplies, postal services we’ve had since arriving on this side of the Atlantic.  There is even a Costco-like Cost U Less which was a bit overwhelming for us but we recovered long enough to stock up on wine, meat and groceries. 
Carrefour market shotAnd as if that wasn’t enough, next door was a very large French based Carrefour store as well so Möbius is now very well stocked up.
IMG_2527On our drive around the island we eXplored some of the smaller town that dot most of the coastal roads.
IMG_2523Up on the North side we found this spot right on the water and
IMG_2524enjoyed a good BBQ lunch in the soft trade wind breezes while watching the boats anchored out in front.

Starlink Internet has arrived on Möbius!

PXL_20230227_204912732As you can see from the smile, the BIG news aboard Möbius is that we have now joined the Starlink community!  Christine spent a LOT of time figuring out the rather complex logistics of just how and where to get this satellite based internet solution registered and sent to us and SXM was her choice and it arrived without too much complication on Friday. 
starlink-nedir_5375859682_-1x-1_false_falseFor those who may not know, Starlink is a relatively new way of getting a pretty fast internet connection via a constellation of Low Earth Orbit LEO satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.  This enables us to now have a solid internet connection from pretty much anywhere we wander and anchor in this awemazing world of ours.  For nomadic people like us, this is an eXtremely BIG deal!
image2_53009871-599f-4ed5-9efa-af7a5d0300ecYou might think that such an advanced new solution would be very complex, but you’d be wrong.  There are really just two parts, the dish itself, apparently officially called “Dishy”, that goes outside on the supplied mounting stand and then a wireless router which goes inside. 
PXL_20230227_210540962Only two wires required to complete the setup, one being the power to the router which for now we are using 240V AC but will change to 24V DC in the future.  And then a second cable to connect Dishy to the router.
PXL_20230227_220322102Dishy has a set of motors which automatically move the rectangular dish for the best direction to capture the most satellites streaming in the sky above which is mostly North in our current location.  The aluminium stand nicely jammed itself between the handrail and the triangular walls of the front of the Salon roof so I have set Dishy up there for now.
PXL_20230227_220232367We will bring him inside when we are on passages until I decide how and where to mount him more permanently.  Given that Möbius will sometimes be at all 360 degrees of the compass, I will be doing a “hack” that will remove or disconnect the alignment motors and allow me to mount the dish flat and solid most likely up on the front of the SkyBridge roof.  This solid flat mount should be much more robust mount and long lasting.
Starlink flat mountIt turns out that with more and more satellites being launched and with so many nomads like us in RV’s and boats, some bright minds have figured out that because the phase array antennae inside Dishy can pick up satellites in about a 100 degree wide cone above, the dish will work very well when permanently mounted flat.  Seems too good to be true but there are enough other nomadic Starlink users who have done this and kindly shared their setup on blogs and YouTube videos, I’m quite sure this will work fine for us.
Starlink Test screenStarlink has also done an eXcellent job of creating an app that allows you to setup your system in a matter of minutes which was also very impressive.  Once I had Dishy mounted and temporarily ran the cable back inside the boat to the router, it took less than 5 minutes to have it all working and record this quick speed test that is built into the app.  We’ve now been using this new internet connection for the past three days and so far we are both very pleased.  The app also has a full set of stats that it records and we can see that there have been some brief outages but so far nothing that we have notices performance wise when using the connection for streaming, Email, web searching, etc.  I will track and update our performance, use and modifications to our new Starlink setup and share them in future posts so stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile, back in Wayne’s World….

PXL_20230302_133403525Much less exciting update is that I continue to make progress on getting Möbius more and more seaworthy and working my way through the always growing job list.  Our Bosch washing machine stopped working part way through its latest cycle and I spent several hours trying to figure out why without much success so far. Unfortunately and like most modern washing machines it seems, they are all now “smart appliances” with everything run by LED touch screens and automated sensors that shut things down as soon as they detect a problem.

All well and good except that once they turn off they won’t turn on again until the problem has been corrected so you can’t do anymore diagnosis.  Real smart!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr  

I’ll take another run at it by removing it from the cabinet which takes time but I suspect this will need to wait till we get to a larger country where I can have better choices and options for assistance.

I spent time this past two weeks working on getting our Maretron N2K View monitoring system reporting more and more info on our main monitors at each helm as well as on our phones and tablets.
Maretron screenThis past week I was finally able to get some of the key engine data from Mr. Gee converted and sent to our N2K View Maretron system so that we can have things like engine RPM, loads, EGT, oil & water temperature, oil pressure, etc. now configured as new virtual gauges on any screen on the boat.  This screen is from another boat but will give you an idea of the kinds of gauges I am creating with the N2K View program.
IMG_0859It is slow and tedious work, in part because I’m needing to figure out how this process all works and getting all the senders and gauges in synch and talking nicely to each other so I spend a LOT of time staring at fun screens like this, but I am making progress however slowly and should have all of Mr. Gee’s data on these screens by next week.

Solar Panel Roof Update

PXL_20230305_194435025As many of you know we mounted 8 of our 14 320Wh solar panels on top of the aluminium frame of the SkyBridge roof which has worked out very well.  This shot a few minutes ago in the late afternoon so there is some shading on the rear panels from the overhead arch with the Radar and other antennae on it which reduces the output, but we have much more solar power production than we need so very happy with the overall performance.
Solar performance March 2023Here is the graph of solar performance for the past 7 days.  The solar output is regulated by the MPPT charge controllers as the batteries charge and tapers off till they are fully charged and then stops charging so there is much more solar capacity than we use each 24 hour day and typically our batteries are back to 100% by noon.
PXL_20230305_194246781Looking up from inside the SkyBridge you can see how the solar panels have been attached directly to the AL frames using adhesive/sealant to form the roof itself.  The white undersides with a bit of light coming through keeps things very bright but shaded.
PXL_20230305_143037877Unfortunately the sealant/adhesive that was used was not the correct UV resistant required along the ridge line which is fully exposed to the sun and was starting to break down and we had two small leaks inside the SkyBridge in heavy rains.  The ridge is the only point of attachment that is exposed to UV as all the other surfaces are between the bottom of the AL frames of each solar panel and the 200mm wide AL roof frames underneath so the majority of the seal was fine.
PXL_20230305_142944820Using a putty knife and box cutter blade I was able to remove all the old sealant along the ridge line joints, clean them all with acetone and then mask them off.
PXL_20230305_142730397I purchased some 3M 5200 which has eXcellent UV resistance in my past experience with it and was able to inject it deep into the crevice running along the ridge where the two solar panel frames butted at a slight angle.  Just for added insurance, I masked off the glass about 5mm past the AL frames to add an extra layer of sealant so I think this should now be fully sealed for many years to come.

St. Thomas here we come!

St Marting Mobius tracksMy Weather Wonderwoman aka Captain Christine tells me that there is an eXcellent weather window on Tuesday March 7th and so if the forecasts hold we will pull up the anchor and head out through the French side bridge to the north of us, Green on the map here.
SXM to St ThomasThis should be a relatively short passage of about 110 nautical miles, 200km/125 miles, and we’ll make this a night passage so that we arrive in St. Thomas with good light the next morning for navigating and anchoring.
Caribbean route map Martinique to USVIAs you can see from this larger scale map of the whole Caribbean, we will now be turning Westward for the next few passages as we make our way over to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and then likely continue NW to eXplore the Bahama islands.

Kling a ling a ling

Kling familyMost excitingly though, we are heading for St. Thomas because our 7 year old Grandson Liam is flying there along with his Mom & Dad aka Tim & Ashley on March 22nd for their first time aboard Möbius! 
We will have a few weeks to get well setup probably around the East end of St. Thomas and figure out how everything works there so we can maximize the precious time we have with our family. 

I will bring you the details of our passage over to St. Thomas in the next update and thanks so much for taking the time to join us once again here as our adventures continue.

-Wayne