It has been a very busy 17 days since I left off on the last update “Bye Bye Kalymnos” on the eve of us leaving Kalymnos Island in Greece and finally starting our travels westward across and out of the Mediterranean as we set up for crossing the Atlantic probably next month.
It was with the full spectrum of emotions that we put Kalymnos in our wake as we left on Oct. 30th after first arriving back on July 7th. This little island had been our home base all that time and we had definitely felt part of the community. However we were also eXtremely happy to finally be heading back out to sea and back the life we love of exploring the world on our latest floating home, Möbius. Fast forwarding to today, Wednesday Nov 16th, 2022, I am writing this update after we just pulled into a lovely little marina in the town of Melilla which is about 200 nautical smiles West of the Algeria/Morocco border. Interestingly enough we are actually not in Morocco as Melilla is as you can read in the link above “.. is an autonomous city of Spain located in north Africa.” So officially, we are in Spain! At only 12.3 km2 / 4.7 sq mi Melilla is not very large but has a population of 86 thousand and a very rich history that will be fun to explore in the next few days.
Hopefully you not as “geographically challenged” as I am and will have figured out that we have now travelled the majority of the Mediterranean from the far Eastern end in Antalya Turkey and are now only 200nm away from Gibraltar that marks the far Western end of the Med. I’ve put in an orange line on this map tracing our approximate path of this trip so far.That will give you some idea of how pleased we are to have made such progress and how well Mr. Gee v2.0 has been propelling us along.
Quick Statistics Overview:
Since leaving Kalymnos 17 days ago, we have put about 1600 nautical smiles under our keel and the all new Mr. Gee has now accumulated 194 hours purring away in his Engine Room. We are still breaking the new engine in so I’ve been keeping the loads at about 75% of the 100% continuous duty rating, which would be 150 BHP @ 1650 RPM that I currently have the fuel injection set up for. I am able to very accurately gauge and control the engine loads by varying the pitch with the Nogva CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller and then watching the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge which is pretty much a direct proxy for engine load. Full load would typically generate an EGT of about 450C/840F and I’ve been keeping it below 330C/626F and running about 1440 RPM. At these settings our Speed Over Ground SOG runs between 7-9 knots depending on wind, sea and current conditions and overall we are averaging a bit more than 8.2 knots at these conservative loads. Over the coming weeks and months I will start to vary the engine loads with different RPM and pitch settings and record all this data to help me find the Goldilocks combination of SOG and fuel burn. For those interested, in the 1600 NM so far Mr. Gee has been consuming about 1.78 Liters/NM which would be about 0.47 US Gallons per NM for my Imperial measurement friends and followers. Our design goal had been to get about 2L/NM doing 200NM per 24 hour day which would equate to averaging about 8.3 knots SOG. So we are very pleased to have exceeded this already very ambitious design goal and we will see how this changes as Mr. Gee breaks in and we vary SOG and engine loads and encounter more varied sea and weather conditions. I will do my best to keep you posted as this data accumulates.
We have also been varying the length of each passage as we hop our way West across the Mediterranean with passages like the one today from Saidia Morocco to Melilla Spain being just 35NM in a bit more than 4 hours and our longest passage so far was our jump across the top of Algeria which was 625NM in just over 3 days (79 hrs)
But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s jump back to where we left off back on Oct. 30th when we finally were able to motor out of the lovely little Greek Island of Kalymnos which had been our home base for almost four months.
For our very first trip with the all new Mr. Gee, after completing all the paperwork needed for us to leave Kalymnos and Greece we motored over to a lovely little anchorage on the South end of the tiny Greek island of Ios which was about 83NM away. We anchored in to the beautiful little “Never Bay” on the far Left in this photo at 23:00 under an almost full moon and it felt SO good to be on anchor and back at sea again after so many months. Next day, we got an early start and pulled up the anchor just after sunrise and made our way west to another lovely night anchorage on the South end of little Elafonisos Island which was about 120NM west. We averaged a bit more than 8.5 knots taking 14 hours and had the anchor down just before 22:00 for another peaceful nights sleep on the hook, aka at anchor.
Elafonisos was our last anchorage in Greece as we continued our way West and crossed into Italian waters on our way over to Sicily. Total length of this leg was 415NM which we did in just under 49 hours so average speed was about 8.45 knots. It was a great two day passage.
Captain Christine has acquired the new title of “Weather Wonder Woman” or W3 as she hones her skills using various weather software, most notably PredictWind, to do what I’m calling “No Wind Hunting” as ideal conditions for us have changed dramatically from our decades of sailing and we now ideally want no wind and flat seas or perhaps even better, following seas and winds which give us an added boost in speed. As you can see from the sunset photo above and this moon setting shot the next night, W3 has become the master No Wind Hunter!
We headed for Marina di Ragusa which is about 40NM North West from the SE bottom corner of Sicily. Our friends Matt and Cindy were there on their new Amel 50 “Speed of Life” and it was great to be able to catch up with them over several meals and good wine while we waited for the next good weather window for the next leg of this adventure to leave the EU and head over to Africa. When entering or leaving a country by boat, you need to do so at an official Port of Entry so we made the short 40nm trip up the cost from Ragusa to Licata which was the closest Port of Entry on our way West. We left Marina di Ragusa as the sun was rising and were docked in Marina di Cala del Sole at Licata just before noon and were able to get a taxi to the Police station where the immigration and Port authorities were located. This all worked out eXtremely well with neither the marina nor the checking out process taking any time at all or having any fees! So we were back on Möbius and leaving the dock in just over two hours. After the days and weeks and non stop fees trying to get our Schengen visa time extended in Greece you can imagine how delighted we were to have this final exit out of EU and the Schengen Area all happen so quick and easy. Africa, here we come!
As you can see, it is not a very big jump, about 195NM from Licata in Sicily to Bizerte up on the NE corner of Africa so an easy overnight sail in just less than 30 hours. We pulled in and were side tied for a nice change in the very nice Bezerte Marina by 14:00 on Tuesday the 8th of November. Tunisia has very good prices on diesel fuel, 0.66 USD per Liter, so we took full advantage and did our first filling of all six of our diesel tanks. We took on a total of 6792 liters and with exchange rates for the Tunisian Dinar and a credit card fee the total came to $4510.18 USD which at today’s fuel prices was a very good deal we think. We now had about 11,000 liters of fuel onboard and so we were finally able to see how well Möbius sits on her waterlines. As you can see, the hull was now eXactly on the lines! A bit closer shot as it is difficult to see where the 120mm wide Black Bootstripe on top changes to the Black InterSleek bottom paint but if you click to enlarge you will see that indeed sits eXactly on that line which is a great testament to our eXcellent NA Dennis Harjamaa! Well done Dennis and thanks for creating such a fabulous hull and boat for us.
Oh, and just in case you needed any proof that we are definitely not in “Kansas” anymore, check out this shot Christine took of the breakwater across from where we were tied up in Bizerte Marina. Yup, that’s a camel, well actually a dromedary with just the one hump, casually strolling along the breakwater. There was a small herd of them which we saw at various times during the day. While we were only in Bezerte for a few days before the next weather window opened up we did get time to walk into the the very colourful old town and enjoy the sights and smells of this waterfront city. We were also able to fit in a great date night eating some street food and then a delicious full meal at a little restaurant on the water. And enjoy one more beautiful sunset evening to finish up our all too short time in Bezerte and Tunisia. We had originally hoped to fuel up in neighboring Algeria where the fuel prices are even lower at about 22 cents per liter, but it turned out to be too long and difficult to get the required visa to allow us to stop there so we had to make the jump from Bezerte to Saidia in Morocco in one go and sail about 10nm off the very long Algerian coast of North Africa. It was a very smooth passage as W3 worked her weather routing skills perfect yet again and we had exceptionally calm seas with some following seas to help out several times. On one of her 6 hour watches Christine snapped this photo as she had fun surfing Möbius down some of the larger following swells and hitting speeds above 11 knots. Most of the time though it was more like this and we enjoyed some beautiful sunsets and sunrises along the passage. Christine had several opportunities on this passage to enjoy watching the large dolphins that came over to say Hi and play in the pressurized area ahead of our bow. I’m not sure who was having more fun, Christine or the dolphins but they all had a great time. This is a relatively busy shipping route and so we saw our share of other ships on this passage such as this little fella. We have a very good Class A AIS (Automatic Identification System) onboard, with several backups so pretty much all the other ships show up on our charts along the way and give us full information on each one including boat size, heading, speed, CPA Closest Point of Approach), etc. so makes it very easy to contact them on the rare times we need to and otherwise stay well informed of where they are in relation to us. I took advantage of the calm conditions to do the first test run of the Paravanes I had built. These are what we are going to try out for stabilizing Möbius in seas that want to cause us to roll back and forth sideways. The paravanes or “fish” as they are often called, are rigged to a fixed line of Dyneema off the end of each A-frame boom which is lowered off each side at about 45 degrees. The fish run about 5 meters or 18 feet below the surface where they “fly” through the water very smoothly. When the boat tries to roll to one side the paravane that is being pulled up resists this motion and the one on the opposite side dives down as its line goes slack and sets up for its turn when the boat tries to roll the other way. I particularly like iterative design and I start with the simplest approach and then adjust from there as I test. This first setup was a fully manual one with the orange line being the fixed length line that the paravane is suspended from and then a smaller Grey retrieval line attached to the rear of the tail fin. Christine slowed the boat and I lowered each fish into the water and they quickly zipped out and trailed behind the boom attachment points and then bring the boat back up to speed. A bit too busy to take photos but you can imagine how this works. It worked quite well but the retrieval required more effort than I thought was safe so I will re rig these lines so that the retrieval line goes up through a block mid way out on the boom and then over and down to a winch on the large Arch on the boat. I’m in the process of doing this rigging now and we will try it out on the next passage and let you know how it works and can get some better photos and details on their performance. We pulled into Saidia Marina which is just inside the border between Algeria and Morocco our longest passage so far at 625nm which took us just under 79 hours with an overall average SOG of 7.9 knots. As you can see, they had plenty of room for us! The marina is very large with an entire mall of shops and restaurants surrounding two sides but it has seen better days and Morocco had been closed for two years due to Covid restrictions so it was a bit sad. However the people and all the officials were extremely kind and engaging and we were quickly checked in and had fresh Moroccan stamps in our passports. We were about to loose the good weather we’d been having so we took advantage and made the quick 35nm trip from Saidia over to Melilla which as I mentioned at the beginning is actually part of Spain so we pulled in just after noon time and were quickly tied up and checked in.
As per my opening photos and comments, this marina and town is the opposite of what we found in Saidia, being very full and busy, very modern and diverse and is already proving to be a great spot for us to hunker down for perhaps as much as a week while we wait for the winter storms to pass through and provide us with the next chance to motor our way along the Moroccan coast as we get closer and closer to the Straits of Gibraltar that are now less than 150 nm WNW of us.
The other fun thing that recently happened is that we crossed the invisible Prime Meridian or Zero degree Longitude and so we are now into officially in the Western Hemisphere! Antalya sits on about 30.7 degrees East and Melilla is at about 3 degrees West so we have now traveled more than 33 degrees of latitude on Möbius. Looking further ahead, we are setting up to cross the Atlantic next month and will mostly likely take something close to the Southern route as shown on this map. These are typical routes for sailboats and thus based on favorable winds circling the Azores High pressure zone so we will just wait and see how that is positioned this year and figure out the best “No Wind Hunting” route for us to take across the Atlantic. Stay tuned for more as these Nauti Nomadic Grandparents do our best to continue to keep you all well entertained! Thanks and hope you will join us again for the next update to see just where Möbius is in a week or two.
After our wonderful time with friends John & Genna last week and our chance to get out on anchor again, it was back to boat work this week. Our annual contract at Setur Marinas includes a haul out and so we decided to take advantage of that to see how everything under the waterline has fared over the past year in the water. Spoiler alert; everything below the WL was in great shape and we were eXtremely happy with the silicone based foul release bottom paint we decided to use. Here are the details of this very busy past week.
First thing Monday morning we moved Möbius over to the Travel Lift bay here at Finike Marina. The slings dropped down into the water in front of the Bow as the Travel lift moved back. And up out of the water we came. Looking pretty good after 11 months in the water with almost no movement. The typical “sea grass” and green slime up around the Boot Stripe and a bit of growth on the bottom paint itself. Prop is also looking pretty clean with just a bit of growth around the base of the blades at the hub. This area would get the least amount of self cleaning turbulence when the prop is spinning so makes sense that we might see some growth here. We designed the Rub Rails with this situation in mind and the underside makes a strong solid pocket for the support poles to lock into. Some blocks under the keel bar running the length of the boat and the Travel Lift was good to go and we could get to work cleaning up the bottom and inspecting everything under the waterline This was a good indicator of how easy it was going to be to clean the bottom paint. Just the contact with the web straps on the Travel Lift was enough to completely brush off all the growth. Another good sign that a small patch of harder growth on the bottom of the Keel Bar came off in my fingers. Each of the zinc anodes also had a bit of harder growth on them but this too came off very easily with a lift of my fingernail or a plastic spreader. I got out a bucket of water and a sponge and after a few swipes with the sponge the growth came off and the silicone bottom paint was as clean and shiny as new. I just kept going with the sponge and this is what it looked like in less than 30 minutes. Christine tackled the prop and rudder with similar fast results. It was a very warm sunny day and the dirty water from sponging would evaporate quite quickly and leave this kind of residue behind but this was easy to rinse off with a spray nozzle on the water hose. Bow thruster tunnel and plastic blades also cleaned up very quickly which was another very pleasant result for us compared to any of our previous boats By the end of the day we had finished the Starboard side and would get back to the Port side in the morning. And that was it! Two days of work and we had a super clean and slick bottom and some VERY big smiles on our faces seeing how easy it was going to be to keep the bottom of Möbius’ hull clean, smooth and slippery.
For other boat owners who are interested in more details on this fabulous bottom paint we used you can read all the details and see how it was applied in THIS previous post from last year.
This type of bottom paint is referred to as “Foul Release” rather than Anti Foul and it is basically a coating of silicone that is sprayed over typical good quality epoxy primer and base coats using an airless sprayer. It is basically the same as what some of you might know as “Prop Speed” that is commonly used to keep propellers clean.
We chose International’s version called InterSleek 1100SR and as you can see this was one of the best choices we made. Having cleaned a LOT of hulls in our many years of sailing this silicone based foul release paint is the best we have ever seen by a very large margin. I simply don’t know or understand why this type of bottom paint is so unknown in the recreational boat market but it is very commonly used by military, cargo and super yachts so is not hard to find if you ask. Given our experience after about 14 months of use, we could not imagine using anything else in the future and can give this our highest recommendation to other boaters to consider. it has an estimated life of 5-7 years so we will continue to report on how this paint performs over the next few years but at this point we are unbelievably happy with our choice and how well it meets our low maintenance priority.
Two days later we were back in the water and back to our dock to finish up other remaining boat jobs so we can finally cut the dock lines and head out to sea.
Fixing the TreadMaster
One of those jobs was redoing the TreadMaster that covers all our decks. The epoxy that had been used to glue the TreadMaster to the aluminium deck surfaces had not stuck and most of the corners were starting to lift and become both a trip hazard and unsightly. Naval sent up a crew of guys who carefully separated each panel of TreadMaster from the deck, sanded the AL deck surfaces clean, primed it and put down a layer of Bostic primer and then used Bostik Simson MSR adhesive to reattach each panel. They got about 70% of the decks done and will be back again Monday morning to finish the rest and we will have nice solid non skid decks again.
Rigging the Davit and Tender
Once back at the dock I got busy installing all the rigging for the Davit Arch that will allow us to launch and retrieve our Tender Mobli.
I’ve got a long and successful experience on previous boats with Garhauer rigging hardware so went with them again. These are the triple blocks that will lift Mobli Up/Down inside the Davit Arch. Like this. From the top triple block the Dyneema line goes through a turning block on the inside corner of the Arch. And then down to a manual Lewmar 40 winch. A Dyneema bridle connects to the bottom triple block and then extends down to ….. …… one of these welded in eyes in each corner of the hull. Makes it very easy to clip the bridle on/off the Tender. Same setup for the bridle at the Bow.
This rigging is what we will use to lift the Tender Up/Down inside the arch to raise it up off the Aft Deck and then down into the water on the side when launching. Retrieval is the reverse sequence. The second rigging is to allow the Arch to rotate off to the Port side so that the Tender moves off the Aft Deck and out to clear the sides so Mobli can be lowered down into the water. Here I have installed the bridal for this that you can see in the middle of the Arch. From the top of the Arch, the line runs over to a turning block on the Stbd side then … … back up to another turning block on the bridle, back down through one more turning block that takes the line over to the Lewmar 65 electric winch. Belaying the line out allows the Arch to rotate out and over the Port side. Like this except the Tender would be hanging from those two Up/Down lines you saw earlier. Next time we are out at anchor and have enough room beside us, we’ll do our first launch of Mobli and see who the whole system works. A work in progress I’m sure and as with many of our systems we will use it for some months to learn how it works and how we can improve it. We may want to modify this to be all electric perhaps or even consider going with a hydraulic crane but for now this simple manual setup should work well we hope. Baris and Dincer at Naval Yachts sent up this lovely surprise gift with the TreadMaster crew this week. Four lovely hand painted tiles of famous Turkish boats of the past and a beautiful hand made Turkish ”evil eye” to help keep us, Mobli and Möbius safe. Now we are trying to decide on the best place to showcase this much appreciated gift. Thanks Naval!
And that wraps up our busy week over here as the days get warmer and warmer and we already feel summer weather coming our way. Thanks for tuning in again this week, be sure to add your comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below and hope you’ll be back again to join us for next week’s adventures.
It was a busy week for both Christine and me but nothing too blogworthy so this week’s Möbius update will be short for a change.
I just returned to Möbius last night after spending most of the week in England. This was my first trip for 2022 and a nice change of pace for me. It has proven to take a LOT of time, energy and $$ to get parts shipped from England to us here in Turkey so I decided it was best to go pick up the new parts I needed for Mr. Gee in person from Gardner Marine Diesel and bring them back with me. To be honest, I will take just about any reason to make a trip to GMD and see Michael, James and David there so it was an easy decision. To make it even more compelling, Pegasus Airlines has very cheap flights twice a week between Antalya and London so my entire trip would cost less than the customs duties to ship the parts to me and would take at least a month, sometimes two to get here. The icing on the cake for me was the chance to get in a visit with a very good friend Robin and his wonderful wife Jayne. Robin and I first met when we were both fairly new to Autodesk back in about 1990 and have continue to grow our friendship over all those years. My thanks to Robin and Jayne for opening their home and hearts in welcoming me to stay with them and we had a delightful three days hanging out and catching up.
My outbound flight was very early in the morning so we decided to rent a car and spend the night in a fun little hotel not far from the airport and enjoyed a nice “date night” out at a great little family restaurant right across from the hotel. Christine was then able to do some shopping for groceries and other items that are much more available at the larger stores and malls in Antalya and then drive back to our small town of Finike so it all worked out very well..
We also took advantage of being back in Antalya to stop by the Free Zone and Naval Yachts to see the progress on the several new builds they have underway. XPM78-02 mv Vanguard is now looking very much like a boat now that the superstructure for the Pilot House is in place. The other build is for the larger XPM85-01 which is in the early stages of the ‘hotworks’ and after a long wait due to supply chain and other issues, all the aluminium plates and parts have been delivered. These boats are built upside down in this first stage until all the hull plating is welded in place and then the hull is flipped right way up. The upside down deck plates are first put together in the steel framework bolted to the floor and then frames and bulkheads are tacked in place. Meanwhile, over on Vanguard, Uğur and Nihat, who did most of the AL work on Möbius are now busy welding the hundreds of Al pieces in place. You can see some of the cut and rolled plates for the keels setting on the floor to the Left. XPM78-02 is based on the same design as Möbius but will have twin JD engines as you can see from the dual prop tunnels in these two photos. The aft deck will be slightly larger and the Owners have decided to build some of the furniture into the boat such as this L-shaped dining area. Large window behind it, WT door into the SuperSalon in the middle and stairs up to the SkyBridge on the Right.
Here is the view from inside the SuperSalon looking back out onto the Aft Deck.
Going up those stairs the SkyBridge is starting to take shape and more built in furniture with an other L-shaped settee at the Aft end. Peering down from the very Aft end of the FlyBridge and roof overtop of the Aft Deck you can see the same arrangement as on Möbius with the doghouse for walking into the Engine Room on the Left and matching winding stairs on both sides. Looking up and aft lets you see another view of the upside down XPM85. Back down to Deck level on Vanguard, you can see another owner driven change with the addition of these bulwarks running most of the length of the side decks.
Bulwarks run all the way up to and around the Anchor Deck and bow. Up at the Bow the “sidewinder” anchor setup is the same as we designed for Möbius along with the Samson Post in the center and nose cone in the very front. This setup has proven to work out eXtremely well on Möbius so has been replicated here on hull #2. You can see how Dennis has nicely designed the Bow and anchoring arrangements to now include the wrap around bulwarks.
Lest we should forget the Mighty Möbius, I will leave you with THIS LINK to a series of photos that Captain Christine put together while I was off in Gardner Land in the UK this past week. Christine went through some of our archives of thousands of photos over the past 6 months or so and put the ones she liked into this album. So if you’ve been Jonesing to see less of the Engine Room and all the detailed technical shots that I post and more of the interior and exterior of Möbius, click the link above and enjoy your tour through this collection. Thanks for taking time to join us here again this week and hope you’ll be back again next Sunday for the latest weekly update on what’s been going on in Möbius.World.
Special thanks to all of you who have been contributing your questions and comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below and please keep them coming!
Our lives aboard Möbius have settled into the same pattern of working our way through the list of jobs needing to be finished before Möbius is fully sea worth and ready for us to get back to crossing oceans and eXploring the salt water world we both love so much. This work is far from “glamorous” or eXciting, just neccessary and a pattern we are accustomed to from our decades being full time live aboards and stewards of many boats before.
What IS eXtremely eXciting is the arrival of more and more members of our family of XPM style boats from the desk of our beloved Naval Architect and designer, Dennis Harjamaa who runs Artnautica Yacht Design in Auckland NZ. So let me provide a bit of background to help put this all in context.
Finding our Goldilocks NA and Designer for XPM78-01 Möbius
Back in 2016 when Christine and I got serious about switching from sail to power and designing and building our own new “Goldilocks” just right, just for us passage maker, we spent a year searching the world for our equally Goldilocks NA. There are a LOT of Naval Architects and boat design firms but what made our search so challenging was that we did not want to be just clients the designer worked FOR and end up with a boat design that was based on what the designer thought was best. Instead we wanted a designer who would work WITH us in a highly collaborative way to transform the very specific visions and specifications which we knew well from all our nautical smiles at sea. It took us almost a year and a lot of both nautical and air miles but we finally found and met up with Dennis when we had our previous boat in New Zealand and we knew right away that we had finally found our Goldilocks guy.
Winding the clock back a few years more, somewhere around 2010, after designing a lot of very successful smaller boats, Dennis set out to design the Goldilocks boat for himself and his partner Raquel to live aboard and enable them to start exploring the world by sea. What he came up with was the LRC58 which you see rendered here and hull #1 called “Koti” has been their full time home near Auckland since it launched in 2013.
Since then FIVE more LRC58’s have launched from the Aluboot yard in the Netherlands and you can read all about them HERE on the Artnautica.EU website. But wait! There’s more!!!
Not only did Dennis design the LRC58, he also built her almost single handedly! So now you are starting to understand why Dennis was and still is to this day our Goldilocks XPM designer!
The XPM Line of Boats Begins
Christine and I found the LRC name to be too generic and overused in the boating world and so we came up with the more specific eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker or XPM title to better suit this unique style of boats and therefore Möbius became hull #1 of the new XPM78 design.
We spent almost two years working with Dennis in what quickly became a collaborative work of art and engineering and resulted in the completed 3D model and drawings that were used by Naval Yachts to build XPM78-01 Möbius. This is a relatively new style of boat which do not yet have a common name or acronym but are all designed and built for a small but growing group of like minded people with a common set of priorities and use cases. They are most often a couple, sometimes with a child or two, who want to be able to have a floating home that can carry them across oceans and eXplore the most remote spots on the planet and do so with the highest degree of safety, comfort, efficiency and low maintenance. Such requirements tend to determine the overall characteristics of these boats so they are long, slender and slippery all aluminium hulls that are low to the water, self righting and efficient to run with as low amount of maintenance as possible to operate.
Since designing our XPM78-01 Möbius, more and more people have been intrigued by what Dennis calls his LRC or Long Range Cruising boats and have sought him out to design a Goldilocks version of an XPM for them and that’s what brings us to this post.
Over the years as more people became aware of our work building Möbius and chronicling it all with these weekly blog posts, Christine and I have been fielding more and more requests by people wanting to know more about these XPM boats, In spite of my Emails being even longer than my blog posts, some of these people have been brave enough to keep asking questions and receiving more and more of my novellas aka Emails as their interest grew. In several cases this has led to them coming to meet with us for lengthy tours of Möbius, Naval Yachts and the Antalya Free Zone and as you’re about to see, in several cases this ultimately led to several signing on the dotted line with Artnautica and Naval to design and build an XPM for them.
The first are an American couple, Chris and Sebrina and their son Rhys who not only endured hundreds of pages of my Emails but they also very courageously flew over to Antalya last December and we spent several days with them aboard Möbius as she was nearing the end of her build and showing them around Antalya and Naval Yachts. Apparently they liked what they saw as a few months later they had signed on with Artnautica and Naval to design and build what is now hull # 2 XPM78-02 Vanguard.
These are some relatively recent renders of how hull #2 has evolved. You can see the XPM78 family resemblance and she is based on the same models as Möbius. However Chris & Sebrina worked with Artnautica and Naval on some important modifications to make this the just right, just for them, XPM78. Keen eyed followers might notice that the Pilot House has been lengthened by about 1 from aka 1 meter which is a change that we recommended as well for all future XPM78’s. More significantly and perhaps controversial, the Pilot House has also been raised by about the same amount to enable the area underneath to become living space that includes a 3rd cabin. Some of the other key changes that Vanguard will have include:
Twin John Deer 4045 engines with double prop tunnels to keep the draft down.
electric hybrid propulsion by Praxis added to the propulsion from twin JD diesel engines
addition of a 3rd cabin
extending the PH as noted above to make the salon in particular more roomy.
raise the PH to convert what is the Basement on Möbius to all living space on Vanguard.
bulwarks wrapping around the side and bow decks
windows in the sides of the hull
Some will love those changes, others will question but all that matters is that this is what’s best for Chris, Sebrina and Rhys.
There are a growing number of designs similar to these XPM’s from other companies that have appeared in the past couple of years but almost none of these have gone on to be built. So pictures like this are a big deal IMHO!
Construction at Naval began in April and matches the way Möbius was built. A steel frame is built on the shop floor and then the hull is built upside down on top of this. For the curious, if you go back to posts here starting around April 2018 you can see when Möbius was at this same point and follow the construction from there if you’d like to look into the future of the building of Vanguard. This is the most recent photo I received from Chris which I think was taken a few weeks ago at the end of August.
I believe Chris and/or Naval will soon be creating a blog to cover this build and I’ll be sure to pass that on here for those interested.
Not to be outdone, another couple, Andrew and Lily, also from the USA have recently signed on with Artnautica and Naval to build XPM hull #3 and this one will be much larger at 85’ LOA. Covid travel restrictions have not allowed us to meet in person yet, but Christine and I have had some video calls with Andrew and Lily and they too have been subjected to my barrage of Emails as I attempt to answer all their questions. Unfortunately as you may have heard in the news, there has also been a Covid related shortage in the world’s aluminium supply so work on both XPM78-02 and XPM85-01 has been delayed but Naval has been busy getting ready for the aluminium to arrive by building the steel support structure that XPM85 will be built upon.
Dennis and Naval are still working with Andrew to finalize the design so I don’t have much more to show you yet but will bring you updates when I get them and we could not be more eXcited for Andrew & Lily as their dreams are transformed into very real aluminium. But wait! There is still MORE!!
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands
As if these new XPM builds were not enough eXcitement for one blog post, things have been equally as busy or more so over in the LRC world of Artnautica. Somewhere around 2018 Dennis was in conversation with the owner of LRC58-03 Britt which launched from the Aluboot yard in July 2017. Rob Westermann and his wife Janet have been touring the many waterways surrounding the Netherlands and their conversations with Dennis soon resulted in Rob setting up Artnautica Europe. Rob and I first met at the big METS marine trade show in Amsterdam back in 2018 and have gone on to become very good friends who have visited with us in Antalya several times. Rob is eXtremely bright and entrepreneurial and he has been a great partner with Dennis to extend and expand the LRC line of boats being built in the Netherlands as well.
Rob & Janet enjoyed their life aboard Britt so much that they decided they wanted not only more time but more boat and so began a conversation and a whole new design process that has now culminated in the LRC65 which will become the new home for them to continue to explore Europe and the world.
FYI, LRC58-03 Britt is therefore now for sale and can find out more about that and how to contact Rob HERE.
LRC65-01 Britt II
As you can imagine, Covid restrictions are doing their best to get in the way of getting LRC65-01 off the drawing board and into the build, but Rob is tenacious and very experienced so he was able to get in an order for some aluminium just as the supply was drying up and they expect to begin construction in about a month.
Dennis & Rob have created two layout versions GA 5 and GA 6 have each with different galley, settee, and helm station positions, as well as a different position of the staircase leading forward. This could be interchangeable between the two layout options. As you can see here in this rendering of the framework of LRC65, the LRC/XPM boat similarities are much more than just skin deep. Here is a similar shot of Mobius’ framework. When you peel away the outer aluminium plating, the familiar Artnautica framing signature is very clear to see.
There will be several propulsion options for the LRC65; twins of either Beta 75 or John Deere 4045 DTF 70 (80hp). The single-engine option will have a turbocharged four-cylinder, 130-160hp engine, likely supplied by SABB who make the CPP gearbox of choice and can therefore supply the whole driveline (Deutz, Iveco, and AGCO Sisu).
Phwew!!! That was quite the tour of the XPM Family Tree!
Coming around the XPM world full circle, I will leave you with this photo of the very first XPM, our beloved Möbius.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and if you have any questions or would like to consider creating your own XPM just let me know in the “Join the Discussion” box below or send me an Email to us at email@example.com
We don’t use SCEM as filters per se, we use them to keep us on track, keep our priorities straight, by reminding us of what our fundamental values are for this boat. When doing our due diligence and research on some potential piece of equipment It is all too easy to get attracted or distracted by things like cool features or just the sheer number of choices and so as we go through our decision making we are constantly circling back through SCEM to make sure these fundamental requirements are being met.
This week in this Part 2 of our decision making process, I will do my best to summarize the more specific criteria we use to ultimately make our final decisions upon. I will cover this as a series of the following questions that we ask and answer to our satisfaction at least, as we evaluate each bit of kit and then use these to make our call.
What problem is this item attempting to solve?
Is the problem/item a want or a need?
Consequences of adding this item? Domino effect?
Does it pass the Goldilocks test?
New vs Tried & True?
What problem is this item attempting to solve?
Might sound like a silly question at first but it is surprising how often answering this question provides the most help in in our evaluation of a design decision or of a given piece of equipment. Let me use our decision of what battery type to use for our House Battery Bank to illustrate but one example of how valuable this question was.
To put this question into context, keep in mind that Möbius is a completely Battery Based Boat, meaning that ALL of our onboard electrical power comes from our House Battery Bank and therefore this is one of THE most critical systems on the boat and one that in some cases our lives can depend upon. For an XPM or any true eXpedition boat that is going to be able to carry us safely and comfortably to locations across the full spectrum of eXtremes of climate and remoteness, we need to be as self sufficient as possible and so our onboard electrical power rates right up there alongside diesel fuel and fresh (potable) water as a critical requirement. An XPM type boat is designed to spend the majority of its time at anchor or at sea, in our case often for months at a time, so in all our design and equipment decisions, we assume that we will have no shore based resources such as shore power, stores, shipping, airports, etc..
Finally, for a bit more context, let me add that we have also chosen to not have an independent generator onboard so ALL of our four voltages, 12 & 24 Volt DC and 120 & 230 Volt AC, come from our House Battery Bank. Most of the time we keep our batteries charged via our 4.48kW array of 14 320W Solar Panels and when underway we have 12-14kW available from the two eXtremely robust 250A @ 28V Electrodyne alternators which Mr. Gee keeps spinning. One of the very first decisions we needed to make to chose our batteries was what type or chemistry of batteries would be the Goldilocks just right, just for us House Batteries? I’m not going to go over this in any detail here but these are the five battery types we had to chose from:
FLA; Flooded Lead Acid
AGM: Absorbed Glass Matt
Many of you and others we talked to, thought for sure that the choice was obvious; go with Lithium and we did consider them, and all the other types, very thoroughly. But it was that question of “What problem is this trying to solve” that made it clear that Lithium was not the best choice for us and that’s the story I’d like to elaborate on here a bit.
Our battery decision making started at the very beginning of our design process, around 2016, and in some ways we designed and built the boat around the House Batteries. For the first few years, we thought we would go with GEL based OPzV batteries such as this one.
These OPxV type batteries are eXtremely robust and often referred to as “traction batteries” as they are used in things like all electric forklifts in warehouses so they had good cycle life and good resistance to sulfation and other features that wold make them a good choice for Möbius.
During this time we were reading more and more about Lithium batteries and we were seeing more and more people who were choosing to go with them so we also spent a good bit of time researching the various types and makes of Lithium, primarily LiFePO4 or Lithium Iron. This relatively new type of battery was said to have a lot of amazing features with the top ones being longer lasting (more cycle life), ability to accept much higher charging rates thus take less time to charge, but perhaps the biggest feature was their much higher energy density. This means that you get much more usable Watts from the same amount of space and weight compared to what you would get from other battery types. Said another way, you could get the same amount of energy out of a much smaller size and lighter battery bank.
As the months and years went by, these claims were validated more and more and we saw the steady increase of Lithium Iron being the batteries of choice for more and more boats so it seemed like the choice was clear right? However when we applied our criteria and use case and asked the “What problem is Lithium trying to solve?” question, we realized that we didn’t have the same “problems” as most of these other boats such as size and weight of our House Batteries.
My earlier comment that we had designed the boat around our House Battery Bank is not that far off as we had designed the hull to take maximum advantage of the characteristics of our original consideration of OPzV batteries which were very large and very heavy. Each OPzV 2/4V cell measured 215mm/8.5” Wide x 277mm/10.9” Deep x 855mm/33.6” High and weighed 110kg/242lbs each, and we needed 24 of these! As we often do, we turned this “bug” into a feature and built four large battery compartments into the framing of the bottom of the hull such that each compartment straddled the 25mm thick x 350mm high keel bar running down the centerline of the hull. By positioning these battery compartments on the very bottom and center of the hull, we effectively turned the lead in our batteries into a proxy for some of the lead ballast we needed. This is a photo from last year of one of our four battery compartments.
The point here if you are following along with me is that for the use case and design of an XPM, the “problem” that Lithium batteries would solve with their high energy density for a given weight and size just wasn’t a problem we had; we had the room and we wanted the weight. So the search for our Goldilocks batteries continued.
For awhile we continued to think that OPzV Gel batteries were the best fit for us, however, just as we had been following the developments of Lithium batteries we had also been tracking the growing use of Carbon Foam type batteries from FireFly. They ticked all the boxes on our list of criteria, most notably these were proving to be eXtremely robust and several attempts by test labs trying to purposely destroy these batteries failed and they proved to be almost indestructible which is a huge factor for us and our use case. These Carbon Foam batteries are also able to work and charge in much lower temperatures such as those we expect to have when we are in polar regions of the world and they are one of the only battery types that don’t suffer from sulfation. and are happy, even recommended, to stay at Partial State of Charge for long periods of time which would normally be the death of most other batteries.
Near the end I found real world installations of these batteries, some of which had been in place for more than ten years and so just before placing this large order of batterie we changed and ordered 24 of these 4V L15+ size Micro Carbon Foam batteries which now make up our 43.2kW House Bank (1800Ah @ 24V) made by FireFly and they have been working flawlessly for the past six months.
Let me be clear that I am NOT saying that Lithium batteries are not a great choice for many boats, nor am I saying that Carbon Foam batteries are “the best”, I am just hoping to explain how and why we made our decision to go with Carbon Foam and why they are the Goldilocks just right, just for us choice. All thanks in part to the question we regularly ask near the beginning of our decision making process; What problem is this trying to solve?
Is the problem/item a want or a need?
We often put each item we are trying to decide on into either the Need to Have or Wish/Want to Have category. Pretty self explanatory I think, Need to Have are items that we feel are mandatory must haves in order for us to feel confident in going to sea and living full time aboard Möbius. Examples for us include things like;
our high output watermaker,
Furuno Radar and other navigation equipment,
eXtremely high amounts of acoustic & audio insulation,
comfortable Helm Chairs,
that little FLIR One thermal camera I used to find the overheated wiring a few weeks ago,
great HVAC systems
Global communication capability (right now via our Iridium GO)
and items like this.
The Want/Wish to Have category can be subdivided into groups such as;
buy as soon as the budget allows
later when it is ready for real world use (ours)
nice to have, perhaps a gift to ourselves or each other
Current examples on our Wish/Want list includes things like:
second Furuno Radar with NXT technology,
forward facing sonar when it is has been in more mainstream use and is robust enough for our use case
active stabilization, most likely Magnus Effect type
kite sail with autopilot to add to our propulsion and reduce fuel usage
Portland Pudgy, Christine’s long time wish for a small, light sailing dingy
affordable high speed internet such as that being promised by 5G and satellite based systems being developed.
We also have a third category worth mentioning which is the Don’t Want Onboard category which is sometimes the best choice. Items on this list would include things like;
anything that requires propane (too much of a pain to fill around the world)
anything that requires gasoline (too short a shelf life these days)
Consequences of adding this item?
As a good friend and fellow world sailor likes to say “Everything needs” and so we spend time trying to imagine what the needs and other consequences will be if we add this bit of kit to Möbius. Our primary prioritization of Maintenance, lack thereof, would factor into this for example and hence decisions such as;
no paint/wood/SS on the exterior,
being single fuel boat with no propane or gasoline,
but it could also be other consequences of adding this item to our boat. An XPM is complex by virtue of needing to be so self contained and as we often say Möbius is like a floating village in that we have to look after making all our own water, all our own energy, dealing with all our own waste and so on, but we do strive to apply the KISS or Keep It Simple & Safe philosophy to all our decisions by finding the simplest solution possible. Examples of this would include:
manual roll attenuation with our fully mechanical/manual Paravane A-Frames
manual Tender Davit system vs hydraulic
Gardner engine (no turbo, no electrics, low revs, etc.)
The Domino Effect is perhaps a branch of the consideration of the Consequences of any decision as I just outlined above and is when the result of a decision has follow on effects to other systems on that boat. This can work both ways; sometimes these dominos are positive ones and in other cases they are negative or undesirable consequences. For example, installing the eXtreme amount of EPDM and acoustic insulation throughout the boat has a domino effect;
stabilizes the interior temperatures and makes them more temperate in both very hot and very cold climates
this reduces the energy required to cool/heat the boat
this allows us to install smaller capacity and less expensive HVAC systems such as Air Conditioning and heating
this lowers the demand on our House Batteries and HVAC systems so they run with less loads and last longer
An example of when the Domino Effect can work the opposite direction might be the option we considered of installing fin type active stabilizers. These work extremely well to reduce the roll in many conditions when on passages but they would also introduce a Domino Effect of consequences that took them out of the running for us, such as;
their protrusion from the side of the hull reduces the safety factor when in areas with uncharted rocks, coral heads and the inevitable groundings on these.
not suitable when ice is present in polar waters
unlikely but possible if a fin is hit hard enough to create an underwater breach of the hull
are extremely complex and often top the lists of most maintenance problems we read from other global passage makers.
most require a significant hydraulic system to operate which adds yet another whole system onboard to maintain and repair.
I might add that having gone through this Domino Effect as we considered active fin stabilization, it also helped us see that we could find a different type of active stabilization if we should ever want that, and one that eliminates most of the dominos I listed above. This would be stabilizers that use the Magnus Effect which is offered by several different manufacturers now.
Does it pass the Goldilocks test?
We essentially answer this question by virtue of having gone through all the questions and priorities I’ve already listed. Because we have highly personalized our overarching principles of SCEM and articulated much more detailed specifics of our use case, our decision making helps us ensure that we are making choices and decisions that are by definition, Goldilocks, just right, just for us.
However, this is such an important factor for us that we do keep coming back to to this “Goldilocks Test” to make sure we are avoiding the tendency to “go with the flow” of following what others are doing or “the way its always been done” and are staying true to ourselves and our preferences. I will site a more “meta” example here which is our decision in the design phase to “upsize” the length of the boat from the 18-20m / 60-65 ft that we initially imagined and then at the same time “downsize” the interior to have just 2 cabins and 2 heads.
Our decision to extend the length to 24m/78ft was driven two factors; simple physics that hull speed is a factor of Length on the Waterline and our discovery that contrary to popular opinion there is not very many restrictions on boats that are over 20 meters whereas there are some very significant changes to the rules governing ships that are over 24 meters. With our prioritization of efficiency, we pushed the length to just under 24 meters. With our infrequent use of marinas the increased docking fees do not affect us very much. Furthermore, with more and more catamarans being purchased, many marinas are changing their dock rates to be calculated based on overall area of each boat, LOA x Beam and so our slender 5m Beam reduces our overall area and we are often cheaper or about the same as much shorter but wider boats.
Our decisions to “downsize” the interior and thus reduce maintenance and costs was based on the fact that 99% of the time Christine and I are the only two people living onboard so we wanted to make the interior fit us and our needs. Our Master Cabin is very spacious and luxurious for us. Our Guest Cabin works very well when we do have guests onboard but most of the time it is a very purposefully designed Office for Christine Kling, the Captain’s nom de plume when she is working on her next book and running her growing book business. Our SuperSalon is indeed living up to that name the more we live in it. And my very full size Workshop and Engine Room is that of my dreams.
There are many other examples of how the Goldilocks Test has driven our decisions such as;
Manual Paravane system and Tender Davit that is KISS and as former sailors handling lines, winches and clutches is second hand.
Though we designed and built the cabinets, electrical and plumbing for them, we chose not to install either a Dryer or a Dishwasher as we are just not fans of either one and prefer washing and drying by hand.
I could give countless more examples of how we have applied the Goldilocks Test to almost every decision we have made during the design and the building process but I think you get the idea. We have now been living aboard Möbius since she first launched in February and we are finding that our continuous use of this Goldilocks Test has worked eXtremely well for us in designing and building Möbius and we can and do recommend it highly for almost all decisions and choices you make.
New vs Tried & True?
Christine and I are self described nerds and geeks so we have a great fondness for technology that is on that well named “bleeding edge” and we have a full compliment of devices to show for it. However, when it comes to equipment for Möbius, and especially all of it that is on that Must Have list, it must be remembered all those decisions must be made within the context that Möbius is an XPM type boat that is designed and built to live up to that acronym for eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker. So when it comes to deciding on equipment, materials, construction and design of these items, they must, all be Tried & True. To us this means equipment that has been in regular use on boats, ideally with similar use cases as ours, for several years and has stood that test of time.
Some examples of this for us include:
we delayed our decision to go with FireFly Carbon Foam batteries until after we had been able to find enough examples of these batteries being installed in other people’s boats in large numbers for many years.
We chose to go with all Furuno for navigation because it is so widely used by commercial boats in fishing fleets, government agencies and the like and hence this equipment is designed and built for continuous 24/7 use in some eXtremely harsh conditions. They also have an excellent reputation for their continued support of even their oldest equipment.
Our decision to go with a Gardner 6LXB engine that is still one of the most efficient diesel engines ever produced and is still in use in thousands of commercial boats worldwide. It is also perhaps one of the best examples of the KISS approach to design and engineering which adds to how well it passes the Tried & True test.
individual MPPT controllers for each of our 14 solar panels as this has been well proven to be the most efficient combination for both overall efficiency, least affected by shading and highest redundancy.
Let me end with a final example of the value of taking this Tried & True test for mission critical ships and equipment from no less than the US Navy! A recent article caught my eye a few weeks ago where even the us Navy has learned the folly of installing untested equipment on their ships. This link to the article USS Gerald R. Ford Problems: The Navy Admits Its Big Mistake (popularmechanics.com) provides a brief but telling story. as outlined in that article the Chief of Naval Operations, Mike Gilday, says the U.S. Navy built the aircraft carrier USS Ford with too many new technologies. such that now, the Ford is several years behind in its life cycle because of problems with many of those new technologies.
The last of the Ford’s four advanced weapon elevators, the most glaring example of the ship’s tech gone wrong, should enter service later this year.
When the Navy first built the Ford, it incorporated nearly two dozen new technologies, some of which are still giving the service headaches 4 years after the ship entered the fleet. Those delays meant the Navy only commissioned the Ford in 2017, despite laying it down in 2009. Even then, problems lingered, especially with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and the advanced weapon elevators (AWEs).
The ship’s first full deployment, originally scheduled for 2018, is now set for 2022.
I think this unfortunate real world example does help to make the point that for XPM types of boats with use cases to match, all the “mission critical” equipment onboard MUST have passed the Tried & True test.
Bubble Bubble, Toil & Trouble!
Leaving you with the latest bit of kit that Captain Christine just approved and installed onboard, a fully manual sparkling water maker! Especially in these hot summer months, Christine particularly enjoys her cold sparkling water and I do too but we don’t like having to buy it in cases of plastic bottles. We have our watermaker for similar reasons for our regular drinking water. Initial tests have elicited the same smile you see here so this item has now passed the all important Captain’s Test and has been welcomed aboard. Thanks so much for making it this far if you have and I do hope that this slightly different format and content is of interest and value to most of you. Let me know either way with your comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below and I’ll be back with more for you same time next week.
Our first week back aboard the good ship Möbius after our 3 week fun packed time being Gramma and Grampa with our two Granddaughters Brynn (beside me in Red) and Blair beside Christine in Green. Their parents, Lia & Brian joined us as well of course and we are all still savoring the latest batch of memories we created during our time with them exploring Turkey.
I’ll let the photo and the smiles tell you all you need to know about what a great time we had.
If you’d like to see and know more, check out THIS post that Christine put up last week with a few more photos and explanations. After that MUCH needed break, it was back to work for Christine and I this week and we were soon ramped right back up to our typically busy selves onboard, me getting back to the still growing list of jobs needing done to get Möbius seaworthy and Christine getting back to working on her next books. For those interested you can check out all of Christine’s best selling thriller novels HERE on her Author’s Page on Amazon.
And boy has it been HOT here in Finike!
Lest some of you should think, for reasons I can’t fathom, that I’m eXaggerating about the weather here, check out this snip I just grabbed from Accuweather.
See for yourself, daytime highs of 43C/110F and night time lows down to 22C/72F
Where is Möbius??
Speaking of Finike, some of you have asked about where we and Möbius are now located so here is a quick set of maps to show you, Starting with this bigger picture to give you a sense of where Finike and Turkey is relative to the countries and seas surrounding us. Zoomed into the coastline between Antalya where we started in the upper Right corner and Finike just around the coastal corner in the bottom Right. Distance by sea is about 70 nautical miles which would be 130km/81 miles. We were originally tied up on the inner harbour wall where you see the two larger boats in the bottom center here. However, this was just outside the Setur Finike Marina itself with several very nice restaurants right behind us that featured very lovely live music every night, but a bit too loud and a bit too long (2 AM) for our liking. So last week we moved over to the docks running along the sea wall breakwater that is in the upper Right in the photo above and we are now snuggled in between these two sailboats. A bit tight, but no one living on either boat and it is only a short walk to go for a swim over the other side of the sea wall, which we look forward to every night. Here’s our view looking NNW across our bow at the rest of the marina with the town of Finike spread out behind and some of the surrounding mountains.
All in all a very nice spot that will be Möbius’ Home Port for the rest of this year as we eXplore more of the beautiful Turkish Turquoise Coast.
The Whack-a-Molomino games begin!
I’ve created this portmanteau “Whack-a-Molomino” in an attempt to articulate how my week has been going as I find myself playing this new game that combines; the thrill of the hunt of playing the arcade game of Whack-a-Mole …. …… that has been infused with the intrigue of the Domino Effect.
Read on and you will soon see what I mean.
Cooling Down Heats me up!
Let’s start with this riddle; “How can Air Conditioning heat you up?” The technically correct answer is that this is a feature of some AirCon systems which can run in what’s known as Reverse Cycle model which heats up the air going into the rooms instead of cooling it down. This is a very welcome feature in cold climates and the Webasto AirCon system in Möbius does indeed have this Reverse Cycle feature. However, this week it was a “bug” not a feature when things went pear shaped and the game of Whack-a-Molomino began while trying to get our AirCon system to cool down the cabins on Möbius in these very hot days and nights we’ve been having. Here’s how that went.
We have been anxious to test out the extensive Air Conditioning system based on a Webasto BlueCool V Series 77k BTU Chiller located in the Workshop which provides the chilled (or heated) water that is piped to …… …… the four A Series Air Handlers; one 12K in the Guest Cabin, one 18 K in the Master Cabin and two 12K units on either side of the SuperSalon. Each Air Handler is controlled by one of these MyTouch display panels in each Cabin and then there is a similar controller mounted on the Chiller in the Workshop. All these MyTouch control panels are networked together so you can control the whole system from anywhere on the boat.
A marine AirCon system uses the readily available sea water that is continuously pumped through the Chiller’s water to water heat exchanger which cools the antifreeze/water solution down to about 2-4°C. This chilled coolant is then pumped through well insulated plumbing to the small water to air heat exchangers (mini radiators) in each Air Handler with a thermostatically controlled fan that blows fresh cold air into each Cabin.
I was primarily anxious to get some real world data on the energy consumption of this AirCon system and as you might imagine, these hot days provided all the more incentive. So Monday morning I went through all the pre-start preparations for this brand new and new to me set of equipment and controls. After re-reading the Webasto product manuals, checking that all valves for sea water and coolant were open, all the 230V circuit breakers were on, the five MyTouch displays all came to life and were ready for testing. I started with the Guest Cabin aka Christine’s Office where she is anxiously awaiting cool calm place to work on her books. At first I had a problem getting the Chiller unit to go into Cooling mode but it was stuck on Heating mode, but I worked with the two head technicians from Webasto to both design this system and then when they were commissioning it and so I was able to get in touch with them on WhatsApp and they were very fast to respond and show me the “trick” to get into the second settings menu by holding down the main screen for 3 seconds which then gave me the option to change the mode from Heating to Cooling and set it to be Automatic in the future.
All was going well as the Chiller fired up, brought the water temps down from 32C/90F which believe it or not is the sea temperature here, to about 3-4C and then the Air Handler in Christine’s Office came on and had cold air blowing in which put an eXtremely big smile on my Captain’s face! As I scurried about setting up the other three air handlers, checking for and fixing the leaks I found, and keeping an eye on the Amps/Watts meters I started to notice the very unsettling odor of burning wires! Yikes!
My nose quickly led me to the AC Main Panel in the Basement which is behind the now open Grey door at the far Right end in this photo. This is the Main AC panel for all the 120 volt and 230 volt circuits we have onboard.
Fortunately I had caught this early and there was no fire, just the unmistakable and unsettling smell of overheated insulation on electrical wires.
Everything looked to be fine when I first opened up the door of this Main Panel but the smell was clearly coming from somewhere inside. Almost all the wires are neatly tucked away inside plastic wire chases like this which do a great job of tidying up all the individual wires and keeping them tucked out of the way BUT you also can’t see what’s going on inside so I started to quickly unclip the tops on all these chases so I could see the wires inside.
In the literal heat of the moment I didn’t have the time to take any photos to show how it looked with the covers all in place but a few minutes later, with all the covers removed, I snapped this shot and at first glance all appeared to be well. However, as I scanned all the wiring I realized that this jumble of Black wires in the middle above the row of gray plastic DIN rail junction blocks had not been there the last time I had looked over the AC wiring, though that was a year ago now at least. As I took it all in I was more and more puzzled as to what all these Black wires were needed for as most of them seemed to be just jumpers from one junction block to the next. This is very puzzling because these DIN junction blocks have built in slots in the middle where you can insert proper copper jumpers that you press in place between any two or more terminals you want to interconnect. The closer I looked the more strange it became and as I carefully moved some of the coiled up wires and found that multiple wires had been jammed into single terminals?
I quickly found the culprit when I burned my fingers on the wires jammed into terminal # 24 (Green arrow) and saw the melting plastic in the middle of that block which the Red arrow is pointing at.
I quickly and carefully pulled the sticky hot wire out of the the melting terminal and you can see the wire inside the White oval. Again, lest any of you might think I’m eXaggerating how hot these wires had become, I submit as Evidence #1, this thermal image taken from about the same vantage point as the photo above. The thermal camera I use has this nifty feature of not only color coding the temperatures as well as overlaying actual temperature reading of key spots. As you can see the “White hot” wire I have removed from terminal #24 is at 101.1C / 214F
For those of you wondering about this photo and my thermal camera, here are some quick details of what I regard as, for now obvious reasons, one of my most important Safety devices I carry onboard Möbius and would not be without.
My ever so handy and well used Flir ONE Thermal camera plugs into the USB C of my Pixel 5 phone and displays the thermal images overlaid on top of the phones camera image where I can control the degree of transparency to see more or less of the thermal image vs the actual image by varying the degree of transparency. As you can see in the photo above and relative to my hand here, it is a very compact little device which normally lives inside the protective hard shell “Otter box” case it comes with until I need to use it for situations like this.
I have this camera out at all times on passages and we use it on our hourly engine room and ship inspections to scan things like all the wiring panels, the Gardner and any other places where changes in temperature are not a good thing.
Not particularly cheap until you consider the consequences and expenses of NOT having one! As a less dramatic and more positive example, I was also able to use my Flir ONE to check the temperature of the air vents in the Salon window sills when the AirCon unit was running and see precise temperatures which I could compare with the other vents and get precise readings to know how well the air was being cooled or not. After this first round of Whack-a-Molomino my AirCon job had turned into a major AC wiring job so this was my “office” for the last four days as I used that plastic crate as my seat perched in front of the AC Main Panel removing all the wiring and replacing it with new and properly connected wires. Wiring any boat can be challenging but on any metal boat boat and especially so an aluminium boat, this is eXtremely important as the consequences of incorrectly wired, especially AC and DC grounding wires range from accelerated corrosion from stray electrical currents to eXtremely rapid corrosion if current is traveling through the hull or other conductive components such as the prop shaft and propeller. For reasons that most of us AL boat owners can’t understand, this is an area that many professional and certified technicians seem to not understand and as a result many boats suffer unnecessary damage and shortened life spans.
It became worse as I tested and traced each of the existing wires and discovered that in several cases wires had be simply cut or disconnected in order to prevent things like the RCB safety circuit breakers from tripping. As I continued by drawing out a schematic of the current Main Panel, I discovered that the electrical diagrams I had been supplied with had not been kept up to date during the build process and given the importance of getting this right the best thing to do was to remove ALL the wiring and start over.
So I started with a literally blank piece of paper and drew out the schematic of how the AC wiring inside this Main Panel needed to be wired. They are what they are, quick hand sketches, but they work for me and I have found that by drawing out each wire in every circuit and then tracing out each wire with colored highlighters it pretty much forces me to get it right. Red is the AC Hot/Load wires, Blue is Neutral and Green/Yellow is safety grounding “PE” wires. I won’t belabour this any further and just provide these few shots I took along the way or the rewiring.
Here is the newly wired middle set of Gray Junction blocks with all the Black jumper wires you can see in the original photo up above now gone and proper DIN junction jumpers now in place where needed. One of the most critical parts of AC wiring on boats is the Green/Yellow grounding wires which must be fully isolated from both the hull and the Blue Neutral wires and be connected at one and ONLY ONE connection point on the boat. This too had been missed and so here you can see the set of Green/Yellow wires I have separated from the other grounding bus bar a the bottom and added to their own set of Gray junction blocks above.
This is where I left off last night, all wires now properly connected and fully tested with both Shore Power connections and Inverter connections to ensure the grounding is correct and that the RCD (Residual Control Devices) are tripping immediately with the least bit >30mAmps of imbalance between the Neutral and the Load wires in each AC circuit. Tomorrow morning I will finish up by reconnecting indicator lights, tidying up all the wires and putting them neatly into the wire chases for added safety. I’ll try t show you that in next week’s update.
And thus ended round one of this week’s Olympic Whack-a-Molomino games. I’m not sure who “won” here other than Möbius being the winner of now being both a better and a more seaworthy boat that puts us one step closer to being able to head out to sea with the complete confidence that is mandatory for doing so, or is at least for Christine and myself.
I’ll be back with more next week as I hopefully get back to what I originally set out to do; get our AirCon system working!
Thanks for taking the time to join me for this week’s tournament and PLEASE do add your comments, questions and suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.