a newish hanging locker

thumbnail-2It has been a while since I tackled a small project. Engine work, reinsulating the fridge area, haul outs for depth sounder…. I wanted a small project costing me zero dolares por favor. I also genuinely like writing and documenting this stuff, I guess because that’s mostly what I was doing for so long before Coconut could sail! Way back when the hatches were being redone I had some boards made to size so I could at least keep the draft out of my boat. I’ve kept the boards, but really they were just getting in my way and constantly falling over in the shop.

I was in the mood to shred up some wood and cover the contents of my boat in sawdust, so I grabbed the measuring tape, a sharpie, and the jigsaw and cut out a template to create a shelf in the hanging locker. I wasn’t sure how many shelves I would need, so I started with two. (Three was enough.) I am not great at getting a straight cut with the jigsaw, but I was planning on sanding down the edges and painting the shelves and the locker itself anyways. I like this locker because it has runoff access to the bilge, so it’s a legit wet locker.


One thing I have realized is having the shelves at a slight angle will help the contents stay put and not slide out whenever I open it underway. To keep the shelves in place, I grabbed a few tiny planks that used to be my interior fridge rack. I had dismantled them and will one day get plexiglass, as the wood gets saturated with condensation and is tough to clean if something spills on them. I used some thickened epoxy and painters tape to hold them in place.

It’s amazing how much space I have in here now! I originally tried putting the PFD’s and foulies on hangers, but the life vests are so bulky it didn’t work well. This is what led to me just stuffing everything in there. After the shelves were in, I had my foulies, PFD’s doggie PFD’s/jacklines/tether all organized and easily accessible. I even had space for my shoes at the bottom! Whoop. And yes, those are all the shoes I own.



maintenance progressions

upgrading the battery banks

When I first bought Coconut there were three batteries on board, not connected and hanging out in the shop waiting to be installed. I later learned they were purchased in 2009, so in 2014 they were already old. Because I knew nothing about battery banks, I had an electrician install them. They were 12V led/acid batteries, size D27 and of the Powerstride brand. I thought you only had to water them once a year, but it turns out it’s once a month. Oops. I didn’t learn this until the batteries had been in use for five years and due for replacement anyways. They still were holding a charge just fine during the day with the solar panels, but at night the voltage would drop dramatically. I didn’t want to have to worry about JaLos the autopilot draining the batteries on a night passage. Hell, just being able to leave my cabin lights and radio on after dark would be nice!

Plenty of people told me to look into golf cart batteries. They are only 6 volt but have more amp hours. It sounded great, until I saw how big they were. Because they are 6V you need 2x as many (I think?) than you would if you only went with 12V. I don’t think I could fit even one golf cart battery where the current batteries are, they are too tall. Relocating the battery bank is absolutely not an idea I was interested in entertaining. Another important tidbit I learned was to go with an AGM battery. AGM’s do not require maintenance, so there is need to go on a treasure hunt to find distilled water as most countries outside the US do not carry it. Also, the battery for the engine bank absolutely must be rated a “starting battery” (or at least dual purpose). Mine previously was not.

I went ahead and splurged on Powerstride AGM’s, and got a Lifeline Starting Battery. I made space for two more batteries, which was the perfect amount! I just had to have an electrician come to make new battery connectors to run the now four house bank batteries in parallel. The only thing I would need to check was to make sure the solar charge controller was compatible for AGM’s, as well as the battery charger. I honestly never use the battery charger because I am rarely connected to shore power, but it could definitely ruin the batteries if it’s not compatible.

The one chart that has helped me understand how my batteries are doing is below. Looking at the percentage on the battery monitor wasn’t entirely helping me understand what was going on. For example, it would show the batteries were at 85% but be at 12.20 volts, which as you can see is actually 60%. I am happy to say the voltage so far hasn’t gone below 12.5, and that was when I was charging my laptop after dark (whaaaat!). I think four batteries will be plenty sufficient for my minimal usage, the only appliance I am missing is the fridge/freezer unit. Once the area gets re-insulated, I am curious to see how much power it draws.