While waiting for the solar panels to arrive, we peruse the anchorage to look at other installations. It’s always fun to see what other cruisers have done with their boats and sometimes it presents a chance to meet someone new. We already knew that we wanted to mount two of the panels over the bimini top so it was just a matter of purchasing the correct hardware, punching a hole through the top and installing them. We found the perfect mounting hardware through SV Hotwire.Gemini Clamps go right on the tubing on your bimini, with a one inch post for mounting purposes. Special attention has to be given to the strength of your bimini as the panels do create a lot of windage.
While exploring out in the dinghy we stopped by to say hello to a friend on Lone Star, Tom. He had his panels mounted right on the life lines towards the stern of his boat. They fold down when not needed or when docking is critical. This is the installation we wanted so we needed to go back to the boat to see how it would work for La Creole.
With the solar panels in our possession, we set out to extend the stainless steel on the stern pulpit to hold the panel. Some cruisers mount them right on the lifelines, but we wanted something a little more sturdy. Because of the distance between our stations, we ended up having to add two more.
Now we had a good sturdy mounting option. Using rail clamps, each panel clamps to the stainless steel pulpit that we extended and is held up with a stainless steel arm when in use. The arm can be removed when the panel is not in use. A good example of this was when heeled over during our crossing, we had to let one side down so it would not get dragged off by a large swell.
Now we have a total of 560 watts of solar power. That coupled with the wind generator does the job pretty well.
To be continued…