In between family visits and entertaining ourselves at Disney, we had to give Orion Jr some attention.
Our DC electrical system had been working like a charm for 3 years. The battery charger was one Dave had scarfed off the free table in Deltaville 5 years ago. The batteries were new when we bought the boat in 2011. And we had upgraded the solar panels just last year to 240W of light semi-flexible panels. The freezer is our biggest draw and it had been humming along, cycling as necessary and keeping its contents chilled to perfection. The Honda generator, recently downsized to a 1000 from a 2000 was doing its job in charging the batteries when the solar power didn't suffice.
But all good things must come to an end.
As our pre-Christmas cruise was winding down, Dave noted 2 disturbing problems. First, the freezer was no longer cycling. No matter what temperature setting we chose, it kept getting colder and colder. Given the ambient temperature of highs in the 60's, this was overkill, to say the least. But what nearly did us in was the fact that the battery charger finally decided to give up the ghost. It was no longer putting in more than a few amps, even though the batteries could take much more. Since the draw was increasing and our ability to replace the lost power was dependent almost exclusively on the solar panels, we made the executive decision to shut down the freezer early. Without it, the solar panels were perfectly capable of keeping up with the demand.
But we needed to solve the problems. The battery charger was the more straightforward. We needed a replacement. Dave's research narrowed in on a 30-amp Iota charger. It had essentially the same footprint as its predecessor, so the installation would be simpler and had the capacity to charge the batteries running off the Honda generator (or less often on shore power). The charger had a plug for an AC outlet which had to be added, but there was room for it above the electrical board.
The charger arrived over Christmas, and when we returned to the boat in January, we took time to install it before leaving Clearwater. There was no way we could survive a couple of months in Marathon without a charger. Once the outlet was in place and the charger wired to the battery, we fired up the generator for a test. But the battery monitor was still reading a trickle charge. It made no sense.
Until Dave realized that the ground fault on the new outlet was tripped. With it reset, presto! Amps began flowing freely. We should be in good shape for an extended stay on a mooring or at anchor.
Unfortunately, the freezer problem is not so clear. Dave talked to a number of sources, including the tech support for Dometic at the Tampa RV Show. They gave him some suggestions. But, so far, no obvious solution. However, with the battery charger working well, the additional draw is at least manageable.
Before leaving Bradenton, we joined Dave's parents and brother-in-law, Dave (a common name) for a visit to the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. It is free to the public once a week. The art on display was beautiful and wide-ranging. The grounds, even in the off-season for this area, were beautiful and the mansion commands a stunning view of Sarasota Bay.
About the time we were leaving Bradenton, we were pleasantly surprised when we were able to get together with Steve from Hampton while he was in Tampa for a business trip. We met Steve and a co-worker for dinner after their seminar ended one night. It was great to see him.
As newly minted Florida residents, one of the perks is to get resident discounts for passes at Disney World. With one of the cheaper alternatives, it takes only 2 visits to make it worth while and we already knew we were going once with Dave's parents. As we found we had time to kill waiting for the winds to subside in Marathon, we took full advantage of our new passes. The cost of a hotel in Kissimmee during the last part of January was amazingly inexpensive, and we even had a parking spot for the boat. So, we'd travel to Disney each day to try out a different park. On our last day, we actually visited 3 parks. We rode some rides, searched for Pirate Treasure, took a safari ride, and vanquished evil sorcerors. Not bad for a couple of big kids.