shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Adjustable Solar Panels on Lifelines

June 16, 2014

Because we require so little electricity on Eurisko, our two 50-watt solar panels are more than adequate. But on a small boat, finding a place to store them was a challenge. We wanted them to be adjustable, secure, and able to be stored inside the rubrail when we were docking. The lifelines were our solution.

Adjustable solar panels

Our panels were not as wide as the space between our top lifeline and the rail, so we knew we could stow them vertically without risking the panels being crushed. We started by drilling holes in one side of the panel frame. Next, we put cushion clamps around the lifelines and screwed them to the frame of the panel in the location of these pre-drilled holes. With one panel on either side of the cockpit, we now had a location to store them, but we also wanted them to be adjustable. We drilled a single hole in the middle of the frames opposite where they were hanging from the lifelines. To this hole we screwed a hinge designed for canvas into which we put a telescoping pole, also used for canvas. On the other end of the pole we secured an end piece that fit into a deck hinge with a removable pin--more canvas parts--and then we screwed the deck hinge to the deck. We had to cut one end of the pole so that the panels could be lowered at an angle without removing the pin. The pole is long enough that the panels can also be angled up when the sun is on the other side of the boat.

Pole meant for canvas

When the sun is very low or when we want to secure the panels inside the safety of the rail, we remove the pin, freeing one end of the pole, rotate the pole so that it lies flat against the panel, and lower the panel to a vertical position, hanging from the lifelines. The pin is secured to the pole with a constrictor knot so that we don't lose it. In the event of high winds, use a line to secure the panel to the rail so that it does not flip up from its vertical position.

With only one screw the leg pivots out of the way.

When we moved onboard our AS-29 we brought the two panels with us. Using this method of installation, we were able to hang them from the lifelines with no modifications. Thanks to a few canvas pieces we have two adjustable solar panels that can be safely tucked away for docking or locking.

What do you do when your kids make an offer on a boat that has no dinghy? If you're a yacht carpenter you design one and "slop it together." MONDAY we'll take the mystery out of building your own pram. Like everything else in life, the hardest part is getting over the misconception that you can't do it.

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