Electrical and Conveniences We’re Taking and Leaving Behind

All boaters understand the limited space  and the power restrictions due to the size of the electrical systems.  We’re currently connected to shore power in the marina. The electric bill has never exceeded $25/mo in the winter months. I use all my kitchen and household essentials like I did living in a land home.  The boat is crammed with galley gear,  and I’m constantly hauling items to and from the storage unit as I need them.  But when we leave for our adventures, we won’t have the luxury of free electricity flowing to outlets throughout the interior.

In the next two months we’re removing electrical gadgets and tools from the boat that won’t be necessary or useful without uber amounts of 110V power. Our small 350 watt inverter can’t handle the power draw, and with 300 watts of solar power mostly reserved for the chartplotter, radios, radar and refrigerator, we absolutely won’t be using a lot of electrical items. The microwave, electric water pot, toaster, TV, DVD player and blowdryer are examples of land lubbers’ conveniences that are being left behind, along with their weight, leaving that space for storage for extended cruising.

But I am taking the small electric rice cooker. It draws 300 watts to cook, and for 20 minutes of running the inverter, the benefits outweigh the reason to leave it behind. The 350 watt inverter will be able to handle the power draw. Why depend on the rice cooker more than my 6 qt pressure cooker? It can cook a complete meal unattended, be hung up to gimble, the lid is pemanently attached, it can cook even in rough seas. Cooking in the galley can be quite uncomfortable in 100 degree weather, and added propane cooking heat in the boat sounds unbearable. So I’ll plug in the rice cooker set up outside, that may be the easiest option. Granted when it’s hot and humid we won’t eat heavy hot foods, but having been raised on mainly rice and fish, we have a lot of menu options for cold rice. One last reason is refilling the propane tank in French Polynesia can be troublesome. Cruisers have reported difficulties getting boat propane tanks filled due to the difference in tank fittings and often improvise with a gravity fill system, an additional expense and gadgets to carry.

I purchased a set of bamboo fiber bowls that double as mixing bowls, large measuring cups, and are attractive enough to use as serving pieces. Bamboo products have become quite popular but one has to make sure it’s been manufactured using real bamboo fibers and biodegradable resin. I am not a scientist so I can’t speak to the reason these bowls don’t hold grease like regular petroleum based plastic bowls and utensils, but I can tell you from extensive use, these bowls wash up very easily and aren’t greasy even in cold water. And if I should break a bowl, it won’t end up as non-biodegradable plastic in a landfill. In addition to the mixing bowls, I have some dinnerware items. I would like to complete my dinnerware set, it’s on my cruising wish list, spendy, but an environmentally worthwhile cause.

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The following is an excerpt (1) from a research report that describes the properties of bamboo fibers and bio-degradable manufacturing process:

“This paper describes tensile properties of bamboo fiber reinforced biodegradable plastics. The unidirectional biodegradable composites were made from bamboo fiber bundles and a starch-based biodegradable resin. The tensile strengths of the composites increased with increasing fiber content up to 70%. The composites possessed extremely high tensile strengths of 265 MPa. The fabrication with emulsion-type biodegradable resin contributed to reduction in voids and fiber contacts in the composites. Moreover, heat resistance of bamboo fibers and bamboo fiber reinforced plastics was in- vestigated. As results, tensile strength of both bamboo fiber and bamboo fiber reinforced plastics decreased at 160* C.  ”

Published online at http://journal.sapub.org/ematerials   Copyright (c) 2012 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved.  Shinji Oichi, Department of Mechanical Engieering, Niihama National College of Technology, Niihama city, 792-8580, Japan

You can read the entire research notes at the above website if you’re interested in further investigation of biodegradable products, including garbage bags.     I purchased these at the Earth Centri Store in Portland. Beware of the multi-chain stores that sell products that may say ” made with some Bamboo”, those are not biodegradable and are mostly melamine.

Oh btw, I was informed by a boat neighbor, former cruiser and boat racer  (Dave, I won’t mention your last name) that I should consider offloading 1/3 of my galley items, well I sorted through it all, and hrumpff, I don’t have anything else to remove. Pared down the dish set to a place setting for five, even removed the additional 8 forks and soup spoons from the set to lighten the load.  For our family and friends, boat weight will slow us down when we’re sailing, so the lighter the better.

John will be sorting through the tools and boat spares soon, I wonder what he is planning to take and leave behind. I’ll be watching over his shoulder for any spare room that I could possibly use in the future.

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