|On the Way to get the Little Truck That Can in our rent car we traveled on Hwy. 41 that runs through the Everglades, This Canal runs the length of the road almost all the way to Naples, there was tons of wildlife all along the way.|
|We had to get out and take some pics, This Stork was accompanied by tons more,|
|You absolutely can not believe the number of alligators! They were everywhere.|
|After we got the truck the next day we stopped in Miami to buy the Solar Panels at Sun Electric.|
|Got em loaded up and headed back to Marathon|
|Gotta Stop at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen in Key Largo|
|Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) on the top, Crab Salad on the bottom.|
|Key's Welding welded up a frame for the solar Panels cheaper than I could have bought the Material and bolted it together.|
|Loaded up the frame and balanced it on the dingy to get it back out to the boat|
|Here is the preliminary stages of attaching the frame to the davits and the stern pulpit. Notice how it extends about 2' aft of the Davits?....That had to change.|
|Panels installed on top, still hanging 2' beyond the davits.|
|Here is the finished product with lots of bracing and the whole thing shifted about two feet forward.|
|U-bolts fasten supports to the davits.|
|Two of these round tubing supports were added to provide strength so that the davits would not have to support so much weight.|
Once I made the decision to add solar panels to Wand'rin Star I knew we would have to go back and get the Little Truck That Can. I would definitely be running around getting all necessary parts to construct a frame and then get the stuff to wire it in. We rented a car at the Marathon airport and took off early to Tampa. We decided to take the Hwy 41 route so we could see a bit of the Florida Everglades along the way. Soon after getting on 41 there was a canal running alongside the Hwy. I think a lot of this was to divert water to neighboring farms for the massive agriculture in South Florida. Anyway we started seeing all sorts of wildlife and Hundreds of alligators We made 3-4 stops along the way and got out to take pics. Loads of fish, Florida Gars, Bluegill, Walking catfish and tons more species, Birds everywhere. The only thing we did not see was a Panther. But there were Panther Crossings posted along the way. We knew we would be coming back to spend a day in the Everglades later on for sure.
We got to Tampa around 1700 hrs and quickly started making a few stores for things we wanted to bring back. We finished up at Wold Foods and the truck was loaded with new provisions. We drove back to Ft. Myers and found a Hotel for the night then got up early and headed for Miami to buy the panels at Sun electric. Sun Electric is easy to find and Manny Rodriquez hooked us up with two REC Peak Energy (PE) Series Modules 245Watt Black Frame. and PV output-MC4 Male/Female 50' cable http://www.recgroup.com/PageFiles/2422/REC%20PE%20BLK%20UL%20ENG.pdf They boxed it all up and we loaded it up and took off for Marathon.
The Admiral was ready for food, our route back missed the Vegetable Stands near Homestead Florida so she spotted Mrs. Macs Kitchen and had me turn around, glad we did, evidently it is a favorite of tourist and locals alike in Key Largo: http://www.mrsmacskitchen.com/MRS_MACS_KITCHEN_OFFICIAL_SITE/MRS_MACS_KITCHEN_OFFICIAL_SITE.html She had the Dolphin which is cheap and everywhere in the Keys and I had the Crab Salad, recommend both!
Once I have a boat project like this I get single focused and the Admiral knows I have to put all my attention on the project. After checking out the angled aluminum available at the local home depot I decided that it would be best to have a welder weld the frame that the panels would be bolted to. I asked the Cruisers Net where to find a good welder in Marathon and out of the 5 suggestions Key's Welding got 3 votes. Not only did he do it cheaper than if I bought the material myself and bolted it together, he used heavier material and had it finished in two days! Les than $200, a deal. After that I bought some angled aluminum to construct the supports. I watched how SALT (Sea and Land Technology) installed panels on davits here in Marathon and basically copied their methods. At first I had the whole frame about 22" aft of the dingy davits to limit any shading from other nearby structures on the boat. But after sleeping on it for a while I decided that it would be best to have move it as far forward as possible to increase the stability. Fortunately I was able to move it exactly even with the davits, it clears the Back Stay by about an inch!.I added a couple of 1" SS tubing supports to take as much of the weight off the Davits as possible and let the Stern Pulpit take the load. I am pretty sure it can take a good storm now without problem.
The Materials list for the project includes:
1 65" X 79" welded aluminum fram made from 1-1/2" angled aluminum
2 X 1-1/2" X 8' angled aluminum for supports
1 X 3'X1-1/2" angled aluminum
2 X 1" x 8' ss tubing with 4 end caps, and 4 bimini type attachments
46 X 1-1/4' X 1/4" bolts
12 X 1/4" SS U-Bolts
70 X SS 1/4" flat washers
70 X SS 1/4" lock washers
140 X SS 1/4" nuts
The above does not include the less than 20 nuts and washers, or the 7/16" combination wench that Neptune claimed for working over his Sea. I often had to hang off the stern holding on by one hand while drilling or fastening the bolts together, I did not lose the Drill! I am glad to have this part completed as I look forward to the wiring phase of the project. Should receive the Outback Flex 60 MPPT charge controller in a couple of days: http://www.outbackpower.com/products/charge_controllers/flexmax/