60 days off the grid

Ok, we just crossed the 60 days off the grid, and wanted a few updates to let you all know how we are doing. Key west is a great place to stress test the boat to see what works and what needs adjusting. You still have access to all the normal stores, and yet, until you actually put a boat on a hook, you can never truly tell what works and what takes a shit under pressure.

First off, Dinghy motor. If one thing i would change is a reliable outboard for your dinghy. The Tohashu took a crap early on, likely a coil. Still working with mechanic to fix. Borrowed Arts outboard for the last couple weeks, but not the same. If this had been the islands, FUBAR…

Batteries. Knew they were done for, and in process of changing and increasing the bank size. Planned this before but wanted to see if they were any life left in them. V little. So by Jan 5, seven new AGM will be in place. Solar is working, but short days limiting solar to around 110 amp/hr a day.

Water maker is working like a charm. Put in a accurate counter to record production and usage, and seeing around 6.5-7 gal an hr based on battery voltage. Higher voltage gives higher Gal/Hr. Even still, very happy with it.

Anchor. We planned to stay in Key West for around 3 months going in. We placed initially 2 anchors out to cover the normal swing patterns for the winds this time of year. We placed a third facing mostly due west to cover the occasional storms from the west. Working very well as laid out. Anchor alarm active every day, just in case.

Ice maker. After replacing the failed inverter, the Ice maker for those cold sundowners, works very well. Even thou its a 110 vt counter top Ice Maker, it is working out very well. We make a couple bags of ice (1-2bs) in a hr or so, and throw them in the freezer for later.

Cooking without using the microwave. Have not fired up the microwave in 60 days. No problems from that at all. Propane usage is not out of range, used about 20 lbs of propane in 60 days. That is both cooking, and hot water showers. Yes folks, I don’t like cold showers, and that hot water shower device is a godsend. Hands down, buy it if you are living on the boat, not camping on it.

Dinghy/Swim platform. Ok, top 5, getting in and out of the dinghy in normal days, much less bad weather has really helped. Loading and unloading dinghy made much safer and easier.

Sounds. Ok, we have lived on the boat for now 10 years as of tomorrow night. This is a whole new level of sounds, or acutely aware of sounds. Or different sounds. We have always had some noises and sounds you don’t place, but being on an anchor, you become more aware of them. That and the shifting position on anchor. I get accused of checking the lines about 5 times a day.

Generator. We decided to cover our bases with a Honda 2000i generator in case we could not get the onboard 13.5kW generator working right. Let me start off saying, perfect choice. Total run time in 60 days for this generator is around 15 hrs. 4 gal of Gas. Cost total $16.00. While it still takes gas, not diesel, the limited time we actually use it has made it perfect. The onboard gen set was way overkill, and fuel usage was in the range of 1-1.5 gal an hour, never-mind having to load down the gen to get it to produce stable power.

Costs. In Key West, the monthly dinghy dock is $87.00 a month. That is the biggest expense. Add fuel for the dinghy, running around 60 a month right now, and maybe 8-10 a month for oil/additives. Pumpout. The keys have a setup to pump your boat out once a week for no cost, if your on the Fleming Key/S side of key west. The Mooring field has a separate setup and cost, but here, no charge.. We at least opt to tip the pump out guys at least 5 a week just because of the nature of the job. So add 20. A month for that. So your looking at about $210 a month for the basics, including propane. Your food habits dictate cost above that.

Parking. If you opt to bring a car to Key West, parking will be your biggest headache. Limited free areas to park. Monthly parking in local garage runs around 110 a month. Excluding major holidays and events.

Crowds. This is a tourist town. It is driven by tourism, and while i don’t have current numbers, it very much survives by the tourists. Normal living day to day costs are going to be higher due to that and the 100 mile drive to get anything here. So plan accordingly. If you provision properly, your basic staples and such will carry the bulk of your costs.

Mail. Every one needs a port they call home. We have opted to call Key West our home port. And as such, mail is still a necessary evil. So how do you get mail, change your driver license, vote. Etc.. Well, it isn’t that hard really. We have our address listed on our licenses as the boats Fed Doc number. Yup. Florida have in place a option to list your legal residents as your boats FL or DO number. This makes getting a PO Box easy, and allows Fed Ex/UPS/USPS deliveries so all those orders to Ebay and Amazon will still find you.

Improvements? Better seals on Freezer/Fridge. Most of our energy usage is as expected from the fridge/Freezer. It still at max usage runs around 4 amp/hr. Total amp/hrs max in evenings is around 8 amp/hr with lights and all.

Regrets? Just one, not doing this earlier.

So there it is guys, an idea of the basics of living off grid. Yes, i did not include any maintenance costs, food, repairs, odds and ends. Those we will break down later, but for the most part, v happy with choices so far. There will always be those that say you are painting too rosy a picture for people. Well we spend 10 years prepping for this, and yes, it is very damn well rosy..