Saturday, February 27, 2010

Building the Bimini

On the list to do for a while has been to build a bimini frame over Baloo's cockpit to mount solar panels on, and to maybe provide a bit more shade.

We have had one 85 watt panel mounted on a cockpit rail for a while, where it is always in the way. It snags the spinnaker lines, stern anchor line, fishing lines, and everything else that comes close to it.

I brought another 85 watt panel down a year ago, and it has remained unmounted - generally beating up the boat, impossible to find a good place to store it, not producing power and always in the way.

So we took advantage of a good deal in Mazatlan to have two pieces of stainless steel tube bent to build the bimini with. All the other mounting hardware we had with us.

Here I am trying to get it all square. This is difficult on a boat, as you can't put a level on anything. Turns out, on Baloo, the helm is centered in the boat, but the backstay isn't. At all.

Oh yeah! Drilling a lot of holes in hard stainless with a cordless drill and dull bits. Now there's some fun in the sun.

Here are the panels, mounted. Hopefully they won't get too shaded by the radar dome, backstay, and crew-overboard pole.

So it's kind of a strange design I came up with. The forward hoop of the bimini is a regular hoop; but the aft one is missing a leg, and instead mounts to the radar tower. This is so that we can still swing the lifting crane (attached to the outboard engine in this photo) inboard.

Here it is completed. Adding these two 85 watt panels to the four 30 watt ones that you can see on the dodger really turns Baloo into a serious power plant. We can pretty much support our electricity needs indefinitely - with no fuel.

No comments: