Upgrades to Pandora

Over the years I have focused on doing what I can to make Pandora as comfortable as possible.  As Brenda is a reluctant sailor, there have been many improvements to the boat over the years that make her as comfortable as possible.  with the goal of making her time aboard feel as much like like “home” as possible.  Simple enough to say, but difficult in practice.

The following is a list of the improvements that have been made over the years that have improved the livabilty of the boat.  Some of these improvements might not seem like they focus on “livabilty” but it’s all about convenience so that the experience of being aboard isn’t as much like “camping without ants”.

I’d be interested in what you think of these items and would appreciate any thoughts on how to do more.

I have also included some items that I did on our “old Pandora” our Aerodyne 47, predicessor to our Aerodyne.

It is pretty amazing how much effort and money that it has taken to make her the best she can be for us but it’s way cheaper than a new boat.

So, for the Aerodyne Pandora…

Keeping the water hot. New water heater for Pandora Aerodyne October 2016.   And, a bit about the corrosive properties of RO product water.  Ironically, this summer, 2023, I had to replace the water heater as it had developed a leak in the engine water heating coil for some reason.  While the unit has a 5 year warrantee, it didn’t last quite long enough to cover the replacement.  In spite of this failure, I decided to put in yet another unit of the same make and design.  I did this primarily as the unit has a remarkable capacity to hold hot water and the heating element, at 750w, is small enough to run off of the batteries through the inverter.   I wrote about the new-new heater in this post. 

Fresh water makes for a happy wife!  I upgraded the Spectra watermaker to bring capacity to 14gph from the 5gph that the prior unit produced.   We use between 15-20 gallons per day aboard so having increased capacity saves a lot of run time on the unit.

Keeping it warm down below.  Free heat from the engine.  One thing that makes for a comforable sail is being warm and while this isn’t an issue in the tropics, it is a big deal as we make our way to and from the warm areas each fall and spring.  We do have a diesel heater aboard Pandora but it has alway seemed like a waste to run that, burning diesel itself, when we are under power.  Stealing the idea from cars, that heat the passenger compartment using a heater element that has engine cooling water cycling through it and a fan to distribute the heat to the cabin.  I purchased a unit from a off-road supplier and had them produce a custom 24v motor and put it into Pandora.   It’s worth noting that the Yanmar engine that we have comes complete with extra fittings to add such a heater and in my case, the plumbing had already put in, complete will proper valving to add the heater which the prior owner had not installed.  Unlike most upgrades, this wasn’t expensive at all and is still pumping out huge amounts of heat, years later.  I described this install and source of the heater in this post. 

Running the AC on a Honda 2000 or batteries.  One of the big problems with AC units is that they draw a lot of electricity, especially when the compressor kicks in.  Pandora does not have a house generator and we rely on a small Honda 2000 gas generator to supply extra power when needed.  Since the upgrade to lithium batteries we have hardly used this as these batteries take a charge so much faster that we can replace much more amps that we use in a day.   But, back to the issue of the big draw from the compressor.  When I upgraded to the new AC units, I quickly found out that the small gas generator would immediately fail when the compressor cycled, making it impossible to run unless we were plugged into shore power.   However, with the addition of a Easy Start, this magical gadget slowly spools up the compressor instead of letting it come on all at once, so there isn’t a big amp surge when it is running.  I described the upgrades to the new AC units and the Easy Start in this pos. 

We can even run the AC off of our batteries, through the 4kw inverter, for a few hours to cool things down, something that was not possible before we upgraded to lithium.

Lithium house bank upgrade.