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Although I had great hopes for getting much of the installation accomplished yesterday, we were instead only able to finish a lot of the prep work. The very-chilly morning began by first, unboxing and inspecting the gear and then later, developing a plan that I thought would work.

Try carrying this in a little dinghy!

Our 45 Amp solar charge controller.
This one set us back a bit more than the dollar we spent on the last one we purchased.

Putting the newly-formulated plan into action though would require an extensive shopping excursion and that wasn’t going to happen until our friend Bill could join us. Sadly, running all over town to Lowes, Ace Hardware, Napa and West Marine took the better part of the day. Not satisfied to leave it all until today though, in the dwindling light of the late afternoon, Rebecca and I got a start on what will ultimately become the frame that will hold the panel on our stern rail.

Starting to work on the mounting frame for the panel.

On a different topic, for anyone looking to purchase a catamaran, we saw the nice Manta in the background of this pic go by us the other day and apparently it is for sale!


  1. Yeah for progress on the solar panel! We’re tossing around going the catamaran route but not at the price of the Manta. Nice boat! Know you’ll do a great job on installing your panel! Nice spot to be anchored . .. 17 degrees overnight in N.C.

    • How about a PDQ?

      From the PDQ forum:

      Magic Dragon has been listed with Riverfront Yacht Sales in Cleveland, OH – it’s all posted on YachtWorld. She’s ready to sail away from the dock with all needed equipment, including ditch bag with extra handheld radio, latest electronics and VHF AIS radio, new upholstery, linens and towels and china, silverware, and pots/pans. The price listed includes delivery in the spring to anywhere along the eastern seaboard north of Annapolis, further south if special arrangements are made. We put lots of love into her – she’s a great vessel, but too much for me alone after losing Charley. Our loss can be your gain, and maybe we’ll become friends and sail together…..

      This couple had messaged us back in our early planning stages. Very sad that he just passed away.

  2. I continue to follow all your upgrades and installations with great interest, Mike!

    Another 8 months and we’d be all over that PDQ – that’s a great price! We’re going to be looking at our first used Gemini 105Mc this weekend, just to get a sense of what we want and what to look for in a used model. We’ve got about half of our down payment funds set aside and still need a chunk yet…

  3. Something must be happening in the solar cell market – Not long ago, $7-8/watt was the norm, but now it is possible to get solar panels for about $2/watt. And if you fancy yourself handy with tools, maybe you’d like a full *kilowatt* for less than $600 (I actually saw this item for $360 last week – it may pay to wait and watch)


    • Yep, Bob, that’s what mass production, policy incentives, and some healthy competition between suppliers will do to the solar cell market. Solar is now cheaper than nuclear and becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels, provided you have enough space.

      I’d advise against getting bare cells, though, unless you REALLY know what you’re doing AND have access to the equipment needed to laminate them into panels. It’s a tricky process and you will inevitably break quite a few at first.

    • No, I’m definitely not THAT handy.

  4. There are 2 PDQ’s on the coast of NC for sale. We’re tossing around options at this point. After visiting you, our desire has risen. PDQ’s are totally different from the DE32 we have. Love our boat but not much room to have friends aboard.

    I have faith in the two of you on this solar panel installation.

    Stay warm!!

  5. Taking the time to plan the installation out may be frustrating, but it will be much faster in the end! Good on ya for doing it the right way.

  6. good luck with the fitting of pannel etc, that charger looks a beast !! very big from all the ones i have seen.

  7. Hey guys, I need a hand with this: I installed a 60watt solar panel on the top of my patio/pergola. This is wired to a charge controller then a battery in my basement. Do I need to run a ground from the solar panel? If so, whats the easiest way to do so? Is a wire attached to the aluminum frame then connected to a foot long rod into the ground enough?
    I found some info about this here but perhaps you could help me out with this. Thanks a lot

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