Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Our Name


The MOG acronym defined

Marine Off Grid

The three words are chosen carefully. Marine of course, applies to that portion of the world covered by water, about 2/3 of the Earth’s surface. The following word, ‘Off’, describes a civilized lifestyle disconnected from the ‘Grid’, being be any commercial network providing, in this case fuel or energy.

Boats, especially sailboats, have long been utilized as transport and shelter. People could travel while living inside with food, clothing, tools, seeds and even small domesticated animals. While ancient sailboats had no auxiliary engine, they were able spread the world’s population to foreign land masses thousands of years ago. However, as soon as ancient mariners crossed the horizon, visual contact, verbal contact and food contact was lost. With no refrigeration, food sources needed to be live animals, stored water, potted or dried food, supplemented by fishing or hunting if fortunate enough to find land.

Enter renewable energy. 

Solar electricity that is stored, powers refrigeration, A/C, water purifiers, communications, radar, sonar, toilet and above all, small but powerful electric motors driving efficient propellers yielding limitless range. MOG is unlike the typical power boat that requires a support network for oil, fuel, grease, injectors, filters and fire protection. A totally electric powered solar boat regimen therefore consists mainly of haul out, paint, system updates, motor diagnostics and simpler, cleaner maintenance.

Today, a non lethal power level of just 24 volts DC of direct current electricity can provide for purifying water, storing food, cooking food, aids for fishing, cleaning clothes, power tools, air conditioning, computers, medical devices, waste disposal and security.
An amazing fact is, 24 volts DC can also be the drive power to push the 40 foot MOG boat to 7 knots and 4 knots all day depending on storage and solar array size. 

MOG truly liberates the individual to boat any place without continually repurchasing power. A human being that can fully actualize their existence without continuous payment for energy becomes more than liberated, the individual becomes independent and more nearly a nation than a consumer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020



Heads & point source inverters

In this instance breaking ground is not establishing new digs to build MOG boats (would be nice to be that popular). Instead, the ground we are breaking is electrocution from a boat into the water. If all the electrics of 100 to 250 Volts Alternating Current (VAC) of a boat are properly grounded, no harm should come to swimmers next to the boat. "Should" is the operative word that has led to a number of very quiet  deaths. Alternating Current kills. Low voltage Direct Current (12 to 24 VDC) does not. The main reason for no swimming in marinas is the plausibility of electrocution from improper electrical grounds at dock and boats.
Swiss type outlet to be used in
MOG boat for 24 VDC into full
Sine wave inverters.

Swiss matching plug for 24 VDC input lines
of full sine wave inverters to lower the risk
of 120 VAC injury.

The key to this safety stance is there are no through hull fixtures below the boat's water line. Furthermore, there are no metallic bonded elements in the water that could carry the grounding of 120 to 250 VAC devices. The boat is electrically isolated from the surrounding water. Electric motors for the boat are 24 VDC outboards, having no possible connection to the 120 VAC inverters to be used.

Our premiss is that such amounts of AC electrical lethality must be nowhere near the water, as when bonding grounds to bronze through hulls, rudders, struts and propellers. If some unforeseen metallic object or result of corrosion creates a pathway of AC current to the bonded ground elements, people near the boat and in the water can be in danger. There are now so many TVs, hair dryers, kitchen appliances and communications that are 12/24 Volts Direct Current (VDC), little reason is left to run standard 120 VAC throughout the whole boat.

As an interim precaution, we are removing the entire 120/240 VAC system. Replacement is with a 24 VDC bus, off of which about four special plug/outlets will be placed at such common work stations as head/shower, galley, forward console and aft salon. At those special outlets, can be positioned full sign inverters for 120 VAC to plug into the 24 VDC outlet. If a 120 VAC device is needed, its ground is at the inverter and no where near sea water. The inverters will be load matched for the area of use. Hair dryers will be 24 VDC and not the standard 120 VAC, just in case you wondered.

The microwave range is wired directly to its own full sine inverter, galley top induction plate and kitchen appliances not yet 24 volts will be plugged into a smaller full sign inverter at the counter. Another inverter plugged into a 24 VDC outlet will be at the forward console. Full sine inverters mimic the full sine wave electricity as used in American households powering sensitive electronics.

Four different power levels from 300 to 3,500 watts. These full sine wave inverters would have cost in the thousands of dollars just 5 to 10 years ago.

All our inverters are full sine wave because they are now very inexpensive, small, light and stow easily. They vary from 80 watts for computer/phone charging, 300 watts for TV and to 1500 for cooking/ air conditioning and non battery power tools, etc. This all works well for our Totally Electric Powered Solar (TEPS)tm boat of about 40 feet.

Most importantly, we are attuned to the new lifestyle until all devices are purchasable at 24 VDC. Part of that lifestyle is being aware that one does not run several high wattage appliances at the same time, such as air conditioning while operating a dual induction stove cook top.

One large item that consumed 140 watts of 120 VAC is the Sunmar Electric Mobile composting commode. After years of use it has had both its 12 VDC and 120 VAC electric heaters replaced with custom 24 VDC units that are circuit breaker wired to the new 24 volt system. Other modifications were made that permit two people to use it on a daily basis without overloading the composting ability or producing problems storing liquid overage in the compost digester.

Although the composting head is aboard the boat, it will be under test for at least a year. There are a number of electronic elements that will need to be programmed, making a visit to the head a double entandre. Thinking a head.

Settled back in place for reconnection and tests the
upgraded Sunmar single user composting commode
should now accommodate 2 persons full time. A
24 VDC coupling is seen at lower left.

Various control elements allow on the fly test & evaluation in place.
In this top view can be seen a 2 x 3 inch vertical PVC pipe
that removes air from within the top portion of the commode to
be filtered through a mixture of activated charcoal and zeolite,
removing any remaining odors within the composting drum.

We have more to tell but this is where we are in the quest to disconnect from the ground and shove off into the water.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Living in the Projects

The simplest solutions to problems give no clue to the complexity for their determination.

Head of the list, the head.

Counting the number of needed improvements to the venerable Sunmar Mobile composting commode is a worthy endeavor. Even though the unit has been around for decades, is appreciated and of thoughtful design, it has its shortcomings.

Finding solutions is easy but making those solutions small, energy efficient, simple, user friendly, and automatic while occupying the same foot print, is a most contemplative task. The task and machinations, I will spare you. Suffice it to say there is now a solution that should allow the '1' user unit to work for at least two full time users on the boat. 

A few pieces have been added most of which go unseen in this picture.
All the individual parts work singly and as a complete system.

The effort now is to connect all the parts and wires in a workman like manner and field test the head. One of the unique modifications was to elevate the voltage to the liquid evaporator section from 12 volts DC to 24 volts DC while completely removing the 110 volt AC heater. This cuts out the loss from inverters and larger 12 VDC cables. The base voltage for the whole boat is now 24 VDC with only the microwave, AC units & TV as 110 VAC (inverted) from a 24 VDC full sine inverter.

Top Power

From the roof top, to power all of the systems aboard, are the new photovoltaic (PV) modules. The PVs are made by an American company noted for their quality, performance and longevity of product. The new modules are lightweight, thin and slightly flexible. Some folks say they can be walked on but I would no more walk on a PV than I would intentionally walk on somebody's clear plastic deck hatch.

Testing and mock up of the roof frame system is underway with the main idea of the entire roof array being divided into three or four panels of modules, allowing them to be removed in about one half hour. That means the 40 modules of 100 watts can be stowed for long term while in the slip or stowed in case a major storm is approaching. The whole bundle will fit in the two shallow roof containment areas that are now atop the boat roof. For longer storage the whole folded array can be placed inside the boat. Stacked, all four array panels would total about 8 inches deep, occupy a twin bed and weigh about 160 pounds. 

The key is the framing, articulation, folding, wiring, assembly, layout and access of the 40 modules to be linked. An origami project indeed that involves strong, lightweight hinges, quick connects and rapid, strong frame attachment points.

Not easily seen (for good reason) are the tape mock up hinge elements that allow the folding of the
100 watt Go Power PVs. The Buell Motorcycle banner is a key part of the design method, for
when I am stymied by a problem, I take a nice long ride to clear the cobwebs,
returning fresh, animated and renewed to design.
Slow boat, fast bike.
There is much to do this winter that was not helped by being physically sidelined this summer. No major ailment or problem, just enough 'stuff happens' to put a crunch on the schedule. I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel, it is not a freight train and probably stays lit from storing solar energy. 

Keep the faith.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


Just The Three Of Us

Raritan, Todd, Reliance, Thetford. All are meant for the same purpose but all are different in the way that they achieve that purpose from under $50 to over $2,000.

There comes a time when key elements of a plan mature, all will coalesce toward a new departure. The wife and I are finally retired with a good range of SS and other provisions to assure our Great Loop quest. Of course getting out of the slip for an extended period of time has required ridding our 41 year marriage vault of a lot of tangible overburden. Cars, condo, farm, lots, small boats, motorcycles and heirlooms are passed on, auctioned, stored or sold.

Our children, now self sufficient adults, have been able to take an active part in the approval process of letting things go. When we return from crossing our wake of the Great Loop, the only decision desired is to either keep looping or settle into a home with a slip.

Here are the ties to be broken or close as legally possible;
1. No mortgages on land.
2. No mortgages on water.
3. Small but steady income.
4. No or low taxes.
5. No monthly payments.

Several times the date to leave has been set and life has stopped the departure to the point that 2018 was only a hundred miles including getting back to the slip. Each time there has been a moment of learning which has been factored into the coalescence.

Using Your Head

Literally using the head is a problem. In trying to use the composting commode meant for 1.5 people, it proved totally  inadequate for 2 adults full time aboard. With the condo still an opportunity for sale, time has been available to delve into the improvement of the small composting head instead of moving ships's bulkheads for a larger unit. That meant cleaning out the old  unit, taking it apart, studying the finer points and coming up with viable, economical and legal solutions.

The original 10 year old system works. It is
just being reworked for two people full time.

A mild winter here in Wilmington, NC allowed me to experiment with the unit in the work shed. The disassembly showed a design flaw that allowed the dual heater elements of 12 volts DC and of 110 volts AC to corrode the sensors controlling heat under the liquid collection/evaporation tray. Without the input of significant heat under the tray, an increasing build up of liquid effluent could cause an over accumulation. Designed to avert such a mishap, a twenty gallon tank for overflow and pump out was placed below the head when the boat was constructed and plumbed in. The unit now has a better and more robust heater/evaporater system. We have retained the overflow tank but have added excellent evaporation capability that should keep the overflow tank unfilled. Therefore, no stops for pump out.
The dark area of the corroded sensors located just above
the curve of the yellow wires needed to be replaced
with a different type to function with a new system.
The two heater sets with the three 12 volt DC strips
directly over laid on the 110 volt AC heater.

Several areas were corroded and the
evaporation tray needed sealing.

Heading Out

A new set of custom sealed heater strips was required with a new and different sensor system having a computer circuit board to monitor and control the liquid presence, accumulation, quantity,  heating and energy control. The voltage utilized was changed to  DC at 24 volts nominal. The use of 110 volt AC was discontinued 
for safety and greater efficiency by not needing an inverter.

An idea of how a simple computer controller could be set up.

More time was required in gathering the parts than in the actual mechanics, albeit there is still a bit to do to integrate the system into a clean appearance. By the time we and the ALGEMAC II leave the slip for the next leg of the loop, there should definitely be a heads up, so to speak.

All puns intended.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


What's it mean?

What it means is the oily fuel hose and despicable dispenser at right, shares
no relationship with the Totally Electric Powered Solar (TEPS)tm boat
named Algemac II. For most boaters, that hose is
more akin to a vacuum cleaner in one's wallet.
The name 'Net Zero' has been bandied about as the name for an internet business, education outlet and probably for a fishing apparatus that frees fish. Most notably, in the world of power usage efficiency, it has been linked to homes designed to have their own power generation, maybe even sell excess power back to the grid.

Truth be told, in my estimation, use of the term net zero in such a limited context is anathema to its true potential, everything. A house on a city street with water, sewer, gas, electricity, cable, satellite, trash and lawn care hardly represents a true net zero moniker just because excess solar energy is creatively morphed into an electric bill reduction.
The NCSU Solar House, built in 1981 by Professor Herbert Eckerlin of the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, was created to promote and demonstrate renewable energy technologies to the community.  The house features 5 kW of solar PV panels, solar water heating, a ground loop geothermal heat pump, efficient construction and insulation, LED lighting, and is designed with several passive solar features that further reduce energy costs.  The site was used to conduct numerous renewable energy research projects, educating undergraduate students, and enabling graduate students to write research papers, theses, and dissertations.

The Solar House at NCSU, Raleigh, NC comes fairly close to net zero and can be visited throughout the year. Even with such an inflow of time, money and technology the display is still static. Situated in a state that has arguably one of the best estuary and climate variations in the USA, the house does not move through that glorious environment. If it were to actually move through such vast environs, silently,  fuelessly, while catching fish and clearing drinking water, ah, would that ever be a definitive net zero!

Words have Meaning.

Net is the product, what remains when the casing is removed. For those folks so substantially planted in a house, the casing would be the land upon which it is set. 

Zero is a bit less abstract, most easily appreciated when one's wallet is left at home. There, that should clear things up.

A boat has no casing, in that it is free to bump into anything people and nature can muster. No trees, hedges, fences or rolling solid ground as a bulwark,  just mercurial waters at natures whim. Yet, like a house, a large electric gathering roof area may supply enough generating space for sailboat speed propulsion. 

A wonderful picture of a large roofed American made canal boat without a solar array, a diesel engine is instead used for drive propulsion and electric generation on board the vessel.

Net in this case has leapt the paradigm shift when used in this new marine off grid application. With the rise of new thin, lightweight and form fitting photovoltaic (solar electricity) modules, a well planned boat roof can mount enough modules to not only drive the boat but also provide optional creature comforts (air conditioning  a  yes). The roof generated power is stored in batteries which provide for speeds up to 7 knots and a cruise (sailboat type) speed of 3 to 4 knots.

24 of these brand new flexible 6 pound 22"X65.4" modules will comprise 5 panels of the roof's total array. The final array will produce over 4,000 watts of clean electric power, equal to 5 horse power.
Zero becomes the additional cost of power after the boat's initial purchase. With no additional cost of fuel, just 5 horse power from the roof's 4,000 watts, will drive the boat at 3 to 4 knots. With only 12 horse power the MOG boat can attain the 7 knot hull speed, which is just 66% of the 18 hp that is mounted on the boat. The first day after the boat is completed and out of the boat shed, power streams into the banks of batteries, silently awaiting the captain's quest, no refueling needed. What's in your wallet, a fuel card or sunshine?

So What Is Next?

The future purchase of the 24 - 170 watt flexible modules (when available) will transform the roof array so that there should be enough electricity inflow to create an even greater net zero machine. Not just a home but a home that can travel to nearly 2/3 of the USA by coastal and inland river waters. A vast lock and dam system has been in place for nearly a century, a few are nearly 200 years old. These waterways have been used for commercial barge traffic but are now being used by pleasure craft in increasing numbers.
This USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers) map shows in green lines the commercially navigable waters of the USA to include several west coast rivers that reach inland. Readers should be able to double click on the picture to enlarge.
The map above is provided to illustrate the large number of states that are accessible by the inland and coastal waterways. A whole lifetime can be spent on these waters that touch huge cities as well as towns of just a few people. Waterways that adjoin the Erie Canal along with the Great Lakes allow travel to Canada as well as shown on the map below.The MOG, Totally Electric Powered Solar (TEPS)tm boat can be the magic carpet for a dream come true.

The New York State Canal System comprises four canals. The Erie Canal connects the Hudson River and the Great Lakes, while the Champlain (right) links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Source: New York State Department of Transportation.

Your comments on this theme are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Be power fully prepared 

With just 24 volts, this small solar panel controller made our lives normal when all else, except Wilmington city water pressure and natural gas availability failed. The electricity was conditioned and regulated in this black box from a panel of photovoltaic modules atop the boat that had weathered the storm. Our batteries were charged daily for AC, microwave, water, fridge and cook top, under a cloudy sky. Wonderful.
Our hearts go out to fellow neighbors who have died, been hurt and or displaced by hurricane Florence. We have witnessed first hand the devastation of such storms since a few years prior to Hazel in 1954. Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, NC have been hit many times but folks never fail to pull together.

Looks can be deceiving. These three boats are really not smiling. All took a real beating and managed to stay afloat.
Our boat the ALGEMAC II had the least damage of the three but it will still need to be hauled and surveyed for
the amount of damage sustained.
How can one be prepared when the terror is that the season and seasons to come are not over? That answer for us has begun to take shape but is not fully developed. However, there are some very important events through which we have endured with Florence that point toward a unique solution, the MOG which we named ALGEMAC II. A true Net Zero machine (subject of our next blog).

All three boats sustained damage from a 40 foot sailboat that broke from her dock at another marina and entered our fairway. Our bow was raked, the next neighbor's bow was completely hacked through and the sailboat next to him had its stanchions, toe rails and hull raked. The erant sailboat then exited to ramble over the waterfront.
To be so fortunate as to have three places locally to stay during the hurricane and following days, was God sent. Unique to that is the ability to compare each of the places as to robustness, safety, security, power, conveniences and food availability.

The options are as follows 1. A 1935 2 bedroom 1 bath Craftsman style house just 2 miles outside center city Wilmington, 2. An eighth story 2 bed 2 bath modern condo, centered downtown on the waterfront of the Cape Fear River, 3. A 40 foot Totally Electric Powered Solar boat at Cape Fear Marina on the Cape Fear River in her wind & wave swept berth. The distance spanned is just three miles. Boat to condo 1 mile and condo to house 2 miles.

The Craftsman house before the hurricane Florence, where we stayed
during the storm while the boat was in the water at Cape Fear Marina.

Our condo on the eighth floor of the waterfront at Water Street Center
fared very well with no leaks at all.

The 40 foot solar electric MOG became the most amenable  
of all the places to stay, with lights, TV, AC, fridge, etc. 
Shown here with extra white shrink wrap tape over any possible 
leakage points. Handles and hinges can often fail to stop wind driven 
rain at over 80 miles per hour.

An initial summation is that over the ten day period of approach to departure of Florence, we lived in all three places. Each will be discussed for its reasons that attracted us. The bottom line is that although we were inconvenienced, we suffered no harm. Some of the structures did but no drastic rework will be needed.

1. The 1935 house has been through Hazel and storms prior and after. It is well built with yellow pine 'real' 2x4 dimension lumber and a bird mouthed roof clad with t&g pine boards. It rests on a two foot high brick base with brick piers beneath the hard pine doubled floors. The water and natural gas worked throughout the storm for the watertight house. The only drawback was the lack of air conditioning and the critical need to empty the fridge of all food. The fridge was emptied and cleaned immediately after the hurricane winds stopped.
Sandwiches were made and milk transferred across town to the boat whose fridge functioned tirelessly from the solar electricity. We left the house having one night with the storm and one additional night before it got too warm and humid without AC.

2. The condo was visited but had no AC or appliances functioning. As it is up for sale, we did not want to risk habitation without the AC and appliances powered. So we skipped #2 for a later revisit.

3. After checking on the condo and seeing all was well, we proceeded to the boat. All the sandwich makings, milk, cereal, bread and sodas were put aboard when the sun had popped out. Temperature inside was about 100 degrees F. After packing the fridge and stowing food, we mounted one of the two AC units and went for a two hour drive while the AC cooled down the aft salon. That night and several more nights were cool enough to put a cover on the bed. 

In minutes the AC unit of only 5 thousand BTU is installed in any of the 'slide down' windows just like the window opened next to the AC unit. Plug it in to the inverted 24 volts DC to 120 volt house voltage and it starts to cool. Just one of these units in the salon and saloon will keep the boat cool. The more sun beating down, the more electricity  available to cool the boat. Absolutely counter intuitive. Pretty cool, huh?

In the case of this hurricane the boat's unlimited range was redirected, having all the solar electric power to afford us a most comfortable stay without issuing noise and deadly carbon monoxide from a generator running in a slip (illegal in quite a few marinas I might add).

Only the six main modules were kept for the hurricane. Five of the eleven were removed to our van for safe keeping during the event.
Rains returned day after day as we sat aboard and watched local TV using an antenna that picks up 21 broadcast stations in the local counties. There was plenty of news, weather and commentary with good entertainment both old and contemporary. The AC stayed on while we made coffee in the microwave, cooked food, washed up and were able to perform all the tasks of living at home with only our Sun replenishing the large 21kwh battery storage. Please note the morning cup of java next to the TV.

Florence's gusts, rain and clouds cannot stop the morning cup of coffee and the latest TV broadcast (no cable availability).
So we put our feet up, mug next to the TV, AC cranking out the cool air while drinking in the view. An exceptional boat.
There was no electric, phone, cable or internet service at the docks because of storm damage. Our sinks and shower and commode worked as they would at home. In fact with all the misery being caught by many, we two old folks counted our blessings. We were able to comfort loved ones with a few texts gotten during a short drive through a few cell hotspots. The marine radio gave us contact with the USCG and others if needed and was of additional comfort.

After several great nights on the boat, we moved to the condo when its power returned. Having spent two nights at the condo we returned to the little 1935 house getting things ready for the return of its power. No power, it was a let down followed by another night at the condo with dinners out at KFC, Waffle House, Hardees and The CookOut (the only places open and with very limited fare).

Although the fiberglass and top coat were ground away by the loose
sailboat, the structure was not compromised as could happen to a
fiberglass hull. The stem and knee of our quarter century old boat
is well over 5 inches thick of epoxy laminated and coated marine
plywood. The white tube across the bow floats in the water to
fend off tide driven debris strikes.

Looking at the whole ordeal, it was more like a hate/love vacation. The cost of the MOG boat was no greater than a 32 foot Island Gypsy back in 1994. In return we have had nearly 30 years of uninterrupted free solar power. She is not fast and not heavy ocean going but has made it through 7 named hurricanes on her own hull in the water, this being the first in an actual slip. All the other 'canes have been on the hook in Pages Creek estuary Wilmington, NC.

'Home no sweat home' with air conditioning when all the power in
the county is completely out. With the aft salon queen bed folded
in the up position, there is room to move around besides the saloon.

Please do not think we are ignorant of being blessed. Of all the places we stayed we can definitely say that the Totally Electric Powered Solar (TEPS) boat was the most unique and unexpectedly satisfying of all.

Three folks who stayed aboard their bots at Cape Fear Marina had first hand
views of the offending sailboat grinding into the boats in our fairway. There
was little they could do to fend such a large object and best that they not
place themselves in even greater peril.
The concept of the MOG was a sailboat speed trawler type boat for two people with no range limitation. Efficiency prohibited using any conventional craft because the roof's solar electric collection area was the key design element. The design was a clean sheet monohull that included an extreme shallow draft of 18 inches for a forty foot boat with electric drive motors. Everything is custom.

People often ask how much do we save on fuel? Our answer is actually "the fuel came with the boat" and a 25 year warranty on the solar electric modules atop the boat. In effect, we do not save anything, it is just that other boaters pay more to travel with powering payments for maintenance, repairs, oil, filters and fuel requirements never ending for them. Our downside might be speed but we are retired and time is not as precious as the ability to loiter in deep or knee deep waters.

Yep, purposely aground with the ocean over the dune.

After the ALGEMAC II (MOG) gets her nose (bow) fixed, placed back in the pond and electric motors remounted, we will continue in the Carolinas to put more miles beneath her hull to fulfill our continuation of the Great Loop adventure. What a beginning year for us that this has been!