Monday, August 26, 2013

BeBe has been mutilated!!


Yep, we did it.  S/V BeBe has been mutilated! And we are the ones who did the mutilation. Only question we have is, "why didn't we do this sooner?"

Actually, we are glad that we waited until we found the right company to do this job and do it right.  Last winter we saw a couple of Amel 54 yachts with very nice and well-constructed stern arches.  The nicest we had ever seen on any yachts.  

We talked with the owner of the shop that built these arches (Riza at Emek Marine in Gocek) and looked at photos of arches he had built for another Amel Super Maramu 2000, the same model boat as BeBe.  We did not fall immediately in love with the arches on the Amel SM.  The stern on the Amel 54 is very wide, which is the current trend in yachts; the stern is as wide as the beam.  That boat might be only 1-foot longer than our Amel SM but it is 1/3 larger because of that widening from the beam all the way to the stern.  Much, much larger than ours. This  wider stern allowed for more graceful curving to the solar arch.  The narrow stern of the SM called for a much more angular arch.  Neither Bill nor I thought it looked very good.

Over the winter we continued to think about how solar panels could be added to BeBe.  Rail mounting was ruled out.  Our bimini folds down like a convertible car top, so mounting over the bimini was ruled out.  Mounting on the mizzen deck made no sense because both the the standing and running rigging as well as the mizzen boom and sail would cause too many shadows and ruin the effectiveness of the solar panels.   It always came back to requiring a stern arch if we were to add solar panels.   We wanted solar panels so that we can leave the boat at anchor for a day (or possibly even two), which was not possible because our heavy energy use required that the generator be run twice per day to charge the house batteries.  Meant we had to be on the boat for an hour each morning and an hour each night to run the generator and charge the batteries.  We had done this for 7 years (except for times in marinas).  Wouldn't it be nice to not have to adhere to that schedule anymore?  We thought so.

Laser cut name plate on each side of arch.  Three plates
provide anti-wobble stability to the arch.
AMEL  --  53 -- BeBe
Bill emailed back and forth with Riza during the spring while we were in Houston.  Bill told him that we wanted a stern solar arch but we wanted one with more graceful lines than what had been built for our model boat in the past.  We wanted an arch that looked like the ones built for the 54s; we realized our narrow stern presented a problem and would limit the number of solar panels that could be mounted; but we wanted one that looked good.  Riza understood and said he would design one with the graceful lines but that only 3 solar panels could be fitted on it.  Okay; we would make do with only 3 instead of the 4 panels we really wanted.

Replaced capacitors on all A/C and
generator fan
We docked at Skopea Limani Marina for 9 days while this stern arch was built and installed.  One day Bill replaced the capacitors in all 3 air-conditioning units.  Those things get weak over time.  Very noticeable difference of fan strength now.  The a/c blows much harder than with the older capacitors.  Bill also replaced the capacitor in the fan in the Onan generator.  He thought the older one was also getting weak.  That fan also seems to be moving more air now.  I would never have thought of that; glad Bill is such a handyman and has good mechanical and electrical knowledge and skills.

Injector Nozzles for Yanmar engine.  These little puppies cost
about $850, plus labor and testing fees = about $1200.  Do not
even want to think how much actual injector replacements
would have cost.

While there we took advantage of Emek Marine's services to repair our outboard engine, replace the rivets on our bimini, clean the injectors and mixing elbow on the Onan generator, and clean the injectors on the Yanmar 100hp turbo engine.  The injectors on the Yanmar failed the test and the nozzles had to be replaced.   

New stainless steel mixing elbow

The mixing elbow on the Yanmar had developed a tiny leak and needed to be replaced.  We had replaced that mixing elbow in Phuket December 2010 and were surprised to find that it was already worn out.  Riza said these usually fail at about 1500 hours of operation.  Oh, great!  The one in Phuket cost right at $1,000.  We were not happy campers to know this had to be replaced again so soon.  

Riza's mixing elbow
Much better than original
Riza said his machine shop could make a stainless steel mixing elbow for less than half the price of a factory Yanmar one.  The Yanmar factory replacement would cost about 750 Euro; he could make a SS one for 300 Euro.  He did.  The stainless is much thicker than the Yanmar factory one; hopefully this will last longer.  His diesel mechanics tuned up the generator and engine and both run better than they have during the entire time we have owned this boat.  We are extremely pleased.

Welder is guy in green shirt.  An artist!
The welder who built the stern arch was more of an artist than a welder.  It was a pleasure to watch him work.  He came to the boat and took measurements.  Built the arch in the shop.  Then delivered it to our boat at the dock to fit it to the boat and TIG weld or spot weld everything.  He added the cleats where we wanted and welded in the 3 name panels on either side of the arch -- AMEL -- 53 -- BeBe.  These laser cut plates look great but also act as anti-wobble support to the arch.  He then took the arch back to the shop for finish welding and polishing.

First day
Arch bolts into toe rail which is
reinforced with steel
The next day they returned with the completed arch and with the 3 solar panels installed into a frame that screws onto the top of the arch.  Wiring had already been run a week earlier.  Running wiring in an Amel is a breeze and was finished in less than 20 
Arch bolts into ridge on stern scoop
which is steel reinforced
minutes.  Bill loves the wiring in our Amel.  All they would need to do is connect to the solar panels and instal the MPPT (regulator to control how many amps are dumped into the batteries).  But that work had to be performed by a licensed electrician.  Bill could do this himself, but this was a turn-key job; so best to let the shop do all the work.  That way, if there was a problem in any way then there could be no finger pointing.  This was Emek Marine's job from start to finish.

Holding arch with halyard while it is TIG weld fitted to boat

The electrician had been sent to Marmaris on another job that day; so we had to wait 2 days to finish the job.  Riza graciously paid our marina bill for those extra nights we had to remain at the dock.  When the electrician and his helper arrived the work was completed in very short order.  It was finished.  BeBe had been mutilated.

Lots of headroom when docked.  No more bumping our heads on davits
It has now been 3 days since we left the dock.  We are amazed at the production capability of these 3 solar panels.  We have not yet had to start the generator.  So far (knock on wood!) we are getting 150 to 160 amps daily from these 3 solar panels.  Could be getting more but the regulator turns off input from the solar panels when the batteries reach fully charged status. The 3 panels are 135-watt each, Kyocera brand, installed with a Victron MPPT controller.  

We are exceptionally pleased!  Love the appearance of the new stern arch.  And love the solar panels which will allow us to put fewer hours on the generator and provide us with freedom to leave the boat without having to follow a daily generator schedule.


The neg BATT output from the MPPT was wired incorrectly. It was wired to the neg side of the SHUNT which is the same place the battery monitor is connected. Placing this output neg wire close to the connection of the battery monitor causes the battery monitor to overstate the number of amps going into the battery. I rewired the neg BATT output from the MPPT to the Battery side of the main battery switch. This changed the registered output of amps by something like one-half. Rather than getting 150-200 amps of 24 volts/day, we are probably getting about 75-100 amps of 24 volts/day. This is more in line with our expectations.

We are still very pleased with the output of these solar panels.  We are energy hogs.  We never hesitate to use any electrical device, unlike many people we know on boats who curtail their movie viewing or computer time or electric mixer or whatever because they need to save battery power.  With our normal heavy electrical usage it appears thus far that we will need to run the generator only about every third or fourth day since adding this solar array.  That is better than we had hoped.


  1. Cool mutilation. Cheers & safe journey ahead to you.

  2. I made the mistake of showing this post to Cindy - The arch project has just move way up on the priority list.

    We like very much!

  3. What is your battery capacity?

    1. We have 12 each 12VDC 105ahr batteries. These are wired in pairs for the boats 24VDC system providing 630 amps of 24VDC

  4. Nice solar arch addition. FYI - the wiring was partially correct, at least from an electronics perspective. You want the charge controller and every other supply or load to be on one side of the shunt. Otherwise it is not measured and the meter (battery capacity) will read incorrectly! Also the MPPT controller battery feed line should not be connected through the small screw feeding the shunt meter. It should be connected with a larger lug to the same terminal the battery switch is on. Great to see your solar is making a big difference!

  5. Thanks for the detail of your work, arch and elect. Looking at a very similar install. A Ted Brewer Canyon design, 43'.


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