Onboard Electricity System
Electricity or energy production is one of the limiting factors aboard a sailing yacht. To many, it is not the first thing to think about when chartering a yacht. However, experience showed that it happens to be one of the most important things before casting off, especially in recent times when the majority of the population is addicted to mobile communication devices. “How can I charge my smartphone?” became one of the most frequently asked questions.
Although the level of comfort of modern sailing yachts is constantly being increased, the source of electric power is still the onboard battery system. On the most of sailing yachts offered by charter companies, the AC 220/240 V power is only possible if the yacht is plugged on the shore power system when docked in a marina or port. Even though the engine is running, it is not possible to use standard AC sockets (usually placed on the control panel, at the galley and in every room).
Underway there is only 12 V available, delivered from a boat’s battery system. The most common way to use that source of power would be via 12 V ‘car lighter’ adapter. Modern models of such adapters are equipped with a standard USB socket, so a large part of the problem with charging the mobile devices’ batteries is solved. On classic boats, there is only one ‘car lighter’ 12 V socket, usually placed on the control panel just above the chart table.
Portable AC converters can be helpful, but are not adored by sailors due to their size and weight. They used to be popular at the time because one end would be plugged to the ‘car lighter’ socket, while the other end could produce 220 V for low consumers – not stronger than a battery charger or a laptop computer. Some boats are equipped with several ‘car lighter’ sockets, and recently the built-in USB sockets can be found in every room (apart the control panel) as the standard. Some more sophisticated yachts are equipped with built-in AC converters, so one (rarely all) standard AC 220 V socket can be used, but again for low consumers only.
Electric generator is also one of the options for providing AC 220 V constantly. Still, it is not as easy as it seems. Such a device is not a standard equipment, so it is needed to demand a yacht equipped with it from your charter agent. Do not forget that generators not only produce power, but consume diesel and are relatively noisy.
AC 220 V aboard a sailing yacht is not as needed as it seems. Small size solar chargers for mobile devices are available and cheap, as well as power banks if other sockets are already taken by other crew members. Devices such as hair dryers, kitchen mixers and blenders or microwave ovens are neither popular nor necessary aboard a sailing yacht. If you disagree, then you should either plan to be provided by the shore power or pay extra for the yacht equipped with the generator.