S/V Balaena Skipper Andy O’Grady Offers Advice on Extending the Life of Wet-Cell Batteries

Keeping batteries charged, avoiding deep discharges, and boosts from solar power and wind power are keys to long-lasting wet-cell batteries.

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S/V Balaena Skipper Andy O’Grady has taken his double-ended cutter rig to every climate between the Southern Ocean and the Artic. O’Grady explains that imperative to onboard power management and extending battery life is keeping batteries charged and avoiding deep discharges. His tips for long-lasting batteries include keeping the discharge above 50 percent, tracking sulfation, and equalizing the battery bank. Equipment O’Grady uses are Trojan 6-volt T105 batteries, Xantrex XAR Smart alternator regulator, 85-amp Bosch alternator, BEP voltage sensing relay, a Solarex 55-watt solar panel, 75-watt Shell solar panel, and a Rutland wind generator.
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Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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