A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Monday, 7 November 2011

Interesting things about American boats.

I’ve already mentioned in previous posts things like their being poorly equipped with ground tackle and not many with dinghies. Although Urban Legend has a dinghy, she was the ONLY boat among the 24 that I looked at that did. This is largely due to the fact that very little anchoring out takes place over there and most boats simply go from marina to marina – thus making those two items often superfluous.

For this reason also, all of the boats that I viewed were “all electric” (cooking, heating, hot water etc) which, I guess is understandable considering the above. However I did find it rather strange that not one of the boats I looked at had a water heater that ran off the engine as well as electricity, despite the fact that about half of them had water heaters with heat exchangers fitted that made them capable of doing so. According to the survey report and the original equipment list for her that I got from Silverton, Urban Legend’s water heater is a model that is supposed to be fitted with a heat exchanger, but I could have sworn that I checked it out, and it was not! Mind you, the heater is in a totally different place to where it states it is in the manual, and where all the other Silverton 453’s heaters were – so who knows? Ironically also in the manual is a section on “15 ways to lower your fuel consumption” and number 15 is: “use less hot water so you don’t have to run the genset so often!”

But now, for all my fellow Kiwi boaties, how weird is this……..?????

All of the refrigeration (fridge, freezer, icemaker) on a Silverton 453 is 120VAC and will only run off the shore power or genset. That means for the 6 hours a day that we would be running the main engines on the Loop, or if we’re swinging on the anchor, the generator has to run just to keep those appliances going (unless we buy a really long power cord!). It’s true – I checked with Silverton!
I think we will be fitting a12VDC/120VAC inverter fairly promptly, as this doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

And before anyone asks…. Engine driven eutectic refrigeration, commonplace on boats in New Zealand, just doesn’t exist over there.

Still – no point in stressing about it. That’s just how it is and we now own one so will have to make do or change it to more like what we’re used to when we get there. There will be other things that we will need to do that are yet un-thought of….but that’s boating. After all, there is no such thing as the Perfect Boat (for Looping or anything else, for that matter).

Catch you next time (220 days to go)


  1. Congrats on your boat purchase! You may want to double check about the refrigerator and freezer only being on 110V. "Most" modern boats are equipped with a refrigerator and freezer that will run off both 110 and 12V power with no inverter necessary- I would be very surprised if your 453 is not so equipped. Most modern boats that have only 110v refrigerators are due to the original unit no longer working and the owner not wanting to spend the extra money to get a marine unit that will go 110V or 12V on it's own so they replace it with a 110V home style unit. Anyway, congrats again!!!

  2. Thanks Tony - Like you, I found it hard to believe that the refrigeration was not 12vdc/120vac on 453's - particularly if an inverter is not standard equipment (which its not!). However, there are no breakers for the fridge or freezer on the DC panel (only on the AC panel) and neither of them were working while we were underway on the sea trial. The manual I downloaded from Silverton also seemed to indicate 120v only, so I asked their service department and here is their response:

    "If you have the Sub-zero refrigerator and the Sub-zero freezer, those units only run on 120AC voltage. You need to run the generator while underway and plugged into shore-power when at the dock. (Same as the ice maker)

    Best Regards, Rich Karrasch
    Silverton/Luhrs/Mainship Customer Service
    800-882-9266 Ext.2 Fax 856-825-6172"

    I also checked sub zero's website and they don't appear to have 12v versions of those appliances.

    Of course I will check when we get back (199 days - yippee!) but I am reconciled to having to fit an inverter - although I intended to fit one anyway for other reasons.

  3. I think you will find that most cruising boats have dinghies, it seems like the owners either sell them separately or keep them for their new boat. Plus there are plenty of us that do anchor out when the weather permits, and live it. Some nights can be very uncomfortable on the hook, especially when it gets warm. It's nice to plug in and turn on the air! We will be cruising in the New York canals this summer. I hope we see you along your way.