Skip to main content

Power Outage

Bill Schoenherr of Midland, Michigan, asks:"My gelcell batteries are 8 years old and although they are showing no signs of age, I have abused them by discharging them below 50 percent of their capacity. I’m considering replacing them because we cruise the Great Lakes in the North Channel area and I would hate to have them fail up there. Are TPPL batteries (Odyssey) still

Bill Schoenherr of Midland, Michigan, asks:

"My gelcell batteries are 8 years old and although they are showing no signs of age, I have abused them by discharging them below 50 percent of their capacity. I’m considering replacing them because we cruise the Great Lakes in the North Channel area and I would hate to have them fail up there. Are TPPL batteries (Odyssey) still the way to go? I can’t find any additional information on alternatives like the Oasis battery technology."

Nigel Calder replies:

You’ve done well with your gelcells, but before discarding them you might want to perform a capacity test. Bring them to a full charge and then discharge them at 1/20th of their rated capacity (i.e., 5 amps for every 100 amp-hours of battery capacity). You’ll need an ammeter to measure the discharge rate. If you don’t have one on board, there’s an excellent clamp-on DC ammeter that reads to 400 amps in the Sears on–line catalog for $60: part # 03482369000 (sears.com).

Use the boat’s interior lighting to impose the necessary load. You’ll need to monitor voltage and stop the test when it falls to 10.5 volts. If this occurs in less than 16 hours, the battery has less than 80 percent remaining capacity and should be replaced. If it holds up for 16 or more hours, you can hang onto it a bit longer. Be sure to recharge it immediately to avoid damage.

You’ll get maximum benefit from Odyssey TPPLs and other such batteries only if you have charging devices that are powerful enough to take advantage of their high charge-acceptance capacity, and if you spend time running the engine just to charge batteries. In this case I would seriously consider them. But you may run the risk of burning up your alternator, because the batteries will drive it to full continuous output for extended periods of time.

Related

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more