With Battle Born Batteries onboard the dream vessel for Tom Watkins and Peter Hejno of Sailing Bohemia, they can travel across the seas and make margaritas till their heart’s content! Before joining the Battle Born Family, the husbands often experienced battery anxiety to the point where opening the fridge was a big strain on their system. Now they’re utilizing 540 amp hours of our 8D batteries, and our team lives vicariously through them and their adventures on the Sea of Cortez.
Meet Sailing Bohemia:
Sailing Bohemia began when the couple first ventured on the water together on their honeymoon in 2015. Tom had never sailed before, but luckily Peter was a natural sea dog and took the helm. A year later, Tom’s new job landed them in San Francisco. With the Bay’s calm waters stretched out in front of them, the two signed up for lessons at a local American Sailing Association school.
Frequent weekend escapes along the water, in addition to stresses from work, helped to shape the idea and wanderlust behind taking off from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2019. Now full-time on their sailboat, covering more than 2,500 nautical miles, Tom and Peter have eaten countless tacos and spent their days exploring the wild and remote Sea of Cortez, encountering whale sharks and sea turtles among the beautiful desert surroundings.
However, utilizing a lead-acid system came with its disadvantages. Using their water maker was an all-day affair, where they’d spend hours waiting for it to finish up instead of being able to do the things they wanted to do onshore. They used an old alternator from a fire truck in the system and noted that its potential was wasted on the lead-acid technology.
When looking at a lithium system for their boat, the two valued safety overall as their navigation lights, autopilot, radar radio, and marine communication devices rely on this power. They also find themselves in remote places, so having multiple independent charge sources and batteries to back it all up is key. Not having to worry about diesel, gasoline, or propane onboard is something Peter and Tom prioritized too.
“Our AGM batteries had us running the engine our generator needlessly for hours each morning to get us through, burning more fuel than we can comfortably carry, and really put a strain on our safety-critical systems, like the engine,” said Tom.
With a background and interest in tinkering with electrical builds, Tom spent his time making sure that the wiring and boat’s DC capabilities were beefed up enough to become a “floating power station.” It took Tom about ten days to install everything and “perform major surgery on Bohemia.” The boat is unique because it lacks a large area for typical 8D batteries, so Tom built a few boxes to accommodate it all. During this time, Peter joked that he moved his stuff all out to the beach and camped out there!
Before upgrading to lithium, their house bank consisted of 5 West Marine AGM 79Ah batteries in a group 24 size. They were only able to use about half of it at 150 amp hours and didn’t go below 110 whenever possible. To start the engine, they utilize a flooded lead-acid battery that is completely isolated from the house bank and charged independently.
Their system had supplemental power from the solar system, and with 675 watts of solar panels, they typically brought in between 1.8-2.8 kilowatt-hours on sunny days.
Here’s what Sailing Bohemia has onboard in their system, a 2001 Benteau Oceanis 361:
- Two BB8D Battle Born Batteries
- One Victron Multiplus 3000W 12V Inverter/Charger
- One BMV 712
- One Victron SmartSolar MPPT Charge Controller 100/30
- One Victron SmartSolar MPPT Charge Controller 100/20
- One Victron Venus GX
- One Victron VE Bus Smart Dongle
- One 400 ANL Fuse kit
Our sailboat bundles are uniquely structured to provide just as much power, which you can check out on our website.
“We had to get our AGMs fully charged from the solar every day to prolong their life, which was pretty wasteful of the capacity,” said Tom. “With Battle Born, we can average out our usage over the whole week and not sweat it if the first mate makes himself an ice-cold margarita!” They’ve also noted that it’s been a challenge to avoid being such sticklers when it comes to conserving power. Peter jokes that his battery anxiety has been real, thanks to all the times that Tom yelled at him for needlessly peeking into the fridge.
“We’re looking forward to continuing a lifestyle less dictated by whether the AGMs have finished their daily charge cycle and more driven by our needs now that we have lithium. Margaritas ready to be made in the Tropics? Cup of tea on demand? Hot shower after the night watch? It’s no problem now,” said Peter.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the top power draws in Bohemia.
|Item (Make and Model)||Voltage||Amps/Watts||Daily Usage|
|Raymarine Autopilot/Radar/Sailing instruments/lights||12V||10A per hour sailed||All day|
|Spectra DC Watermaker||12V||16A or 200Wh||Runs at least once every 5 days|
|Fridge/Freezer||12V||7A or 1.4-1.8KWH||12-20 hours|
|Laptops for video editing||12V||6Ah for 150WH||2 hours|
|Raspberry Pi for Navigation||12V||1.5Ah||Runs 24/7|
Tom estimates their typical power draw overnight to be 110 amp hours or 1.4 kilowatt-hours for an overnight sail, and a normal night draws in 60 to 70 amp hours, or 0.9 kilowatt-hours.
Overall, Tom and Peter believe that Bohemia sails well despite being “laden down with all their worldly possessions.” They recently spent a few months in Europe visiting family while avoiding the heart of the hurricane season. The batteries spent time in storage and when the system was restored, everything worked like new. It would have never been the case with lead-acid batteries on board because of how they would have gotten about 20% of the capacity than usual.
“Now the batteries look after themselves instead of us having to babysit them,” said Peter.
If you’re looking to dive into the nomadic lifestyle, Tom and Peter suggest getting the highest quality components first (like lithium technology!) and to take the leap. They said it was a liberating feeling leaving the shore without any keys to their car or apartment.
“It’s so easy to get comfortable with your endless commitments on land and sea, but life is too short to not take the plunge,” said Tom.