Want to overnight - but nervous

Daniel Sullivan

New Member
Aug 8, 2021
9
Minnetonka, MN
Boat Info
2000 Sundancer 290
Engines
Mercruiser 5.0
Hi there - we are on our third season with our 2000 Sundancer 290. Its been a great first boat for us. One thing we haven't done yet, is spend the night on it at anchor/camping.

The boat has four batteries (two for the engines, two for house power), but there is no generator on the boat. Usually when we anchor, i turn off the bottom battery switch which is for the engines and leave the other switch on to keep the fridge and stereo on.

If i did the same thing, but over night (i'd turn stereo on, so just fridge, anchor lights and bilge running) would the house power batteries last over night? I think they would, but i don't want to get stranded on the lake and have to get a tow. I guess we have an emergency start button on their too if needed. Do i need to run the engines for 20 min to keep it charged? The boat is slipped connected to shore power, so we should be topped off every time we leave the marina.

Just need someone to calm my nerves about the whole ordeal haha. What do you think?
 
If you have your engine batteries turned off and are only running on the house battery then you would be fine even if the house battery died.

As @BlueYonder mentioned, unplug while at the dock and act as if your on the anchor. Perfect way to do a dry run and get your answer(s).
 
With judicious use of fridge, lights, stereo we used to anchor out 4 days on one deep cycle, one start battery with both kids.
Use ice coolers and canned goods for food. Keep lights off, just draws skeeters anyway.
People cross the ocean on a couple batts.
Water was always a bigger issue than batts. But a 8 gal blue jug and a zodiac keeps that supplied.
And a macerator. Sorry if not politically correct these days. But a full holding tank is the biggest emergency of all. If you dont have a macerator you are not prepared to spend a lot of time on the hook.
 
We did overnight in our 98 290 with no issue and never ran the Gen. Had two group 27’s for the house. That included anchor light, fridge, all the cabin lights, even a DC tv down below. As said before if the batteries are healthy you’re good. The emergency switch would get you going in the event of the house bank going down though.
 
All good advice. You could keep a jump pack onboard for insurance.

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+1 to everyone’s input.
Daniel, I was in your shoes 2 years ago and did what Blue Yonder suggested just to put my mind at ease. Didn’t want to be in a cove with the Queen and have to call BoatUS.

But before that…Welcome to the crew and pictures please!
Continue

Friday-Sunday, Shore power off and tried to run the house battery down. Fridge, VacuFlush, water pump, you get it, everything except the macerator. Not a pretty sight anywhere on the lake. I did start the port engine Saturday when the house battery showed 11.5 volts. Never ran the GenSet so as not to bother my dock mates. It’s a great test to get to know your boat.

My setup
Generator
1 deep cycle house battery
2 starting batteries.
Port engine charges it’s starting and the house battery when 120 is not available. (Gen/SP)
Starboard engine charges it’s starting battery.
3 We changed all cabin/cockpit lighting to LED before we tried this.
4 PO did one good thing for me and put in an isolator that keeps the starting batteries from being used for the house load.
5 My batteries are 1yo.

Try it at the dock it will give you good piece of mind. I also carry a jump pack as I’m sure lot’s of others do as well.
My .02
 
One thing that can really make a difference is the anchor light. It has to be kept on all night and if it's a regular incandescent bulb it can really be a drain on the batteries. You can either replace it with an LED light or purchase an additional battery operated LED light that can be mounted up high and provide 360 degree coverage all night.
 
Maybe load test your batteries to see their current state. Like previously said, LED anchor as well as all lights to conserve battery power and you should be fine.I had your boat previously and its great for a few nights to a week on the hook.
Oh and welcome aboard!
D
 
Congrats on your 2000 Sundancer 290! It's great to hear you're considering spending the night at anchor. Based on your setup, turning off the bottom battery switch overnight should be fine for running the fridge, anchor lights, and bilge. Check your house power battery capacity and power consumption to estimate if they'll last. Consider battery health and using the emergency start button if needed. Topping off batteries before departure, while connected to shore power, is a good idea. Don't worry too much, but it's always good to be prepared. Enjoy your overnight adventure!
 
If you've never done it before, I would take it a step further and spend the night at the dock --shorepower disconnected -- if you haven't before.

When I bought a Sundancer a while ago, I had this idea that we would be doing overnights all the time as a family. I know I'm in the minority here, but the first time I tried it, I slept ok but no one else enjoyed it. Now we just day boat and that's ok.

But odds are you will love it :cool:

I would bring a fully charged jump pack with you, just for peace of mind.
 
As long as your batteries are in good shape you will be fine. Do what others have said - ie a test at the dock and carry a jump pack for some peace of mind. Also, swapping out light bulbs for led's will help a lot.
My 290 was setup like Girlygirls with a generator. When we anchored overnight in the summer we ran the generator/ac for an hour or two until bedtime to cool things down and charge batteries and again in the am to make coffee etc. But in the cooler months, I've let the refrigerator etc run all day Saturday, overnight and most of Sunday and still no problems. We also packed a cooler for drinks etc so we were not constantly opening the tiny little refrigerator. Of course I had the generator on a separate battery that I could start and charge things up.
You need to get on with it -- nothing like waking up anchored out in a quiet cove on your boat! We really like our Cobalt and our dayboating style fits us better these days, but I do miss overnights on the boat.
 
If you've never done it before, I would take it a step further and spend the night at the dock --shorepower disconnected -- if you haven't before.

When I bought a Sundancer a while ago, I had this idea that we would be doing overnights all the time as a family. I know I'm in the minority here, but the first time I tried it, I slept ok but no one else enjoyed it. Now we just day boat and that's ok.

But odds are you will love it :cool:

I would bring a fully charged jump pack with you, just for peace of mind.

I think I'm the only one on my boat that enjoys overnighting on the hook anymore. The pirates I boat with all want marina pools, strong wifi, constant AC :)
 
Daniel, there are few things more enjoyable than overnighting on the boat! Do it and you will see what Im talking about!

I guess I'll put my 2 cents in and remind you that the emergency crossover will certainly start your engines if you even run down the house batteries. Having said that, I have several pieces of advice:

1. Lead acid batteries don't last forever. Over time (4 seasons for many of us) they lose their ability to stay charged. So if you don't know the age or history of your current batteries, I'd change them all out. Lead acid batteries also need to be topped off with distilled water from time to time to maintain their charge and efficiency.
2. If you are concerned about draw for overnighters or weekends away you can easily change out all of the old incandescent light bulbs (including interior, anchor, navigation and stern lights) to save significant amounts of energy compared to LED.
3. AGM or gel batteries will do a much better job for longevity over lead acid batteries. Although more expensive to buy, they are a great solution for someone who doesn't have a generator. https://www.foxtronpowersolutions.com/gel-battery-vs-lead-acid/
 
I think I'm the only one on my boat that enjoys overnighting on the hook anymore. The pirates I boat with all want marina pools, strong wifi, constant AC :)

we have to be very selective of location to stay on the hook. If we find a perfectly still cove, it's all good. Any sort of current/wind/waves really makes it miserable. We had one night where the water constantly chine slapped and I barely slept

I have dreams of the great loop someday but I'm not entirely sure we're cut out for it...
 

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