Our Upgrades To Cadoha
Let us share every upgrade, tweak and change we've made to Cadoha, large and small.
From an all lithium battery bank with additional solar, right down to the bluetooth head sets we bought from Amazon which have totally transformed mooring, anchoring, communicating from the top of the mast, in fact, just communicating whilst underway in general.
Here we'll cover everything that's made life aboard easier for us, as well as the modifications we're making for 'Project 365' which is our attempt to unplug from any and all mains grids for a full year as we build Cadoha out into a potential 'bug out' survival vessel.
Winged Solar Panels
Early on we realised that we wanted to be able to produce much more power for Cadoha and so we planned to massively expand her solar production capability.
The first step we took was the addition of two 'winged' solar panels which are 175w per panel. We bought these in a kit form which meant they came with all the wiring we needed as well as the correct sized MPPT charge controllers.
This was also Dominics first ever electrical project and with a decent amount of help from YouTube videos, he managed to get the fitted and they worked straight out of the gate and have been happily pumping electricity into Cadohas battery bank for several years now.
To total cost for everything we needed came to about £1000 back in 2020, from a company called: Sun Store
200 Ah LiFePO4 Batteries
To be able to capture all of this additional solar power we decided to install 600Ah of Lithium batteries to Cadoha.
This meant we could remove our 800Ah of lead acid, which fretted up space, cut down on weight, and gave us almost an extra 50% of actual usable power.
The batteries we bought were from a local company called Quality Source
The installation video can be seen here.
E40i Electric Winch Seldon
This next upgrade is a magnificent piece of kit and one that we had no intention of adding to Cadohas arsenal, but boy are we glad we did!!
It's certainly not cheap but what's amazing about this winch is that everything is contained within the drum and so there's nothing under it, going down into the boat, potentially taking up valuable head room.
It was also incredibly easy to install, possibly the easiest electrical device I've installed to date, well, maybe with the exception of the freezer which really is just plug and play, but that doesn't really count.
You can see the full installation video here.
Full disclaimer, we were actually gifted this winch directly by Seldon so we could very well be super biased when we say this, but we wouldn't be without it now, especially for getting our somewhat heavy dingy on and off the boat and much more.
Furling Stay Sail (Ullman Sails)
Cadoha did originally come with a stay sail but it was on a self tacking boom system which meant that we had nowhere to put the new Highfield dingy, so we removed it and swapped it out for a furling system.
Dominic built a furler out of second hand equipment found in the yard he was working in and then we commissioned Ullman Sails to make us brand new one to fit the 'new' furling system.
You can watch the video of the guys at Ullman sails helping us from start to finish in this video here.
New Standing & Running Rigging Plus Furler
One of the first huge expenses for us with Cadoha was the replacement of ALL of our standing and running rigging.
We also had our head sail furling system replaced with a new one, which all told came in at £7700. This meant changing all of the old bottle screws too which then gave us a great chance to remove all of the chain plates, inspect them and then re-bed each of them.
The company we used to have the rigging work carried our is called Rigit.
Diesel Dipper (Marine 16)
This awesome piece of British engineering is the Diesel Dipper and it's job is to clean your fuel whilst your engine is running. This differs from your standard fuel filter as it lifts fuel directly from the very bottom of your fuel tank, with the intention to pick up the dirt, water, diesel bug or whatever else may lurk down there.
This machine can simply be drained off when it's full of crud and even has a stainless steel filter which can very easily be cleaned out and replaced.
In our first season we had a dirty fuel issue with bought our adventure to a standstill. We had quotes to 'polish' our fuel coming in at close to what this device costs and after having it installed now for coming up three years, so far we've never had our engine fail us again due to dirty fuel.
The company which manufactures this is called Marine-16 which in the UK is one of the leading fuel treatment companies in the marine industry.
Full disclaimer, we were gifted this after the companies director watched one of our videos where dirty fuel got the better of us, so again assume we're very biased when we say this, but I honestly will never have another boat again without one of these fitted, it gives us so much peace of mind out there now.
Here is a great video of us talking to the man who invented the Diesel Dipper.
Cubic Mini Wood Burning Stove
This has to be one of the most satisfying upgrades we've made. It was -6 degrees outside with howling winter winds beating the side of Cadoha and inside temperatures reached 31 degrees. It was actually too hot in the boat in freezing conditions.
Thankfully we've since learned how to manage the fire box better and can regulate the heat to give us a super cozy level of heat inside Cadoha now.
You have to bare in mind that we imported this amazing stove from Canada to the UK, which meant we incurred import taxes and we also had to buy some additional parts to make it work for the boat.
Chinese Diesel Heater £98 (With extras £400)
So since we're talking about heat, here is our alternative heating method. Now granted it isn't as pretty as the Cubic Mini wood burning stove, but (and this is a deal maker for many people) it is a hell of a lot cheaper.
We installed our £98 Chinese Diesel heater three years ago now, (although the prices at the time of writing this are more like £150 now) and it's kept us toasty and warm come wind, rain or shine. The only slight issue we ever had was a failed fuel pump, which we replaced on Amazon for about £15 and we think it was our fault for running the heater dry several times, but who knows, it was an easy fix either way.
This is the installation video of our Chinese Diesel heater.
This is the heater we bought from Amazon.
Another upgrade which has made the world of difference for us is the aluminium hull, Highfield tender.
We're always landing the dingy on reefy or areas with lots of sharp shells and we were forever getting punctures in our previous all inflatable tender. On top of the the stability of the Highfield gives us so much more confidence when we're in bigger swell, taking Hank to shore in the mornings or evenings.
On the downside the dingy is very heavy and getting it on and off of Cadoha was quite the task, so I'd suggest some kind of davit system, although luckily for us we can use the electric winch to easily lift her out of the water now.
Rainman Water Maker
One of main goals with building out Cadohas systems is to be able to go for extended periods of time 'off-grid'. One of the things we'd run out of frequently was fresh water and so we really wanted the ability to be able to produce our own, potable water.
There were a staggering amount of options available on the market, yet one brand we kept coming across with the most regularity was a water maker made by an Australian company called 'Rainman'.
This was again no small amount of money but it's a very easy system to use. We went for the portable version, in case we wanted to easily take it off of the boat, lend it to someone else, use it for a humanitarian crisis, or just easily sell it on, although to be honest, it's quite heavy to get out and move about. I'm a strong 40 something man and I don't look forward to getting it out and lifting it up on deck every couple of days and I'm sure as I age I'll look forward to that even less. I would certainly buy the same machine, but I think if I could change anything it would be to permanently mount and plumb it in, which we may still do yet.
Dometic 12v Chest Freezer
Our exact make and model of Domestic freezer seems to have been discontinued so we had a look and this was the closest version currently available that the company make: Dometic CFX3 75DZ
We had a 12v fridge with a tiny freezer compartment onboard Cadoha already when we bought her, but Hank has a very specialist diet which involves he basically eating human grade for which needs to be frozen and thawed only a couple of days before he eats it. So we needed a large freezer to store his food in which also doubles up quite well as an 'ice maker' (ice cube trays) and somewhere to store the fish I've caught for the times we have more than we can eat that day.
It's also great for quickly chilling down a few beers, although it does use a monkey load of power, which is another reason we keep building out more solar systems. I think we may try building some insulation for it before next summer, to try and help it run more efficiently.
If you'd like to find out more about this brand of 12v freezers, they come in a variety of sizes and you can check this one out here.
Wireless Bluetooth Headsets £160 (each)
These bluetooth wireless headsets are possibly the addition which we wished we'd made earlier. The ability to easily, calmly and quietly communicate to each other when we're coming into an anchorage, mooring or a marina is sim[ply priceless.
Life before the headsets was more often than we care to admit a shouting fest of escalating decibels from simply not being able to hear each other. Yes we used hand signals when we dropped or retrieved the anchor, but the ability to easily talk to each other is just such a more relaxing experience.
We've also found that when we're sailing through areas which are heavily fished by crab pots, these headsets come into their own again as I often sit on the bow of the boat, keeping a look out for those treacherous little 'mines' and can easily relay back to Carly at the helm when we need to alter course.
If you're interested in the exact make and model we use, then you can find them here in Amazon (which is where we bought them).