A Two Year Long Global Sailing Trip With The Help Of RELiON Lithium Batteries

Posted August 03, 2023

Retired North Carolina natives, Stephen and Dawn Bell embarked on their longest global sailing trip two years ago. We recently checked back in with them to see where their travels have taken them, how their RELiON battery system has helped fuel their adventures since upgrading from lead-acid batteries, and the advice they have for fellow sailors.

Blue Dot Voyages Catamaran

What trips have stood out to you over the last few years?

“In recent years, we have sailed to Cuba and Cayman and back and have also spent a season in the coastal waters of Georgia. We were pleasantly surprised at the beauty and desolation of the area and spent many days in and out of secluded harbors and inlets where we anchored for days with no other boats in sight.”

Where do you plan to visit next?

“We’re currently in Charleston, South Carolina preparing to depart on our next major voyage. After leaving Charleston, we will head up the East Coast to New England. We will then sail towards Antigua with the Salty Dawg Flotilla organization, an educational and charitable association that educates sailors and facilitates offshore passages. Then we will spend the winter in the Windward Islands. After that, our next long trip will be to the Mediterranean next spring.”

In what ways has your battery system made your travels easier?

“We no longer have to closely monitor our energy usage as we did with our prior lead-acid battery bank. It has been a huge weight off of our shoulders to know that we will always have an adequate energy supply and that we don’t have to worry about damaging the RELiON lithium batteries when they are deeply discharged, unlike lead-acid batteries. Not only do we have enough energy each day, we usually have excess energy most days. When we are at anchor, we very rarely go below 75 percent battery capacity. At night, we usually don’t go below 60 percent battery capacity. We have also been happy to see that even on cloudy days, we always receive enough solar power to fully charge the batteries before the end of each day.

It feels great knowing we can focus more on exploring, cooking, and enjoying our time together rather than having a feeling of constant energy scarcity. It’s a relief that we have a lot more flexibility in terms of our daily routines and no longer have to plan around when we will or won’t have enough energy.”

Installing RELiON lithium batteries on a sailing catamaran

Any advice for those still on the fence about lithium batteries?

“If you’re replacing lead acid absorbed glass matt (AGM) batteries, you should seriously consider lithium batteries. Lithium batteries offer major advantages in terms of charging capabilities, take up much less space, and weigh significantly less compared to other batteries. When selecting the equipment to pair with your lithium batteries, you should make sure to consider a robust solar array to optimize the use of your lithium batteries. Most flat panels today offer 375 watts or more, and they are highly efficient. For our system, we use four panels, two per solar controller. Sailing with lithium-ion batteries is all about power management, and once you figure out your electrical system, lithium batteries offer an easy and reliable experience.”

The Bells can now rest easy knowing for certain that they can rely on their solar-plus-storage system when out at sea for long periods of time. Make sure to follow along with the Bells’ upcoming trips through their Blue Dot Voyages catamaran sailing vlog. If you have questions about how to select and design the optimal energy system for your boat, get in touch with an expert at RELiON today.