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Old 06-26-2022, 11:13 PM   #1
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Solar power inside Alaska Ferry

We will be coming down this September from Whittier, AK to Bellingham, WA on the Alaska ferry ship Kennicott with our Keystone Passport 189RB trailer that has the solar 200 panel on top. It's three days onboard and I'm pretty sure my single 100amp battery would not last that long to keep the 12v fridge working by itself. My question is there enough overhead lighting in the ship vehicle level that would still keep the solar system charging the batteries or should I just assume that I might as well shut off all the power and empty the fridge before loading on board.
Don't think upgrading to Lion would be enough to make a difference in this case.
Would it make sense to disconnect the pigtail from my truck so that it doesn't drain the truck battery also?
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Old 06-26-2022, 11:43 PM   #2
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You're not going to be allowed to run the propane for the refer I don't think, as the hold for vehicles is an enclosed space with lots of fuel and they won't want your refer sparking up and blowing up the entire ferry.

If you have a 12 volt heater (rare as most are 120 Vac) to operate your refer, that would draw down your batteries very quickly, so not recommended to try to run the refer in that sort of circumstance.

What I'd do is just make sure the refer is pretty much empty except for non perishables, and just disconnect the battery grounds from the batteries. That way you could go for days, or weeks without worry. And your batteries will be fine when you arrive. Dry ice might get you 3 days, but not much further.

Yes to disconnecting the truck/trailer umbilical connector. Of course you could also just disconnect the ground from the truck battery too. Won't hurt anything but practice before boarding the ferry to be sure there's no strange safety procedure necessary to get back inside the truck to pop the hood in that case as I assume you'll want to lock the truck while it's down in the hold. And most have remotes these days. The truck's users guide will tell you the tale.

With proper prep you'll be able to drive off the ferry seconds after you reach your destination. An important consideration as the ferry crew wouldn't be happy about you taking too much time reconnecting the truck batt so be sure to keep a pair of mechanics gloves and the appropriate sized end wrench under the truck hood or within easy access to quickly reattach the ground as soon as the crew gives you access to the truck. Note that Engine/Tranni brains will relearn how you drive in the first hundred miles once you're on the move again.Then after getting to shore, pull over and reconnect the trailers batts and your umbilical if it's not already. Ferry terminals almost always have huge parking lots so lots of room.
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Old 06-27-2022, 05:11 AM   #3
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Small 12V compressor fridges use 50-75 amp hours each day, so your 100 Ah battery won't keep it going for three days. An upgrade to 200 Ahs of Li would probably do it though. Packing the fridge with dry ice might also work.

You can keep your trailer connected to your TV with no worries because there is a relay that shuts off power to the 7 pin connector when the ignition is off.

Curious, what does it cost one way with TV and trailer?

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Old 06-27-2022, 12:47 PM   #4
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Best that you work down the things in your refrigerator and turn it off.

Hope you enjoy the ferry; we sure did. Our first time to Alaska we took the ferry up & we three couples rented a RV. We then flew back to Bellingham.

There's one passage that the big tourist ships can't get through and only the ferry can when the tides are right. We lucked out! It's very narrow and there's a small village. The villagers came running down the hillside laughing and waving and the ferry captain kept us there a little while so we could all talk to the villagers. They don't see the ferry that often. It was fun.
Full-timed for 16 Years . . .
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& 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th wheel
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Old 06-27-2022, 08:50 PM   #5
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Thanks, figured as much regarding the keeping the fridge on so will empty and disconnect the trailer battery. Truck will be fine.
With our combined tow/trailer length of 42', double cabin w/head and outside window the cost is $7,500 plus meals for the trip. Saving 1,600 miles and 5+ days driving back is well over $1k s. Seeing the inside passage with DW via ship - priceless.
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Old 06-27-2022, 09:31 PM   #6
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My brother and I took a one day ocean voyage with the RV parked in the hold a few years ago. Had a '94 Bounder 36' at the time. We boarded in Haines, disembarked at Skagway. Then headed up the hill to end up on the Alcan Hwy heading south.

After thinking about that trip, I recall seeing the crew running around with a battery charger starting vehicles that were having trouble starting down in the hold as we were docking so even if 3 days causes your battery in the truck to sag, they'll be nearby to help out.
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alaska, power, solar

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