Monday, 7 July 2014


Converting 115V/15Amp adaptor to 230v/16.5Amp.

SV Passat II - Postcard From the North Atlantic

The North American boater faces a number of challenges coming to Europe, including:

- fixed concrete docks (sometimes rafted 4 deep).
- 230 V / 50 Hz electrical power vs 115 V / 60 Hz.
- Butane "GAZ" vs Propane.
- The "Schengen" Agreement.

All were known to us before we left, other than the excessive rafting in busy ports. The "Schengen" Agreement is worthy of a separate Postcard (rant), which I may do at another time.

It is hard to imagine poor little Passat II put against a fixed concrete dock, with a 3 ft tide range, swell serge and 3 larger boats rafted to it. BUT this is exactly what happened in our first stop, Horta, Azores. The constant movement and excessive pressure causes the concrete to embed particles of grit in the fenders, resulting in their becoming "sandpaper" against the hull. That is if the fenders do not pop first. Not to mention the mud tracked across your boat by some less thoughtful boaters. Of all the North American boats in the harbor we were the most prepared. In Mexico I bought a 2 X 10 board, to which I bonded three plastic cutting boards as ware surfaces. This is hung by ropes from the lifelines between the concrete and the fenders. The board prevents the grit from getting on the fenders. I use two 10" regular fenders with a 4" flat fender between them. The flat fender prevents the regular fenders from being squashed too the point of popping. So far it has worked.

I thought that I would be able to by a transformer, at a reasonable price, to address the electrical issue. Ha! For about $1,000 CDN, plus installation, you can get a transformer to convert from 230V to 115V, but it will not change the Hz from 50 to 60. Many battery chargers and appliances will not work with 50 Hz. Those that do are not as efficient. The handout supplied by MAY recommended that you check your battery charger to see if it accepted 50 Hz. Glory be!!! My battery charger not only accepts 50 Hz, it accepts 230V. All I needed to do was flip a switch and change a fuse. How to provide a 230V connection to the charger? I consulted (over an adult beverage) a Canadian boater, who happened to be an electrician. It turns out my wiring can handle it. All I needed to do was shut off the breakers to the plugs to prevent damage if someone plugged in a 115V appliance and get a European 230V plug for my extension cord. For about $8 CDN I got the plug and fuse and sacrificed my 15 amp to 30 amp Pig Tail to convert to European power. Now we can keep the batteries charged, then use our 150 Watt 12 v dc converter to produce 115 V ac for our electronics (computer, etc). The only challenge remaining will be to provide wiring for a 230V heater, but that is a problem for another day.

Butane "Gaz" vs propane. Propane appliances will work with butane, loosing some efficiency. I had heard that you could buy an adaptor so that the North American propane bottles could be filled with Butane. They were not available in Horta. However, they must exist as the supplier of Gaz in Horta can fill propane tanks. Hopefully this is common. If not we will have to find an adaptor or convert to Gaz. Sigh!

All is well with us and we hope with you.

Wishing you fair winds and calm seas.


At 12/06/2014 03:55 (utc) our position was 43°29.07'N 021°15.22'W

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