Groovy - '08 Hunter 44DS
Hunter 44DS Floor Plan
Long settee for napping.
Spacious cockpit. We can sit face-to-face with our legs
stretched out, and our feet don't touch.
Sitting inside on the companionway stairs, you can see where you're going, a wonderful feature on a
cold overnight passage.
It's just a groovy boat.
Twizzle Rig - twin headsails flown on
matching whisker poles.
At anchor in Bahía Santa Maria, Mexico.
At anchor in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
Three 185 watt solar panels provide
awesome shade over the jump seats
Hunter 44DS Sailboat: s/v Groovy
Groovy has been sold. Pics, listing and Sales Spec Sheet here!!
Groovy (named for Simon & Garfunkel's song Feelin' Groovy)** is a
Glenn Henderson designed 2008 Hunter 44DS (Deck Salon). A
fractional sloop, it is 44 feet long and 14' 6" feet wide with two
staterooms and two heads.
Hunter 44DS Model History
First introduced by Hunter Marine in 2002 as the Hunter 426, the aft
cabin was changed a little and the model name changed to "44DS" in
2003. Production ran from 2003 to 2008. In 2008 the the deck and
cabin were modified to accommodate twin helms instead of a single
helm, the forward berth was changed from a v-berth to a pullman style,
and the window pattern was changed to a wraparound band to match
the popular Hunter 45CC. These changes saw the model name change
to "45DS," and as of 2012 it is still in production.
Along with the Hunter 426 and 45DS, the 44DS shares its hull with the
Hunter 44AC (Aft Cockpit) and Hunter 45CC (Center Cockpit). Each of
those boats has the same hull but a different deck and cabin layout.
Groovy is hull #252 for the 44DS model line, where the numbering
started at #101. Built in May, 2007, it was the last Hunter 44DS ever
built. Click here for more information on the Hunter 44DS.
Groovy is a stock boat with Hunter's "Mariner Package," a collection of upgrades sold as a unit. Because the boat was built after
the replacement model (45DS) was in production, it features a few of the components that are standard on that model, including
a laminate cherry interior, which we love, and a larger fuel tank, which has come in very handy.
Length Overall (LOA)
Waterline Length (LWL)
975 sq. ft.
Holding Tank Capacity
Water Heater Capacity
Yanmar Diesel Engine
We installed many upgrades to enable comfortable cruising where we can stay at anchor for months at a time without having to
rely on marinas for water or electrical connections.
640 Amp Hours (Four AGM 4D 12 volt) - plus one 70 Amp Hour AGM start battery
555 Watts Solar / 100 Amp Alternator on engine / 130 Amp 110v Charger (via shore power)
600 Watts Pure Sine Wave / 2500 Watts Modified Sine Wave / 2 portable Modified Sine Wave
60 Gallon per hour engine-driven Echotech watermaker*
Twin jib "Twizzle Rig" set on two fixed length whisker poles.
60 lb Ultra primary with 300' 5/16" G4 chain
32 lb Fortress FX-55 secondary with 20' 5/16" BBB chain and 300' 7/8" Nylon Rode
15 lb Manson Supreme stern anchor w/ 5' 3/8" G4 chain and 230' 1" Nylon Rode
10' Porta-bote with a Suzuki 6 hp outboard
A GAZILLION BOATS FOR SALE... WHICH ONE
WOULD MAKE US HAPPIEST?
When we set about buying a boat, the major trade-offs we found
were age, size, price and manufacturer's prestige. In an earlier life I
owned two boats back to back that were the exact same model, the
Nonsuch 36. This is a wonderful boat for cruising and living aboard,
and I lived aboard for four years in Boston, Massachusetts in the
early 1990's (brrrr...those winters were cold). The first year I was on
a 1984 model that had been ridden hard and put away wet. After
watching in great distress as my then-husband repeatedly chased
down a spider web of unmarked cables and miles of smelly plumbing
hoses in a putrid bilge, we upgraded to a 1991 model of the same
boat that had been lavishly commissioned and meticulously
What a world of difference. You would never know they were the same
model boat. Instead of him spending hours kinked up in impossible
positions in noxious nooks and crannies fixing problems and spending
boatloads of money on spare parts at West Marine, we enjoyed three
terrific summers of boating together. We watched sunsets and sunrises
in pretty anchorages and experienced countless utterly brilliant days of
sailing. There is nothing like an almost-new boat made up of sparkling
clean parts that work. Therefore, when Mark and I started thinking about
buying a boat, our first two criteria were that it be in superior condition
and as new as possible.
After living in trailers full-time for so long, we also knew that size
mattered to us. For full-time liveability, we found bigger is better.
With age and size the top priorities, and a maximum budgeted
price, there were only three manufacturers whose boats we could
afford: Hunter, Beneteau and Catalina. These are the Ford-Chevy-
Dodge of the sailboat industry (not in any particular order). All
three are American made. Beneteaus are French designed but
built in South Carolina. Hunters and Catalinas are designed and
built in Florida.
Our top priorities for livability included a huge cockpit where we could
stretch out to sleep, a long settee in the main salon where we could
nap, and two good sized staterooms (rather than three as in many
models). Brokers thought we were crazy when the first thing we did
as we stepped aboard a prospective boat was to lie down in the
cockpit to see if the benches were long and wide enough to sleep on.
But hey, this boat would become our home, and we like to be
comfortable and relax!
Next in importance was a large swim platform and cockpit shower, as
we envisioned frequent swims off the back of the boat and we knew
we would need easy access to the dinghy when we lived at anchor,
especially hauling groceries, daypacks, trash and laundry bags in and
out. Lastly, we wanted an airy, spacious interior. Other than that, we
weren't fussy, but after attending dozens of boat shows, visiting fifty
or more boats with brokers, and many Caribbean charters, we found
that the Hunter models spoke to us more than the others, and of
those only the Hunter 41DS and 44DS made the cut. The faltering
economy worked in our favor, suddenly making the larger of the two
boats a viable option.
A visit to the Hunter factory assured us that not only are their boats
cleverly designed and chock full of innovative features, but they are well
built to boot. We came away from every contact we had with Hunter
impressed that it is a quality company that employs a loyal group of
happy employees. Their phenomenal customer service since we
purchased Groovy (15 minute turnaround time on almost every emailed
question we've ever sent) has driven that point home to us time and
again. Hunter sailboats are the boating industry's best kept secret.
Best of all, Groovy is a dream to sail. With an easily driven hull,
the boat is light on its feet, easy to reef, responsive and
forgiving. A delight to live in and fun to sail, it is an excellent
platform for extended cruising.
** When we named our boat, it was the only boat with the name Groovy in the US Coast Guard Documentation database. So we
were quite surprised when we discovered over a year later that she has a sistership of the same name bearing a non-US flag:
Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville fame races his Groovy in the Caribbean. Far out!!
*Echotec's official "rating" is 40 gph, but since we installed high capacity membranes, our timing measurements have never
been less than 58 seconds to fill a one-gallon jug in the tropics (the speed is 44 gph in San Diego's cooler water).
More info in the links below...
Never miss a post — it’s free!
Our 555 watt solar power system is described in detail here: Sailboat Solar Power System. There is lots more info about solar power solutions for boats and RVs here: Solar Power Articles for Sailboats and RVs.
Our 60 gallon per hour engine driven watermaker was featured in an article we wrote for Cruising World Magazine. The article can be read at this link: Water, Water Everywhere – Installation of a 60 gph engine driven watermaker.
Our cruising itinerary and all of our blog posts from our cruise can be found at this link: A Groovy Cruise of Mexico.
There is a ton of info on this website about planning a Mexico cruise and anticipating what to expect. To get oriented and find out where we keep all the good stuff, visit this link: Cruisers Start Here
To help you plan your cruise and get you inspired, we created the video series, "Cruising Mexico Off the Beaten Path - Volumes 1-3," shown below. This is a fun-to-watch and easy-to-digest introduction to Mexico from a cruiser's perspective, giving you lots of valuable information that isn't covered by the cruising guides. Each video is available individually at Amazon, either as a DVD or as a download. For discount package pricing on the whole series, visit our page Cruising Mexico Video Series.
Volume 1 (left) reviews the geography, weather and seasons in Mexico and shows you what the best anchorages between Ensenada and Manzanillo are like.
Volume 2 (middle) gives detailed info that can't be found in any of the guidebooks about the glorious cruising ground between Manzanillo and the Guatemala border.
Volume 3 (right) provides all the info you need to get off the boat for an adventure-filled trip to Oaxaca.Our Gear Store also has a boatload of ideas for your cruise!
Groovy's solar panels.
Happy panels in full sun, Sea of Cortez.
Full sun & no shade (3 panels working): 22.5 amps
One panel partially shaded (2 panels working): 15 amps.
Shade straddles two panels (only 1 panel working): 9.5 amps.
Polished welds and drilled/tapped/screwed joints.
Comparison: Factory weld on our Hunter arch.
The arch extension arrives for a fitting.
Alejandro tie-wraps it in place.
Mark helps hold it up.
The extension is in place -- without its legs yet.
Jose checks if it's level.
The arch extension returns -- now with support legs.
It's maneuvered into place.
Telescoping davit arm (marine solar panel arch)
Held in place with tie-downs.
Alejandro drills and taps holes in the arch.
The solar panels are ready!
Arch extension removed from Groovy while Alejandro drills
and taps the arch on the boat.
The second panel is installed.
Three panels - yay!
Alejandro and Mark test the strength of the arch extension.
Mark begins the big job of wiring it all up.
Component layout: 3 panels, combiner
box, controller & 4 batteries
Combiner box (upper left) and controller (lower right).
Wiring the panels.
In use 18 months later in Puerto Vallarta.
Sailing in Huatulco.
Sailboat Solar Power & Solar Panel Arch Installation
This page describes the solar power setup we installed on Groovy, our Hunter 44DS
sailboat. This was our third solar installation. Our two RV solar installations are described
We learned a lot from those installations, and have written lots of details about solar power on
this website, including a multi-part Solar Power Installation Tutorial for beginners. Going
into far more detail, we have a 4-part primer on battery charging which includes:
The company Kyocera
Solar liked our solar
panel installation so
much, they featured
For comparison, our solar power installations have consisted of
(1) 130 watt/12 volt Kyocera solar panel
Various 150 watt to 800 watt portable and
semi-portable modified sine wave inverters
(2) Energizer 6 volt batteries in series (220 amp-hours).
(1) 130 watt/12 volt Kyocera and (3) 120 watt/12 volt Misubishi solar panels (490 watts total), wired in series
(1) 2,000 watt pure sine wave inverter permanently mounted
(4) Trojan 105 6 volt batteries wired in series and in parallel (440 amp hours).
(3) 185 watt/24 volt Kyocera solar panels (555 watts total), wired in parallel
(1) Combiner box (combines 3 panel wires into 1 going to the charge controller)
(1) Xantrex 60 amp MPPT charge controller
(1) Xantrex 2500 watt modified sine wave inverter/charger
(4) Mastervolt AGM 4D batteries, (1) Group 27 AGM battery (710 amp-hours)
Notes: (1) Our odd collection of panels on the Hitchhiker was due to the Kyocera 130 panels not being available at the time of
our installation (we brought one over from the Lynx). (2) Our switch from the Outback to the Xantrex charge controllers between
the Hitchhiker and the boat was due to the Xantrex being cooled by non-moving fins rather than a fan. In hindsight I would
probably use the Outback charge controller in the future only because it displays more information on its screen rather than
having to scroll through multiple screens to get the voltage, amperage, watts and charging stage. (3) Our Group 27 start battery
on the boat is isolated from the set of 4D house batteries only when the voltage of the bank drops too low.
The boat has a DC refrigerator and a DC freezer which together eat up some 100-130 amps or more every 24 hours, depending
on ambient temperature. In addition we listen to music on the stereo with multiple speakers and a large subwoofer, we watch
DVD's many nights on a 22" TV, we use two laptops for several hours everyday. We also have a water pump, electric flush
heads and VHF radio which we use at anchor. Our cabin lighting is a combination of fluorescent and LED, and our anchor light is
LED. So our typical daily amperage use at anchor is between 180 and 250 amps.
In December, around the winter solstice, on the southern mainland of Mexico (Zihuatanejo) our solar setup collected about 170
amp-hours per day. In June, around the summer solstice, in the middle of the Sea of Cortez (San Carlos) our solar setup
collected about 250 amp-hours per day. In hindsight, it would be nice to have at least 750 watts of solar power to meet our
power demands in winter.
PARTIAL SHADE KILLS SOLAR POWER PRODUCTION
The biggest problem with installing solar power on a sailboat is accidentally getting a little shade on the panels. While swinging at
anchor, the mast, boom, radome and other things high up all conspire to throw pockets of shade on the solar panels and make
them quit working. It is quite shocking to find out just how little shade is needed to reduce the panels to zero output. We had
experimented a bit with partial shading issues on our fifth wheel solar installation (see bottom of Solar Setup), but we never park
near shading objects so it is not a problem on that moveable home. A sailboat is a whole different story.
An interesting paper Shade Effects on Conventional PV (5th article down) from the Physics Department at the University of
Arizona describes how shading just half of one row of "squares" on a solar panel -- as often happens in the morning or afternoon
hours on a commercial installation if the rows of panels are placed too close together -- the panels shut down or reduce their
output significantly. The opening sentence says it all: A panel that is 8% shaded loses 94% of its productivity." Deep down in the
meat of this paper the math lost me (sigh), but for a layman's explanation of just how devastating shade can be on solar panels,
this website delivers the skinny.
We placed our panels as high and as far back from the boom as we could. We also pull the boom aside while at anchor, but the
panels still get shaded by the mast/forestay/radome when the sun is forward of the shrouds and they get shaded by the sails
when sailing. As an experiment, we took some notes about how partial shade affects our panels. This data was taken on
February 3rd at 10:00 a.m. The shade was caused by the mast, forestay and radome (affixed to the front of the mast). The
shade moved slowly back and forth across the panels as the boat swung at anchor.
Panels in full sun:
One panel partly shaded:
Two panels slightly shaded:
As another experiment we sailed and noted the amperage
produced by the solar panels as we sailed on two different
tacks. On one tack the mainsail shaded one entire end panel
and half of the middle panel. On the other tack the boat was
heeled away from the sun but there was no shade on any of
the panels. It was far better to be heeling away from the sun
than to have the panels shaded. This data was taken at 11
a.m. on January 31.
1½ panels fully shaded by sails:
No shade, tilted away from sun:
So it seems to me that shade is the number one enemy of solar panel power production on a sailboat, and orientation towards
the sun is a lot less important. If the solar panels are installed in such a way that a nearby radome or wind generator is always
partly shading one panel in the array, as too often happens in solar panel installations on sailboats, the result will be dramatically
reduced power production.
THE ARCH EXTENSION
Our boat came with a fantastic arch that supports the traveler. We used it as a base for an elegant stainless steel extension that
supports the three panels. We hired Allejandro Ulloa of Ensenada, Mexico to create this arch extensions. Alejandro is an artist
and a master craftsman. And he is extremely professional. We gave him a sketch of what we were looking for, he responded
with a written quote for half of what it would have cost in San Diego, and we were off and running.
Alejandro prides himself on the beauty of his work. He polishes the welds and installs tubing that
seems to flow like liquid metal as it rounds corners and changes thicknesses. In our opinion, his
arch extension dramatically increased the esthetics of our boat. It also added functionality
besides just supporting the panels. It makes a great spot for hanging on when you're sitting in
the rear jump seats, it has a
telescoping davit system,
and the panels provide
much needed shade.
If you need to have an arch
or any kind of stainless steel
structure fabricated for your
boat and you are heading to
Mexico from the US or
Canada, spend some time in
Ensenada and look up
Allejandro Ulloa (email:
alejandrossw [at] hotmail [dot] com,
Mexican phone: (646) 171-5207). He can
be contacted through the excellent Baja
Naval boatyard as well. There are other
stainless steel fabricators in Mexico but we
haven't seen anyone nearly as skilled or
as professional in their approach.
Alejandro built the extension in his workshop and then brought it
to the boat to size its supporting legs. This was a thrilling process
for us, as we began to see it taking shape on the boat. The entire
arch extension was wrapped in plastic for this phase to protect
Mark helped wherever he could and I took endless photos.
Alejandro returned on another day with the finished arch extension.
Now it had tabs for the solar panels, and the supporting legs had
been cut and welded at the right length.
We wanted the arch extension to double as a davit system.
Alejandro designed clever telescoping tubes that snap into place in
an extended or contracted position, and he fabricated two beautiful
cleats. We have found that we use the davits in the contracted
position most often because they hold the porta-bote tight to the
swim platform where it fits perfectly into the swim step cutout in the
mounting the solar
as the quote
was for building
and installing an
not for installing
weren't sure how
we'd get them mounted, but we knew
we'd figure it out.
Meticulously adhering to the
"measure twice cut once"
dismantled the whole thing
for some adjustments and
then mounted it one last
time for the final installation,
tapping and drilling and
screwing each of the arch's
feet into place in a bed of
Then, to our amazement,
Alejandro and his assistant
began mounting each of
the panels. Mark quickly
jumped in. These are not
light panels, and it was
quite a stretch to get them
in position. Alejandro was
concerned about possible
corrosion due to the
dissimilar metals of the
panels' aluminum frames
and the stainless steel arch
extension, so he placed a
plastic insulator in each
When it was all
wanted us to be
confident that the arch
could support a dinghy
and engine. He and
Mark swung from the
davits. Both are
lightweights, but they
were still twice the
weight of our
Alejandro's work was done, but we still had a big project ahead. We ran the wiring
inside the arch so it wouldn't show (it wasn't easy snaking it through!!), and we placed
and it worked, but it did not work as efficiently as it
could have. The whole system produced about
20% less power each day than it was capable of
doing. We learned we'd made two vital mistakes.
One advantage of using 24 volt solar panels is that
we had half as much current in the wires as we
would have had if we'd used 12 volt panels. Rather
than 36 amps (at 12 volts) at peak production we
had just 18 amps (at 24 volts). This allowed for a
smaller wire size, which is much easier to work with
as it is a lot more pliable, and it's cheaper to boot
(marine grade electrical wire is exorbitant). Our
salesman at Northern Arizona Wind and Sun had recommended we use 10
gauge wire throughout the system. This turned out to be inadequate
because the distance between the panels and the batteries is so long --
about 50'. For wire gauge sizes, amps and
distances, see this chart.
Our second mistake was placing the charge
controller in an aft transom locker. Our batteries
are next to the centerline of the boat at the lowest
point above the keel in the main salon. The
charge controller needs to be close to the batteries
as possible. The distance from the charge
controller in the transom locker to the batteries
was about 30' -- too far. The combiner box was
fine back there, but the charge controller had to be
Although most of our circuit runs at 24 volts -- from
the panels to the combiner box to the charge
controller -- allowing for smaller wire, the portion
between the charge controller and the
batteries runs at 12 volts. Therefore, the
cable between the charge
controller and the batteries
needs to be not only as short as
possible but very large as well.
We moved the charge controller
into the cabin in a hanging
locker about 10' from the
batteries and and switched to 8
guage wire to connect it, and we
saw a dramatic improvement.
When the distance between the
charge controller and the
batteries was 30' and we were
using just 10 gauge wire, the
resulting resistance in the wire created a large
voltage drop between the charge controller and the
batteries, artificially raising the voltage at which it
thought the batteries were operating. The charge
controller would see the batteries at 14.4 volts whereas when we measured the batteries with a volt meter
they were actually at 13.2 volts. This threw everything in the system way off, and ultimately resulted in a
daily loss of some 10-30 amp-hours that never made it from the panels to the batteries. Once we moved the
charge controller to within 10' of the batteries and installed bigger wire, the resistance dropped. The
controller saw the batteries within 0.2 volts of their actual voltage, and our daily power production increased.
Note: In three years of cruising Mexico, our boat was plugged into shore power for a total of 6 weeks
while it was in in-water storage in San Carlos. It was never plugged in while we lived aboard (even during
the 3 months we stayed at Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta).
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In addition to living off the grid on solar power on our sailboat, we have also lived on solar power in our RV since 2007. As of February, 2016, we have now installed solar power on two trailers and a motorhome as well as our sailboat, as described here. We have a huge library of solar power and battery charging articles on this website that draw on all of our experience:
SOLAR POWER OVERVIEW and TUTORIAL
- RV (and Marine) Solar Power Made Simple - An overview of how solar power works on an RV or boat
- Which Solar Panels To Buy? - What's Best: Flexible or Rigid Panels? 12 or 24 volt? Mono- or Polycrystalline? And WHY?
- Installing Solar Power on a Sailboat - How to overcome the unique challenges of solar power on a sailboat
- Solar Power Tutorial 1 - Basics - What makes up a solar power system and how does it work?
- Solar Power Tutorial 2 - Weekend/Vacation Systems - Everything needed for small "Weekending" and "Vacation" systems
- Solar Power Tutorial 3 - Full-time Systems - Describes the design of a "Full-time" system
- Solar Power Tutorial 4 - Solar Panel Selection & Wiring - Design considerations for choosing solar panels PLUS wiring tips
BATTERIES and BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEMS
- RV and Marine Battery Charging Basics - How do batteries get charged and what is the best charging method?
- Converters, Inverter/Chargers and Engine Alternators - No two battery charging systems do the job the same way.
- Solar Charge Controllers - How to optimize battery charging from the sun
- Solar Power and Shore Power Combined! - What happens when you're on solar and you plug into shore power?
- Wet Cell vs. AGM Batteries in an RV or Boat - Why we upgraded our RV house battery bank from flooded to AGM!
LIVING ON 12 VOLTS
- Inverter Selection & Installation - Choosing and installing the best inverter to support all our lifestyle's 120 volt AC needs
- RV Electrical System Upgrade - Which converter, inverter and batteries we upgraded to after 8 years off the grid, and WHY!
- How Much Inverter is Enough? - What happened when we accidentally killed our big inverter
- Clean Technica: Solar Power Installation on Sailboat Groovy - An analysis of our boat's solar power setup
- Kyocera Solar Showcases our Sailboat's Solar Power Setup - Sailing Groovy on Kyocera Solar Power!
The solar power setup aboard Groovy has inspired stories and articles all over the internet. Here are a few of the websites and online magazines that have featured stories about Groovy and our marine solar power installation:
Where do you buy solar panels, charge controllers, inverters and such? Surprisingly, Amazon offers solar power kits and more. Click the following links for a wider selection of:
- Solar power kits (all sizes)
- Go Power Full-timer Kit (Complete kit!)
- 10 Amp Charge Controllers (for small systems)
- MPPT charge controllers (for big "full-timer" systems)
- Modified Sine Wave Inverters (for "small" systems)
- Pure sine wave inverters (for big "full-timer" systems)
We receive a 4-6% commission for any Amazon purchases made through links on our site. This helps us cover our out-of-pocket expenses for keeping this site running, and we extend a huge "thank you" for shopping through us.
New to this site? We have more info on Solar Power and tons of other great stuff for cruisers. Please check out our Home page and our Intro Page for Cruisers to learn more about us and discover what’s where on our site.
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