Unfortunately though, the wind generator is no longer made. John DePoe sold the business to another company. I think its called Aerotec. When I find out more I will post it here. I did have some problems with the .25a fuse in the regulator blowing. I tracked it down to RF from transmitting on the SSB radio. I fixed the problem by adding an on/off switch to the regulator. Now before I transmit I turn it off. This is not an uncommon problem by the way. Sensitive equipment such as autopilots and LP gas detectors can be affected. Keep this in mind when you locate you SSB antenna!
The trim tab was modified from its original configuration so that there was no balance (area in front of the rudder stock) in the way of the propeller. The turbulence was making it go crazy. We hooked a Raytheon ST4000 Plus Autopilot to the trim tab tiller with excellent results. The control unit is on the cabin bulkhead next to the depth sounder. This makes it easy to turn it on and off. With the old TillerMaster that we started with, you had to go aft to the trim tab to turn it on and off. The ST4000 also has settings for sea state and gain for adjusting sensitivity. I can honestly say that we have hand steered the boat less then 5 hours in our 3 months of cruising. Most of that was coming in and out of harbors. Self-steering is a must! We also got a wind indicator that hooks to the ST4000. This allows the autopilot to steer by the wind. I have not hooked up the homemade wind vane to the trim tab. The ST4000 works so well I've been a bit lazy getting it set up.
The water maker has worked very well. We only make water at sea, never in a harbor. At 165ppm the water tastes great coming from our Nauta bladder tank. It doesn't taste as well from our plastic tank. I have never been able to drink water directly from a boats tank till now. It's quiet and efficient. Although the past two times it's been squeaking.We have sent it back to the factory for an upgrade to address this problem. While the work was done for free, we did have to pay 200 dollars to get it to California. At 8 gallons an hour it draws 10 amps. This allows us to take showers and do our laundry. What a luxury! The only problem with the installation is that I put the intake halfway up the port side. It tends to come out of the water when on a port tack. I also had problems because I wasn't rinsing the filters every time we used it. Even though the instructions say you can go three days between runs, it's not a good idea. To much chance of bacteria buildup. The Super-Stor water heater does a great job. We can run the engine for 30 minutes and have hot water 48 hrs later.
The Westerbeke is working great. It was leaking oil at the front pulley during the first few hours. I was using a different type of oil then I am using now. Once I changed the oil the leak stopped. I'm using Shell Rotella T SAE 30. I change the oil and filter every 100 hours. As I have had good experience with Westerbeke over the years and this engine is continuing the excellent reputation.
I wouldn't bother to get the Shore Assist (110volt) Sea Frost for the ice box, unless you will be spending alot of time plugged into shore power. It is 1/20th as efficient which means that we would have to run it for 10 hours to get the same cooling as running the engine compressor for 30 minutes! It draws 20 amps at twelve volts off the inverter, which is hard to justify over the course of 10 hours (200 amp hours!)
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The Westerbeke raw water pump started leaking at 900 engine hours. I managed to replace the seals and bearings without a hydraulic press (read: I used a LARGE hammer). Not sure if this is to be expected. Engine is fine otherwise. Still changing the oil and filter every 100 hours.
Sailrite sewing machine is having some problems.The hinges broke. Seems they were a little weak for a machine this heavy.
The large inflatable mooring balls work well as fenders. Our three vessel raft was slammed against the lock wall at Panama and they didn't pop.
The Shore Assist on the Sea Frost system seems to be working better. For some reason the ProSine inverter, supplying the 110 volts, cuts out intermittently. We had enough wind on the Caribbean side of the canal to keep the Shore Assist going. So, it is worth having.
The WindScoop is worth the money we paid. It does a great job of getting air into the galley. We have a large deck box just forward of the hatch. Without the WindScoop, the hatch is pretty well blocked.
The raw water pump on the Westerbeke is leaking again. Seems like 600 hours is the best it can do. I'm having a re-build kit and a new pump sent to Bora Bora. I've heard that some boats carry several spare pumps. I will in the future.
The Spectra Water Maker broke down again. I had the off shore replacement parts, which I used to fix it. The owners at Spectra admitted the tolerance for the annular ring was too great. They are sending new parts I have to pay for the shipping to Bora Bora.
The FloJet salt water pump died. The rebuild parts kit contained everything but what I needed. We are having another pump sent to Bora Bora. This time I will mount it with the waterpump side down. With the waterpump on the bottom, any water that leaks will not drip on the motor drive (wobble plate)which is what failed.TOP OF PAGE
After sailing half way around the world, we have a few opinions on what we should have on board and how things should be run. First, you need to decide what kind of cruiser you are. Are you the type who would take 90 days to get from California to Tahiti because you would rather drift than use your engine? If so, please disregard my recommendations. Engines are tied directly to energy usage. While I personally know cruisers who have sailed around the world without an engine, they have my sympathy. I did the "back to the land thing" in the mid 70's, so I know what I'm talking about. No electricity, phone or running water for 5 years makes you appreciate what the industrial era has done for mankind.
Back to the matter at hand. Your engine should be powerful. Most boats are equipped with "auxiliary" power. Big mistake. When we had to claw off of the lee shore at Nemena, the 60hp Westerbeke was worth every penny. You also need to carry enough fuel to motor for at least 5 days. If we didn't have that capability, we would still be off the coast of Ecuador dreaming about the Galapagos. Our fuel costs per hour, at the worst prices, were still only$1.00 U.S. (½ gallon per hour @ 5 knots) the best prices were less than .30c. Even less if we are motor sailing.
You also should have a large amperage alternator. At least 100 amps. Many manufactures don't tell you the rated output is quite a bit less at the idling speeds your batteries are charged at. You also need a good regulator, one that will charge the batteries quickly. The batteries should be lead acid. Gel cells take longer to charge. The battery bank should be large enough to handle your usage. A small bank means you have to charge more often. It's not good to run the bank below 50% of its capacity. A large bank means longer times between charging and a large alternator means you can charge over a shorter amount of time. Which leads us to engine usage. "Use it or loose it" as the saying goes. I believe engine trouble is directly related to lack of maintenance (read hard to access) and lack of use. We run our engine for about 30 minutes, once a day, while on passage. This allows us to charge the fridge, charge the batteries and make hot water. Our large power usage is the RADAR. We would not dream of sailing at night without it turned on. Not only does it allow us to see ships at least 12 miles out, it helps in making a landfall (day or night), and it is vital in telling us of approaching storm passages. You can see an approaching front, coming at you at 40 miles per hour, at night. It has definitely saved our butts. We also use our running lights. It's surprisingly scary how many cruisers don't. Besides, it's illegal.
If you have a computer on board, be sure to have the full version CD of the operating system and CDs of ALL the programs. I made the mistake of purchasing a program on line and had to get the CD shipped to me in the Marquises. Also, it's a worthwhile investment to learn how to re-format your hard drive. If nothing else, you might be able to help another cruiser.
You should have least two GPS systems and a good SSB radio. A ham license is nice, but you need a reciprocal license for every country you visit. Plus, you can't talk business. As Amy has found out, you are pretty well limited to talking about the weather or the height of your antenna.
You should buy all the charts for your entire trip. We listened to a not to be named supplier in the US, who said to buy them as we go. BIG mistake. Not only could we NOT find the charts we needed in Tahiti, but the time and cost of shipping (along with mistakes in the orders), dealing with customs, etc. can take the fun out of cruising. We are now in Australia, facing the task of having to get the charts we need shipped from the US or the UK. Duh!
If you are from the US and have any 110 volt equipment on board, you should buy a step-down transformer. Even if you think you are not going to spend much time in a marina, you'll need it. The US and Canada are the only countries in the world with 110 volt systems. The transformers were not easy to come by in Australia.
Before I get to the list of spares to have on board, I'd like to address crew knowledge. Cross training is a must. Too many women are stuck in the galley. Each crewmember should have a basic knowledge of EVERY system on board. Time and again I have seen the male (read: captain) taken to their bunk. (Myself included) This leaves the "little women" not only single-hand the boat, but taking care of the injured crew member. Do they know how to use the radio? Do they know what frequencies to use? Can they plot a position from the GPS? Can they launch the life raft? (One captain sent the crew to launch the life raft and watched it drift away. No one tied it to the boat first!) Can they start the engine? Manage the fuel system? Can they sail the boat? You get the idea. Sharing knowledge is vital.
Spares to have on board (other than the basics):
Raw water pump (replaced twice)
Alternator (the first one is still going)
Regulator (replaced once)
GPS (Tripmate receiver corroded)
Saltwater wash-down pump for washing off anchor chain (replaced once)
All moving parts for the head, not just the rebuild kit (ours is about to go)
Don't bother to bring:
Paint (unless you put all of it in plastic containers that don't leak)TOP OF PAGE
Time for another update. The troubleshooting section of the ST4000 Autopilot Owner's Handbook needs to be changed. Raymarine needs to add a "No Data" error which includes checking the "Dealer" settings for latitude and variation. Our auto-pilot gave us trouble in Madagascar. It wasn't until we were in Durban, South Africa that Amy solved the problem. I was under the impression that the settings would just make the display show the correct numbers. As we don't set the autopilot to a number, but get the boat headed in the right direction and then push Auto, I didn't think it would make any difference. Wrong. Obviously we were exceding a programing parameter. Kind of like Y2K, they didn't expect anyone to sail around the world with their equipment.
The raw water pump on the Westerbeke is behaving better. I learned from the tech in Salem, Mass that the pump needs to be mounted, but not fully tightened down at first. You have to run the engine, then tightened down the pump. This allows the pump shaft and the drive shaft in the engine to align themselves. I would imagine this would apply to any engine driven raw water pump. I did find 4 broken valve springs while adjusting the valve lash in Cairns, Australia. This was supposedly caused by moisture collecting in the top of the engine. We run the engine often enough so this shouldn't be a problem. And yes, we make sure the engine has a load so that it reaches operating temperature.
The Spectra Watermaker has been a dissappointment. The basic problem is the use of plastic fittings. Our latest problem were the connections on the membrane. The plastic high pressure fittings cracked. Until the company changes to more robust (stainless) fittings, I wouldn't recommend buying a Spectra. Granted, we put alot of hours on it, but plastic is no substitute for metal.
We are glad to have the 110v unit on the Sea Frost Fridge. Our stay in Australia and our trip around South Africa has meant tying up in marinas. With the 220v to 110v transformer, we are not subjecting our neighbors to diesel fumes.
Our Lee sails are holding up quite well. I highly recommend them.
Our Icom M710 SSB radio is a world above the SEA 235. No comparison. With the HAM frequencies, all our radio needs are covered. Which brings me to the HAM license issue. It was fun making a phone patch to my mother on Mothers Day from the middle of the Pacific, but the real benefit of a HAM license is weather information. Alistair has been giving weather information for the South African East Coast for 30 years. (14316/07045LSB 0630/1130UTC) While you can listen without a license, it's nice to be able to ask specific questions and get a forcast for your particular location. Fred (Peri Peri) is also a HAM and adds to Alistairs forcasts. Fred covers people without a HAM license on 8297USB 0500UTC and 8101 1500UTC. Bottom line. Study and get the license!
By far, the best piece of weather equipment we have on board is the weather satellite receiver I built ($100US). I go into the details in the April 2002 log. Everyone loves the satellite pictures on the TV weather. Why not have it "real time" , on your boat, anywhere in the world? And don't think you need to be a rocket scientist to interpret the image. Hog wash. A picture is worth 1,000 words. Just do a few comparisons to the local surface weather analysis and you will soon be seeing the important weather features. And satellite pictures more are current, I might add, as most weather chart valid times are 6 hours old when they are broadcast.
Cell phone technology is coming into use on a boat. There were times, along the South African coast, when the propagation for the radio was not good. With our cell phone, I was able to call Fred. (Don't call late at night!). As we were never more then 10 miles off shore, calling was not a problem. A tri-band phone covers all the countries of the world (I'm still not sure about the USA). I would recommend at least a dual-band phone (good for everywhere but the USA) and a "pay as you go plan." When you arrive in a country, you pick up a starter pack for a service provider (readily available in any country except Madagascar) install the SIM card and buy air time as you need it. Phone communication couldn't be easier. And you can send and receive short (190 characters) e-mails to and from a land base or SMS (short message service) to another cell phone cheaper than voice. In SA voice is $1/min International. An e-mail or SMS is 8 cents! I'm not sure this is availble in the USA. Probably has something to to with the pager companies not happy with phone companies sending data messages!
While digital radio communication is getting easier with SSB and Pactor, I still recommend an Inmarsat system. The people I have spoken with, who have Pactor, have had problems with propagation. Basically, this means that you may not be able to send or receive data anytime you like. Now, while this may sound petty, just when you need to communicate that position report, or get weather information, you can't. Inmarsat gives you worldwide text weather forcasts (Navtex), Notice to Mariners (containers adrift, etc.), your GPS position and Distress Message sending at no cost (except for the equipment). Admittedly, the cost of sending or receiving e-mail is expensive (1centUS/character) but for short postion/well-being reports to a family member, it is worth the cost. We can send information anytime, anywhere.
That's all for now. I'll make a final report when we are back in Maine.TOP OF PAGE