Friday, August 1, 2008

Equipment Report

What works - for us, as of July 2008.

The boat itself – we love how our Voyage 440 sails! She points pretty well for a cruising cat (42 degrees apparent at 8 knots in 15 knots of breeze). We normally cruise at about 7-9 knots and have nudged over 10 in gusts. All with just the 2 of us and without any major drama - so far! The motion is very comfortable, especially off the wind. Things stay pretty much where they are put. We get some bridgedeck slamming when beating into steep seas, but it’s manageable. The deck is well laid out. All normal sail handling is done from the cockpit. The electric winches make sheeting and reefing easy. The battcars and the stack-pack for the main make it super easy to drop the sail or to reef on almost any point of sail. The dinghy launch/recovery system works great especially with the dedicated halyard and again, the electric winches. And we think she looks pretty good!

Watermaker – Ours is an HRO Seafari Escape SEM 400. Produces 16 gal (64 l) per hour, using about 22 amps. We run it for about 1.5 hours every other day. It has an autoflush option so you can leave it for a month or so and it’ll keep the reverse osmosis membrane in good shape without pickling. The water tastes great and is very pure. Its great to have a real shower if you want (though we still do a navy type shower - wet down, soap up, rinse off - often on the back deck). And being able to wash the salt off the decks after a passage is pure luxury! The unit seems to be build well but had been neglected and the amplifier pump was totally gummed up. Not a manufacturer problem, but the replacement parts were ridiculously expensive – about 10x what we would have paid if we’d had a Spectra, according to people who know!

Fridge/freezer – We have separate fridge and freezer units – Adler Barbour air cooled. Not very efficient (about 100 amps per 24 hours in 30 celsius ambient temp), but they work great. Frozen stuff stays frozen, there’s lots of room, access is reasonable for a boat, and the beer is always ice cold!

Dinghy – Avon 11 ft. RIB with a Yamaha 15hp Enduro 2 stroke. Moves fast when we want, a good size, we like the built in bow locker – which seems to keep stuff dry and it appears well built (hypalon). Negatives are that its heavy (180 lbs) and doesn’t have handles in the right place for hauling up a beach and its going to be tricky to install the transom wheels that we have bought (we loved them on a previous tender). We plan to glue on some extra handles.

Solar Panels – We have 6x75watt Shell Solar panels wired in two spearate banks, each with its own Blue Sky MPPT controller. On a sunny day here at latitude 13, we see about 26 amps between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. We get an average of about 150 amp hours per day. Upgraded to the Blue Sky MPPT Controllers from the standard PWM ones that were on the boat. Saw about a 15% ncrease in output. Would like another couple of panels or maybe a wind generator. And we’re thinking of a towed water generator for passages in the South Pacific. Right now, without giving any real thought to energy conservation, we need to run the engines for 90 minutes about every third day to “catch up” the deficit. Sometimes less if its really sunny, more often if its cloudy (yes it happens even in Paradise).

Electrical system – The boat came with 800 amp hours of gel batteries in 2 banks for the house supply and 2 separate start batteries. Each engine drives a 160 amp Ample Power alternator which charges that side’s house bank through a 3-step smart regulator, and a 60 amp alternator dedicated to the start battery. Everything is monitored through a Link 2000 and AC is supplied by a Heart Freedom 25 inverter/charger (unfortuntely it’s a modified sine wave, so apparently won’t power a washer/dryer – life is tough!). It all seems to work reasonably – so far…..

73 lb Rocna Anchor and 3/8” all chain rode. – This baby just digs in almost instantly and buries itself solidly in the bottom. We sleep soundly with this on/in the bottom! We had thought to go with lighter weight (but as strong) 5/16” high test chain, but were advised by Bruce at Voyage Charters to stick with the extra weight of the 3/8” for the greater catenary effect. It was good advice. We only have 200’, will likely go to 300’ for the Pacific.

Raymarine C-120 chartplotter/radar – big colour screen and the Navionics charts seem reasonably accurate for the areas we’ve been so far. Fantastic to have right at the helm. Basic functions are reasonably intuitive, (but you have to read the manual for more advanced funstions!).

Raymarine S2G autopilot with Whitlock drive – Steers better than we can – forever (well, until it breaks or the power goes out!). Basic functions easy to use. Massive Whitlock drive motor seems able to handle any steering loads without breaking a sweat (though we try to make sure the helm is well balanced at all times). We believe a good, reliable autopilot is so essential we bought a complete spare….

Fujinon Polaris 7x50 binoculars – these are bright and sharp, amazing in low light or night time.

More opinions later.....

Postcards from the Tobago Cays

View from the kitchen window!

Turtle Beach, Baradal Island – Here we swam with turtles every day. Often saw 5-6 together. Were able to get within a few feet. Very cool.
Turtle waving goodbye.

Feeding frenzy off the swim step! Notice the swarming trunk fish on the surface – normally relatively solitary bottom feeders. Maybe they’ve been fed before….? Even underwater its so bright you almost need sunglasses!