Thursday, February 6, 2014

First few days getting underway

On the Sailnet web site one member mentioned that he was just about to launch on the "great adventure." He said - experience is a great teacher. I am sure I will learn a lot once we get underway.

I said:

Not only with money, but with sailing/voyaging/cruising in general. Since you have a boat that has been around the world you many actually have some of the "stuff" that is not on a typical "cruiser" as delivered from the factory. They say that "ignorance is bliss" but it can also be expensive. I was working with a new cruiser getting his boat ready. I helped him install solar panels and an autopilot. I said, "Before you go let me look at the boat and make some recommendations." I went away for a couple of days and when I returned the boat was gone. He called me and said, "I can't stand the cold so I headed south. I will see you in Key West." One of those "must have" items is a boom preventer. But he didn't know that. So off Cape Canaveral he set the autopilot and went up on the foredeck to check something. The wind shifted, the boat gybed, and the boom, solar panels and new dodger-bimini all went overboard. Fortunately he was not hit by the boom during the gybe or he would have gone overboard too. His first cruising "unexpected expense." Fortunately it did not include a trip to the hospital and he was able to motor into port.

Some of the things that I added:
  • Boom preventer, 
  • Hard points - maybe 30 of them to tie everything inside down so it can't shift around, 
  • Cockpit gate - the Catalina 42 has an open rear cockpit to the swim ladder. Amazing how much stuff floated off the stern, 
  • Main Halyard pull down - a line to force the main sail to come down. They don't always want to in strong wind, 
  • Cunningham - not strictly necessary but cheap and great for easy mainsail trim, 
  • Heavy duty bucket on a line - the source for salt water for cleaning etc. underway, 
  • Lazyjacks. I had them on the boat but with a racing crew we had taken them off. With 9 guys on the boat it was pretty easy to get the main down on the boom. With just me - well you get the point. 
  • Mast steps - you don't miss them until you need to get up the mast at sea 
  • Tricolor - I really wanted to be seen from a distance by other boats. 
Another area was the loss of time sense. When you are living on shore you know what day of the week it is. You have a pretty good idea of time passing. On a boat not so much. I lost track of how long it had been since I did various checks on the boat. I ended up making a reminder list so that I would not forget. It is attached to my calendar.
  • Water level in batteries, 
  • Fuel filter, drain the water from the bottom of the centrifugal separator 
  • Water filters - particularly for the refrigeration system, if I had air conditioning I would expect that to clog quickly also, 
  • Engine oil, 
  • Rig - with particular emphasis on the cotter pins that prevent the clevis pins from coming out, 
  • Running rigging - sheets and halyards - never a concern before, amazed at how they would shred or split, 
  • Bilge pump switches - my boat is very dry - I did not know that one of the switches had failed (I have redundant systems) until I checked it. 
  • Thru-hulls. I open and close them to make sure they are not frozen up. I learned that in very cold weather they tend to stick, as it warms up they get loose again. 
  • Lubrication - on my boat the engine kill lanyard tends to freeze up if not lubricated on a regular basis. 
  • Propane tank level - it sounds silly but... I have two tanks. One used to be the spare and the other ran the stove/oven. But now the second tank also runs the cabin heater so it is possible for both to empty at the same time. Not a good thing if you need to cook! 
  • Storage lockers - I learned the hard way that the bottoms of storage lockers can get very wet. Usually this is from condensation. I open them up and empty them out. Everything in them is in plastic bags. I have thrown away more than my fair share of stuff ruined by sitting in a puddle of water for a couple of months. 
I add to the list from time to time when I discover something I should be checking on a regular basis.

World Cruising Mods

Since you are retrofit mode let me add two items to your list should you expect to leave North/Central America and venture on.
  1. A 220 volt 50 cycle battery charger and "European" shore power inlet and cord/adapters. Many of the new chargers are 'world chargers." They will accept 90 V to 250 V and 50 Hz to 60 Hz power. My solar panels kept the batteries topped off but they were in dire need of an equalization charge after 6 months of just solar panel recharging. My particular favorite company is Victron Energy - Inverter/chargers - Inverters - Battery Chargers - and more There are two companies I would never buy from given my previous experience - Xantrex and Raymarine. Victron equipment is more expensive but is the brand of choice on high end yachts. 
  2. Another solution rather than a new charger is a 220V to 110V transformer. Much less expensive. My problem was that the shore power voltages were just off enough that my 110V charger would not run because it read either low or high voltage. 
  3. A butane tank adapter that can attach to your propane system. Not an expensive item but hard to find all the bits - metric to English - male/female etc. Many parts of the world use butane instead of propane. You stove will work - it will not be quite as hot. Better than not working at all. 
Fair winds and following seas