The most important lesson learnt is that equipment drains your pocket, and that there is always something more that you will want. Consequently you will end up with more than you strictly speaking really need. It does take more and more of your time too ... (But that is no news.) And remember: Everything can break.
This is a short story of how we have developed our "needs" and wishes – and about our experiences.
Sailing and progress
Communication and weather
The electric power, comfort, and life in harbor
Sailing and progress
We started out from Dunkerque in 2006 with furling genoa and mainsail. We have never regretted that choice. It is right for us as we pretty much of the time are sailing double handed. We then had only the two sails. A couple of times it has happened that we have not managed to roll into the mainsail correctly, and it folded up, so that it was hard to pull it out. We learnt that it is important not to pull it too hard against the boom while reefing. The problems with the main have become more sincere, as the sail has become older and lost a little of its shape. But after 23,000 Nm it still works without major repairs.
On the last passage across the Atlantic suddenly a trimming line in aft the leech teared loose over large parts of the genoa. The sail came down, and we got it sewn and temporarily repaired. The reason for the failure was that the channel in which the trimming line is lead, is not protected by the UV film, which otherwise protects the sail when it is rolled in. Therefore, the channel was completely destroyed by UV-exposure. The temporary fix held all season in the Caribbean. We are to have a full repair of it in Curacao. This incident showed us that it was important that we had sail thread, needles etc.
According to the sail maker in Curacao, there is a common weakness of all European sails. There is a tape which leads the trimming line, and this tape is not UV protected. The result is clear.
For the season 2017 we bought a new genoa sail from Tasker sails, ordered from Norway. After ten years it was due.
The next sail was acquired prior to our first long cruising in 2008. It was a spare sail, a genoa 3 of thicker cloth. It was important for safety on our first long trip, but we never used it. When we in 2013 installed an inner forestay, we traded the genoa 3 for a cutter sail.
We would also have more light wind sails, and bought a deep genaker, so that we could sail with the wind almost dead astern. We chose a sock for recovery. It was not so easy to use the sock as we had imagined. When we had gybed and was on the opposite tack, we got problems to pull the sock over the sail. We got maybe too little practice, for during the first Atlantic crossing the halyard broke after a few hours, and we had to sail on the genoa. In the Caribbean the wind was mostly on the beam, and there was a lot of it, so there was no more use for the genaker that season. We found, however, that the sock was not the right solution for us. Thus, we decided that we would have a furling system. This has turned out much better for us.
We had the first genaker attached to the bow fitting for the anchor. It did not keep. In a moderate broach the fitting was bent to the side. Therefore, I designed a separate, sort of bowsprit in stainless steel for the genaker. It has worked well.
We have experienced that the lead of the spinnaker halyard up in the mast is a challenge for the long hours of sailing. It is well known that the equipment wears many times more than on the coastal voyage for the holidays, and chafe is an enemy that has to be met for all lines. To make a long story short we have reached the conclusion that the only system that works, is to lead the halyard through a block up in the mast. We have tried two other solutions, but the halyard has suffered chafe and broke.
Before we left our home port in 2013 we mounted an inner forestay with a cutter sail, and we traded our genoa 3 for a new cutter sail. It has been a success. We use it both going upwind and close reaching in fresh wind. In addition, when running and the wind is more than 16 knots we furl the genaker and set the genoa to one side and the cutter sail to the other. We chose the furling system for the inner forestay and have not regretted it, but others are just as happy with a removable stay.
The engine has been used for about 700 hours. For the most part, we have been very pleased with our 54 hp Yanmar (4JH4). But it has failed a couple of times. When we arrived at St Lucia in December 2013, the transmission failed. All of a sudden it was just possible to get progress astern. When we tried to go forward, the prop did not move. Perhaps this failure was due to the fact that we a period in 2008 were left the propeller running freely when sailing (fixed prop). This was not according to the book. The transmission should be locked in reverse when sailing. The fact that we let it run freely certainly gave a good deal of extra wear and tear. I got good help on the telephone to set the diagnosis from Blommenholm engine repair shop. You feel extra thankful for such help when you are far away from home. A good mechanic on St. Lucia changed the worn parts, and we got the replacements sent from Miami.
When we in April 2014 were leave to Bonaire for Curacao, the engine was completely dead. It turned out that the starter motor had burned. The failure was that the starter motor had been running with the main engine after it had started, and thus burned - according to the mechanic on Curacao. In Curacao, we got the starter motor repaired without any hassle.
So now we have twice now been towed into the port...
2017 was the season to sort out motor problems. First it was overheating, caused by two different failures. One of them was that the old impellor had disintegrated, and when we had installed the new one, we had not bothered to pick out all the parts. We sailed back into Shelter Bay. The other reason was that the heat exchanger needed to be cleansed by muriatic (hydrocloric) acid. Probably different coolants had been mixed earlier. This was the second time we sailed back in. The third problem arised when the engine stopped whenever I opened the throttle to more than half speed. We sailed back the third time. This time we found diesebugs in the tank. The third problem sorted out, the motor behaved smoothly.
We run the engine mostly between 1600 and 1800 rpm. Max is just under 3000 rpm. This gives fuel consumption just as in excess of 2 l/h. Keeping the revs low like this, “Tatt av vinden” makes no more than five knots, but the range is most important when cruising.
The fuel tank is of 240 l. That is not much for the longer crossings, but we have some jugs in the reserve. Now we are down to four jugs, it is ok in the Caribbean, but we were up in the twelve when we let out from the BVI directly to the Azores in 2009. We used the content from some of them, but there was little to see of the Azores High that year, and there was a good deal of sailing also along this direct route.
This one has only the lack of that it has no gyro. Thus, the Marpa-feature on the radar is useless. The autopilot has otherwise been used diligently and has worked almost flawlessly. It controls the boat under most circumstances, but if we have stormy weather, we always sit helm. The autopilot is a Raymarine ST 6002, with S3 drive unit and the associated course computer.
We have a Hydrovane wind steering. It has worked well when running. When reaching or close hauled, we have not made it handle the boat. When reaching there will be broaching when there comes a gust. Close to the wind it does not work for us, but that is because we have too much that interferes with the air flow (bimini, solar panels etc.). We are careful to make sure that the boat is most neutral and we lock the main rudder. If the wind is too fresh, the Hydrovane is not powerful enough. In fresh winds we have to stay at the helm to sometimes correct the course, but it saves power and the autopilot. To us the most important thing is the safety in that there is a separate rudder, and therefore, can act as an emergency steering. We are reasonably satisfied with the Hydrovane.
We have had problems with the steering, two different types of trouble. The first one we experienced, we had in the outer Oslofjord in 2007, during a gale of 35 knots. All of a sudden, there was something that prevented anything but a small rudder deflection. The same problem to both sides. It was no worse than that we could run before the wind to a bay. There we were able to do the diagnostics. On the wheel shaft there is a gog, and the chain that runs on it sits in the extension of the steering wire. The cog had shifted on the shaft. It was locked for the rotation, so some turning of the wheel was possible, but the two set screws had loosened a bit, and the chain, which is not quite at a right angle to the shaft, had pulled the cog a few centimeters down the shaft. It led to the chain that passes through a hole in the fiber glass it passes through the deck. Thus the wire was still able to move freely, but when the chain reached the opening, it would not pass. Thus just small rudder movements were possible..
The same shit happened once more, at the Union Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009. Now I think that I've pulled the screws hard enough, so that they do not come loose. Cross fingers.
This error is, of course, a design error. The chain was supposed to, of course, to come in 90 degrees to the shaft.
The second the error was related to the rudder bearings. The steering gradually moved less freely and eventually it was so heavy, that we were worried about the autopilot. This started in 2008 in the Mediterranean, and it developed over nearly 10,000 Nm, we lived with it. But it took a long time, in fact all the way until we came home and got the boat on land, that we became sure of the cause. The rudder bearings were under warranty and were changed. We were explained that when they were first mounted, the wrong grease had been adapted in the nylon bearings. So it may happen, even with an experienced boatyard as Jeanneau, such an elementary error.
We have all our instruments from Raymarine, and we have pretty much been happy, but some errors have occurred. The radar (2kW, 18inces, analog) was the first that failed. It happened one morning in Kungshamn, Sweden, in 2008. There was fog, and we were going south along the Västkusten, when we discovered that the image was 90 degrees the wrong and could not be adjusted. The solution was repair in Gothenburg, Sweden. After two days of troubleshooting was an electronic card changed and we were happy to move on. Luckily it was warranty repair. Later that year, when we were leaving Jasmin Hammamet in Tunisia, we had the same failure once again. This same failure twice was highly unlikely according to the professionals, and the suspicion was that we had been given back the old card which was unstable, but that we shall never know. Anyway, the Raymarine people in Las Palmas under the ARC were not able to repair this, because they did not manage to get a card to Las Palmas from UK on time (!). The solution was that we sailed with the image 90 degrees rotated until we were in Martinique In Martinique we had visitors from Norway, and they brought with them a new card from the Raymarine Norway, along with an instruction on how to replace the old one. Si I did the repair myself. Since then the radar worked fine. (But we baught a new one in St. Lucia in 2013, because we had to change the MFD. See Chart Plotter.)
We had a Raymarine C80 display until December 2013. It had up to that time worked pretty much without errors, but all of a sudden, when I tested the instruments in St. Lucia, several of the soft buttons had stopped working. It was perhaps a failure that could easily be fixed, but no one in the St. Lucia could tell me, so this is recognizing in hindsight. The solution for us was expensive and gave a lot of work. We bought a new multifunctional display, Raymarine C97.
But in doing so, we also had to buy a new radar, for the new display could only work together with a digital radar. Thus, it was also necessary with a switch to connect the network. One thing was the costs, but there were also all-new cables, and it took me almost six full days to get them in place and everything connected. It is not always the boat manufacturers have thought all the way through repair needs that may arise ... Of course, the new display could was not compatible with my old digital maps either. But after a lot of work and a lot of dollars out from my account, the solution was satisfying. I only regret that I did not use even a few bucks more and bought a high-definition radar. They are said to be better when it comes to detect and follow the squalls, which is helpful when we are sailing.
The C97 has a weak joy stick. They do not sell the C97 any more, and maybe that is good, because this weakness is in the design. We then go for Es97 wich is the only one withe the same connections as the C97. The C97 could have been repaired, but that wold have been awfully expensive...
We installed Raymarine AIS 250 which is a pure receiver, before we went cruising in 2008. It was amazing. A new world developed for us when it came to deal with the all the merchant ships. Sometimes, over the Atlantic a few ships steered a course a bit uncomfortable close to us. I then called the ship over VHF and was able to call it by name. I always got a nice reply that they should be aware.
Prior to sailing out in 2013 we upgraded to a transponder, so that we should show up on other boats screens. The transponder was helpful once at the French coast, when we came too close to a military research vessel. Then the research vessel was able to call us by name and explain to us their intentions. (Later, when we sailed close to Venezuela, we turned the transmitter off, just in case.)
In 2017 the AIS Raymarine 650 failed . It sent out our position, but it did not give any data for other ships, and it jammed the Seatalk net. The warranty got us a new one.
We use the Raymarine Tridata. When we started our trip in 2013, it turned out that the log did not function. We knew the speed over ground from the GPS, but we did not get the true wind and the true wind direction or the calculated current, so we wanted to fix the log. After a lot of troubleshooting with good help from the Raymarine Norway and follow up from Seatronic, we finally found that the error was in the instrument itself. ST60 has of course been finished from Raymarine, but for once I have to praise the Raymarine for creating the next-generation fully compliant with the previous! ST50 was put in place and works excellent with the rest of the instruments over Seatalk. We have very good experience with Seatronic and Raymarine Norway.
We use Tiki for Navionics. Thus we have a completely separate electronic navigation system. For the areas we have been until now, Navionics maps have been reliable. In 2015 we shall be in the areas where we know that Navioncs charts are not good enough. Therefore, we have downloaded the OpenCPN and found electronic maps that can be used on the system (From the guide of Eric Bauhaus - but you will need his guide too - nothing compares!). OpenCPN is far from being as good as Tiki, but it is imperative to have charts that is accurate, especially in the Kuna Yala (San Blas) islands.
Paper charts are expensive, and we have not full coverage of all areas, but where we do not have full coverage, we have the guide-books. So far we have been safely equipped. And we have several battery-powered GPSes, so that we can know where we are in case of power failure on board. For Colombia the Colombian tourist authorities have published a comprenhensive guide, and there is full coverage of charts for the Colombian coasts. These we have printed in A3 format at home and brought with us.
All modern navigation aids leads to that one almost forgets the classic navigation skills. It may not be a big deal. Modern GPS navigation has definitely increased safety when cruising. (But we still carry the sextant.)
One thing is worth commenting: Vector Charts. There is from time to time a high temperature discussion about the pitfalls of vector charts. We can only contribute with our own experience, and what we do.
First of all, we try not to rely on just one source of navigation. (That is textbook.) But sometimes we have to, and sometimes we have the same charts on the computer as in the chart plotter. This is what we do:
Communication and weather
Communications is to cover security, required contact with the authorities and other boats, as well as contact with the home base. We had the Raymarine VHF 54E which we mounted in Dunkerque as “Tatt av vinden” was new. In addition a handheld, also from Raymarine. The 54E failed the first time we crossed the Atlantic when we were approaching St. Lucia. It transmitted at low power (1W), but would not work with full power (25W). We got a new , same type, covered by the warranty from Seatronics, and a family member brought it to Martinique. Of course, the 54E had been finished from Raymarine, and we had the hole in the bulkhead to take into account. Fortunately, Seatronic still had a 54E had in stock. The one we mounted on Matinique, has worked fine since. But why do the have to make the new generation a little bit different size from the previous one?
In 2013 the handheld from Raymarine also failed. Fortunately we had then bought another one from Standard Horizon, and we were thus able to communicate from the cockpit with the lock keeper on the entrance to Honfleur in France. Now we have bought even one more handheld. We like to have two. If Eva and I are in different places, we can keep in touch with each other at no cost. It's not quite legal to use the vhf ashore, but we are using one of the Scandinavian yacht the channels, and have not had problems with this.
On the northern part of the Lesser Antilles in 2009, we were very much in contact with other Norwegian boats. Then we had agreed upon the listening watch on a specific channel, and everyone knew at all times what was up. Excellent social medium.
This is the summary of failures on Raymarine equipment:
I am not impressed. By comparison none of my standard computers have failed, even after falling from the navigation table in rough seas. The one from 2006 was still functional in 2017 (Now I have given it a retirement.).
In 2008 – 2009 we had an Iridium 9005. It served us well. It was sometimes a bit challenging without an outside antenna. We used it for e-mail, weather and calls home. When we were back in Norway, we sold it, and now we have an Iridium 9555. It is rather similar to the old, but in addition, we have invested in an external antenna, and it has increased the speed of the data transfer. We bought this equipment from Mailasail in the UK, and we also have e-mail, get the grib files and have a daily blog through them. It's not a free service, but works well. Their Ed is an amazing good and helpful guy. Mailasail is highly recommended.
In March 2016 I had upgraded the computer to Windows 10. Windows 10 proved not to be able to connect to the Iridium 9555. I contacted Ed in Mailasail, and he told me that the solution was to use their Red Box. Luckily I already had the Red Box, but had only used it for wi-fi so far. It proved an effective solution, and very simple to operate.
We also have an SSB. The iCom 706 MkII is it. It is both for HF, MF and VHF. Thus we had the backup when the 54E failed. It is an amateur radio, but opened for all frequencies, including the maritime. And both Eva and I hold General maritime radio certificates. And I am also certified HAM. We preprogram the SSB-radio for the frequencies we regularly use.
During the ARC 2013, we had daily contact with other boats over the SSB. It was first of all nice, but also useful, especially the exchange of weather information.
In 2008 - 2009 we had a Pactor-modem (with Pactor 3 license) connected to the SSB-radio. Since I hold the certificate for amateur radio, we thought we should use the vast network of amateur radio operators with access to e-mail. We gave that up that idea. It was too difficult to find vacant channels.
When we sailed out again in 2013, we upgraded to the Pactor 4 ("Dragon") and we decided to try the Sailmail. It costs $ 250 per year, admittedly, but it means free use within reasonable limits. We started to test the system in Las Palmas, but there was not much success, especially not in the in the harbor. As we came out in the Atlantic, we got better results, and in the Caribbean, it works very well. We are going to continue Sailmail. It saves us a lot of cost for the satellite phone. We do use Sailmail both for the e-mails (without attachments) and to load down grib-files for the weather.
In 2008 – 2009 we used a whip antenna of 4.9 m. In 2013, we upgraded to one of 7.3 m, we were a little bit anxious to see how it would do in strong winds, but it's been good, and the range has definitely been better. (Though, maybe I should be a bit careful to state that firmly, for in 20013 – 2014 we have a much higher sunspot activity than six years ago.)
We started to listen to Chris Parker on SSB (12,350 Hz) 0830 local time when we were in Colombia. This is excelent for Caribbean. And he answers questions very thoroughly. Excellent service.
In 2017 our Pactor modem had forgotten (lost) its password (We remebered, it was the modem that was faulty). We sent an e-mail to SCS, and they soon gave us helpful advice to solve the problem.
In 2017 we experienced that our whip antenna simply broke in two pieces. It happende in quite normal weather conditions. We were able to treat it like a broken leg, and it served us for the rest of the season. But we concider to go for an isolated backstay.
At first we have had one that was intended for indoor use, but with the help of a lot of self amalgamating tape it became completely waterproof. We mounted it on the boom with shock cord and pulled the cable down through the hatch to the computer. We bought this from Mailasail. In 2012 we wanted to upgrade to an antenna that could be left outside on a permanent basis. Again, we acquired from Mailasail. The first one failed after a year of use, but we got a new one from our vendor. The fault was a well known one, it could be repaired, but the card was this time rather changed than repaired. (Since I had learned about the error, I fixed it myself and sold it on for half price.) The new one we got, was not working either. This time it was due to a production error, and it was changed in Las Palmas by Mailasail’s Ed himself. Later it has worked perfectly. There are fewer and fewer unsecured networks around, but in many marinas, there are still free wi-fi network, and then it is very useful to have this booster. Nevertheless, we are probably the most often ashore to an Internet café or the like, if we need the extra good connection, for example, to update our website with new pictures.
In March 2016 our Wi-fi Bat failed again. The error is in the unit itself. Again I shall get a new one from Mailasail. Mailasail has excellent service, but I am not convinced of the quality of this Wi-fi Bat. But I shall try it once more. This year (2016), in Bocas del Toro it would have been useful. There were several open wi-fi nets we could have connected to. Mostly internet cafes and restaurants. And for a cup of coffee or a beer you have their password.
We minimize the use of mobile phones, but this is because we do not have bought local SIM cards so far. There are now more and more offers for local SIM card with cheap data traffic, and we shall try it. The mobile phone has yet been shown to be essential in some situations. For example, demanded the US Customs authorities in Puerto Rico communication by phone. And they asked for a lot of information that way. Many places are the mobile phone (with Norwegian SIM card) far more expensive than satellite-phone. But in the United States, it is not very bad using Norwegian SIM cards. And in the French islands, there is EU tariff.
The electric power, comfort, and life in harbor
We had for all years used the Bruce-anchor on our previous boats. But the truth was that we had dragged many times. On “Tatt av vinden 2” we had a Bruce of 20 kg from Dunkerque in 2006. In good time before we went out in 2008, I had read a series of tests of anchors, especially one that was very compelling in "Monthly Review". I found that either the Rocna or the Mason was the thing. No one offered Rocna in Norway, and I imported it from Denmark, expensive, but worth every penny. The anchor is 25 kg, and we have only a couple of times dragged in the last six years. In sandy bottom it’s holding is excellent. Nothing less. We always let out a lot of chain, never less than 5 times the depth, but then we feel safe, and gradually we have light heartedly left boat anchor all day (if the weather forecast is not too frightening). Most of the time when we anchor I dive to check whether the anchor has dug in. Then, I have also occasionally been swimming around and looked at the other anchors. I understood why the Bruce-the anchor did not work so well. It simply does not work to the theory. Theoretically it should dig into the bottom when the strain in the anchor chain increases, but most often it lies on the one side and just the one fluke cuts in. Rocna anchor on the other hand dig properly in under almost all conditions. But if there is all too much seaweed, it must also give in.
We bought in 2006 a small dinghy in Smřgen, on the way home from Dunkirque. We put a 4-hp two stroke on it, and was very pleased until we came to the Caribbean in 2008. We realized quickly that a little RIB would be substantially better. In St. Lucia, we went to the purchase of a Caribe (hypalong) 9 foot. This worked really well, except that it was a bit slow with the 4 hp. Accordingly we wanted to upgrade to a 10hp or a 15hp. There were none at stock in St. Lucia, but in Grenada we got hold of a 15hp Mercury, two-stroke. It was perfect., The Caribe easily manage to plane with Eva and me on board, and also plans with three people if they are not too heavy and the weight distribution is right. I should not say that This RIB has been a must, but it has definitely made our life in the Caribbean more livable and comfortable. Not at least does it facilitate the shopping trips and it makes it possible to go around with diving equipment. Dive from the Caribe is highly feasible.
15hp is a bit heavy to lift up from and let down to the dinghy, but we manage. And the old 4 hp, we sold to some other sailors in Grenada. The Caribe is not a good for towing, so we do that only over very short distances. Sailing between the islands in the Lesser Antilles we put in on deck and keep it inflated. On longer crossings we deflate it to have more space on the deck.
At night time, we lift the dinghy in the spinnaker halyard, alongside. And we lock it to the ship.
In March 2016 the Mercury did not start. There was no spark on the plugs, so the ignition system was caput. We were in Bocas del Toro at the time, and spare parts could only be obtained from US. We chose to buy a new Suzuki instead. One mechanic told us that he often had seen that sort of fault n Mercurys.
The spray hood, we bought with the new boat. It has been in use at since 2006, except when the boat has been stored on the hard. Now the plastic Windows do not give the clear vision any more, and it is on the replacement list. Three times we have gotten the seams repaired. They are eaten up by the sun. There is white stitching on it. A canopy maker from Kapell & Annat in Sweden taught me that the black thread was more UV-resistant.
It is possible he was right, for we installed in 2007 canopy from the Kapell & Annat, and the roof have been up all the time we have stayed in the tropics, and the stitching seems set to stay well. They are black. The canopy is in four parts, side panels, rear panel and roof. It is excellent in bad weather. But the roof is we use as bimini. (Sun awning). As the full canopy is up the roof is fixed to the spray hood with a zipper. This is not particularly suitable as bimini, then it is much better to have an opening between the two for airing, more light and to be able to see the sails when we sail. As a result, I had the vendor sew a zipper under the roof, so that we can fold the part that would otherwise be zipped to the spray hood, back under the ceiling. The solution was successful. The only thing is that the canopy is a bit narrower than a dedicated bimini 's, so that when the sun comes somewhat out of the zenith, it will give too little shade. This, we have plans solve in a better way. In Colombia in December 2014 we really miss more shadow. We tried to get some extra panels made in Curacao, but it would be too expensive, so we have decided to make them ourselves back home for the next season.
In March 2016 we had some new panels made to connect to the bimini, so that we could have a real sun awning and more shade in the cockpit. That proved to be a blessing. After all we stayed just a little more than 9 degrees north of equator.
For the 2017 season we had a new sprayhood sown. The old one lasted for ten years, and could have served us for som more years, but the plascic windows were not in their best shape.
In 2007 we added solar panels on the deck, the type that is a little flexible. They are rated to 160 W max. It gave some charging of the batteries, and since we had the boat on a mooring, we knew that the batteries were always fully charged when we came on board. But there was too often shadow on the panels, and even though there were four of them, it was not enough for really useful charging. In Las Palmas in 2008 we installed more panels, and an arc to put them on. This gave additional 170 W, that is, overall, 330W. Our experience is that this layout provides about 15 A lasting 4 hours, plus a little, in the tropics, and in practice the same in Nordic waters because of the longer days. This means about 60 Ah per day, and it means a lot. So we installed the cutter the sail, and got even more often shadow on the panels, and now we are counting only 40/50Ah per day. This still is good support when we are in port or at anchor, and the autopilot is not in use. But mind you, we have other gadgets that draw power.
We have three different brands of solar panels. The semiflexible from Sunware - which we have glued on deck have not been up to maritime standard. They are covered with a sort of plastic layer, and water comes in under the plastic and ruins the panels. It my be that this is caused by the UV light here in the tropics - whatever the reason - they are not good enough for a yacht.
As a preparation for our voyage in 2008, I let me tempt you to spend money for a watermaker. I prepared all through holes at home, while the boat was on the hard and got the watermakere delivered in Gibraltar, where I installed it. The choice fell on a Schenker. They are said to have the most complaints, but it is the type that is most energy efficient, and with a consumption of 8A at 12V it produces 30 l/h. 30 liters is about the consumption Eva and I have in 24 hours during the crossings. In port, we consume about 50 liters per day.
The watermaker stopped functioning in 2009 when we left the Azores for Cherbourgh. It was not really the watermaker itself that failed, it was the drain of seawater which turned out to be clogged. However, by the time we headed out in 2013, it had not been in use for two years, and this time it really was not functioning. I sent an e-mail to Jim McDonald in Mactra, who had delivered the watermaker. He is famous for its good service, and that's after our experience for good reason. He was in Las Palmas for the ARC, and he brought with him two technicians from Schenker in Italy. They disassembled the whole watermaker and showed me that the o-rings (and there are many of them) were destroyed. They rebuilt the watermaker with improved parts. It turned out that the membranes were also bad. We also got new ones, and then the watermaker was good, probably better than when new.
Expensive equipment, but it definitely adds to the good life. Diving or snorkelling while we are at anchor, makes it necessary to rinse the equipment. This we could not have done without constantly having to fill water, if it was not for the watermaker.
With proper treatment, I don't think the Schenker is worse than other watermakers, and we are very happy to have it. And as the vendor say: A good installation is everything.
In 2016 in Shelter Bay Panama we discovered a leak in the high pressure system, a composite tube connection was broken. I repaired that one, only to discover that there was a more serious leak in the watermaker main part. This was caused by a bolt that over years had rusted and thus expanded a little. It can be repaired, but we have to get parts from England. Jim McDonald in Mactra was very responsive on e-mail and gave me good advice. He told me that the newer models have a better solution. I cannot repair this before next season, and then probably the membranes will be damaged because I had no way of cleansing the watermaker before we left it.
In 2017 I repaired the watermaker, based on Jim's instructions, and then it worked flawlessly.
First, we had a 600W inverter with modified sine. It was fine until I tried to run a 300W drill on it. At the time I did not know better. We learned and changed it in a full sine, also at 600W. At the time it was used almost only for charging. Some machines plugged directly to inverter, I have not tried again. I have learned about start-up current.
In order not to interfere with the rest of the boats 240 V power, I had added up separate cables and contacts for the inverter. It was the easiest way and worked fine.
We increased the capacity of the service batteries from 330 to 440 Ah in 2013. At the same time, we bought a new inverter, one of 2 kW. It is big enough for a kettle of 1 kW and a hairdryer of 1.2 kW. The first is saving cooking gas, and the second makes life easier for Eva. This inverter we connected to the main 240V-net in the boat. Thus, we had to have a switch that could switch between the mains electricity, inverter and (later) the generator. It is important that the switch disconnects the battery charger when it is the inverter that gives power to the net. Both the inverter and the switch we imported from Germany (Philippi-online). The inverter is an AJ true sine inverter. It should preferably not be more than one meter of cable from the battery to the inverter. I couldn't do it with less than 1.5 m, but it works fine. I did not find any completely appropriate (big enough) automatic fuse for the 12V supply, so the inverter should preferably not be used for more than 1.5 kW, but it is enough for the power consumers we have. This set up, we are very happy with, it takes 6 minutes to boil 1 liter of water. It is drawing close to 100 A at 12V supply and means that the consumption is 10Ah for every time we boil a kettle of water, so it means pretty heavy demand on the batteries. But the bottles of cooking gas last longer, and that is important. Hair dryer, however, rarely goes more than 2-3 minutes, and no more than a maximum of once a day.
As our way of life lead to consumption of increasingly more power, and we got tired of having to run the engine one hour nearly every day to recharge, even with solar panels. Our experience is that the PC and TV (for DVD) are large power consumers. The cooling box is most often only about 2.5 hours per 24 hours and draws 8 A, so it is not a big problem. Our watermaker will be 8-12 Ah, the light is now pretty much LED, charging of phones takes a little, and in total there will easy reach 100 Ah and more a day. When we are sailing, the autopilot and the instruments and the radar add to the consumption.
Based on the lessons learned in 2008-2009, we wanted a diesel generator. This desire was even greater when I got my diver certificate in 2010. I began to fantasize about being able to fill the air bottles on our own boat. After considering several options, the choice fell on the Fischer-Panda 4000i. There have been some complaints about the Fischer-Panda, but that has been on previous models. There were two things that were critical to us. First: weight. It weighs less than 80 kg, the other options were far heavier. Second: It should be able to run a diving compressor. Fischer-Panda said in their marketing that the 4000i could start a Bauer diving compressor. 4000i has a new inverter technology. This means that it can run at variable speed, producing 3 phase alternating current at 400V at around 400Hz. the inverter ensures so to convert this to stable sine of 50 Hz and 240V single phase.
Fischer-Panda tested that my generator could actually start the Bauer Junior II before they sent the generator to me in Norway. And that was very good they did because at first the start-up current was too high for the inverter, but it was changed, and when I received it, it run the Junior II quite well. The installation was the most difficult job I ever did on a boat. The generator itself was not the problem, but there was no obvious place for this generator in the Sun Odyssey 45. Many hours of work finally solved that problem. (There are some pictures in another place on our web site.)
We have now run the generator a little more than 130 hours, and everything has worked out perfectly. Press the button to start, press the button to stop. Very low noise level and diesel consumption is small. In order to ensure completely against recession of water in the generator engine (a Kyaboto), there is installed a pump that clears the water collector in the exhaust tube, after the generator has been shut down.
We use the generator also in the marinas where there is non-European standard power. Often it will be either 110V/60Hz - or 220V/60Hz, (as will be the result of transforming the American standard 110V/60 Hz to 220V).
In march 2016 I discovered a leak in the water collector of the exhaust system for the generator. The leak was caused by corrosion under a hose that connects a small pump to the collector. If the hose clams are not screwed tightly enough, there will come water, and in this case sea water, between the stainless steal and the hose, and this will trigger the corrosion. This is a weak point, and I think I shall have a spare water collector before longer passages. There also were a diesel leak from the water separator. This was caused by a seal of a wrong type. How this had come in place I do not know.
When I had decided to spend the money, it was easy to select the right compressor. It's pretty much just the Bauer Junior 2 that applies to this type of use. It is the lightest and easiest to handle on the market. I decided to have one with the frame made of stainless steel. Everything else is the hopeless in a boat. Also, I got it equipped in order to be able to fill both 330 bar to 200 bar bottles. Import from Denmark was less expensive than buying in Norway.
The compressor takes up most of the space in one of the cockpit lockers. I built a protective box to cover it when not in use. When the rest of the locker room is filled up, the compressor will be safely stored under most conditions.
A diving compressor is not something you have to make yourself popular with the neighboring boats. The noise is loud. It takes about 20 minutes to fill each bottle. However, by selecting the appropriate time of the day, we have yet to receive any complaints.
There are two water tanks with the capacity of 210 liters each. That is plenty, and a scheme that suits us very well. We have the one full of the reserve, so use other as service tank. Then we let the watermaker produce into the service tank. If the watermaker fails, we have always 200 liters of water in reserve.
In the Mediterranean in 2008 one of the lids in (covering the “man hole") cracked and we got a lot of water in the bottom of the bilge. We got the new lid sent from Heitmann to Las Palmas. It turned out that the failure was due to a manufacturing defect (or to faulty design really). Thus, later the other lid (in the other tank) also cracked! We changed that one too, and now everything is good. But I must confess that this is a type of error that I don’t expect and prepare for.
Toilets are a perpetual concern in a boat. Lime builds in the pumps and in the tubes, and after some time starts sewage water starts to drain back. After a while it becomes prone sludge in the bottom of the holding tank, and then it becomes impossible to drain anything to the sea. After a while the inner diameter of the hoses nears to zero. It has happened to us all of it, most of it more than once. One of the sewage hoses had to be replaced. To cleanse the tanks is not so easy, for that shall not be done in port. And you need a lot of water to rinse them. We have now become better at using chemicals, vinegar to prevent the formation of lime, and others to solve the problems in the tanks. Hopefully it will help.
In March 2016 I was not able to open the valve for the outlet from the aft toilet. The result was that I used to much force, and the bolt that connected the handle broke. The valve has to be replaced. But that is of course only possible when the boat is on the hard. So that is work for the next season. (Sorted out in 2017.) It has happened once before, and then to the fore toilet. The fault is caused by some light corrosion in the valve. In the smaller valves this is seldom a problem. They do not take that much force to open. The toilet outlet is 2 inches, and they are more difficult. My experience is that the best thing to do when the boat is stored between the seasons is to shut the valves. That is contrary to many advices, but keeping them shut means minimum area of connection inside the valve.
We started with the butane or "camping-gas" on the 3 kg blue bottle from Dunkirque. In Norway you cannot get these filled, so we changed to 2 kg propane, changed the regulator and had two bottles, one as a spare. With our consumption they held enough for in excess of two weeks each. When we went south in 2008, we changed back to butane and 3 kg, and invested in an extra bottle, so we had one spare. These lasted in rather 3 weeks for us, even if we baked bread. This program worked in the whole of Europe, in the Mediterranean and on the Lesser Antilles. When we returned home in 2009, it was back to propane. So in 2013, we had to again shift to the butane when we got to continental Europe. This again worked well, until we arrived at Vieques, an island that is part of Puerto Rico. There we managed not to get these bottles filled. Probably we should have had an adapter that would match ours bottles to the American system. Fortunately, the cooking gas kept until we came to Bonaire (which is a municipality in the Netherlands!). Admittedly, they suffered a "gas crisis" there, due to some discussions with Curaco, the nearest former Dutch island… But after waiting for a week, we got the bottles filled.
While the the 3 kg bottles lasted for three weeks with our consumption before we started to use the electric kettle for coffee and tea water, they last now most pretty close to 4 weeks. This eases the situation a bit, but we would have liked to have room for the larger bottles.
We bring 2 folding bicycles from Dahoon. They have 20 inches wheels and 6 gears. They were very useful in Europe, ecpecally in Las Palmas. We bought them in 2006, and they take some more care now. But in Caribbean we have not used them very much.
We decided to sell them in Santa Marta. They were still good after Ten years.