These pictures were actually taken at night. Just the other night. It looks like daylight because there are two LED lightstrips in each engine compartment (they are those glowing strips in the lower pics) that light up the engine rooms very well. That’s a big deal when you’re rocking and rolling at night and trying to tighten an alternator belt…
Modern cruising boats have a remarkable amount of electronic gadgets onboard. It could certainly be argued that there are too many. You need pumps, and alarms and lights and navigation equipment. There’s no easy way around it – you’ll want/need most of these things, and if they’re onboard, they better work. You can’t afford to have a bilge pump not working if you’re holed – for an extreme example. And your autopilot, GPS, wind and depth are pretty important too. Don’t forget your radar, your VHF and the host of other electric nonsense. It’s staggering, really.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
- wired in four additional 1100 GPH automatic bilge pumps (two in the engine rooms, one in each hull). If holed, I need to be able to make it to somewhere safe, and have at least one bilge pump in all but the front crash lockers.
- wired in two LED worklights over the dingy davits (handy at night when you’re working/drinking/cooking/cleaning fish on the back deck)
- replaced and rewired my main A/C electrical panel
- replaced and rewired my main D/C electrical panel
- rewired all of the major systems (with the correct wiring)
- replaced all navigation lights
Left to do:
- add LED’s to cabinets
- fix remote windlass switch
- fix wind gauge
- wire in two 75W solar panels, one on the outside of each hull (total solar 710W)
- wire in a saltwater washdown pump
- wire in an LED spreader light
- decide on radar (this is an expensive and tough decision)
Here’s a picture of the old AC/DC panel.
Here is a pic of the new panels, the additional bilge pump switches, and my water-tank gauge. I went with a Paneltronics panel, WEMA gauges, and a pretty standard bilge pump switch from Rule.
Sails, rigging, etc.
Surprisingly, this is an area that I haven’t had to pay much attention too. There have been a few small things, but overall – my sails and rigging are in good shape. I do sail a fair amount, it’s just that sails aren’t mechanical/electrical and thus aren’t as prone to failure. The real enemy here is saltwater in furling systems/winches and (most importantly) sail degradation by the sun. The next real “investment” here will be a downwind sail – I’m hoping to get into a roller-furling Code Zero style sail that I can leave on my bowsprit semi-permanently. Naturally, those are very expensive. Same story, different day I reckon.
- mainsail luff repair
- minor gennaker patch
- rigging tensioning
- replacement of lazy jacks, rerunning them to spreaders
- replacing batten cars on sail track
Plumbing is another one of those skills you have to understand to cruise around. Not in great depth, but a little.
Here’s what I’m up to:
- fixing the watermaker (I hope)
- improving the connections, etc of the watermaker
- rewiring the watermaker (maybe this is electrical)
- saltwater foot pump at kitchen sink
- plumb saltwater washdown and run hose to fish-cleaning table
- finish rainwater collection on new bimini (see previous post)
I’ve had to do more than a couple of things that involved welding. So far:
- replaced rear lifelines with stainless tubing to support side-solar panels
- strengthened bimini supports with additional stainless tubing
- increased seating on the back of NOMAD (see previous post)
- strengthen my dinghy-engine lift (it’s an intelligent idea but was built very lightly, which was unintelligent)
- new dinghy davit system (see previous post)
Carpentry, cushions, etc:
- replaced cushions on captain’s chair
- backrest made for new seating
- dinghy cover made
- stackpack alteration
- shade enclosure for rear seating area
- Eisenglass for cockpit (for bad weather)
I need a spot to store tools and other commonly used items without having to tear apart my boat. Especially when things break at night, shorthanded, or when I’m underway. Pulling up cushions with greasy hands is dumb. So I decided to convert my chart table to drawers to solve this issue. So far, so good – though I have to make some minor modifications to get it the way I want it. Check it.
I needed a couple of new wooden panels created to replace the old ones (around the electrical panels), where there was a hodgepodge of equipment thrown by previous owners.
Finally, for my ground tackle I had to make some decisions. In the South Pacific, there are many anchorages that are very deep. Assuming a 3:1 rode/depth ratio (in 10M of water, I only use 30M chain – the minimum) – if I’m anchoring in 30M of water (common), I need, minimally, 90M of chain… Right now I have 45 meters of 3/8″ chain. The usual advice is to simply increase that 45M to 80-90M.
But that’s not ideal. It puts a crapload of weight in the front of NOMAD. Catamarans are super weight-sensitive. My girl is already on the heavy-side. So that additional weight is a problem. After thinking, talking, researching – I’ve decided that I’m going to run 5/16″ chain (smaller, lighter) in Hi-Test (from ACCO). This chain weighs quite a bit less, and is stronger than the 3/8″ BBB from ACCO. As a plus, it’s also cheaper. Better and cheaper really don’t go hand-in-hand, but in this case I kinda got away with it. I say “kinda” because that change in chain-size means I have to replace my gypsy on my windlass, which costs money.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s a solid start. I would say it represents the majority of the work I need done, but I am remarkably adept at creating more work for myself. I hope to be done in the next month or two, considering what I’m able to actually procure in CTG. From there, I’ll just sail and fix things along the way. This is a couple of months of mostly working, and not mostly playing. A couple of months of living in a boat that’s a project, but is supposed to be mi casa. It’s stressful to live with your boat like this:
Hopefully this shows the amount of actual work that’s involved in preparing for this kind of voyage. It’s not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. The question – is it all necessary? – is a good one. The thing is – there’s nothing in the South Pacific. Once you start heading West, from Panama – you’re out there on your own. You have to make do with what you have onboard and hope it works. So, getting this work done now – hopefully – will provide me with more cruising and less boatwork in the future. Hopefully.
Upon rereading this, I realized I used the word “hope” more than I usually do. That’s another good indication of what cruising and boat maintenance can be like. Lot’s of “I hope” and “hopefully.” Alas.