Technical stuff, good and bad

Sun 6 Dec 2020 11:16
15:08N 55:24W
Still motoring on 260degrees towards that waypoint now 316nm away. The wind is still a feeble 0-4 knots from NW, but there's a constant ocean swell of around 2m from the same direction. We don't envy slow-racing monohulls flopping over every wave and surely covering only small distances each day.

With the destination in sight it's worthwhile going through what worked and what didn't.

We had a water leak in the stbd engineroom whilst near Gran Canaria - a leaky hose but a lot of seawater. Engine off, new hose clips and spare alternator sorted the immediate issue, but the starter motor mounted low on the motor must have been underwater and is on borrowed time. I would also have changed the oil and filters on both engines, but my Pela-copy suction pump (to suck the oil out) has packed in due to a lack of newness, so I need another one of those first, as well as a starter motor. Yes, and another spare alternator.

The solar charging can't support all the navigation gear, freezer and two fridges, and needs a partial charge from the motors each day (I think). However, I've not yet been brave enough to let the lithium-wassername batteries go below 25% charged, even though they'll hold fine all the way down to empty, like a mobile phone battery. Years of having conventional batteries I suppose, which shouldn't ever go below (say) 50%. I'm hoping that I'll need less or zero extra charging (other than solar) in the sunnier Caribbean, although most 60ft catamarans would expect to run a generator, really. No generator on Mojo but it's an option of course. It used to have one of the smaller Mastervolt generators, but I discarded it when it aged badly and needed severe refit.

I need to check the SeaFrost water-cooling refrigeration pumps - salt around the drains indicates a fault and could be the reason for small amounts of water in the starboard bilge. But the water cooling is only auxiliary, not essential, and the fridges themselves have been fine.

The Raymarine "Axiom" chartplotter remains meh, not great. It's feature-free and the non-smoothed/non-averaged calculation of VMG and ETA which jump around every second isn't useable for longer journeys. I'm using a handheld Garmin E-trex for better info on a device costing $100 instead of several $thousand. The 12" Axiom screen has also turned itself off, or gone AWOL with wild SOG figures in different directions (needing restart) a few times over the two week transat. Not terminal but un-nerving. However ...the Raymarine Autopilot (controlling the rudders) is very good, with minimal inputs and good "learning". So it's a shame the other stuff doesn't quite match up. I get the feeling they're all from different original tech sources and badged as Raymarine, not sure. I'll live with the Raymarine set-up of course, but the chartplotter software could be better, really.

A separate issue is the AIS system, which seems much shorter range than in the past. Either the several ships we've seen haven't had AIS (unlikely) or I need to Get Someone Round to improve the range. But the thing seems fine in a marina, of course - not so good at 5+ miles distant is the issue.

The gas oven played up, again - it takes ages to light and to stay alight. It might be just a matter of vacuuming old rusty bits, or just a rather different matter of throwing it away and getting (someone to fit) a new one.

Star product of the trip must be the Parasailor. I should have put this up the first afternoon as soon as we cleared Gran Canaria coast, although it might have been a bit much to launch a spinnaker as darkness fell with novice crew, really, and I wasn't sure of all systems either, so stepping away from that coast was initially tentative. No matter, once launched the pirate Parasailor worked well for over a week continuously. I suppose it did cost ouch $12,0000 even eight years ago when I bought it, used it only once on a previous boat and then stored it for five years knowing that one day I'd buy a boat that could use it - Mojo. So it oughta be good, and it is.

Almost all the re-fit work done by Wes and his team in Lanzarote has either worked well, or fabulously. Four crew can all sleep up to nine hours at a time in the new aft cabin. Wes fixed the faulty-from-new watermaker, so there's lots of water and hot water for showers anytime. The new rig performs without any issue, very solid and smooth. The extra fuel tanks and transfer pump works fine too, with the exception that the reserve tank fuel gauge, initially faulty as it showed zero all the time, now shows "full" all the time. It's not a massive issue, though.

Other Wes-fixed stuff includes the forward trampolines. I'd already got Ernst in Sint Maarten to remake the tramps last January using the old ones as patterns, and he used the Right Material. But the original edge fixings for the attachment ropes zig-zagging all around each trampoline were hooks, not rings, meaning that that launching over 4m+ waves could lift off the rope at one point and then others - as happened on the previous transat. Lashing down a partly-adrift trampoline in big sea at night was iffy. No such issues now - Wes made dozens of small metal rings, all screwed to the boat around the trampolines, and the trampoline fixing line goes through each one, so it can't easily if ever come adrift. I haven't felt any need to brief crew to "keep an eye on" the trampolines as I did in the past. I'll tighten up the trampolines sometime so they're actually bounceable, not floppy.

So Mojo has had a unique refit with Wes, and this transat has been a successful shake-down. The "uniqueness" of the refit comes from Wes having vast experience of engineering other boats, and especially with this model (Fontaine-Pajot Eleuthera) - he already owned and had re-lifed his own FP Marquise, a very similar (if not actually identical) earlier FP catamaran model.

I think the refit was extra special because the otherwise unwelcome Pandemic caused a lull in boaty (and hence boatfixing) activity that allowed Wes's team to focus more closely on the Mojo project over summer-autumn 2020, with fabulous results.

The boat is now better than it was when new in 2004, with many new-tech items (eg electrical, refrigeration, rigging) not available 16 years ago, brighter repainted saloon and all-new saloon upholstery. It still has the ideal cockpit-based helm, not newer/iffier flybridge helms (and smaller mainsail with higher centre of pressure) now found on most catamarans this size. And it has ideal "galley-up" (in saloon, not down in a hull) and full owner's cabin on port side. So it's not for sale for a long while yet.