Blue Water Cruising Gear

South Pacific Familyadventure 2008
Claes Brodin
Mon 18 Aug 2008 22:40
For the one interested in cruising equipment:
This is an attempt to make an overwiew of our gear used and partly chosen
for this trip.Some equipment has been with Tarita for many years,and some
are invested in solely for this trip.Tarita herself is a well built
boat,and we have learned with the years to have confidence in her.Some
cruisers pretend they never have any problems,but the majority of
”yachties”spend a great deal of time repairing broken gear.Discussing
equipment problems is one of the favourite subjects between cruisers
visiting each others cockpits for a ”sundowner”.Most problems seems to be
generated by autopilots,watermakers, generators(not alternators),and
refrigerators.Like everyone else,we have had our share of problems most
notably a steering problem when crossing the Pacific ocean.One out of 4
stainless nuts on the steering quadrant(mounted on the rudder axis)was
broken and the other ones loose.The quadrant had started to move downwards
along the rudderaxis ,bringing the steeringwires dangerously close to the
hoses of cockpit water outlets.We had to heave to,take away parts of the
interior of the aftcabin,lift the quadrant and replace broken nut/tighten
them all.No more problems ever since.At the end of the crossing we lost
our windvane paddle(safety tube broke),being replaced by a new one at Nuku
Hiva.In Tikehau/Tuamotos our Motorola 90Ah alternator broke(burned
diode).Since our Perkins engine(by us called Mr P),was completely
overhauled 2 years earlier including all electrics/alternator,we decided
not to bring a spare alternator.Obviously a wrong decision.A new 90Ah
alternator was bought and installed in Tahiti,now working as expected.
Monitor Windvane:
This is one of the more popular windvanes,regularly seen on Blue water
cruisers.Every Monitor has a tailored design for each yacht,since
installations are so different depending on yacht.Being used to an old
Windpilot on a Scandinavian double ender,we have been amazed by this
windvanes steering capability and accuracy.The harder winds,the
better.Sometimes light winds from the beam can create smaller problems.
The first impression of the construction itself gives a quite ”weak”
impression.After 18 days on our Pacific crossing we broke our safety tube
on a surf(or did we hit something?).On sat.telephone,we ordered a new one
to Nuku Hiva,and everything has been working fine ever since.
The stainlees has been attacked by corrosion a bit more then we would
expect(and compared to other stainless items onboard).
The company located in California is very serviceminded.Monitor windvane
can in our view absolutely be recomended.
Brokes&Gatehouse Hydrapilot Oceanpack:
This equipment has been with Tarita for 15
years.Wind,speed,depth,electronic compass,and autopilot are all integrated
to a computer.The autopilot has been working without problems,and has a
very good accuracy.The engine of the autopilot is ”power hungry”,but for
us,using the system only when motoring,this is not a problem.
The comparable system from B&G today is Hercules.Most probably this is a
well working system,but the drawback is the price.
We currently have a problem with 1(of 3) display,having difficulties to
see the digits.It will be brought to Sweden for service.
Autohelm 3000:
This is our reserv autopilot.It´s working ok,but rather impractical to set
up before being ready to use.
Icom M401 VHF:
With it´s antenna in the mainmast,this VHF has been working fine all the
time.It does not have DSC,which is a drawback out of a safetyperspective
,and if buying a VHF today we would choose one with DSC
Icom M120:
With it´s antenna in the mizzenmast this VHF has been with Tarita for 15
years,and working fine all the time.Obviously without DSC.
Icom M31:
Handheld/waterresistant 5w VHF.Very useful and well working piece of
equipment.Allways in the grab bag when out at sea.
Icom M 800 SSB-radio:
Has been with Tarita for more than 10 years.We rebuilt it´s grounding 3
years ago(4 coaxialcables from ground on the antenna tuner to a
keelbolt).We have used the SSB radio very much,and found it very
useful.Not only SSB-nets and communication with other yachts,but also
weather,navigationalwarnings etc especially from US coastguard.The
equipment has been working without problems.
Furuno 208A HF weatherfax:
Installed in Tarita in the 90íes,this equipment is still useful.We used US
stations in New Orleans,Pt.Reyes/California,and Honolulu for taking down
weatherfax.The machine itself is working fine having an automatic scanning
for best receiving frequency.Most useful for following the movement of the
interconvergencezon when crossing the doldrums.Most cruisers have their
w-fax now integrated in their SSB-radio/lap.topsystem.You have to learn
some basics about w-fax,to make it useful.
Sailor SC 4000/Iridium Satellite telephone:
Bought second hand/factory renovated from Swedish Cordland,this equipment
has been very useful and working excellent.We have mainly used it for our
e-mail system for communication and taking down
weather/Grib-files/Buoyweatherprognosis.It has never failed and we had
full coverage the whole trip(people with Inmarsat lost contact during
parts of the Pacific crossing).Recommended!
Nasa Marine Navtex STD-plus:
Used very frequently when sailing in Europe and partly in the
Caribbean(US-coastguard).Very comfortable way to get your weather when in
reach of Navtexstations(300Nm).Temporal problems with the 12V D.C
supply.If buying today we would choose Furuno`s Navtex machine.
Radar Raytheon R20X:Onboard Tarita when we bought her,this radar has
allways worked without problems.Very useful(not to say essential) when
sailing the Tuamotos.Powerhungry and used mainly when powered by engine.
Furuno GPS GP-32:
Bought a couple of years ago and connected to our Dell latop,this GPS has
worked fine,and is very easy to use.Recomended!
Dell 640 Latitude/Laptop:
Our ships maincomputer,serving with electronic navigation and e-mail over
satellite.Bought 3years ago and surviving 2 ”wateraccidents”,it still
serves without problems.We have an IBM reserv laptop with all essential
programs installed.For schoolwork and WiFi,we have used Bertha´s
Unitex LCD-screen:
7”screen connected to our laptop bringing the electronic charts up to the
cockpit.Rugged and built for wet environment this equipment has been very
useful when navigating the Tuamotos as well as the archipelago back home
in Sweden.I need glasses to see details in the picture.Low power
Nippy Networks/Mailasail:
Our soft ware provider of
e-mail(e-mailcompressionsoftware),weather/Grib-files,airtime for,and our blog.Very serviceminded and easy to reach.
Force 10 cooker/oven:
Being with Tarita when we bought her,this Canadian piece of
qualityequipment has served so well, never causing any
Isotherm 3201 ASUwith SP system/refrig:
Installed prior to leaving Sweden this refrigerator broke already when
sailing down to Kiel.The Isotherm guarantee/servicesystem worked very
fine,and a new ”electronic box” was sent to Amsterdam and installed.It has
worked fine ever since.Allthough equipped with an ”intelligent
thermostat/ASU” and SP system,it´s still Taritas biggest electricity
This is a lowproduction watermaker giving around 5lit/hour.While out at
sea,we have learned to run this machine for10-12 hrs,so that we will be
well supplied when at anchorage.There are some tricks here and there
regarding every day use and maintainance,but it has served us well without
any major problems.Obviously this is not your choice if you want fresh
water showers every day.On the other hand it works on our 12V D.C
supply,and has a reasonable power consumtion.
Quicksilver 240/dinghy:
New when we bought Tarita ,this dinghy has been with us for 9 years
without braking,and still looks very well kept.It´s to small for 5
adults,but for that reason it can be packed inside Tarita on
Johnsson 4Hp outboard:
Being 10 years old this engine has been with us all the time.On Moorea it
suddenly refused to start,and was brought to some Frenchmen knowing
outboarders.The diagnosis was dirt in the carburettors,and once cleaned,it
has kept on working.Don´t choose 1 cylinder engines,since we have noticed
that these engines more often have starting problems.
Perkins 4108M(”Mr P”):
Being completely overhauled by Perkins in Stockholm a couple of years
ago(including all electrics/alternator)Mr P has served us so
well,allthough regular service is of course important.Fuelfilters have
been changed twice,oil+filter twice,impeller in saltwaterpump once,change
of fan belts once,change of transmission fluid once,and the alternator as
mentioned,was replaced by a new 90Ah Prestcott alternator.Thank you Mr P!
Horizon 1000 Windlass:
Installed on Tarita when we bought her.We made a complete service on
Curacao,and the windlass has worked fine all the time.The braking clutch
is a bit insensitive, some times making it difficult to regulate the speed
on outgoing chain.
CQR anchor/60 m chain:
Maximum anchoring depth on this cruise was 23 m at Bora-Bora.Anchoring
mainly on sand in the Pacific,we never lost grip on the entire trip.
Aquair 100 Wind/watergenerator:
Very solid and rugged piece of equipment,this generator can be converted
from wind to watermode.This is an everytime event when coming to new
anchorages,and with the time I thought that this was rather tedious taking
at least one hour every time.The benefit in my view is the estetic
perspective,since most fixed installations become rather ugly.When in
watermode it delivers a good amount of electricity,supplying all ”everyday
electrics”without us having to run Mr P.Together with the solarcells,it
supplied all elecrical needs on the Pacific crossing.
In windmode,it´s of course very dependent on the strenght of wind.We found
20 knots of wind or more,to be necessary for not asking Mr P for help.If
you don´t want fixed installations this gear is recommended.
Sunware 50W solarcell:
Semirigid, mounted on coachroof ,being able to walk on ,and with 40
cells,it has served without problems all the time.Now we can see corrosion
coming out under the rubber seal of the ”electrical central”indicating
waterleakage?That´s probably not a good sign for the future.Expensive,and
for the above reason,not recommended.
Flexcell 30W solarcell:
Being flexible this solarcell has been mounted on the boom of the mizzen
on top of the bimini.It has served well all the time.Since we didn´t want
permanent solarcell solutions,flexible solarcells are an obvious
choice.Drawback is less efficiency compared to fixed solarpanels.
Mastervolt 12 v 400 w AC-DC inverter:
Used mainly for charging computers,Ipods,cameras etc out at sea,this unit
has worked fine all the time.
Leab 12 v/400W battery charging device:
Used in marinas connected to ”landpower”,this equipment has worked fine
all the time.It´s surprising to see all different electrical connections
there is in the world.We have had 3 different connections brought from
Sweden.Still we have had to find new solutions both in Panama,and in
Garmin GPS 60:
Battery driven reserve GPS.Never used but allways worked when tested.
McMurdo Smartfind/GPS Epirb:
Fortunately never used,but allways worked when tested.