Maintaining a modern sailing boat is a complex undertaking. There are many separate systems involved, each of which requires its own knowledge, tools, manuals, spare parts etc. This all adds up to a complexity scenario that quickly snowballs out of control. In view of this, locating equipment that is reliable and in the event that failure occurs, easy to diagnose and maintain is paramount. With a cruising boat, so often you look around for the “best buy” to be found and go with that. Purchasing from a local supplier who possibly provides higher service when you will never be in that locale again really carries no weight. If something does go wrong with your newly acquired widget, you will most certainly be somewhere else and will have to somehow figure your own way out of the predicament.
We started this log after being on the boat for 1 year, although some equipment was purchased years earlier (and of course some came with boat), and some of the equipment had been installed less than the year we have lived on the boat.
We bought NASA Clipper instruments, they seemed to be priced at the low end of the spectrum but seemed to be of OK quality (how to you manage a torture test of that new instrument in the chandlery without raising concern?). We got the wind meter and gauge combo and also the depth and log combo. No problems with the depth and log, it does its biz like its supposed to. The wind display on the other hand really never has worked correctly. In a medium sun (read sun at 55 degrees north) all the pixels in the display turn black which shows you what it would look like if the wind blew from every direction at once – not exactly useful. This is sort of weird as the sister depth display does not exhibit this problem. And then going through the canals of Holland we hit a tree with the mast top (no one ever told us to look up when sailing!). We’ve replaced the rotating wind cups once but these replacements subsequently blew off during a winter wind (no other ones in the marina did). We’re now faced with buying a second replacement set but if the success rate is the same as the previous ones that will be a waste of money and effort. Although the depth and log works well, we probably wouldn’t purchase these instruments a second time.
Subsequently we’ve tried to put on a new set of wind cups, but trying to fit the “fiddly little parts” while up the mast was almost a guarantee that some of them would fly away. Also the depth sounder has now started having conniptions when the boat is moving, we suspect that this is due to little oil between the transducer and the hull but as of yet are not sure.
We have now decided that we would not buy these instruments again as each piece has had problems.
Really can’t say enough good about this one. Admittedly we haven’t ventured into warmer waters yet as we fitted it at 55 N and are writing this article on the Arctic Circle. The 140 amp-hour battery has been more than enough to keep things going.
Another real success story. We fitted the Newport model and have had nothing but pleasure from it. We fitted the diesel fuel model. there are also solid fuel and propane models available. For a boat the size of the Maxi 95 this seems to be about the right size heater. We have an electric fan up by where the chimney exits through the deck and it moves the heat around. Our first model dripped diesel due to a loose connection and Dickinson replaced this at their own expense even though they were 1/3 the way around the world from where we were. Why doesn’t everyone offer this service? Highly recommended.
Sony Shortwave Receiver
This unit is about 18 years old and still running perfectly. The current model that is on sale in most countries is the 7600G, basically an updated version of ours (which is the 7600D). We use it for weather forecasts, entertainment, and weather fax reception. The 4 batteries seem to last forever and the built in computer will also serve as an alarm clock if needed
Yanmar 2GM diesel engine
Although not by choice, we ended up replacing the Volvo 2MD engine that was original equipment on the Maxi 95. Our Yanmar has performed flawlessly. We’re not mechanics but it’s layout and manual are more than clear enough for people like us to perform the maintenance.
This is an idea that we shamelessly picked up from other boats (thanks Bengt!). We sometimes sit around and discuss which, of all the projects we’ve completed, have had the greatest impact or improvement on our boat life. This one upgrade always makes the short list. It extends the seasons by shutting out all but the coldest winter (we’ve tested ours down to minus 17 degrees). It extends the boat by adding another room, and that room is probably the biggest aboard and with the side windows certainly the brightest. It gives you privacy to go from the saloon to the sleeping quarters in the aft-cabin and then shields you again should you have to dash back the head in the middle of the night. Highly recommended for any center cockpit boat.
Some people hate these, we rather like our LVM Aerogen 4. It’s quiet, reliable, and when the wind blows it really packs in the power. It’s been working for 3 years now without complaint or exception. The most complex part of the installation was the metal fabrication.
As with the wind generator, the most complex part of the installation was the metal fabrication required for the mounting. But once they’re installed, you simply forget them. Ours total 50 watts and make a great difference to the battery charge levels when the sun comes out. In the end it’s a similar game to the wind generator, if the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine then you don’t get much, but otherwise you do very well.
At the risk of straying into one of the standard boater opinion topics, our 15 kg Bruce has worked well although we have not as of yet had to deploy it in inclement weather. More to come when we do. We have it fitted with 30 meters of 3/8 inch chain which helps build up the holding power.
Davis LED Cluster Lights
We have two fitted cluster lights for reading and two on coiled wires for use on the chart table and in the cockpit. The fitted ones are the white bulbs and are great for reading, our batteries don’t even notice the load. The two mounted on coiled wires are red and yellow for preserving night vision, they are perfect for their task being placed on the end of long spiral coiled wires so they retract out of the way when not in use but can be pulled over to check most things on the boat.
We must point out that the actual coiled cables sold by Davis are crap, we have broken three of them now. They are unfixable as the tiny wires are crimped inside other fittings. We have taken a lot of care of ours and they still wear out. Once you disassemble them to attempt to repair them you find out why!
Nasa Navtex Pro
There seems to be various aspects to the failure of this unit. While used in the UK it worked well, this really came down to the fact that the relevant authorities broadcast when they were supposed to. Such is not the case in various parts of Scandinavia where weekends don’t rate a broadcast and it seems that lots of other days are skipped also. In addition this the unit often does not pick up a broadcast. Compared to boats beside us in marinas who used their PC for receiving, our dedicated unit detected nothing. Sometimes we would go days without a reception – not what we expected it when we purchased the unit. Anyone venturing into northern Europe should not expect such a unit to be their only source of weather information. Given the cost of this unit and the fact that we have a laptop on board that could handle receiving the Navtex broadcasts, we probably wouldn’t purchase this unit again.
Eno Propane Stove and Oven
This unit replaced a 25 year old stove that had reached the end of its useful days. What a change, the Eno is very reliable and well constructed.
Sterling Power Management System
Having this installed allows you to see what the electrical system is doing. This quickly quantifies what is an invisible behavior and allows comparative measurements to be made. Our unit handles up to 4 measurement points. This seems to be a lot when we started rewiring but now with 3 battery banks and 3 charging sources (engine alternator, wind generator and solar panels) we could use more. A unit like ours is highly recommended to both marine electronics experts and neophytes. The new model will also keep tract of the amp-hours on one battery bank.
Mustang Ocean Class Foul Weather Gear
Neither of us has had to depend on the 50 newtons of buoyancy yet, but for insulation against the elements, a flotation device and a harness built in, you can’t beat these. We’ve used them in temperate and Arctic regions, warmer areas would probably find them too hot for day use, but they certainly shut out the night chill and the morning dew while on night watch. We have one single piece body suit and the other is a two piece construction.
Bynolyt Nitrogen Filled Binoculars with built in compass
These binoculars are as good as new after 3 years, we don’t use the compass as much as we thought we would although it is handy when a bearing is required.
Special Marine Digital Barometer
This unit is a major improvement over the common barometer. It runs on 4 AAA dry cells which power it for almost a year. It keeps a 24 hour record of barometric pressure which makes it a poor man’s recording barometer. It also provides temperature and humidity. We bought ours about 3 years ago and they seem to have disappeared from the market place. We believe it is of French manufacture and would recommend it to anyone.
And that’s about it until our 18 month system log.
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