Modifications for cruising…

Quite a few people have been asking us what we have done to get the boat ready for our new cruising lifestyle.  So, in a nutshell, here is the list of the work that was organised by Island Yachts on our behalf.

A Kato arch with dinghy davits and outboard engine lift added to the stern – although dragging the dinghy around behind you like a dog on a lead is fine in the Virgin Islands, this isn’t the way to go when doing longer passages. Also this adds security as we can lift the dinghy out of the water at night.

The installation of the arch meant that our old bimini needed to be replaced, so we’ve taken the opportunity to install some sun screens at the same time.

On the arch we now have three 85 watt Kyocera solar panels and an Airbreeze wind generator – these help us to keep our batteries topped up without running the engine too often. We now have five house batteries as our electrical demand has increased – so we can also keep our fridge and freezer operational for 24 hours a day.

Kato also made us a bespoke stainless steel holder for the 6lb propane tank (thanks to Captain Blaine Parks for the idea) which feeds the new Magma gas BBQ to go on the rail.

We’ve had a Spectra watermaker fitted beneath the port side saloon berth which is capable of making eight gallons per hour which is plenty for us as we are quite frugal with water. We also have a Seagull filtration system (which is a standard fit on the Island Packet) which takes further impurities out of the tank water and means that we no longer have to buy bottled drinking water.

With regard to electronics, we had a problem with our two Garmin chartplotters and these were sent back to the factory. They kindly sent us two brand new units for the cost of the service! Very happy with this. We’ve also added AIS (which stands for Automatic Identification System) so that we can transmit and receive signals from other vessels who have AIS. This gives us their name, their MMSI number, their course / speed and will also sound an alarm if we are on a collision course. The MMSI number allows us to call them direct via the VHF radio if we need to.

We have also added radar which is overlaid onto the chartplotters – predominantly this is going to be used for spotting bad weather at night.

We have two GPS antennas which enables us to switch between units should one fail – no point having integrated navigational kit if the antenna fails, so this gives us some redundancy.

We have moved all the circuit breakers associated with the navigation equipment and the two radios (SSB and VHF) off of the main panel (in the saloon) and onto their own panel at the nav station. We have also had a new integrated panel installed at the nav station to take care of the wind generator, the house battery meters, and the main chartplotter – the one at the binnacle is a repeater. We now have a RAM mic at the binnacle so that we don’t need to go to the nav station to use the VHF radio. We’ve had some additional 12 volt sockets installed at the binnacle, in the saloon and the forward berth.

Our original sails were manufactured by Doyle and they claim to last for five years in the Caribbean climate – however this was not the case for us. They barely made four years. Island Packet were very good and got us a new set of Quantum sails at cost price less 40% from the South African loft which we are very pleased about.

Creature comforts – Richard has converted a 230 volt light to run off a 12 volt LED lamp which looks really smart in the cockpit. We have a combined TV / DVD player as we can’t spend every night in the bar – and we have 400 films on a hard drive ready to go (thanks Clive). We’ve also put up our beautiful new clock and barometer which were gifts from our sailing chums.

Other stuff – we have obviously got essential safety kit on board like an EPIRB, hand-held VHF, a new set of flares and are waiting on a liferaft to turn up. There are loads of other little modifications that we will do as we are running down island and we’ll blog about them as and when we do them…..

Bye for now