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The Two Captains



Volume IV - August 1999

"Boats is boats is boats" which is daughter Tiffany’s reaction to a time-honored, unavoidable phenomenon that happens when any boater gets an audience: the parts stories, the maintenance sagas, the epic dramas (and comedies) of boat projects. "No shit, there I was…" is much less often the prelude to a storm at sea, than the opening statement of a tale of man and his wrench.

There are those that yawn and those that eat it up. This page is for the latter group .


hen TacklessII left the dock in St. Thomas the new Spectra Watermaker was about 80% installed. Once we arrived in Virgin Gorda a few days later my friend Dave, a CSY owner and ,charter captain on Glory of Christiansted stopped over to help with the final installation. (It's always nice to have some one help so you have somebody to blame when something goes wrong) Fortunately for Dave and I, the unit worked perfectly from the very first try with only HALF the expected leaks.

I installed an hour meter on the feed pump to monitor the run time. We currently have run the system 156 hrs and have had no problems to speak of. Twice the feed pump has cut out from heat build up (I think). Although the pump is mounted in the bilge I have yet to add a cooling fan to the system. Occasionally, we will pick up an air lock if we have been sailing hard (almost every leg in the first 6 weeks) but bleeding the system is very simple. We run the system everyday for what ever amount of time the engine or generator is running for battery charging (usually about 1 ½ to 2 hrs. per day) occasionally more if I plan a good boat wash down. We currently have the same amount of water in the tanks now that we had when we left Virgin Gorda 10 weeks ago. We have also stopped buying bottled water to drink as the boat water is really great tasting now.

Final installation on the radar was done as we placed the monitor screen on portside of the forward cockpit just inside the dodger window. We have not had to use it much so far but the few times we needed it it worked like a charm. The new backstay leveler really seems to work well. We see some interference with the mast at one or two of the closer ranges but changing the ranges seem to eliminate any real problem in seeing what you need to see. We need now to spend a few hours with the manual to figure out how all the bells and whistles work on this great little unit.

TV antenna was put in place somewhere in the Grenadines and works quite well if there is a station near by. Most the islands seems to have a lot of "dishes" so not even the locals have to worry too much about the signal.

nd that, believe it or not, has been the total amount of maintenance that this Captain has done since we left. For the most part I was pretty damn tired of working on the boat anyway. And while the list is still long of things to do and stuff to add for the most part everything has just been WORKING FINE. Now that is not to say the engine will start in the next hour but it has started fine up till now. When we get to Trinidad the work will start in earnest again so until then I'm not working on it "till it breaks"!

As far as the upgrades we have done, I can kind of review them now that we have several weeks and many miles of open water behind us.

Maxprop---GREAT!!!! Motoring performance as good if not better than expected. Sailing speeds have picked up at least a knot and probably a little more. Noise below under sail is real spooky as there is NONE. Backing has stayed pretty much the same with our "starboard walk" which is just fine with us a neither Gwen or I want to relearn how to handle her after nine years of the same behavior.

Autohelm ST 80 Electronics and radar---everything working as expected and better except for the knot log and it seems to be slow with no way to calibrate. Once we can get to a phone for less than $2.00/min. we'll call Autohelm and see if there is a solution. Biggest problem with the whole system is that is does more and tells us more than we know what to do with. More time with manuals…..

Adler Barbours…..working great-running a lot. We have not bought a bag of ice since we left (except for one boat party in ST. Lucia). Freezer is doing much better but we are still fight the old problem of the front loaders. Daily amp/hrs can be cutdown greatly by running the engine drive for a hour every other day or so but we generally just run the generator and charge the batteries. Main engine has not been started now for the last nine days.

olar Panels------the 2 75 watt panels are some what of a disappointment only through my own lack of realistic expectations. I was hoping to get more out of them in the earlier and later part of the day. In reality the main output comes from 10 am to 1or2 pm and the rest of the "sunny day doesn't show much. Changing the angle would help tremendously but the brackets are not made that way and I do Not want to be married to the timely ritual of multiple position changes in prime times of cruising activities (Coffee time and HAPPY HOURS). Currently getting an average of 45 to 60 amps a day out of them which is about half the needs for the Adlers. GOD, I love that generator!!!

Speaking of the generator-----guess what-runs great!!!!! About 125 hrs so far and all I've had to do is change the oil. Still has a tendency to kick out coolant but I've been catching it in a plastic catsup bottle and it has never overheated (yet). Have not added one once of coolant since we started it up and it is still running at the same temp. Strange but the Northern Lights rep in Tortola said his does the same thing.

Sails and rigging---New staysail and full batten main (now 2 years old) have allowed us to really go well on our closed hauled courses. TacklessII has been consistently hitting 6 to 7.5 kts with a reefed main(single) and staysail, 15 degrees of heel, 12 to 18kts of wind, as wind would allow we add all or partial jib. When wind would build to 20 plus (max 30 so far) then double reef the main (3 reefs are available) staysail only and no jib, maintains the same speed and lets the boat stand up with the same 15 degrees of heel.

he new whisker pole really looks good on the front of the mast. Unfortunately, we have not had very much opportunity to run down wind yet, or broad reach or beam reach. But on the one short run from Mustique to Canouan (14 miles) it worked just great once we spent about 15 minutes trying to remember how to set it up. Bringing it back in was much simpler.

There still remains much to ironed out in the running rigging dept. Bringing the furling line into the cockpit, bring the staysail halyard to the cockpit, move the main sheet outside the boom gallows, increase the size of the Genoa wenches, add new wenches for other functions---it a boat, what else can I say.

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Published at Burlington, VT