Summer Cruise: Feedback
08 September 2014 | Northwood
Even though things did not go exactly as planned (when do they ever?), I think our mini summer cruise has been a success. Learned some new things, both about the boat and ourselves, and at the same time had a good time. And once again, this year I fell in love with the boat all over again. What more can you ask for?
If I am being realistic, I think I should bury any plans to go long distance cruising for the time being. As long as we are both still working it is just not practical. Even when we have 3 or 4 weeks available, everything becomes unstuck as soon as the weather gods turn against you. I will continue to prepare the boat for long distance cruising and ocean crossings, but it will be some time yet before we can turn that dream into a reality.
I am getting smarter
All my ‘bright ideas’ I had last winter actually paid off this summer. The windvane autopilot really does what it is supposed to. Will continue to get to really get to grips with it at every possible opportunity. Going all LED paid dividends and so did the solar panels. Even with the fridge, electronic autopilot and the laptop running, battery capacity never dropped below 80%. The ‘new’ way to rig the gennaker and the boom brake all made life considerably easier. Also, the fact that we were able to install all of these upgrades with the need for a boatyard was an added bonus. Because, apart from time, we are also forever short of money. Such is life.
But it can be said that our combined fault finding and boat fixing skills are improving. All that is needed is someone with an analytical mind and common sense (that would be me) and someone with a technical knack who knows what he’s doing (that would be Yanni).
Training pays off
This is (mainly) about the gennaker again. Really getting to grips with this sail has been the highlight of the year. We’ve got this down to a tee. Even in the crowded and restricted waters of the Orwell we have the kit up and flying or recovered in under two minutes flat. This is hugely satisfying and very rewarding. Keeping the kite up when running dead downwind, however, is not such a good idea. As one forestay wrap, and one near-wrap amply demonstrated. As mentioned above, the next training target is the taming of ‘Carly’ – our Monitor windvane. The motto continues to be: train hard - fight easy.
The electronic autopilot continues to be power hungry. But as we have ‘Carly’ as a replacement/backup this is not a big worry.
Once the fridge reaches its programmed temperature (usually 4 or 5 degrees C), it’s really not that bad. Of course, the warmer it gets the power it does need. When we, eventually, get to the tropics this will become a more important consideration. But, for the time being, it will do.
Been running a laptop with OpenCPN (AIS plugged in) this summer and did turn out to be quite power hungry – drawing about 4.5ah. This wiped out the energy saving we made by going all LED in one fell swoop. Our setup – laptop powered by a 12V cigarette lighter adaptor – was probably not the most efficient, but alternatives are under investigation. More on this in another post.
AIS works – full stop
We installed an AIS transceiver last winter and this summer was our first opportunity to use the thing in anger.
Before purchasing the thing I had considered buying just a receiver but eventually opted to part with the extra cash and purchase a Class B transceiver. What a good decision that turned out to be.
With now four Channel crossing under our belt this year, I am happy to report that merchant vessels to not filter out Class B transmissions in high density traffic areas such as a TSS and that they do take appropriate action to avoid sailing craft. Every time their track clearly showed minor course alterations to pass astern of us. Even in restricted waters and with limited visibility. And then there’s all the other additional/useful information AIS can provide, such as the name, destination, etc... of the ships you encounter. Having the name makes it a lot easier to contact them on VHF and knowing their destination makes their movements much more predictable. Whatever old farts on various internet sailing forums might say, AIS works and I am a convert.
That’ll be it for now. Southampton Boat Show is just around the corner and I have already discussed with the chief engineer the job list for the coming winter. Subject to budget and planning approval.