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A Cross Ocean Experience
Seven thousand miles of outstanding cruising since November 2008 means it's time to do a little renovation and more planning for the future. Find out what ...
Answer to Ben's comment below
07/31/2009, Playa del Coco

The boat came with no roller reefing and time and money caught up with us in the preparation so that we never added it. Mandy is very simply rigged and it would have meant adding rope clutches etc and having one further line running along the side-deck. I think the old arguments against it are now passé since the technology has advanced so much. It would be good not to have to go out on the widow-maker. Also with the very variable winds we have had down this coast it would be easier to change up and down gears with roller furling. Storage space given over to multiple headsails is also an issue.
All that said we are now used to it and it has become little bother. We have a downhaul spliced to the halyard which makes it easy to haul the sail down. With the addition of the jib net it is not too difficult to tie it down there and either wait for suitable conditions to remove it or run off and get it done.
We use three headsails; the working jib (tanbark in the photos), a much larger high clewed genoa and the very large nylon drifter. This we sometimes sheet through a snatchblock on the end of the boom, since with the main on hoops it is difficult to work out an easy way to mount a spinnaker pole. We also have two storm jibs but have not used them since above 25 knots we drop the headsail and use reefed main and staysail.
The jib-net is invaluable for capturing the jib when it drops or the crew when they slip, but I am not sure whether it would be an improvement if the boat had roller furling. Occasionally it is a nuisance when anchoring or handling lines forward.

The BCC, maintenance & gear
Mandy's gone tropical.
05/27/2009, Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

The rainy season is here and torrential downpours coupled with temperatures in the high eighties can be expected for some months. That means some flowerpot porthole dorades (as per the Pardeys) and a good awning and hopeful lightning protection (as per roger Olsen)

The BCC, maintenance & gear
05/28/2009 | ANDREW HALL
05/28/2009 | Daisy
7.1 Earthquake in Honduras? "Felt strongly through much of Central Anerica." How's that going for you?
Virginia in the sweatshop
05/27/2009, Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

The awning in the making

The BCC, maintenance & gear
Red light, Green light
03/20/2009, Las Hadas, Colima, MX

In my luggage on the flight back from Los Angeles to Manzanillo was 80' of electric cable, two computers, a fluxgate compass, a control head, a tiller pilot ram, two high gain antennas, assorted software, 144 tea bags and 10 bars of chocolate. All for our personal boat use, but highly suspicious to a vigilant security guard or worse customs officer.
The customs procedure in Mexico is a simple lottery. You present your forms, press the button and if it's red you lose, if it's green it's "Bienvenidos a Mexico". Mustering the steady hand of a surgeon I pushed the button, scored green and high tailed back to the Barra lagoon to find my two girls, Mandy and Virginia.
Most of the contraband was the new Raymarine SPX-5 Tiller pilot. We have been using, with decreasing efficacy a 30 year old Autohelm 1000, spec'ed for a boat under 6,000 lbs and therefore always struggling with Mandy's 14,000 lbs and huge transom hung unbalanced rudder.
The new Raymarine is spec'ed for up to 13,500 lbs so we are still at the outer reaches of its intended use, but anything bigger was way too costly. As it is the step up has come with a significant increase in complexity. Whilst the old tiller pilot was a self contained unit, this version has four components, all requiring their own cabling and bulkhead installations.
Three days and two more holes in the boat later, installation complete, it was time to calibrate, so we upped anchor and proceeded to proscribe the required two 360˨ two minute circles inside the Barra lagoon to calibrate the fluxgate compass. Wave goodbye to new found friends, but no matter, we'll be back in two minutes. With the system apparently functioning we motored out of the lagoon and mostly sailed the twenty-five miles to Las Hadas with the tiller pilot doing all the work. A big relief.
The new wireless system, assembled for less than $100, was recommended by our friend Ewout Mante of Bravado, now on their way to the Marquesas. It consists of an Alpha Wi-Fi transceiver, connected to either a Hawking 15 dBi corner antenna for when the boat is reasonably stationary or an Airlink 101 omni directional antenna for when it is rolly or the boat is swinging at anchor.
This has proved really effective and we have pulled in a usable signal from more than two miles away. Three cheers for Ewout.

The BCC, maintenance & gear
03/22/2009 | Ma Cross
As a dutiful Mama I have read all your diatribe Rich and I don't understand a bloody word of it! However I love the piccy, and you and am glad things seem to be going to plan. Lots love to you both x
03/23/2009 | harold cross
Glad to here that Mandy 's bottom is again gliding (or bouncing )through the ocean.Hope the pilot continues to work ok. sent Email .All the best Love Dad
Raymarine Tiller pilot installed
03/20/2009, Barra de Navidad

Mostly people go from Mexico across the border to the States looking for work. Our tiller pilot, being very confused went across from the States to Mexico in search of work.
Amongst the lads from Mexico that used to work for me at the track an ultimate put down was to be from Pihuamo. Sort of like a Kerryman in Ireland .. very simple, country and red-neck.
So, in honor of his confusion the pilot has been dubbed "auto-Pihuamo"
The default setting of the response level is 5, at which the pilot hunts around and is very noisy. Tuned back to level 1 it settled down and was almost silent.

The BCC, maintenance & gear
Projects update
02/22/2009, Tenacatita, Jalisco, MX

Whilst in the marina and at anchor in La Cruz we have been able to complete the following:


Goal To give us some protection from wind and wave in our slightly exposed cockpit
Efficacy So far seem good, although not yet tested in weather. Give some sun and wind protection. Restrict visibility somewhat. Helps with privacy for our showers (the cockpit is the shower for us).


Goal When driving hard to weather the mast used to leak a little at the partners. Before leaving San Diego we had a stainless steel collar fabricated which is screwed and bedded to the deck. With this boot now completed it should be water tight.
Efficacy Not yet tested, though it looks fine. I think longevity will be the only issue but it will be easy to replace.

Sand sausage

Goal Don't laugh. Mandy has no coamings and low freeboard so any water taken over the side runs aft and across the bridge deck. This means a wet arse. We fashioned these sand bags and can tie them at various angles across the side decks.
Efficacy Not highly tested, but we did ship some seas coming down from Corrientes and I believe they helped. If they are no good we can use them as movable ballast .... No need for further railmeat.

Jib net

Goal To facilitate the corralling of our foresails when we need to get them down and under control quickly.

Efficacy So far a big success. With the downhaul the genoa can be dumped down in the net and tied easily with one or tow ties. If conditions are such that I would rather not go out on the bowsprit immediately to remove the sail, it is safe there for a while. We have not yet tried this with the big nylon drifter which is a lot more slippery and evasive. However we try to get this down before the wind gets up too much since it is really a light air sail.

Mosquito net

Goal The boat came equipped with brass screens for the four opening portholes. We have made mosquito nets for the forward and cabin roof hatches. This left the companionway. As a first step we made this hatchboard replacement.
Efficacy We will shortly be anchoring in the lagoon at Barra de Navidad which will be our first mosquito test. Report to come.

Other pictures in the gallery

The BCC, maintenance & gear

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There Goes Mandy!
Who: Richard & Virginia Cross
Port: San Diego, CA USA
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