Year 2 Report, PSC 37 Kenlanu
What worked and what did not, Year 2
We recently returned to our mooring in Maine after a 10 month trip from Maine to the Bahamas and back. It was a GREAT trip and below is our second annual report on what worked and what did not aboard our 1986 PSC 37, Kenlanu.
Some details. We left Maine August 23rd, just happened to be in GA for hurricane Sandy so saw winds of only 35 to 40 knots, and arrived in the Bahamas on 13 December. During the trip down we used the motor for 100 hours between Maine and the Exumas so clearly we were able to sail a lot, even on the Intracoastal between Norfolk, VA and Beaufort, NC. For the return we used the engine 120 hours. The total trip was 4,414 miles.
In all I would say that we were fabulously lucky for the entire trip. We had perfect sailing conditions for day after day, and when we didn't we had great places to hole up, sleep, read, and mess about. We felt very fortunate especially when we talked to people who left only a week before or after us who had miserable conditions. We were just plain lucky.
As for what worked and what did not, almost everything worked flawlessly and so the "what worked" category are the standouts, and the what did not are the exceptions:
The boat, oh that wonderful boat. With the exception of the stretch from Newport, VA to Beaufort, NC, we traveled in a series of one- or two-overnight sails of 120 to 250 miles. We almost always had close to ideal conditions and our only quote problem unquote was often needing to slow the boat down to avoid arriving in the dark! The boat always felt solid, in control, and (relatively) comfortable during those sails.
Sea Sick Medications: Stugeron, On two or three occasions (usually involving the Gulf Stream) we needed to dip into our supply of sea sick meds. After trying Dramamine, Bonine, a nd Scopolamine, we found that Stugeron (available through Canadian drug companies) works quickly and miraculously! It works even if you start to feel a bit green around the gills before taking it and it works with no side effects that we have detected what so ever. We know others for whom Stugeron does nothing, but for us it is a wonder drug
The 110 Yankee has proven itself countless times to be a perfect sail for us for this type of sailing. If it ever wears out I'll replace it exactly as is in a heartbeat. When it starts blowing we found a combination of Yankee and double reefed main worked fabulously, allowing us to punch through the seas while sailing at a comfortable angle of heel and still making great speed. We used the staysail very little this year partly because we used the asym (see below) so much more and partly because we did not get into any truly nasty weather.
Sails: Asym Spinnaker.
Don't leave home without it! We used the asym a couple dozen times or more in winds of 5 to 15 knots roughly on the beam. Mostly, however, we used it so we would not have to turn the motor on and it was fabulous! Often we'd be reaching along in 5 to 8 knots and doing 5 to 6 knots over the ground! And that does not include one 10-hour stretch in the gulf stream where that sail kept us going all day in light winds -- 8 to 10 knots over the ground!!! The ATN snuffer makes handling the sail easy -- unless it gets really windy when getting it down is still a challenge.
We leave the asym on deck in its stuff bag so it is always ready to be deployed. I worried about UV rotting out the bag but didn't do anything about it. After pounding through a bit of nasty water for about 20 minutes I looked forward to see that a couple of waves over the bow had shredded the bag, leaving the bag still securely attached to the boat but minus the entire asym and stuffer. Oh what an idiot! Thank you Ted for bailing me out of that piece of stupidity. The moral of the story: If you store your asym on deck, get a good Sunbrella bag made for it!!!!!
Cape Horn Windvane with Raymarine ST 1000 tiller pilot.
As in last year, we can't say enough good about this rig. In gusty and fluky conditions it is not too happy but otherwise, if we take care of balancing the boat, it takes care of us. It often steers MUCH better than I can, especially downwind in heavy airs when I tend to overcorrect and the vane does not. It is Brilliant. And having the tiller pilot available for Very Light wind conditions was great. That tiller pilot steered for more than 12 hours one night leaving out batteries well charged.
Fabulous! In the Bahamas Imi got a Batelco 3G card which picked up pretty good signals throughout most of the islands so we had email and weather pretty much continuously. Plus the new Garmin Mobile App now has the entire Bahamas charts, taken from the Explorer chart series with the Active Captain data to boot. We used the Garmin app mostly for planning rather than navigating but in some tricky little places where I wanted to leave a breadcrumb trail with LOTS of crumbs then we'd bring it up into the cockpit. I'd never cruise without one again.
Chris Parker's Weather.
This winter there seemed to be a LOT of cold fronts whipping through, many that remained quite strong even down through the southern Exumas and beyond. Chris was spot on in his forecasts including the exact timing ("...arriving in Staniel key area around 0800....") plus the strength, direction, and duration of the winds. We became sponsors this year so we could talk with him about various passages and he was again very helpful and usually right on the money. Some people think Chris is too conservative but once you understand that his forecasts are for average ma and pa sailors who value comfort and safety over speed then you can interpret his forecasts to suit your preferences.
Not a single problem all year. Oh, heaven!
Refleks Bulkhead mounted Diesel Heater
This spring, from North Carolina to Maine was about the coldest, wettest, and most miserable I've ever seen, and I make it a point to NOT complain about the weather. The heater was such a wonderful thing to have, running sometimes for 36 hours straight and both warming us and (slowly) drying out the inside of the boat. It was truly a gift and one we shared with many cold, and clammy sailors along the way.
What Did Not Work So Well
Poly something fuel tanks.
Two years ago we replaced the aluminum fuel tank with a welded Poly tank that was supposed to last a lifetime. We also had a custom 4 gallon tank made of the same material for the diesel for our Refleks heater. Wrong, Wrong, WRONG. I still don't know what happened; was it a bad batch of plastic, the wrong plastic, or an incompetent fabricator but both tanks sprang leaks at woefully inopportune times. The 4 gallon tank cracked and started spouting diesel (in the hanging locker, no less) every time the boat rolled -- when we were 30 miles offshore on a 48 hour passage! And the main fuel tank started leaking..... oh, let's not go there. Both tanks have now been replaced with beautifully welded Aluminum. The main tank we got direct from Pacific Seacraft and it fit perfectly and had been well coated with epoxy. May it last a LONG time! If you are ever tempted by plastic, don't!
That !@#$#@ Whisker pole.
I got talked into fabricating a 17' X 4" aluminum whisker pole for the Yankee. First it is just too long for the J dimensions of the sail and, more importantly, it is just too big and unwieldily for almost every dimension of me! I adopted Hal Roth's "loose tie" method of working with and securing the monster but I am still convinced that I am all too likely to fall overboard while trying to rig the thing. So it sits on the side deck where it is also a huge nuisance. Fortunately we have a lovely 14' hollow spruce pole which I'd made and which I can handle easily in most conditions. Still there are times when trying to clip even that onto the mast with the boat rolling and the Yankee whipping around is too dangerous. If I could afford it I'd install a telescoping pole on a track in a heart beat. A good way to pole out the head sail is absolutely essential if you want to avoid motoring!!!!
Bottom Sider cockpit cushions.
Despite repairs made by BottomSider the cushions just get worse and worse with major cracks in the areas where we step in and out of the cockpit. BottomSider accuses us of "being too hard" on the cushions (like wearing shoes when stepping on them or of having tigers aboard). We confess to the shoes but refuse comment on the tigers. They were quite adamant that the problem was ours, not theirs. I will not do business with them again.
Raymarine ST60 Masthead Wind Indicator.
This unit stopped functioning quite some time ago. After a rather lengthy time in their repair service the technician called to say the only problem was the bearings which he replaced. Total charge was $40 which, compared to buying a new unit seemed great. We installed it and were delighted to have it working -- till it didn't two weeks later. Our pet tiger (oops, I guess I let the cat out of the bag there) says Grrrrrrrrr.
And that's the list for this year. Hope you are all having great sailing!
Buck's Harbor, Maine