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[Ground Tackle] [Plumbing] [Electrical] [Electronics] [Communications] [ Navigation] [Refrigeration] [Steering]  [Sails & Rigging] [Canvas & Awnings] [Miscellaneous]

  • Primary: CQR #45 and Danforth #25
  • Backup: Fisherman's anchor
  • FX-37 Fortress storm anchor
  • FX-11 Fortress stern anchor
  • #5 Danforth dingy anchor
We carry a 45# CQR and a 25# Danforth on the bow ready to go (see a story to see why).  Based on our experience and discussions with others, the CQR or equivalent Bruce would be our first choice and the Danforth or equivalent spade anchor would be our backup. See Earl Hinz's book "The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring" it is the best!  Always keep at least 2 anchors ready to deploy when close to shore. Also we have a stern anchor on 1 1/4" webbing on a reel and a couple of spares.
  • Simpson Lawrence SL 555 Sea Tiger
Our anchor is 45# and the chain is 3/8"BBB. A windlass should be powerful enough to lift your anchor, plus 100' or so of your chain hanging from the bow using one arm or foot.  Our manual windlass has been adequate, but an electric windlass would be a great convenience - the downside is the weight and cost of bigger batteries, heavy cable running the length of the boat, an motor and solenoid to maintain. If our boat required a 60# anchor, or 1/2" chain, I would definitely install an electric windlass.
Bilge Pumps  -
  • Rule 500
  • Rule 3500
  • Ultra automatic switch
  • Rule Super switch




We started with Rule pumps and switches, and have concluded they are generally of poor quality.  Our one complaint to the factory was met with denial and deception.  Nonetheless, they are widely available, and if checked periodically can provide an adequate protective system. We tried a similar West Marine pump to no avail, it would not lift the water out of our 5' bilge. Our deep bilge system currently consists of:

  • A small (Rule 500 gph) pump with an Ultra switch to keep water lower than 1"
  • A large (Rule 3500 gph) pump and Rule switch about 8" off the bottom of the bilge as a high volume back-up.
  • A high water alarm (Rule Super Switch) meaning "All pumps have failed"
Marine Toilet
  • Wilcox-Crittendon Headmate
A low-cost head, yet it has provided satisfactory service for 14 years so far.  We change the valves and seals about once per year.
Stuffing Box When we left we had a standard packing gland with the perpetual need to tighten the nuts in an position only accessible by midgets with strong hands.  We have installed a dripless seal by Chatham Engineering in NZ; jury is out but we like it so far.
  • Power Survivor 35
Our PowerSurvivor 35 has been dependable; one rebuild in 8 years.  The low output means that it must run 3-5 hours per day to keep up with typical consumption (By being very conservative, we used 2 gal/day on the 30-day passage to the Marquesas). I would look very seriously at the energy-efficient Spectra.
  • (2) 4D Sonnenschein Gel Cell
  • (1) #27 Sonnenschein Gel Cell
We went through several Rolls and other batteries during several years of living and cruising on the Chesapeake.  Since buying a set of gel-cells ( Sonnenschein or Prevailers) we look at them periodically and otherwise forget them except when we tell them we love them.  We replaced them after 9 years of us in Cairns, Australia as a precaution since they seem to have lost some of their capacity.  We recommend them highly.
Wind Generator
  •  Ampair 100
The Ampair 100 has been dependable, but its output is very low.  The new AirMarine has a lot of satisfied cruisers, although it is noisy.  The Ampair will probably add 30-40 amp-hours per day to your batteries in a normal trade-wind anchorage while the AirMarine would add more like 60-80. We found that traveling down-wind (as we all like to do) takes 5 knots off the apparent wind and lowers generator output by 25-40% in the trades.
Solar Panels We have a Siemens 55 watt and a Solarflex 33 watt panel.  We would go with the biggest Siemens that we could fit to the boat next time.
Power Monitor Amp-Hour + monitors house bank voltage, current, and state of charge.  I would prefer one that monitors both House and Start banks.
  •  Brookes and Gatehouse
     (B & G)
We installed a B&G Network instruments in the Virgin Islands after the lightning strike.  Included were Wind, Depth, Speed, Nav and a Data repeater.  We have been happy with the functionality, but their reliability has been poor:
  • Wind anemometer - replaced 4 times in 8 years
  • Depth - repaired once, has been erratic.  We find that when marine growth collects between the sensor and the housing hull vibrations from motoring cause erroneous readings.

We decided to install some independent back-up units, in particular:

  • Depth - we have installed a basic, inside-the-hull 'Standard' depth gauge with separate power leads.
  • Wind - We now carry a hand-held Kestrel anemometer to measure wind speed at deck level; not critical but nice-to-have.
  • Furuno
The radar has come to have many uses:
  • Watch for ships - can usually see them at 5-6 miles
  • Watch for small boats - small wooden boats normally visible at 1 mile
  • Track movement of ships so we can take evasive action
  • Spot and track squalls so we can avoid them
  • Spot breakers on low atolls or near beach

The transmitting tube (or magnetron) has a finite life and needs to be replaced; ours was very weak after 10 years and a new tube improved performance considerably.

Radar Detector
  • C.A.R.D
We installed the C.A.R.D. radar detector before we left the US and have found it of marginal utility.  We normally see ships before it detects them, even if they are running with radar on (which is infrequent).
HF Radios
  • ICOM 735 100W ham radio
  • ICOM 710M SSB
HF Radios - We started with an ICOM 735 100W ham radio (modified so that it can transmit on any frequency in an 'emergency') and have been very happy with it.  Later we added an ICOM 710M Mobile Maritime SSB (modified so it could transmit on ham frequencies in an 'emergency').  The Marine SSB is more sensitive, rejects local noise, and is much less user-friendly.  A combination Ham/SSB with a big tuning knob like the SGC 2000 is probably the ideal.
  • - Furuno Fax 207
-This tool is invaluable for seeing what weather systems are coming, and predicting wind speeds and directions. We went through a SEA unit (water-damaged, but difficult to use), a FaxMate, PC HF Fax on our laptop, and now a Furuno Fax-207.  Without reservation we recommend the Furuno. It is reasonable to program, good quality output, uses easy to find paper and, most importantly, supplies its own receiver so that you don't tie up your SSB/Ham radio - we love it.

Communications Decision-making

Follow this link to see our decision making process that led us to select these items and more.
  • Garmin
Wait for the latest technology before you leave - they just get better and cheaper. We discarded perfectly good SatNav and Loran units in 1998 as these systems were being discontinued (Congress saved Loran at the last minute, too late for us).  We carry two handheld backups, one connected to our iPaq organizer that can handle electronic charts. 
Sextant A C. Plath sextant from the '50's resides shiny in a box ready to go if the GPS constellation were to go off the air.  It would take a few days to freshen up our celestial skills.
  • CMap
This system, as well as several other electronic charting systems are common in the anchorages today.  CMap is an expensive commercial system, and there are 'demo' versions around the cruising community that operate smoothly with Windows XP.
Charts We do not depend on electronic charts and always have paper charts in addition to the electronic ones.  Sometimes we use a paper chart for navigation and the electronic charts for harbours and anchorages (depending on accuracy of the electronic one).  Sometimes it's the other way around.
  • 12V Adler Barber Cold Machine
We have had the 12 VDC Adler Barber Cold Machine for 15 years, and have been happy with it - one control box failed in the US and another one in Turkey. We have seen many cruisers with holding plate engine-driven units running their engines at dockside since that was their only way to run the compressor.  Our conclusions are:
  • 12 VDC is the most versatile type.
  • If an engine-driven type is used, it should also be able to be run from an AC power source (110 or 220 VAC).
  • If a generator is installed, it should be able to charge the unit through direct drive or AC power.
Auto Pilot
  • Autohelm 4000
This wheel drive system is advertised for yachts up to 17,000#, and thus is undersized for Long Passages.  We tend to use it when motoring or sailing in light winds when loads are light and response time is important.  The bearings froze after 3 years and required some maintenance in Oman.  Performance has been good.
  • Edson
This wheel steering system is solid and dependable.  We replaced the pedestal in '93 due to corrosion after 18 years.  The current pedestal uses aluminum bolts for installation and shows no sign of  corrosion. We check the cables occasionally and have replaced them once.  Edson provides excellant documentation with their products.
  •  Monitor
This has been a workhorse and notched up our Pacific crossing without breaking a sweat - we are very happy with it.  In Oman we hit a float and broke some parts that had been weakened by crevice corrosion.  Welding has put it right, but we are alittle concerned about concealed corrosion elsewhere.

We have installed an Autohelm TillerPilot that we can use as a jury-rig - it basically substitutes for the vane and tells the windvane where to steer, and the servo mechanism does the hard work.  This worked all the way up the Red Sea.

Sail and Rigging
  • Genoa
We started with a 150% when we left the US, cut it down to 135% and had a 125% one built in NZ.  For off-shore work with a 2-person crew, we would recommend a high-cut genoa, no bigger than 125%.
  • Staysail
Even though this amounts to only 10% of our sail area, it is one our best sails - easy to deploy and furl, adds � to 1 knot most times.
  • Main
Full battens are a real blessing - adds shape to the sail, avoids flogging, and only adds marginally to weight aloft - highly recommended.
  • Mizzen
Only applicable to ketch or yawl, this is a versatile sail; good in place of main for heavy winds. We need it when beating or close to the wind but it gives us too much weather helm off the wind.
  • Drifter
We prefer a 170% drifter - had an MPS for a little more than a year but found it too hard to control. We have chosen not to carry a spinnaker because of lack of storage space and difficulty in using it.
  • Storm Trysail
This small sail is bent onto its own track and is high cut and loose-footed.  Sheets run directly to over-sized blocks on the deck.  We have not used it so far.
  • Storm Headsail (aka The 'Handkerchief'')
We have a tiny hank-on storm sail that we could deploy on the inner forestay.  We have not had to use it so far.
  • Head-stays
 Shannon went through a phase (after Chichester's trip on 'Gypsy Moth') where they installed dual side-by-side headstays on their yachts.  Hull #1 came with a single headstay and we changed to their new configuration.  This worked very well coming across the Pacific where most sailing was downwind and we could set 2 headsails.  We have reverted to a single headstay and believe that the current trend towards dual fore and aft headstays, plus an inner forestay for a staysail is the best configuration. We also believe that mechanical fittings (Norseman or Stayloc) are superior to swaged fittings.
  • Standing Rigging
All standing rigging is conservatively-sized stainless wire.
Rolling Furlers
  • Profurl on Headstay
Our main head-sail furler is a ProFurl NC-42 with 2 luff grooves.  We have been very satisfied with it to date.  It is a little stiff to start furling, but a small winch helps get it started. With two grooves we could fly two headsails down wind, although we have not done this yet.
  • Mariner hank-on roller furler

The inner forestay has a Mariner furler designed for hank-on sails.  This allows us to furl the sails when we don't need it (e.g. off the wind) and to change to a small stom sail if required.
  • Bimini, Dodger and Connector - Sunbrella
We found these to be indispensable in the tropics, so get as much protection as you can afford. Ours has a grab-rail along the aft edge in the cockpit. We would recommend grab-rails along the gunwales as well.
  • Sun Awning - Stamoid
Judi sewed a sun awning/rain catcher from Stamoid material before we left the US, and after 9 years it blew apart in a Sumatra in Singapore.  We now have a new and better one.  Our recommendation for the tropics is "larger is better" and we are very happy with the Stamoid.  Decks get hot, and the more you can shield them from the sun, the cooler it will be below.  The awning has thru-hulls with hoses to route rain water to our tanks. This rain catcher has been very useful, however if the wind blows over 15 knots or so (and most rain squalls are over 15) it flaps around too much to catch rain.
  • Scuba Equipment
We have a combination of US Divers and other manufacturers equipment.  We feel it very important to have at least one set of scuba gear on board for emergency repairs and retrievals.  Ideally, each person on board should have PADI or equivalent certification, otherwise it may be impossible to get tanks filled. 
  • Flashlights
Use ONLY Dive lights as no others tolerate marine conditions.



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