Baba BarAnn Around the Pacific


Appendix - What worked, What Didn't

We left our jobs and frantically readied our Baba 40, Baba BarAnn for a multiple year cruise. We left Seattle in August 1989 and spent the winter in Mexico. In March of 1990 we sailed to the Marquises, Tuamotus, Society Islands, three Cook Islands, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and finally New Zealand. In 1991 we returned to Seattle via Rarotonga, Penrhyn, Hawaii, and Canada. Our two year trip around the Pacific Ocean covered 15,000 miles. We spent so much time and money, preparing for our trip, that we thought future cruisers might find something useful from our experience.

Cruising Equipment

Since returning, I have often been asked, "What worked, and what didn't?". Many sailors who have experienced similar trips often have very strong opinions about the only right way to equip a sailboat for such a trip. How could there be so many different opinions from different sailors, each sure that his is the only right one? Considering the necessity for total self-sufficiency, perhaps it's only natural for such strong opinions to exist. My view is that it's ridiculous to talk about the "only" or the "best" way to go when it comes to cruising. Most cruisers put together a package that fits their temperament, pocketbook, experience, and comfort level. This results in substantially different decisions when it comes to outfitting each boat. Mistakes are certainly made, but for the most part, everyone gets it right. With such a long winded caveat, the following summarizes our strongest opinions.

1. Wind Vane The most important equipment on any cruising sailboat is the self-steering device. Steering 24 hours for just one day, let alone day after day for a long passage, would be extremely difficult. Consequently, a good, reliable self-steering device that does almost all the steering is extremely important.

We were astonished to meet people in Hawaii who sailed there from the west coast using only an electric autopilot. Electric autopilots break and use an enormous amount of electricity. From our experience, they had the highest failure rate of any single piece of equipment. In calm conditions they consume 100+ Amp hours per day of precious electricity. Steering day after day in rough conditions, their motors often breakdown.

On the other hand, a good windvane can steer beautifully, if there's enough wind to move the boat, without using any electricity. It's virtually bullet proof. Moreover, in the process of learning how to sail with a windvane, you learn how to balance the boat in all conditions. The Monitor windvane on Baba BarAnn was our most valuable piece of equipment. The Aries and other good windvanes may be better suited to other sailboats, so I'm not touting just the Monitor. However, I couldn't imagine cruising without a windvane. A corollary of the need for a windvane is the requirement for a transom that can accommodate a windvane. This might rule out some of the newer designs with reverse transoms as being viable cruising boats.

2. GPS We added a Magellan GPS before leaving Mexico, and were quite happy. During 1990, at least six cruising boats hit reefs in the Pacific and were severely damaged. Some were sunk. It was a bit scary, even when you knew your precise latitude and longitude. The charts aren't all that accurate. We met a few people who had trouble with their Magellans, so I guess we were lucky. I know I was very frustrated with the Magellan's inability to provide accurate speed and course information. But it gave accurate positions every second for about 20 hours every day.

Typically we would provide the GPS with the latitude and longitude of our destination, and then just watch our cross-track-error. Except when we couldn't beat as high as we wanted, we would stay right on the great circle route of our desired course. Every 15 or 30 minutes we might tweak the Monitor steering adjustment lines if the cross-track-error showed that we were one-tenth of a mile off course.

3. Cutter Rig Sailing a cutter is somewhat different than sailing a sloop. We couldn't find any books on the subject, and had to discover the difference through trial and error. For example, our cutter heaves to with just the main sail. You do not back the headsail to hove to like you would with a sloop.

So long as the wind was 110 degrees or less off the bow, we would always fly the staysail Depending on wind conditions, we would also fly the full Yankee up to 20 knots or so, a partially furled Yankee up to 25 knots, or no Yankee headsail if it were blowing harder. Along with zero to three reefs in the mainsail we could stay perfectly balanced in all wind conditions. The picture of Baba BarAnn in the June '91 "Cruising World" shows her on a very broad reach, with the wind more than 110 degrees off the bow, with the staysail, single reefed main, and partially furled headsail.

Having the staysail seemed especially desirable when beating to windward in squally conditions, as in the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. In such areas, the winds were typically 18-22 knots which are ideal for a single reef, staysail, and full Yankee. As a squall approached, the wind would gradually drop below 10 knots. This was the signal to quickly roll in the headsail. Soon thereafter the squall would hit, with winds usually 28-32 knots. With the reefed main and just the staysail we would stay balanced. All the while, the Monitor would steer flawlessly. When the squall passed, out went the full Yankee. We would have to go through this drill ten times on the worst days.

The combination of the staysail plus roller furling on the headsail made it easy to sail the boat shorthanded, leaving the cockpit only to reef the main. We believe it's very dangerous to work on the fore deck, in pitching seas and high winds. Having the staysail virtually eliminated trips to the bow.

4. Refrigeration We had been forewarned that our 12 volt electric Adler-Barbour refrigerator was destined to be overworked and break, shortly upon arrival in the tropics. We were always "waiting for the other shoe to drop." It never happened! Our "large cold machine" worked perfectly, providing ice cubes and cold drinks every day.With any refrigeration system, good insulation is crucial. We had four inches of insulation on all sides, perhaps more than the average boat. I estimate that our Adler-Barbour used 55-60 amp hours on the very hottest days in the tropics, necessitating about 45 minutes of engine charging. The solar panels produced another 30-33 amp hours which covered all other electrical consumption.

If you don't need a large compartment for frozen foods, we think that 12 volt DC refrigeration is superior to an engine driven cold plate system. The cruisers with cold plate systems generally ran their engines 1.5 hours per day, and they didn't even have ice cubes! Most importantly, we didn't have to run our engine every day to bring a cold plate down. In fact, we often went three days without turning on the engine. We think the Adler Barbour is great.

5. Brightwork Perhaps my biggest struggle was the amount of brightwork on our Baba 40 which had to be maintained. This was a never ending job made much more difficult by the tropical sun. The shiny varnished cap rails, hand rails, etc. look great, but are not worth the enormous amount of work necessary to keep them up. My strong recommendation is to minimize the amount of outside teak brightwork. Whether or not you're cruising, brightwork is a pain. If you already have lots of outside brightwork, let it go completely until you return.

6. Solar Panels We purchased two ARCO M-55 solar panels They are quite large and cumbersome, but we wouldn't want the smaller ARCO M-65's. Although we usually mounted them on the dodger, sometimes we moved them to one side of the boat to catch the morning or afternoon sun at a better angle. We got a great price by dealing directly with Solar Energy Systems in Santa Barbara. Initially we had ordered four SOLAREX panels, since they were lighter and more durable than the ARCO's. However, due to some delamination problem, they had temporarily stopped making them. We would have preferred to add two more ARCO M-55's and have a specially constructed solar panel "farm"/bimini over the cockpit. On the average day our two panels would freely and quietly pump 30-35 amp hours into our batteries. Fantastic! Solar electricity is great.

7. Wind Generator The Four Winds II wind generator worked reasonably well, producing 10-13 amps in 20-24 knots conditions. It had an air brake that kept the generator from spinning too rapidly and burning out the brushes. At 15 knots we would get about 6-7 amps, and at 10 knots we would get 3-4 amps. During some windy days we could get as much as 100 amp hours.

Now the bad news. It's noisy, it's expensive, and it's quite difficult to install, with terrible instructions. So we had a love/hate relationship with our windmill. In Bora Bora the air brake failed, due to corrosion of their cheap pop rivets, and the entire wind generator came crashing down. It was beyond repair, being in such a remote place without access to a good machine shop.

Our life improved without the windmill. No noise. No fear of decapitation.

Despite the number one rating given to the Four Winds wind generator by the SSCA survey, I cannot recommend it. The noise is nerve racking, the vibrations are anything but good, and the spinning blades are too dangerous. The Windbugger brand of wind generator seemed to be better, but still not worth the negatives. Put your money into more solar panels rather than a wind generator.

8. Fortress Anchor I'm very enthusiastic about the Fortress line of anchors. I used our 23 pound Fortress solely as a second anchor. Being light, it was easy to take out in the dinghy. It set rapidly, unlike the CQR, and held every time. Our 45 pound CQR was always the primary anchor, but I think the lighter Fortress may have been better. We had a 77 pound Luke anchor as our "hurricane hook," and thankfully we never had to deploy it. Some cruisers had purchased a larger Fortress anchor for their "hurricane hook." I think this was a good choice.

9. Roller Furling We left Seattle with a Mariner roller furling system on both the headsail and the staysail We threw out our inexpensive roller furling as soon as we reached San Francisco. It was undersized and inadequate as far as we were concerned. Then we cruised with just hanked on sails. We discovered that we tended to motor more and sail less. Before leaving San Diego we purchased a ProFurl system for just the headsail. This arrangement, roller furling on the headsail and hanked on sails for the staysail, was the choice of the majority of cutter owners. Even though I had problems with the roller furling on the final leg home from Hawaii, I have no regrets and would not hesitate to recommend this approach. The problem was caused by my incorrect installation. The instruction manual warned about not over-tightening a certain bolt in the furling drum. I didn't tighten it enough! Harken and Profurl seemed to be equally popular systems with the cruisers, with third place so far behind that I can't even guess the brand.

10. Diesel Engine Everyone was happy with their engine except a few who had Volvo-Penta. We know only three boats that replaced their engines. All three boats had Volvo's. Not one opted for a Volvo the second time around. The price for spare Volvo parts borders on being confiscatory.


Additional Biased Opinions


1. Radar - Our Furuno 1720 was fantastic. It was the best "extra" item we put on the boat. We preferred its touch pad to the Raytheon R-10's, and found the pictures superior to the Apelco's. It paid for itself many times over by the time we reached San Francisco.

Some boats can mount the radar screen in a position that can be seen from both the nav station and the cockpit. We built a teak box which sits above the nav station, for viewing radar while inside. The extra radar cable and power lines are normally stuffed out of the way, in the compartment behind the nav station. For viewing while outside in the cockpit, we used the standard mounting bracket which was mounted under the dodger. It was a simple matter to pick the radar up, withdraw enough cable, and place it in the mounting bracket outside .

The most difficult part of the installation job was extracting the radar cable, and plug, out of the small hole drilled in the mast, just above the spreaders. We learned, the hard way of course, that the radar cable makes an unacceptable noise, banging inside the mast, on ocean passages and rocky anchorages. This was solved by wrapping and taping strips of foam rubber carpet backing around the cable as we fed it into the bottom of the mast. Then, when the radar cable slapped against the inside of the mast, the noise was cushioned.

We had a friend who tried to solve this problem by filling the entire inside of his mast with styrofoam packing "peanuts" (a.k.a "ghost turds"). Somehow, the peanuts got out of the mast and blew all over an anchorage. It took a long time time retrieve them!!

2. Ham Radio - Ham radio and a General license are very, very nice. We have an ICOM 735, perhaps the most popular radio among cruisers. We also have an ICOM AH-2 antenna tuner. We had read some bad things about Kenwood radios not standing up to the salty marine environment, but we saw no evidence of that.

The worst thing we did, in retrospect, while getting ready to "take off," was purchase a book entitled Sailing with Ham Radio by Ian Keith and Derek Van Loan. What obviously worked for them, cannot be generalized to all boats. We wasted much time and energy trying to adopt their approach of not using an insulated backstay. If you look carefully at the cover picture on the Keith/Van Loan book I'd swear you can see some insulated backstays.

After several agonizing months of failure, we purchased some StaLok backstay insulators, attached the ground like every other book discussed, and thereafter had one of the better signals among cruising hams. Of course it was a little scary cutting the backstay, but we really had no problem with the installation.

3. Radar Reflector - We spent the extra money for a Firdell Blipper radar reflector, including the mast bracket. Our decision was based partly on the expectation of a more effective radar reflector, and partly on its design. The Practical Sailor study of radar reflectors favored the cheaper Davis models, while other articles we'd read in Cruising World and the SSCA bulletins seemed to favor the Firdell. We saved our old Davis for a spare. We disliked the Davis reflector spinning in the wind and sometimes tangling with burgee halyards or banging the mast. The Blippers's smooth veneer and sturdy mount keep it hassle free.

4. Weatherfax - At the very last minute, we purchased the PK-232 for weatherfax and other ham projects we might get into later (packet, Morse code, etc). It seemed like a logical thing to do, since we already had the radio, computer (Toshiba 1200), and Diconix printer. Sometimes we get great weather-fax from Pt. Reyes CA or Pearl Harbor, HI, but often the reception was marginal. In retrospect, the PK-232 was terrible overkill for weatherfax. We sold it to a cruiser interested in packet.

Electrical Energy

1. Batteries - We had 6 Prevailer DF-230 gel cell batteries, which provide about 660 amp hours. We were very pleased with them. Not worrying about maintaining water levels, or acid spilling in the bilge, as with regular lead acid batteries, was very nice. These were truly zero maintenance batteries. We had two battery banks, each 330 amp hours, and alternated every other day. We didn't have a separate battery bank for the motor. However, as our "ace in the hole," we stashed a small, DF-75 amp hour Prevailer which was big enough to start the engine if all else failed. Every nine months we would "top off" this reserve battery, and then put it back in storage. We used lots of electricity, with the refrigerator, water maker, ham radio, tape deck, lights, computer, etc.

2. Alternator - We installed an Ample Power 105 amp alternator solely because it easily replaced the stock 55 amp Hitachi alternator that came with our Yanmar engine. If the 130 amp alternator would have fit without a hassle, we would have spent the extra money. We just learned about another cruiser's 160 amp alternator that bent the drive shaft because of excess stress. Now he limits his regulator to 80 amps. In retrospect, our 105 amp alternator was plenty large enough for our needs.

3. Invertor - We installed a Trace 600 watt invertor to obtain AC energy to charge the computer, printer, and electric razor, and run the TV, VCR, toaster, coffee grinder, and, yes, even the microwave oven. All worked fine except the cute, 450 watt microwave which only ran well on shore power. We were pleasantly surprised that our 1000 watt toaster worked so well. The invertor supplied AC power through all the AC plugs on the boat (galley, salon, nav station, and vee berth) except for the aft cabin. The aft cabin AC outlet was only connected to the shore power source of energy in order to eliminate the possibility of having shore power AC and invertor AC in the same outlet. It would have been nice to use the microwave through the invertor, but the battery drain would have been substantial. We were very happy with the Trace, but don't have any basis for recommending it over a Heart invertor.

4. Voltage Regulator - We installed an Ample Power shunt, ammeter, and 3 step regulator. They worked perfectly and were really nice additions. It would have been nice, but not necessary, to have an Ample Power amp hour meter.


1. Inflatable Dinghy - On long passages our West Marine 8.6 sport boat was deflated and stored, in a sail bag, under the boom. It took about 10-15 minutes to inflate. On short trips, we kept it inflated at the bow. We use the staysail halyard to raise and lower the dinghy.

We learned a good trick for storing/mooring the dinghy while anchored. Two lines, about five feet long are tied athwart ship, using the grab lines on each pontoon. The shackle on the staysail halyard is then clipped around the middle of both lines, so that the boat stays horizontal when it's raised. With the outboard motor still on, we raise the dinghy to the cap rail. It stays suspended by the halyard, with one pontoon resting on the cap rail. This keeps the boat out of the water during the night so that:

  • Barnacle growth, a major problem in warm waters, is minimized. This keeps the dingy and the motor out of the warm salt water.
  • The dinghy doesn't bang against the boat, or tug on a mooring line.
  • Theft potential is minimized.

Davits were not possible because of our wind vane, but otherwise would probably have been very nice. A slightly bigger dinghy might have been nice, but we would have had more problems storing it, the potential for theft would have been greater, and we would have needed a bigger and heavier motor. Considering all the compromises, we think we made the right dinghy decision for us. Cruisers that dive need a larger dinghy. A hard dinghy is definitely not a good choice from our experience, primarily due to instability and stowage.

2. Outboard Motor Lock - We heard of several dinghies that were stolen. One cruiser had his Avon and a new motor stolen in San Diego, and then another new Avon and motor stolen in Turtle Bay. He finally learned and put a motor lock on. We think the lock helps. Only the expensive Avon dinghies and only the larger motors seemed to be stolen. We never heard about a West Marine dinghy or a 5 HP motor being stolen. Our philosophy was that the best dinghy insurance was a cheap dinghy.

3. Outboard Motor - Our 5 HP Nissan outboard was chosen partially because of its relatively low weight, low price, and good ratings in the SSCA equipment survey. We used the halyard to raise and lower the motor to the dinghy. On passages, the motor was stored on a bracket on the stern pulpit. The 5HP motor could make the dinghy plane, and move rapidly, when there was only one person. Except on rare occasions, we couldn't get the dink to plane with both of us on board. Perhaps we should have gotten a bigger motor?

We had major problems with our Nissan motor. After less than a year there was so much rust in the internal gas tank that the carburetor was continually getting clogged. The newer internal tanks are made of plastic, but ours was metal and rusted terribly. The gas cap should have been attached to avoid the potential for losing it overboard. We weren't pleased with the amount of corrosion on the prop, the paint that peeled off the prop, or the rust. On the bright side, the service by West Marine was extremely good. We learned by experience to avoid internal gas tanks. The reason we went with the internal tank was to avoid taking up space in our small dinghy. West Marine converted our O.B. to an external tank model and it has performed fabulously ever since.  It was still running perfectly in 1998, normally starting on the first pull.

4. Dinghy Wheels - We got the Pelican Dinghy Dolly wheels, and were very unsatisfied with them. They didn't work at all in soft, or semi soft sand, and the tread on the plastic wheels showed lots of wear after the few times being used on a hard surface. They were worthless! One of the Pelican wheels broke, and the company sent me another one, immediately, with no questions asked, under their lifetime guarantee. Great service but not such a hot product.

Landing and launching a dinghy on a sandy beach was always tricky. We wish we'd gotten the larger "wheel-a-weigh" launching wheels. Better yet, the big fat ones that don't sink into the sand. The larger wheels allow you to keep the motor down, and motor right up to beach, without worrying about hitting your prop in the sand. This is a valuable feature that we envied on other cruisers' dinghies.

Sailing Equipment

1. Autopilot - We had an Autohelm 6000 autopilot and it was great - for a while. A good autopilot is one of the most important pieces of equipment on a cruising boat. We believe that the other brands are also good, but we love our Autohelm. Because we used the autopilot only when motoring, the electricity drain, perhaps 4-5 amps, was never a problem.

Once, with the Monitor steering on a very broad reach in light winds, waves would cause us to gybe from time to time. This problem was solved by having the autopilot steer a compass course. We only used the Autohelm to steer a compass course, and never used the feature that steers by apparent wind angle.

We had a problem with our flux gate compass and had to replace it. I believe that electric autopilots had the highest rate of failure of all cruising equipment.

After a few years the main arm on the autopilot started to freeze up. There was no fix for the problem or replacement part, and the entire Autohelm autopilot had to be scrapped. Very disappointing for such an expensive piece of equipment.

2. Extra Sails - We had Hasse & Pettrich in Port Townsend build us a storm staysail and put reinforcement patches on the main. We did not purchase a drifter, or cruising spinnaker, since our 150% genoa is so large. When we arrived in the Marquesas, we stowed the 150% genoa and thereafter used the 120% Yankee exclusively. We only used the storm staysail once, for the passage to San Francisco. Our main sail has three reefing points, and we got down to the third reef only once. We didn't see the need for a storm trysail, but then we didn't sail around Cape Horn. We would not consider adding extra light air sails for the trip we made.

3. Boom Brake - We purchased a Walder Boom Brake/Preventer. It didn't live up to its advertised capabilities. It didn't work well as a preventer on our boat, but it worked well controlling gybes . . . until the lines became too worn. The design of the two arms extending from the drum appears to be faulty. They kept coming off, and were continually in the way. Eventually we stopped using the Boom Brake. We made a great preventer from a rubber snubber. The elasticity of the snubber was perfect, especially in light air, lumpy sea conditions, to keep the sails from slatting.

Water Systems

1. Water Maker - We had a PowerSurvivor 35, reverse osmosis water maker. It made ALL, 100%, of our water for six months . . . from the time we arrived in Mexico until we arrived in Papeete. As advertised, it produced 1.4 gallons per hour, using 4.5 amps. In Mexico we were very cautious and never drank tap water. The water produced by the PowerSurvivor was purer, and better tasting, than Seattle's water. We didn't have to jerry jug water, we didn't have to treat water, and we didn't have to taste chlorinated water. It was great. We took fresh water showers every other day, and ended up using about 2-2.5 gallons, per person, per day. Thus the water maker ran, on average, 3 hours per day.

2. Water Filter - Even though the water maker produced pure water, algae could still grow in the water tanks. The galley's fresh water foot pump was fitted with an Ametek, Model PS-C2, water filter to eliminated any taste of chlorine from our water. We liked it.

3. Water Pump - We replaced the Par freshwater pump with a FloJet pump and were quite satisfied. It was quieter and smoother. We had three foot pumps - fresh and salt water in the galley, and fresh water in the head - that were Taiwanese. All three broke and were replaced with Whale Gusher foot pumps. I don't agree with the general consensus that using foot pumps reduces water consumption. Water conservation is more a matter of attitude, that the type of plumbing you have. We rarely used the foot pumps.

4. Wash Down Pump - We put a tee valve in the same line as the salt water intake line to the head. Using a FloJet pump, the water was sent to a faucet at the bow. This was a nice system, used primarily to clean off the anchor chain as it was brought on board, but we had some problems. Most importantly, the ABI flush mount deck faucet was garbage . . . like about everything made by ABI. In just one month, the handle rusted completely off. We guess it was made for a fresh water environment. We got ABI to send another faucet assembly, but it rusted completely in just a week.

The installation was quite a problem, primarily getting good information. Both our intake and outlet lines to the head have anti-siphon valves. It was necessary to put a tee valve BEFORE the anti-siphon valve, in order to get enough pressure from the wash down pump. Salesmen were trying to sell us check valves and all sorts of plumbing connections, to get it working properly. We guess no one else has an anti-siphon valve in the intake line. For the few times we used the pump, it would have been easier and better to have a portable DC pump with a long extension chord. The intake line could then be thrown overboard to suck up seawater. Unfortunately, I never saw such a pump for sale.


1. BBQ - The Magma BBQ met some of our expectations. Like most of the cheaper grills, it was ravished by the marine environment. A very nice addition was the hose adapter that connected to our regular LPG tanks. We never had to worry about running out of propane in the middle of a steak, we didn't pay an exorbitant price for the small propane canisters, and we didn't worry about having the small canisters rusting away in our propane locker. The Magma grill is not built to last, and our grate was completely corroded in about one year. Is there a more durable model out there?

2.LPG Tanks - Initially, we wasted much money and lots of elbow grease trying to maintain inexpensive steel LPG tanks. It's impossible to keep salt water out of the propane locker, thus the steel tanks were always rusting. So long as there's a ready supply of the cheaper tanks on sale at Ernst, we couldn't justify spending $132 per tank for aluminum ones. We now consider the aluminum tanks a good buy and are very happy we had them.

3. Bilge Alarm - After reading a few letters in the SSCA bulletins about the desirability of a good bilge alarm, we were convinced it was a good idea. Many of the alarms on the market run off the same electrical system as the regular automatic bilge pump. Thus, if the bilge pump fails because of an electrical failure, the alarm system will also fail. This is dumb. For only $25 we got a great bilge alarm, made in Dana Point, CA that ran off a 9 volt battery. Nothing could have been easier to install, and it really works. Unfortunately, it ceased to work after just one year due to corrosion.

4. Head - The maintenance kit for the Par head is ridiculously expensive, and ours was failing after just two months of living on board. We replaced the Par head with a Raritan PH II and were quite satisfied. A little Super Lube on the piston, and some SaniFlush and/or cooking oil every so often, and it works smoothly. Our biggest problem with the head was caused by the excessively long outflow lines on our Baba. Twice they were clogged with salt crystals and had to be cleaned out. This problem can be helped with incessant flushing, like 20 times per! Several cruisers put a small amount of muriatic acid in the head to prevent the build up of salt crystals.

5. Spotlight - We had a 300 candle power spotlight, primarily for an emergency. It didn't get used much.

6. Sewing Machine - We found a secondhand, 1950 vintage Pfaff 130 sewing machine for the steep price of $500. This was supposed to be the perfect machine for repairing sails as well as other canvas work. We weren't too pleased with it because needles were always breaking (sewing through webbing or four layers of canvas,) and it was too easy to knock out of alignment. It was great having the machine on board, but we wish it weren't so temperamental.

Upon returning to Seattle, a repair shop found our problem, and since then the Pfaff has been very satisfactory. Despite our problems, we still think the Pfaff 130 is the strongest, portable machine, and haven't seen a better one for the cruising boat.

7. Camcorder - We bought one specifically for our trip. Unfortunately, it was ruined when we took on some water getting the dinghy through the surf and back to the boat at San Simeon. We also lost our Canon AE-1 camera in the same wave. We now have a waterproof Nikon rangefinder camera, and no camcorder.

Safety Equipment

1. Life Raft - We purchased a Viking, four man, soft valise life raft, which was stowed in the lazarette. This was a purchase we considered avoiding, but relented at the last moment. We chose it over the Avon and others, primarily because of cost. Avon's are terribly over priced and we had heard of one that didn't inflate during a demonstration.

2. EPIRB - We had an ACR RLB-21 EPIRB packed in the Viking lift raft, and never found out if it would work in an emergency. We wouldn't consider having a life raft without an EPIRB. We had heard that the old EPIRB's have limited use in the southern hemisphere, where we did most of out cruising. We really liked the idea of the newer, 406 MHz EPIRBs, but they were extremely expensive.

3. Jack Lines - Most books recommend jack lines running fore and aft along the deck. We tried that approach without success. We were continually tripping on the lines, and getting them tangled with the genoa car, genoa sheets, cleats, etc. Then we tried the high jack lines recommended by John Neal and Barbara Marrett. This was done by running a line fore and aft through an aladdin's cleat attached at shoulder height to a shroud. Not only were the jack lines off the deck and away from our feet, but the high line operated like another safety line. We could go to the mast and work without removing our tether. Going to the bow required us to unclip and then re clip on the other side of the aladdin's cleat, between the shrouds where there was plenty to grab.


1. Dodger - Our dodger was made by Ellen Black at the Artful Dodger in Port Townsend. The design and workmanship are first rate.

2. Wind Scoop - We made a wind scoop along the same lines as the ForeSquare Ventilating Sail model that's sold by West Marine for about $60. Considering the cost of materials, and all our time, it would have been a better decision to purchase the wind scoop, except we wouldn't have had a tan one that matches the other canvas on board. The wind scoop was a necessity in the tropics.

3. Deck Awning - Our deck awning/water catcher was made by the Artful Dodger. Along with two strong PVC pipes that give it athwart ship stability, it was stowed in its own bag tied to the hand rails. In the tropics we got less use out of it than we expected. It seemed to be too low and too narrow. Water catching was never needed since our Power Survivor worked so well.

4. Weather Cloths - We made our own weather cloths. Initially our weather cloths extended too far forward, blocking our view out of the galley porthole. Since this extra protection was rarely needed, we shortened them and got our view back. When the seas were up, it was nice having the weather cloths.

5. Bimini - Our bimini was made by the Artful Dodger. It extended from the aft end of the dodger to the backstay, and was intended to be used primarily for sun protection while under sail. We remembered how nice it was to have one when we chartered in the Virgin Islands. Unfortunately it disrupted the flow of air around the Monitor windvane. It was also too low, making it difficult to enter or exit the cabin. We rarely used the bimini because of design problems. To do it over, we would have a stainless steel frame erected over the cockpit for the bimini and for solar panels.


1 Sextant - Our Astral IIIB sextant, from Red China, is extremely well made. It provided our only means of navigation in Mexico. We both thought that learning celestial navigation was quite easy, and we trusted our LOP's more than our LORAN readings. We also had an old, Davis cheapie plastic sextant for a backup.

2. Sight Reduction Computer - For several years we've had a Celesticomp 3 hand held computer, sold by John Watkins of Vashon Island. It worked very well with extremely good instructions. The newer models (he's up to Celesticomp 5 now) are better. We suppose that the Merlin is even better, at a higher price. Although a real purist may want to reduce sights by hand, that seems like something we'd only want to do in a true emergency, when all else had failed.

3. Charts - We purchased about 300 photocopied charts covering the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Considering how expensive charts are now, we opted for cheaper photocopies, rather than a few pretty ones. In foreign waters it's silly to rely on navigational aids. In coral regions, depths are always changing. Thus, it's never possible to have "up to date" charts . . . it's just a matter of degree. We had Charlie's Charts for Mexico and Polynesia, as well as Marcia Davock's "Cruising guide to Tahiti and the French Society Islands." We liked them, even with all the errors and out of date info. We also had the U.S. Pilot which was our most up to date source.

4. LORAN - We always loved our Furuno LC-90 Loran . . . until we got the Magellan. The Furuno now seems complicated to use. Magellan spoiled us. Loran was worthless as soon as we were south of San Diego.


1. Windlass - One of the biggest mistakes we made was purchasing a manual windlass (Simpson Lawrence 555). After one year, we sold it at a loss and now have an electric windlass, a Muir Cougar. We loved the electric windlass. Tap your toe and up comes the anchor! Sure a windlass is heavy, and you want to minimized weight at the bow. Nevertheless, the anchor and chain weigh about 400 pounds, so who cares about a few more pounds in the windlass! In our opinion, an electric windlass is a necessity, not a luxury.

We were not pleased with the amount of corrosion in our Muir. The windlass is made out of aluminum and is always in contact with the galvanized steel chain. More importantly, it is mounted on a stainless steel plate which is affixed to the bowsprit. The dissimilar metals caused much electrolysis. We think it should have been made out of stainless steel . . . not aluminum.

2. Stern Anchor - We think our Fortress, FX-23, was perfect as a stern anchor. Being light, it was easy to row out in the dinghy. Like the Danforth we used to have, it also set very rapidly. Our stern rode was 6 feet of 5/16th BBB and 200 feet of 3/4 nylon. Our old Danforth is still in Monterey Bay, after its 3/8th inch braided nylon rode snapped while trying to recover it. We learned the hard way that our rode was too thin. Henceforth, the rode not taken will be less than 1/2 inch!

3. Stern Anchor Mount - After being unsuccessful in trying to use an AnchoReady mount on the stern pulpit, we found the Bow Pulpit Anchor Holder, also made by Nautical Engineering, to be perfect for the job.

4. Primary Anchor - We were quite satisfied with our 45 pound CQR anchor, although the 60 pound one might have been a better choice. We used a 5/16th BBB all chain rode, although most cruisers seem to have opted for the 3/8 inch chain. We had 350 feet of chain in two sections, joined by an Italian anchor connector.

We believe that scope is more important than chain thickness. In the Society Islands we often had very deep anchorages, 75 feet or deeper, so we needed the longer rode. But all the weight associated with an all chain rode wasn't desirable. Some cruisers had systems for stowing chain in the center of the boat during passage making. Another approach, which seemed to work quite well, utilized 100 feet of chain, backed by 200+ feet of line. When more than 100 feet of rode was out, this approach had a built-in anchor bridle. After much reflection, I think 150 feet of 5/16th chain, backed by 200 feet of nylon line would be the best choice for the area we cruised.

5. Anchor Bridle - It's crucial to have a nylon anchor bridle to 1) keep the chain of the bob stay, and 2) provide some elasticity in the anchor rode. After much experimentation, we settled on two 25 foot lengths of 3/8 inch, three strand nylon. Both lines were spliced around a single thimble which was shackled to a chain hook. These lines were both led through the bow anchor roller and then cleated off on the deck. Sections of hose at the thimble, as well as at the roller, minimized chafe on the nylon lines.

The only problem was keeping the chain hook from falling off the chain. We didn't like tying the hook to the chain with a small line, but found no better solution. We tried leading the lines through the port and starboard haws holes, but that resulted in more dancing around the anchor. We tried thicker lines but they didn't stretch. We also tried attaching the bridle to the bottom of the bob stay, but found that approach unacceptable.

The thin, 3/8 inch line provided a good amount of elasticity. If one line broke, there would be a spare. During the unfortunate times that we were anchored in 40+ knot winds, our anchor bridle really stretched, but never broke.

6. Storm Anchor - We had a 77 pound fisherman anchor, stowed in the lazarette. Thankfully we never had to use it since it was so heavy and cumbersome.

7. Rocker Stoppers - Rocker stoppers can improve a rolly anchorage and we had six suspended on each side. They work best when suspended several feet off the beam of the boat. Once we used the boom on one side, and the spinnaker pole on the other, to suspend the rocker stoppers about 8 feet off the beam. This put a great deal of stress on the two poles, and made it extremely difficult to leave an anchorage hastily.

When we use them now, we just hang them directly off the beam. They only dampen the movement a little, but they're better than nothing. The biggest problem, other than cost, is the large amount of precious space it needs when stowed in the lazarette.

8. Spare Anchor - We kept a 35 pound Danforth plow anchor stowed in case we lost our primary hook. It was a very poor imitation of a "Genuine CQR," and its purchase was false economy. Another Fortress would be my choice now.

horizontal rule