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Author Topic: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report & 3596 Update & 5000 Mile link  (Read 17895 times)

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waterdog

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1500 Mile Interim Refit Report & 3596 Update & 5000 Mile link
« on: October 10, 2009, 12:07:11 PM »

1500 mile interim report.

Total distance 1503 miles
Average speed 4.6 kts
Maximum speed 11.6 kts (that was fun!)



We've now travelled 1500 miles, mostly on open ocean.  It's probably worth reporting on how things are working out from the perspective of upgrades and improvements which are always of interest on the forum.   

Things that we love and are very happy that we did:

- tool storage in the companionway - perhaps the singular best improvement on the boat

- the bimini, solar panels, and batteries - great protection from the sun.  We could go forever without pluggin in.   Never depleted the battery bank below 75%.  I still haven't installed the new high output alternator or separate start battery.   Seems like we may have more capacity than we need, but that is exactly where we want to be as we head south and refrigeration loads increase and the watermaker runs a few hours a day.

- new interior upholstery - it's our home and its very comfortable

- new chartplotter with radar and AIS - large 8 inch screen on a bracket at the companionway.  This is the perfect position for the instrument.   Weekend sailing, you stand behind the wheel.   Doing serious miles, you relax more comfortably in the cockpit and you can't see instruments behind the wheel.  AIS is amazing.  I thought it was poor mans radar, but it is much better than radar if you are trying to figure out what a vessel is up to (speed, direction, position, closest approach, vessel name and MMSI number right there for you).   And best of all, the whole thing folds into the companionway so we don't worry about expensive electronics being left outside.   

- diesel heater - never would have believed how cold it is.  You expect it offshore in Washington and Oregon, but California has been very cold.

- collapsible salad spinner and collapsible strainer - Tracey likes having these items on board - new silicon versions knock flat and take up no space (what the hell, this isn't a boat improvement??  Actually, yes it is.  You just have to stop thinking that the boat is about the bits you bolt in and wire up and think of it as place for total family comfort and daily living and you will have a happier crew than if put the money into a new traveller.)

- the propane refit - I think I would be going nuts by now if I had to drag little metal bottles around to have them refilled. 

- a good chefs knife

- the table shrink in the main salon - way better access

- overhead lee cloths on the shelves - fantastic.   Never had anything fall out and the shelves are stuffed to twice the old capacity with everything visible for easy access

- new mainsail, lazy jacks - awesome.  Big difference.   

- reefing in the cockpit - this is where reefing belongs - and separate lines for tack and clew are the way to go

- sewing machine - like it so much I brought it with us

- ventilating the refridgeration space with 4 inch holes intake and exhaust holes and a muffin fan.   Draws a little more power, but doesn't run as long using way less energy.

- weather cloths in the cockpit

Things we should have spent more time / money on:

- foam in the bed mattresses - I went cheap and didn't replace the foam.   We still sleep in comfort, but I've added a mattress topper and wooden slats in the aft and a 3" memory foam topper in the v-berth.   We are now extremly comfy, but access underneath positively sucks. 

- genoa sheets - the only bit of running rigging on the boat I didn't replace.   I was punished for it.

- the main sail cover - I recut the old one and put a zipper in the top.  It turns out even sunbrella eventually dies.   Concept is great, but I should have bought new fabric as the old is worn out.   I'm going to have to redo this as I have some tearing around the reef lines. 

- scupper hoses - I replaced these "above waterline" hoses with whatever cheap crap the guy at West Marine said would be good.   When you have a big following sea off the Oregon coast at 2 o'clock in the morning, your scupper hoses are not above the water and there is no comfort in cheap hoses that could get ripped if something shifted down there - I replaced these in Coos Bay with exhaust style hose.

- bilge pump set up - I have four bilge pumps:  2 high capacity electric with hoses to the transom, 1 tiny electric, 1 manual in the cockpit.   

The tiny one (300 or 500 gph) drains to a T in the sink drain and has the lowest switch.  This is the maintenance pump that keeps the bilge water level low. It also has power through the main switch on the panel because closing the sink drain through hull on an active bilge pump could cause quite a mess.   

The big ones (2000 gph each) have separate circuits with fuses to the battery.   The switches on these pumps are mounted higher and one of the switches also runs the bilge alarm since I want to know about it if these pumps ever operate.   

Disturbingly, I have heard the bilge alarms go off.   In bigger seas, particularly under power, water slops in to the factory bilge through hull.   For the second high capacity pump, I put the discharge through hull in the place of the old propane locker vent.    So now I have a check valve on the factory bilge pump.  Not ideal.   I may consider moving the discharge higher.

Things we've done, that haven't yet proved their worth:

- wireless remote for the autopilot - never bother to turn it on.   We just reach back to the control head on the pedestal and push the buttons by feel

- lifelines - Amsteel may be extremely strong, but it elongates.   We have to retension often.   More chafe than I would like.   I think bare stainless might be a better choice.

- series drogue - this is really storm force stuff.  Easy enough to transit the coast and avoid storm force conditions.   A little gale now and then and the boat can stand up to it.   But when it starts blowing, you never know how bad it will get...

- camp stove toaster - this is the jobby was supposed to be the corrosion free version that goes on the stove burner.  They lied.

- liferaft - but I wouldn't leave home without it.   Truthfully, I don't know how people actually deploy these things if it is a storm that is sinking the boat.   

- the spinnaker - positively beautiful, but very underutilized, only popped it twice on the cruise so far.  Hoping this changes in the future.

- watermaker - only just commissioned it.   It is a pain in the butt to clean filters etc.   I would never bother if cruising Canada / US.  We will probably grow to love it in Mexico   

- cabin fans - we have four.   On maybe 2 days we have felt that they are useful.  Again, once the butter melts... 

- print as you go charts.   I have two chartplotters, but cannot sail without hard copy.  My concept was to print out the NOAA chart books as we go.  Bad idea.  Hate the little charts.  Hate printing them, collating them and putting them into sleeves.  I've bought chart books.    I couldn't store or afford full size charts for the whole coast.  Chart books are a good comprimise. 

- autopilot - it's performed better than I thought it would.  I wouldn't cross an ocean with it alone.

Stuff still on my "to do" list:

- shade awning
- cockpit side shade curtains (block 75% light, still allow breeze - phiffertex)
- window covers (same fabric will run full length outside and snap on providing shade and bug protection)


Overall it has been a fantastic trip.   I find it really interesting on the whole debate of what makes an offshore sail boat.   It is unbelievable how much BS floats around and how many people have opinions but no experience based on the particular boat they happen to have an opinion on.  I now believe it matters far more how the boat is prepared than what boat it is.  Obviously you need a minimum standard in terms of hull integrity and rig strength and I think the Catalina 34 has that easilly.   The question is can the boat and crew be prepared for offshore?   I believe the answer question lies only with the skipper who does the preparation.  In our case, we have had a fairly good shakedown cruise and I rate the boat highly.   I've had "experienced" sailors who were aghast that I would take my family with no offshore experience in a Catalina 34 from Vancouver to San Francisco - a nasty bit of coast.   And it takes some serious thought to call bull#### and say you're up to the challenge having never sailed in an ocean swell.  I've also had experienced sailors who say go to the Marquesas and you'll find a lot of less capable boats than yours crewed by Europeans having the time of their lives.   And you'll also find North Americans with real fancy boats with a lot of broken bits waiting for parts. 

So that's the next question.   Are we offshore sailors?   Tracey doesn't fancy bashing up the coast.   She thinks it's much easier to turn right.   But 3000 miles is a big commitment.   We'll have an answer by February or so... 
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 10:35:04 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

waterdog

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2009, 12:21:49 PM »

I forgot.  The Rocna.  All 20kg of it with 100ft of chain.  The rest of the world can debate all they like.   When I pull into a place like Bodega Bay at midnight and the fog is so thick I can't see the jetty 50 feet away to make an entrance, I drop my hook in the rolling ocean swells with the surf crashing (Foster says it's like staying in a cheap Best Western beside the highway), and I sleep.  And in the morning I have a windlass to pull the beast up and I wouldn't trade it for anything.   (I also wouldn't add more chain - this works perfectly in 25 to 30 feet of water - you let all the chain out and you tie off nylon at the preferred scope and don't bother with snubbers and chain hooks and all that stuff...) 

This was our best upgrade.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 12:15:42 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

Mike and Joanne Stimmler

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2009, 06:17:16 PM »

Steve,
Great to hear you're doing so well.
What's your current location?
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Mike and Joanne Stimmler
Former owner of Calerpitter
'89 Tall Rig Fin keel #940
San Diego/Mission Bay
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Stu Jackson

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2009, 10:29:06 PM »

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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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catalinamike

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2009, 10:58:10 PM »

Loved your blog.  Sounds like you did a terrific job in your prep.  If you need any local knowledge in and around Marina Del Rey please email me as I am off work until 10/18.  I have sailed to Cabo 2 years ago and can offer some advice on Panama also.  I predict you will love your watermaker before Cabo.
Tassber hull#1321
Mike
Catalinamike1321 at yahoo dot com
« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 10:08:48 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Mike Berlin
1996 Catalina 34 MkII,  tall rig, std keel
hull#1321

waterdog

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2009, 01:19:50 AM »

Mike / Mike:

We're in Santa Barbara arriving in Marina Del Ray on Monday and hope to be in San Diego around the 17th or so.  Have to stop in Newport along the way to say hi to Tom and do the Disneyland thing.   Sounds like we should just post our location when we arrive at docks and host a dock party for the local Catalina 34 sailors.   There are a lot down here.   It's almost like they came out of some local factory...   
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

Ron Hill

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2009, 05:08:54 PM »

Steve : Keep the "what works and what doesn't" coming.  I did the same back in 1996 BMB (Before the Message Board) thru the Mainsheet - when we went south on the east coast.

Only advice is to watch your use of the water maker in crowded harbors/anchorages, but I'm sure that you already know that. 
You might want to make sure that you have 2 to 3 correct size (as well as the belts for your spare alternator - incase the belt size is differant!) extra engine drive belts.  Most (local/small) auto stores don't carry/stock "V" belts anymore, because the autos are using serpentine belts nowdays! 
A few thoughts.
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Stu Jackson

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2009, 08:04:59 AM »

Keep the "what works and what doesn't" coming.  I did the same back in 1996 BMB (Before the Message Board) thru the Mainsheet - when we went south on the east coast.

That'd be the one published in the February 1997 issue.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 08:05:15 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

"There is no problem so great that it can't be solved."

Mike and Joanne Stimmler

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2009, 09:12:03 AM »

Steve,
We will be in San Diego on the 16th and 17th but heading back to Phoenix on the 18th.
Hope we can get together.
Your blog is great!
If you can email me I will give you my cell number but I din't want to post it, otherwise I'll try to have the VHF on. My MMSI is 367417690(if I can figure out how that works)

Mike
« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 08:15:19 PM by Mike and Joanne Stimmler »
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Mike and Joanne Stimmler
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San Diego/Mission Bay
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waterdog

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3600 Mile Update
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2010, 09:15:21 AM »

Thought I would drop in a note on this thread with a little update now that we have reached the southern end of our voyage.   There are a few updates since the 1500 mile update back in the summer.  

Total Distance:  3596 miles
Max Speed:   12.6 knots

1.   Unbelievably, 400 Watts of solar isn't enough.   On the hook day after day, I don't have enough juice to keep the batteries full.  I think this shortfall has always been there, but some of the southbound motoring masked it.    We are good on regular days, but when we make water or it is cloudy, we end up digging a big Amp hour hole.  (Don't conclude that 400W wouldn't be enough for you - we are electron pigs with our ice cubes and water maker.)  See also: Steve's solar discussion here:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5137.0.html

2.   I don't think the 20 year old AB refrigeration is a good choice for the tropics.   It keeps things cold, but it runs a lot.   I would probably go with the newer units with modern controls if I had extra boat bucks.

3.   The new high output alternator is magnificent.   Puts in 110A at cruising speed and a constant 57A at 1500 RPM.    Fills the shortfall very nicely.    Love the Ample Power voltage regulator too.

4.   The cockpit screens turned out really nice.   They keep it cool and liveable.   I have five curtains:   a connector between bimini and dodger, 2 side curtains, and 2 aft curtains that overlap but open up for access to the swim ladder.

5.    I ran the same screen material down the sides of the boat covering the fixed and opening ports on both sides.   It's applied with snaps and keeps the cabin cool and bug free.   These never come off.  We love them.   We have fabric and poles for awnings, but haven't been compelled to make them yet.   This is not a bad tropical boat at all.

6.    Occasionally we end up in a buggy place.    I made a screen for the forward hatch that is compatible with our wind scoop.   Full breeze.  No bugs.

7.    Next time, I would not go with black bottom paint.   We had a 60 foot whale swim up within 4 feet the other day just checking us out.   I think it thought we were looking pretty cute.   I don't want to look like a humpback worthy of mounting, so maybe red would be a better choice.

8.    The 4 Caframo fans are wonderful.   Tracey never understood why I put them in.  She does now and won't even let me turn them off at night.

9.    The watermaker was a great investment.  I've seen the other side - people buying their water in 5 gallon jugs and trying to sneak in a little shampoo as they steal a  beachside shower from a resort.   It doesn't look like fun.  We love the watermaker.
Capacity is important.   The cheaper low volume Katadyne units have to run forever to make enough water.   Something in the 150 gpd range is much better.    We have a Spectra unit.


10.   I've made peace with my autopilot.    It has done by far the bulk of the steering for 3500 miles.   No issues since the first premature death of the drive unit.   I had hoped it would survive this long, but didn't actually expect it too.

11.   Radar.  We love radar.  It's especially nice travelling at night in a place where the charting is spotty and boats don't necessarily have running lights.

I think we have answered the question of whether we are offshore sailors or not.   The answer is no.  At least not right now on this boat.   Having spent some time in Mexico, we would not want to be in a rush to blast through the world in 18 months or something.  5 years would be about the right time frame.   That will require a bit more funding.   And we are keen to spend time up in the Sea for the late spring /summer so we may end up leaving the boat here or putting it on a truck or ship.  



« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 11:35:21 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

Mike and Joanne Stimmler

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2010, 12:23:26 PM »

Steve,
Thanks for all the great info. I've also been folowing your blog, good stuff!
Do you have a ultimate destination in mind or are you playing by ear?

BTW, the crew of Wholesailor, Ken and Carol Heyman from Chicago are on an extended stay in San Diego and have visited with us two weekends ago and we hope to see them again this comming weekend. Very nice folks.

Bottom line......the Tortola spiced rum may be gone by the time you come back through San Diego. Soooooo, just in case you happen to wind up in Tortola, would you bring some back with you.    :D
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Mike and Joanne Stimmler
Former owner of Calerpitter
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San Diego/Mission Bay
mjstimmler@cox.net

waterdog

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2010, 05:19:32 PM »

We are in our ultimate destination.   We are on the hook there pretty much every night :D

We have been in Zihuatanejo for the last month.   We were one of the first boats down here.   Some fellow cruisers criticized us for going too fast, but we are glad we did.   Now we know where we want to spend our time as we start heading north in the next few weeks.   We'll spend some time in Tenacatita, Mazatlan, Barra de Navidad and bunch of other anchorages along the way.  In the spring we'll cross back over to La Paz and then head north into the Sea.    We don't want to be in a rush to get out and do the bash, so we will probably get chased north by hurricanes and haul out at San Carlos in the summer.   Then maybe leave the boat here and catch up with it later or put it on a truck and go to windward the easy way.
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat

Ken Heyman

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2010, 05:32:57 PM »

Hi Steve,

we have also been following your voyage with great interest and some envy. Congratulations again on a remarkable and well thought out experience for you and your family.---

a note to Mike and Joanne---thanks for the nice words and we look forward to getting together upon your return. We rented a Capri 18 (no outboard) and sailed over to your side of Mission Bay from the Bahia. We had to negotiate one bridge and nearby kayakers assured us that our mast was clearing by no more than two feet. I guess it might have been more challenging at high tide.

Steve---continue to keep us all that live vicariously updated.

Ken
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Ken Heyman
1988 c34 #535
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Chicago, Il

Tom Clay

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 09:26:18 PM »

Steve,

Thanks for the update. We have been following your blog, and are thinking of a trip to Mexico within the next 3 years. First a trip to Alaska though, we are in the early planning stages.
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Tom and Lynn Clay
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Olympia, Wa.

waterdog

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Re: 1500 Mile Interim Refit Report
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2010, 10:37:15 PM »

Tom:

How could you think about going down that stretch of ocean in a Catalina 34?   It's a coastal cruiser.   You'll all die! :shock:


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[Stu - added Dec. 2012]

Further information here:  5000 Miles of broken Bits:

http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5699.0.html
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 11:16:45 AM by Stu Jackson »
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Steve Dolling
Former 1988 #804, BlackDragon - Vancouver BC
Now 1999 Manta 40 cat
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