Last week, I delved into my most favourite subject – voyage planning. This week the subject is not as exciting (for me!), but hopefully the few of you that are sailors will find the reading interesting.
I shall start by saying that we had been working on Mehalah from the day we bought her. Yet, now, knowing that we will be setting off to cross oceans, there were some major projects we needed to undertake.
Firstly, we upgraded all the electronics. Radar, chart plotter, AIS, autopilot, naxtex, sound system. The navigation system is now fully integrated – all the information is displayed on the chart plotter. We believe this to be important to effective navigation and quick decision making; we are also hoping that it is going to take less of a toll on the batteries.
As for the sound system, we had an old CD player without cockpit speakers. Good music keeps the spirits up! – more on this topic in one of the future blogs.
Secondly, we considered installing a wind vane and a water maker. Both ideas were dropped when we took into account the cost and space implications.
Mehalah’s rudder is protected by a skeg. Thus, it is very unlikely we would lose the rudder should a collision with a submerged object happen. However, as a contingency for ‘the unlikely event’, we purchased a drogue. This has two potential uses; in storm conditions it slows the boat down to a manageable speed, and in case of rudder loss it helps to some extent with steering the boat.
In order to supplement the limited amount of water held in our four newly made to measure flexible tanks (Duratank), instead of a water maker, we went for a more archaic solution of a rain catcher ordered from Australia. At the London Boat Show in January, we also purchased a manual portable water maker, which could be used in case of emergency. And of course, we will have to come up with innovative ways of minimising our water consumption at sea.
Thirdly, in order to mitigate the risk of running out of power offshore, Sorin equipped Mehalah with a wind generator (Silent Wind 400+). This will complement the 3 solar panels we have. As we will be spending many weeks at sea or at anchor we must be self sufficient. With this in mind, we recently replaced our leisure batteries. However, at this moment we still have doubts about our self sufficiency. Having recently motored from London to Ipswich, we were expecting the leisure batteries to be fully charged on arrival. To our surprise and disappointment, when we plugged in to the shore power the batteries went on fully charging mode, so clearly our expectations were not quite right! We are now looking to get an eletrician to check the system; we are also considering buying a small Honda generator.
Fourthly, we replaced our old spray hood with a stronger and more functional one. Inspired from Alex Thompson’s Hugo Boss racing yacht at Vendee Globe, our new light blue spray hood has a drop down cover for the companion way. This will protect us from the elements whilst on watch. Also, we will have a bimini that we can put up whilst at anchor.
Last but not least, weather forecasts and communication are critical to our enjoyment and safety. We assessed options for emergency communication and weather forecasts offshore. We looked at SSB radios, satellite phones and Iridum Go. We took into account ease of installing, outset and ongoing costs. And the decision was made in favour of the Iridium Go. We also hope to be using the satellite phone for blogging and twitting (at the least!)
On the subject of safety, we added to our newly serviced life raft, life jackets and flares, a fully stocked grab bag (contents below), an EPIRB, two PLBs and two OLAS bracelets which we will make sure to wear whilst on watch.
In addition to the essential engine and other spares, Sorin installed a second fuel filter (RACOR) on the engine. By doing so, we hope to be able to change the engine filter without needing to bleed the engine.
Currenly, Mehalah is out of the water and having her hull cleaned and anti-fouled, seacocks cleaned, deck oiled and rigging checked. Once the work is complete, we will be sailing off in the sunset…
Grab bag contents
Handheld VHF radio
Handheld GPS and spare batteries
Iridium phone and spare battery with battery charger
Photocopies of the vessel’s documents and passports
Cash and credit cards
Condoms for water collection
Thermal blankets, hats, survival suits
Puncture repair kit for the liferaft
Fishing gear and bait
Pencil and paper and
30 m floating line
Needles and twine
Ziploc plastic bags
Pack of cards
Sea sickness tablets, antibiotics, painkillers, sunblock and lip salve, vaseline petroleum jelly
Chemical heat packs
Separate bag for food (water, tins of fruit, corn beef, rice pudding, milk, sardines, can opener, tortillas and sweets)