Milestone Report

Milestone Report

Now that we are leaving Indonesia I want to give another report on the good bad and ugly on the boat. Indonesia was a milestone on several levels; we have not touched a dock in 90 days, we have survived operating a very modern boat in the most primitive of circumstances and we have logged another couple of thousand miles of ocean travel.

So starting from the bow, here is what I like, want to change, what I would advise others to do. I upgraded the anchor windlass and added 200’ of chain for a 600’ total, my anchor is a 55kg Bruce type, twice the size recommended. We have anchored in 100 feet often in all kinds of conditions and have never drug anchor and only had to reset the anchor once due to proximity of another boat. I always anchor on the outside of the anchorage allowing the smaller boats the closer spots and trying to avoid the crowds, this has worked well. I do have a second main anchor that has yet to be unwrapped and a stern anchor I have used once—glad I have both but have found no need so far. I have watched several of my companions burn up their windlasses and many drag insufficient anchors– So go big, go long, in this case size matters!

I added three West Marine deck boxes and wish I had room for more, there is never enough storage. So put on as many as you can fit. The make nice seats as well. With my large and ever changing crew, sleeping spaces are a topic. Even if you are not over populated outside sleeping is favorable. I have on large hammock and one air mattress both get a lot of use, I have seen the hammock spot the spoils of a card game.

One of the big debates in the Selene world is whether to go mast/boom or hydraulic davit; I have the mast/boom and believe it is the best choice for the long range voyager. It is much more adaptable to varied use; we load all sorts of stuff on the deck with it. The mast/boom can be used on both sides of the boat. It takes up no deck space. The best reason to choose the mast/boom is that I carry an entire mechanical spare set including motors, lines and hardware. I can replace the entire system in a day if needed; I can fix it if it breaks. There are no hydraulic experts in the wilds of Indonesia.

On the deck topic there are two things I would do differently; one is a taller mast, I have played with auxiliary sail power a bit and think that a passage making boat should be able to carry sails used for long downwind legs. An addition of one knot of speed would make a huge improvement to fuel usage. My mast is a bit short as it was designed with the Freemont Bridge in mind. The other change, one that is more doable, is deck lighting. I will add much better deck lighting all around the boat, especially the upper bridge.

On the electronics side I am very happy with the Simrad systems we installed in 2005, none have failed. Nobeltech continues to serve me well. I do wish I had a repeater for the Interphase forward looking sonar on the bridge as later models allowed. Also my bridge screen is too small. One crew member had an IPad with Navionics installed and it was great, I will get one for trip planning backup.

One thing I would never do is enclose the bridge area; it is an oasis in the hot sun. If you have an enclosed bridge, leave the panels home. Traveling in the tropics bring a whole new bunch of considerations. Do you need air-conditioning? Need, no; want, probably. I installed one unit in the Pilot House which is 110v so will run on the inverter if it is not already heavily taxed. The water pump failed a year ago, I have the parts and have not bothered to fix it. I will soon as I am smack dab on the equator now. I came here to get warm, I have been cold most of my life and I really like it very very warm, I may be unusual on this. Ya I am unusual on many things I know. The boat is very well ventilated and I use small 110v fans which draw little and cool nicely.

I have found the off sided Selene 48 pilot house to be perfect; in fact I believe it is better for long range travel than the larger layouts of the bigger boats. The bench seat is just the right distance from the electronics to allow observation. The seat allows two or more people to enjoy conversation in line with the watch keeper not behind him as a pilot seat would. Mostly the bench is comfortable; believe me I have had my rosy butt in that seat a long time. The only real ware in the upholstery is the pilot bench, I think I will eventually have to replace the cushion, when I do I will cut out the worn leather and frame it! Same goes for the upper bridge, the Todd seats get a lot of use and have held up superbly. Here is one area you have to know you will go long range cruising. The pilot house takes on a whole different dimension when you think about going 5-17 days nonstop.

The one item that is essential is the pilot berth. Again it is a favorable place to sleep in warm places. It also allows me to get some sleep and yet be in contact with the watch keeper when needed. I want to be right there in when we have 40 AIS targets on screen crossing the shipping lanes into

Brisbane Australia or Singapore.

One of the other areas of varied opinion is the stateroom/head layouts. Selene offers several choices here and the people who chose each do so with great thought. For the long range voyager who will spend a great deal of time in very warm climates—why else cross an ocean! I like the forward master layout as it gives great ventilation with the large hatch and side ports. Coming for the cold north it will be hard to fathom how important this is. There have only been a few nights at sea where I bailed the forward berth for calmer accommodations, usually the pilot berth. On these nights I want to be close the watch keeper anyway.

Another area of debate is the need for two heads. This is simple, I carry spares for every major system. The head is a major system! Also the Tecma heads are indestructible. Two years of hard use, sometimes 5 crew, mostly girls and they are still flushing great. On that note I did add sea water access to the heads and a valve to switch from fresh to sea water, a change I highly recommend. Fresh water can be precious and flushing it down the head is silly, more on that on the water maker topic. I do run the fresh water regularly to clean the system. After five years and tons of use I did have to clean out the plumbing to remove salt build up, not fun.

On the things I really wish I had done list the number one is install a second water maker. This is an essential system and when it fails it can cause you to make serious changes in your cruising plans. I had to leave one of the best diving spots on the planet a week before I wanted to get the damn thing fixed in Papeete. I also was plagued with problems in Australia and skipped some cool places to hurry to repair facilities.

If I had it to do again I would have removed the large Kabola furnace, put it in storage in Seattle where it belongs and used the space for a second water maker. The furnace has not started in two years and no plans to need it for a long time. I think this is my biggest regret in preparation—actually not bad if that is the worst thing I did.

On the toys I would not leave home without list; the icemaker—I use the simple cheap kind that you add water to. Two hundred bucks, no plumbing makes it easy. I did fry one as we laid the power for the SSB radio over it, poof. The hard drive reader and the now five Terabits of movies and TV Series—we do love out Big Bang Theory. Three guitars, a ukulele and an assortment of rhythm instrument have proven to open doors and make great fun and friends. Dive gear, including tanks and compressor. Frankly I cannot imagine doing this trip without diving. Deep sea fishing gear is a must. The kayaks get a huge amount of use and supply needed exercise while having fun. They are very practical when just one person needs to go the beach and the surf is up and supply needed serenity when I just want to be by myself. I have a spare paddle as they are easily lost. Hey you are beginning to see why deck storage is so important!

On the God Sent list; the ESI fuel polishing system—do not leave home without one, the oil change pump, the larger Wesmar stabilizers –I went from the standard 6 cu ft fins to the 7.5 cu ft fins to compensate for the slower speeds I would be using. The Forespar Rolex stabilizers have turned rolly anchorages into comfortable ones. My Kindle and IPod rate right up there too.

On the things I will get soon list; the IPad with Navionics and the star charts. A good 110v self priming fuel pump has been something I really needed in Indonesia. Getting fuel is hard; it comes in dugout canoes filled with jerry cans and a bunch of boys who happily siphon each can into the tank. It is messy, takes a long time and prone for disaster. A simple pump would remedy the whole ordeal, the cans could stay in their boat and I would just pump them into the tank. I may try to add a filter inline too. This could also be used if you needed to give a cruising buddy a bit of fuel in an emergency.

One subject that needs discussion as I do not think most Northwest trawler owners understand this usage, the dinghy. If you have a large, heavy, center cockpit steering high powered dinghy, sell it! It will be virtually useless where you are going. If you and your crew cannot lift it or wheel it up a sandy beach you cannot use it in most places –and by the far the coolest places– you will go. If you cannot load two weeks of groceries, dive gear and greasy cans of used oil, if you cannot leave it tied to a cement pier or jagged float, if you cannot load it easily day after day (never leave your dink in the water at night) in rough conditions on your boat, it is useless.

I remember reading a great blog of a fellow long range trawler owner who sold his hot rod Noverena in Mexico and bought a small open tiller steering RIB. I have an 11’ AB with the aluminum hull and a 25hp Honda with a tiller weighing less than 400 lbs and it is too big. I also carry a roll up Walker Bay 8’ inflatable and a 2hp Suzuki motor and it gets used often. I may replace the Honda with a lighter Yamaha of the same horse power so I can beach it. We carry a dinghy anchor and long line, another essential, so we anchor the boat and secure it to shore. This works OK but is a pain and someone always gets wet. It was especially thrilling in Queensland where getting wet made you a tasty temptation for a big crocodile.

I highly recommend any long range, South Seas cruiser use as the primary shore craft, the largest dinghy the crew can lift or wheel with a tiller motor. I also recommend carrying a spare dinghy and motor. Both should be equipped with sturdy covers. The dinghy is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you will own. Loose it or break it and your trip is over. It is prone to theft, damage and motor failure so a spare is needed. If you travel with a large crew and enjoy staying in picturesque anchorages for long period of time- and if you do not, why are you going? — having multiple ways to get to shore is very nice.

So off we go to another adventure, SE Asia is alluring and exotic and I am sure will teach me even more lessons on this great subject. The recommendations I have made are just that and specifically for the long range cruiser. This is not to say that other preparations would make such a trip impossible or even unhappy. I have learned so much and seen so many people out here in so many kinds of boats and levels of equipment. All are safe and having a blast so come along!