We lived on two different boats so far. We started with a 34-foot steel boat, but we changed to a 44 foot Moody.
First was Faith.
Faith is a 34 foot steel boat, designed by Boehling, a rather not known brand. She was designed in Germany but welded in the Netherlands. She has a moderate long keel, back hung rudder and a weight of round about ten tons.
We had a lot of stuff in her, as we did work on her for about three years on the hard stand before finally leaving. The most important parts to me were:
30l daily tank
Standard Horizon DSC VHF with passive AIS
Nice thing to have, but we never used the passive AIS, only the VHF on its own. If you can manage to have also a handheld VHF, get one. We installed the VHF downstairs and when approaching a marina or talking to friends who were sailing alongside, we liked the handheld device much better.
Matsutec active AIS
See further down for more explanation.
Pactor and Short wave radio
Well, that’s a long story, but I try to make it short. We both have now the highest possible degree in short wave radio as we passed the German test. Unfortunately, we really have no clue how to use it. The pactor system needs a short wave radio to communicate. With a Pactor you can send text Emails via radio signals and get weather forcast anywhere in the world without additional costs. It took us half a year and lots of nerves to finally make it work. Honestly, a friend of us did it. It is the best thing ever when it works, but until then it is a pain in the a$$. My recommendation if you have no clue about electronics either, pay someone to set it up. It is really worth the money.
A nice story along the way: when we crossed the Biscay, the Pactor wasn’t working and the forecast we had when leaving England was total crap. So I called every day one of the Container Ships passing our way over the VHF and asked kindly for the weather forcast. First, all of them were quite grumpy, but only until they recognised that I am asking for the weather forcast and not wanting to annoy them in any way. Then everyone got super helpful and friendly, always providing us with the newest information they could get,
One salt water intake
Same as Autopilot, but working with the tiller. I actually liked to have a tiller as it gives you a very instant feedback about waves and current. You’ll always know, where the rudder is and no need for a device that tells you where the rudder points at. But still, I prefer a steering wheel.
Wind vane Aries, later Windpilot Pacific
Can’t say enough good things about the windvane system. The Aries worked perfectly, it just broke after being used for about 30 years and we couldn’t find anyone who could weld cast aluminum. But honestly, what were they thinking when putting aluminum and stainless steel together in salt water? Corrosion here we are. The Pacific did an awesome job until we decided to sell Faith.
We only have a small plotter and Alex wishes every time to have a bigger screen, but I think it is enough. The plotter is the most crucial part when we go out. Telling us the direction, the speed, the depths and also showing the AIS signals around us. I love Garmin as we can use Homeport to set up the route on the computer and use it then. The charts are precise and full of information. Best thing ever.
Top loaded fridge (!!) important
We had a totally oversized wind generator and it’s the only benefit was to keep away the seagulls from pooping on the solar panels as it makes a hell of a noise. Whatever the advertisement tells you: don’t believe it. They all make noise. Some more, some less, but they all make noise and most of them start to vibrate and shake the boat at some point. Get solar power, much better output, less noise (no noise) and easy to use.
VHF with DSC but without passive AIS
We decided to change to a normal VHF, as we never used the passive one on Faith having the active AIS as a stand alone device on board. By the way, we decided against a bus system where all the devices are connected and talking to each other. For one part it is great, to see everything you want om one big screen or are able to plan a route on the plotter and then hitting one button and the Autopilot drives you there. On the other hand, these things are very likely to break or prone to errors. We had it once on a friends boat that the VHF radio had a problem and then no more GPS signal, without the signal no more Autopilot and so on. And what if the one screen brakes where all the information is shown? Without backup, you’re blind in one second to another.
Matsutec active AIS
If I would have to choose one on a good working boat, I’d go for the active AIS. We had really big fog when approaching Gibraltar. Highly unpredictable winds, loads of traffic, strong currents and I could barely see the bow of the boat because of the fog. I heard lots of fog horns from the big container ships all around, but hard to guess where the ships are in this nothingness. Without the AIS I wouldn’t have dared to approach Gibraltar. But on the screen, I could see our boat, our speed and all the other ships around us that also have an active AIS, their course, speed, CPA (closest point of approach) as well as the time to CPA, size of the boat etc.
Shortwave radio and Pactor II upgraded to III
See above for more information. So far, we can’t use it as our friend wasn’t here to set the whole thing up for us.
Autopilot autohelm 4000 broke after 600 nm
An Autopilot is the best thing until it brakes. Being a crew of two means one needs to rest for a few hours during the night and you don’t want to wake the other up just because you need a tea, a wee or a quick cookie. Without an Autopilot, someone ALWAYS has to steer. The other has to bring whatever is needed. And you can’t do any maneuver alone as you could with an Autopilot keeping the course, so you can reef the sails or do what’s needed.
Rolling Main and Furling Genua
On Faith we also had a furling Genua, but the rolling main is new to us. I just love it. It is not as fast to bring the sail in, I have to admit and that is what annoys Alex very much, but I think it is worth it. Now none of us needs to leave the Cockpit in any kind of weather to reef the sails, what is a big safety point in my eyes. Reefing to any point we wish for is possible. With the ‘normal’ system, we had three given reefs and that was it. Now, I can choose to reef half, a third, two thirds or just a tiny bit. Far better adjustable to the weather situation out there. And the best thing, I can handle it alone, I don’t have to wake Alex up during my watch for reefing. That means I reef far earlier than before and feel much more secure. Best advice about reefing anyway: When you think about reefing: reef.
One thing you should be aware of and I can’t stress it out enough is: everything that can break, will break. End of story. Sailing the world means repairing your ship at the most beautiful places on earth. Ever heard that saying? Probably yes, that’s because it’s true. Saltwater and sunshine will do damage to everything sooner or later.