After 35,000 Miles
conditioning is reverse cycle, and during a brief period in
Prince William Sound when the boiler was not working,
we found that we could take the chill off the boat by
using the genset and reverse-cycle air conditioning,
although the water and air temperature was just 40°F.
Enjoying even water temperature during a long
shower is a rarity on a boat. This time around we fitted
constant-temperature mixer valves from Scandvik, and
they do indeed maintain a consistent water temperature
while we’re showering.
NAVIGATION AND COMMUNICATION
Having started cruising when a sextant was the
primary tool for finding your way across the ocean, we
appreciate the convenience of modern electronics. Our
highest priority has always been radar, and it is during
conditions of poor visibility, in big waves and rain squalls,
when we really want it working.
We had decided early on to go with Furuno, as the
majority of the fishing fleet still seems to use Furuno gear
and we’ve been happy with them in the past. The big
question was, which type of equipment? Should we go
with yacht radar and a large antenna or double the cost
for a commercial-grade unit? We ended up with the
commercial gear because of its theoretically enhanced
capabilities in sea and rain clutter and more powerful
anti-collision software. The Furuno 2117 we have aboard
is an IMO-approved unit with a 6-1/2-foot antenna and
12k W of power. The performance of this unit in terms of
Photos courtesy of Steve and Linda Dashew
The anti-collision software on the Furuno 2117 is extremely
powerful. This comes into play in crowded situations like the
one shown here. There are two commercial vessels coming at
us, and the only choice we have is to go between them. We
take manual bearings, of course, but it is really nice having
this commercial-grade automatic plotting capability.
target definition in difficult conditions is amazing, and we
consider it money well spent.
During the winter of 2006, we added a Furuno CH270
searchlight sonar for navigation in areas where the charts
leave something to be desired. This is a wonderful piece
of electronics that does its job well, and now that we are
used to it, we would have a hard time doing without.
There have already been several instances in which it
alerted us to uncharted dangers in time to avoid them.
We also fitted a Furuno F150 Class A AIS transceiver
(for details, see PMM Feb. ’08). This makes us visible
to shipping even in the worst of conditions and is a
wonderful safety feature.
We now have three Samsung 740BX 17-inch, flat-screen monitors in use for the charting system, radar,
and sonar. These units can be dimmed more than other
monitors we’ve tested in the past, and while they’re not
perfect, at a cost that’s less than a tenth that of the
marinized screens, they provide function and value.
Of course, all the gadgets in the world won’t be of
much use if you can’t see what’s ahead of you. While
designing Wind Horse, we decided not to fit windshield
wipers, as they are a leak hazard in heavy going and we
thought that the vertical windows would not accumulate
much salt. (Plus, they are easy to clean.) We have found
that this approach works fine, as long as we put a fresh
coat of Rain-X on the windows before each passage. We
figured we could always give the windows a wipe under
way if required, but so far this has not been necessary.
Regarding communications, this is the first time we’ve
had a marine single-sideband radio in many years. We
chose the Icom M820, and while it performs well, we
would go back to a ham-style SSB the next time. We
also fitted a black box Furuno FAX30 weatherfax. We
do not like this unit and think the old-style Furuno
weatherfax with a built-in printer was far superior.
Most of our communications at sea these days are via
an Iridium satphone with an external marine antenna.
We primarily use this for email, with shore-based
compression service from UUPlus ( uuplus.com). We’ve
found that we can send and receive 10—20 short emails
with a minute of airtime, and the guys at UUPlus are
great for technical questions. We also have a Globalstar
satphone, but we canceled our contract with them after
experiencing many problems with the service. (It would
often take five or six tries to make a connection, and calls
were dropped repeatedly.)
Because we have huge amounts of DC and AC power
available, our domestic appliances are very much like
those you’d find at home. We have a Seward three-