Blue Water Sailing, Fall 2022

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BLUE WATER SAILING2 { CONTENTS } FEATURES FALL2022 3 Captain’s Log 4 Blue Water Dispatches 36 Charter 42 Classifieds DEPARTMENTS 14 Bluewater Adventure Fast Passage: Sailing to the Bahamas by Susan Cole 20 Fitting Out Navigation Systems for Cruisers by George Day 24 Tech Report Is it Time to Upgrade to a Lithium House Bank by Bob Osborn 28 Boat Show Preview New Cruising Monohulls for 2023 by George Day

Front Cover: The new Swan under

55

WHEN AN EVENING OF SUNDOWNERS HAPPENS

ISSN#1091-1979Middletown,747DaybyBlueAllBluegeorge@bwsailing.comemailForatPublishedCirculationtomcat911@comcast.netConsultantAdvertising401-847-7612/ArtProductionAdvertisingContributingEditors-at-Largegeorge@bwsailing.comDayJohnNealEditorsBillBiewenga,RebeccaChildressSales/DirectorSandyParkssandy@bwsailingcomSales&MarketingTomCaseyquarterly.Issuesavailableissuu.comquestionsaboutyoursubscriptionthepublisher.WaterSailingiscopyrighted2022.rightsreserved.WaterSailingispublishedquarterlyCommunications,Inc.AquidneckAve.RI02842

among cruising friends in a pleasant anchorage in some fun destination, the subject of seeing the green flash tends to pop up. It falls into the category of having seen an orca or sperm whale at sea, or sailing in the company of an albatross, or seeing spinner dolphins en mass. Things most sailors rarely see. How about St. Elmo’s fire? Or the strange visual effect of a Fata Morgana when a ship or an island suddenly appears floating strangely above the horizon on a calm warm morning at sea with no wind? Or simply Venus rising before dawn like the bow light of a ship bearing down on you? I’ve been called out of my bunk more than once for that crisis. But the green flash? There are those who will tell you it doesn’t exist. And those who have seen it more than once. I have seen it twice. Once from a low hill side in Granada in the Caribbean looking at sunset from 100 feet above sea level. And once from the deck of a 50-footer a day west of the Canary Islands headed for the Caribbean. the flash is a sudden greenish-white pulse of light coming off the top of a rolling swell at your visual horizon just at the sun sets. It’s a visual treat. Or, not. As some might say, it is really the glint of green light you see as you tip back the last sip from a green-bottle of Heineken with the setting sun. That can flash. Who’s telling? If you have a green flash story, send it to us here. George@bwsailing.com.

{ CAPTAIN’SLOG }

Blue Water Sailing, LLC 747 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island 02842phone:USA 401.847.7612 web:

fall, 2022

BLUE WATER SAILING

EditorEditorialwww.bwsailing.com&PublisherGeorge

spring, 2022 3

Ghost of the Green Flash

{ CRUISINGDISPATCHES } 4 Blue Water Sailing

by Mark McMillan

When we first buy a boat, whether brand spanking new or preowned, she is a mystery. It takes time to learn her strengths, weaknesses and little quirks, to properly understand her. Soon approaching the dock becomes a comfortable routine; even tually we begin to trust her in a strong gale and high seas. Things will break in remote places and, somehow, we figure out how to make the repair. Over time, the mystery fades,

KNOWING YOUR BOAT INSIDE OUT

OUR SAILORS’ SOULS SEEK THE UNKNOWN. FOREIGN shores and passages not yet taken, shrouded in mystery awaken us. Our dynamic world of wind, waves and tides, while chaotic to those residing ashore, balms our adventitious spirits with ever-changing seascapes. We ply this wild world in our trusted boats. As we chase mysteries over the horizon, we work to eliminate them aboard.

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When a system fails for the first time, it can be stressful and a steep learning curve. Searching YouTube and chat rooms for advice, we seek out the knowledge needed to perfect the repair. We all make mistakes that set us back, testing our patience and fortitude, finding that extra bolt when the project is done, or mounting a part the wrong way. Many a sailor has been heard screaming profanities, not at their beloved boat, but at themselves for some screw-up when making a first-time repair.

The second time a system fails; the feeling is completely different, although, perhaps, no less annoying. The confidence and knowledge gained through the first repair puts us at ease.

My current boat is my fifth sailboat spanning almost 40 years. She is a 2006 Leopard 40 catamaran that I acquired in 2013. I plan to sail her as long as I can sail. It occurred to me the other day that every single system had failed at least once. She has no more little pockets of the unknown.

with the onset of an easy familiarity. This is when the boat truly becomes ours.

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My boat is my home now. After purchasing her as a seven-year-old Moorings charter phase-out, I put the boat into another charter fleet in the BVI. I learned a lot from the company’s team dur ing the three years they managed her. They would maintain the boat when I was back in Califor nia and, if something broke when I was sailing her, they would walk me though the repair over the phone or via email. This early experience was invaluable. I surely tested their tech’s patience on a few occasions. Looking back now at things that I needed help with they

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We have all heard that the cruising life is just fixing your boat in exotic locations. While this hard realization drives many away, a true sailor accepts this as the price paid for the life that they love. When every repair is a first-time experience, it can seem overwhelming, but rest assured that eventually you too will have seen it all before.

10 years in charter. I knew where she needed structural improvements and added new fiberglass and stiffening to the bulkheads, deck tabbing and mast step. I would recommend that any new owner of an older boat sail her for a while before a major refit. While a sur veyor’s report is helpful, first hand sailing in a wide range of conditions gives one the intimate knowl edge critical to scoping a refit. As one becomes familiar with a boat, priori ties will change. Building this intimacy with a boat before spending a ton of money upgrading her seems only prudent.

I waited six years to complete a major refit. By then, she was a 13-year-old boat in need of a mid-life update. I had put more than 10,000 sea miles on her, and she had spent almost

The sailor values this familiarity. He knows his boat and the boat is truly his. If someone suggests upgrading to a larger, or newer boat, the sailor may just say, “I’m fine with the boat I have, we know each other.”

seem rudimentary but at the time they were great technical challenges.

{ CRUISINGDISPATCHES } 10 Blue Water Sailing

If one owns a boat long enough, one day they too will have repaired everything at least once. Having torn every single thing apart and put it back together leaves one with the confidence that whatever happens, it can be handled. It teaches what spare parts, and tools, must be kept aboard. The mystery will creep back a bit when a new groan or creek develops, the source of which will manically be hunted down. Once found, the comfortable familiarity will return.

We sail to new lands because we crave the unknown, but when it comes to our boats, familiarity rules the seas.

Changing impellers on, or priming, the diesel’s raw water pump, repairing fresh water system leaks, changing filters, and the like, are skills that everyone sailing remote destinations should know. If they don’t, they will learn them soon enough by necessity.

IN SEPTEMBER, XQUISITE YACHTS CEO and founder Tamas Hamor announced that his company had purchased the Running Mon Marina and Resort in Freeport, Grand Baha ma. Xquisite builds modern luxury cruising

CATAMARANS BUYS BAHAMAS MARINA XQUISITE

Hamor noted that Grand Bahama was the right place for the new venture. “Over the years of sailing around the world to more than 90 countries, my wife Sara and I spent many months in The Bahamas, and year after year, we came back, and seven years ago, we got married in Eleuthera. Strategically, Running Mon’s proximity to Florida is the perfect location to establish our service

fall, 2022 11

catamarans, both power and sail, in South Africa and sells to the world market. As it happens, most of their sales are in North America so the company needed to establish a base for service, charter and customer rela tions. The Bahamas was an obvious choice.

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thoroughly upgrade the existing hotel and reopen the Running Mon restaurant. Xquiste CFO David Townsend noted that “when completed we anticipate that we will have 30 to 40 full time em ployees. So, with a good size busi ness and the influx of our highend customers, Running Mon will be making a sizeable contribution to the Freeport economy.”

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{ CRUISINGDISPATCHES } 12 Blue Water Sailing

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{ BLUEWATER ADVENTURE }

John struggled to calculate how long it would take to cross the Gulf Stream. The current could cut the boat speed in half. Cruising books recommended leaving at midnight to ensure arriving in good light. If we arrived after dark, we would not see the coral at the

by Susan Cole buying and refitting Kate run

First SailingPassage:totheBahamas After

14 Blue Water Sailing

their Mason 43 LaughingGoat, Susan and John and daughter

we had to consider and possibly endure.

AS WE ANTICIPATED OUR FIRST OFFshore destination, our terror grew. To sail to the Bahamas, we would cross the Gulf Stream, a warm, fast-moving current flowing north in the Atlantic Ocean, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida Straits and up the East Coast. When winds blew from the north opposing the current,huge waves formed that

face their first offshore, overnight

Laughing Goat, Mason 43, newly purchased 1993

Another big decision loomed: finding a “weather window.” Until this voyage, that phrase had little meaning but in the Miami marina some sailors hired private weather forecasters. Everyone wanted to leave at the beginning of two or three days of favorable winds. As the reality of departure set in, John contacted a professional meteorologist, too.

After a week of scaring ourselves with confus ing weather reports and conflicting opinions from dockside “experts,” we had had enough. On a cloudy, breezy day, we listened to the latest weather report. John checked with the meteorologist who covered Caribbean weather for sailors. The next few days looked favorable. In a stupor of anxiety, we returned the rental car, withdrew cash at the ATM, and made final preparations.

“I don’t know,” John replied. “The weather guy said everything looked good.”

A wiry Englishman from the boat across the dock tossed us the bow line as we pulled out of the slip. His wife stood alongside him, waving cheerfully. He asked where we were headed. “The Bahamas,” John said.

John and I looked at each other. Although fair weather was predicted, clouds obscured the stars. While Kate happily chattered,

ready for adventure, we both glanced warily at the channel leading out of the harbor and beyond into impenetrable darkness.

harbor entrance. We wavered between an early-morning departure and a night crossing.

We focused on our usual boat tasks. As we headed out of the marina, John steered, and I coiled lines and tidied fenders. A lighted red buoy marked the turn where we would enter Government Cut, the channel that led into the ocean. Although I had viewed it neutrally in the past, tonight the blinking red light re minded me of the safety of the inner harbor.

“What did he mean?” I asked, referring to the Englishman’s comment as we left.

Kate’s bright chatter ceased. Sensing the tension, she slipped below deck with a book.

We hemmed and hawed, and decided on a ten o’clock evening departure to Gun Cay. We would cross the dreaded Gulf Stream in the middle of the night.

“I hope your trip over is smoother than ours was this afternoon,” he shouted as we rounded the dock.

fall, 2022

We turned left and entered Government Cut. For a half-mile or so, red buoys lined the left side of the channel and green ones lined the right. There were no other boats in the normally teeming channel. Beyond the strings of lit buoys—utter blackness.

{ BLUEWATER ADVENTURE } 16 Blue Water Sailing

I eventually looked over at him. We had never been big talkers. In that way, our relationship was similar to the one I had with my dad, who had always known what I was up to, without much talk about it. Now, although I quickly looked away, I knew John knew what I felt, too.

“I think it’s ‘11.’ I can’t read it.” I adjusted the binoculars. We headed closer to confirm the number. “Do you think he was talking about the Gulf Stream?” I was stuck on the Englishman’s words. My teeth chattered.

The boat felt like she was running in slow mo tion. We passed another pair of buoys. I could not look at John. I wanted him to feel certain about embarking on this midnight venture. Was he unsure like I was?

“Shall we do this?” he asked.

John said quietly, “Let’s go back.”“Areyou

Three pairs of buoys to go. I did not want to be the one to make the choice.

sure?” I asked, even though my body had already pleasantly slackened as I sank onto the cockpit cushion. John had poured so much of himself into this voy age. Turning back would unleash a torrent of self-doubt. He would dismiss all that he had done to get us this far.

He slowly turned the boat around. I became conscious of breathing in and out, of a soft breeze blowing across my body and the backdrop of neon-lit South Beach high-rises. I glanced at the outer edge of the channel. I could almost make out a ghost ship, carrying a younger version of us, hippies careening around Long Island Sound on an old wooden ferryboat. I did not understand how we would get to the Bahamas now, how we could feel any differently tomorrow about heading into the John’sblackness.version

The non-events of the preceding page, logging the successful crossing, fail to paint the true picture, a romance novel gloss-over of the real terror and shame that led to the Great Gulf Stream Crossing. Four or five days earlier, we had steeled ourselves, armed with days of listening to the offshore broadcast, a fresh read-out from our ace router Walt, nights of teaching myself vector diagrams. Tanks full, engine checked, and we actually left the dock

“It’s ‘11.’” Only five more pairs of buoys to go, and the boat would disappear into the void ahead. Laughing Goat plunged on. John and I were silent.

of events, which he wrote after we crossed successfully:

“Which marker is that?” John asked, pointing to a green buoy some distance away.

“Probably.” John’s blue eyes had shrunk to narrow slits.

Later that morning, John called Cliff, the licensed captain who had helped him bring the boat from Connecticut to Annapolis. Cliff had crossed the Atlantic and sailed the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas. Neither of us wanted to head out again into the blackness

Asalone.we

“Engine trouble,” John said.

An oh-so-nice couple helped with the dock lines and tossed, with the lines, a casual com ment that they hoped our trip was smoother than the one they had that afternoon. Within a nanosecond, all confidence—which must have been gossamer thin—vanished… We were staring out at the channel lights that looked like a neon path to the darkest hell I’ve ever Thedreamed…swells became larger. I—for a second— panicked. Let’s bag it. And we did.

“It looks like we’re in the Gulf Stream,” Cliff said, noting that our speed had slowed to four knots with the current pushing us north.

“How can we cross oceans if we’re afraid of the dark?” John muttered.

at about ten p.m. at night.

A week later, we headed out of Miami again, bound for Nassau, an early morning departure. We decided to sail through the night in deep water north of the Berry Islands to arrive in Nassau the following day. It would be my first overnight sail.

The next morning in the Miami marina, we sipped coffee in the cockpit.

A couple of hours later, Cliff was below in the nav station while John, Kate, and I were on deck, hoping to spot the Gulf Stream's western wall. The sun hid behind clouds. Deep cobalt blue water stretched to the horizon. Fresh, salty air filled our lungs.

Our British neighbor sprinted across the dock to ask what had happened.

fall, 2022 17

Oh, the shame! How embarrassing! How the hell do I expect to sail around the world…

waited for Cliff to arrive, the failure to cross on our own grated. John chain-smoked and avoided people on the dock. Although John looked like a born sailor with a craggy face, L.L. Bean sweater, and worn topsiders, he didn’t like sailing at night or in bad weather much more than I did.

we discerned the shapes of fishing boats. Bathed in the reflected light, men hustled around the decks of the trawlers, hauling in lines and nets. A large yacht was closing in on us —fast— from the other direction. We steered to starboard to give it room as John ran forward yelling. It, too, veered to starboard, and then sped by on our port side, narrowly missing us.

The light was shining more brightly when I passed out chocolate bars for dessert. I remembered my panic as we groped our way towards Stamford Harbor, unsure of where we were. But in this sparsely traveled part of the ocean, there was breathing room. The lighthouse’s beam pulsated into the darkness and pointed the way, a lone streetlamp in a corner of the sea. There were still miles to go in deep water.

Low pink and white and gray buildings lined

Later, as we neared the now blazing light,

Later, I prepared my first dinner at sea, sear ing steaks in olive oil with garlic and rosemary. Although the seas were gentle, I practiced strapping myself to the stove with a wide white canvas strap meant to keep the cook from toppling over in rough weather.

The change was barely noticeable, though, like crossing a highway into another state. The Gulf Stream, which had loomed so large during our preparations, was tame that day.

18

The moon beamed a wide path on the water. Stars blanketed the sky. Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse, the next mark, north of the Berry Islands, glowed faintly in the distance. Laugh ing Goat raced towards it at eight or nine knots, with the current now helping us. The boat swooshed through the darkness.

Cruise ships streamed toward Nassau. John woke up, and we watched ships and fish ing boats disappear into the harbor. As the entrance neared, John and Kate raised the courtesy flag, a small replica of the Bahamian flag. The U.S. flag flew from our stern. When we entered the harbor, tremors of patriotic fervor, which I rarely experienced while in the States, swept through my body.

I went to sleep for a few hours and when I awoke, the sky was brightening. Cliff smiled, pointing to a low gray mound way off in the distance—New Providence Island, where Nas sau was located. I brought up coffee and sat on the forward deck, hugging my knees.

I grinned at Cliff, at Laughing Goat, at the mound on the horizon we were heading towards. We were in Northwest Providence Channel where the Atlantic Ocean fed into the water northwest of New Providence. The vast ocean stretched out in front of me.

We discovered that when we hastily attached our navigation lights after applying a final coat of varnish to the rails before we left, we reversed them. John quickly switched them around. So far, the most dangerous moment on the crossing was this one, and it was our fault.

Russell and Susan Cole bought Laugh ing Goat, a 1982 Mason 43, in 1993. In 1996, John,Susanandtheirseven-year-olddaughterKatesailedonLaughingGoatfromtheirhomeinConnecticutdowntheIntracoastalWaterway to the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. They returned to the States in 1999 and settled in Florida, living aboard Laughing Goat inFortLauderdaleandcontinu oflege,ingtosailherinSouthFloridaandtheFloridaKeys.Theybecamelandlubbers,soldLaughingGoatin2003,andafterKatewentofftocol-purchasedaNorseman20catamaran,Smooch,whichtheylivedaboardforanumberyears,sailingbetweenFortLauderdaleand the Bahamas.

The clipped British accent thrilled me.

*

“This is Nassau Harbor Control.”

"Nassau Harbor Control, this is Laughing Goat.” John's breath caught. I stood near him to witness a historic exchange. We had made it to another country, a dot in the ocean thirteen hundred miles from where the voyage began.

Johnus.

“Laughing Goat requests permission to enter the harbor.”

the Nassau shore. John called Nassau Harbor Control on the radio.

He asked John a few questions about where we were staying and then said, “Permission granted. Welcome to Nassau.” We had passed the first hurdle.

Later, before Cliff caught a plane back to Connecticut, we went to lunch at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. Over conch fritters and key lime pie, we rehashed the crossing, our words tumbling over each other in our

Afterexcitement.Cliffleft, his role in the crossing faded in our retellings, as though we had cut out his image from a photograph. Many years after we returned from the voyage, Kate was surprised to learn that Cliff was a hired captain rather than a friend who occasionally accompanied

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WE WERE struck by lightning just as we were leaving West End, the Bahamas on our way north to our home port in Newport, RI. The storm was a monster thunder and lightning show in the Gulf Stream that went on for six hours. We didn’t actually feel the strike and we didn’t lose our electronics all at once as you might expect from a direct hit.

But, over the next few days as we sailed north towards Hatteras, gremlins started to appear in the electronics. The autopilot developed a mind of its own and would suddenly shift 20 degrees to port. The chartplotter (MFD) would lose the GPS position and would need to be rebooted to reacquire it. Even the radar would shut itself off without warning and need to be rebooted to start it up again. Something was definitely wrong.

We had a great trip north despite the gremlins and were able to work around the issues with a little extra diligence. When we got home, we got the system checked by our pals at Cay Electronics and they couldn’t put their finger on the exact problem but they could

forSystemsNavigationCruisers

THE BASICS

{ FITTING OUT } 20 Blue Water Sailing

see that things were amiss. We contacted our insurance company who sent a surveyor to check out the system. The conclusion was that the lightning strike had fatally damaged the entire electronics package so our system was condemned and the insurance company agreed to replace it with all new gear. That meant we had to start from scratch and design for ourselves, with the help of the experts at Cay, an entirely new and modern navigation system for the boat.

Our boat, a Jeanneau 45.2, has a big, use ful chart table with ample room for mount ing radios and screens and a large cockpit table where a chartplotter was mounted in a NavPod. With redundancy being the heart of good seamanship, we made the executive decision at the outset to replace the chartplotter (MFD) on the cockpit table with a new one and to add a second MFD at the chart table. The unit down below has a touch screen while we chose not to use a touch screen in the cockpit because it is too susceptible to random touches that could create navigation problems.

After a lightning strike, we had the opportunity to replace all of our marine electronics. It was an eye-opening process

by George Day

fall, 2022 21

With this navigation system you could sail safely anywhere in the world, although you might find that the digital charts for some remote areas have not been updated with GPS based geo surveys. Once when anchored in the middle of the large harbor at Nuku Hiva, The Marquesas, French Polynesia, the GPS

The GPS antenna had to be replaced so the entire old network was removed and new cables run to the radar pole that we had in stalled at the stern. This tower is where most of the antennas for the boat are mounted. GPS, of course, is the key to the whole navi gation system. It is hard to believe that GPS has only been around for 30 years since it

plays such a big role in our everyday lives. The U.S. government which maintains the fleet of satellites offers worldwide coverage and when at least four satellite are in an antenna’s view will render an accurate position to within a guaranteed minimum of 25 feet and often much better than that. In fact, modern GPS receivers and satellites often team up to place you within three feet of your actual position. From our point of view, the MFDs and GPS are the basic navigation system but to get the data you need to allow the software to do its job – in our case Lighthouse 1 – we needed to include a depth sounder, speedo-log and wind instruments and individual multifunction displays where the data can be viewed right at each of the twin helms. We chose the i50 displays with one each for speed, depth and other functions and one each for wind speed and true and apparent wind direction. With boat speed, course, chart, wind speed and direction and GPS data flowing to the MFD, the software can calculate true wind speed, apparent wind speed, true and apparent wind angles, speed through the water, velocity made good, current or tide direction and speed and laylines for favored tacks.

The latest developments in MFDs have made these all-purpose navigation tools easy to use and very sophisticated. On some models on the market, such as the B&G MFDs, you will find that a lot of functions specific to sailing have been included in the software so you can generate your best sailing angles, the right times to tack and how to interface your sailing data with current and tide information. We use Navionics digital charts on the chartplotters so these had to be reloaded and then updated via a laptop and the online updates. Navionics has a crowd-sourcing online function that allows users to submit chart updates for review and possible posting.

Because of the ability to share data from instruments and sensors across the network we felt it was important to go with a single manufacturer so we would be confident that each unit would talk seamlessly with the whole network. In our case, we had Raymarine on the boat when lightning struck so the insurance company replaced it with the same brand and similar but newer models. The MFDs we installed were the 12-inch eSeries models that can display and control all instrument func tions with the exception of the autopilot. The processors in these units are so fast these days that screens refresh almost instantaneously. We have used the B&G, Simrad and Furuno MFDs which have similar refresh rates and the full range of functions.

The last item we installed in the new naviga tion system was new to us and not covered by the insurance. But, it is one of the most valuable new electronic tools to be developed in recently years and that is an automatic identification system transceiver (AIS). The AIS operates on the VHF bandwidths so the signal it receives from other vessels and the signal that you broadcast from your boat are line-of-sight. Depending on the height of your antenna, the range can be from 10 to 40 miles. The AIS we installed shows its contacts on the MFD screen as an overlay that can be switched off when not in use or tuned with a set of filters to show all vessels, only the vessels near you, only the vessels that pose a threat of collision and so forth. Standing night watches in busy shipping lanes can be a nerve-racking experience as you scan the horizon for ships and try to match what you see with images on your radar.

{ FITTING OUT } 22 Blue Water Sailing

In addition to the navigational basics, our boat also had radar and an autopilot, so these had to be replaced after the lightning strike. The autopilot was still acting peculiar and would turn suddenly for no reason and the radar would shut down at the worst possible moThements.autopilot

replacement involved a new cockpit mounted control head (p70), a new computer and sensor and a new drive unit. The latest systems from Raymarine and their competitors are so sophisticated that they ap pear to be very simple. With multi-directional sensors and digital compass input, the new autopilots can calculate sea states, yaw rates, pitch rates and adjust the speed and force of the helm corrections accordingly. We often use the wind instrument interface to set the pilot to steer to the apparent wind – much as a mechanical windvane does – and the new autopilot, after installation and tuning, drove the boat like a veteran helmsman.

AIS gives you the data you need; scroll over the image on the MFD of a ship that is head

THE FULL SYSTEM

There are a few ways to use radar on the MFD. You can show the digital chart in one screen with the radar image in a second screen next to it; this gives you the real world that the radar is actually seeing with the digital world in the chart next to it with both screens being clear and easy to read.

The new digital radars, like the 48-mile unit we installed, have a lot of cool features. They turn on and off more quickly than our old analog radar, have a much sharper image, easy to use

gain and filter functions and are excellent at focusing on objects close to the boat, an area that often was a dead zone for earlier radars. Plus the scanner is smaller and lighter (only 21 pounds) than the radar it replaced.

showed us positioned a mile inland on top of a 3,000 foot mountain.

Or, you can overlay the radar images right on top of the digital chart so the real world and the digital world can be viewed together. If the digital chart is not completely accurate, the difference between the overlay and the chart can be alarming.

Our boat was amazingly well tricked out with the latest marine electronics when all was said and done. We had everything we needed and more. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pine a bit for the latest and greatest new thing. What’s on the wish list?

Second, is a single sideband HF radio (SSB). While the technology is old fashioned it still works and provides a level of communications redundancy that adds to the overall safety picture aboard our boat. To this we would add a Pactor modem and one of the radio email programs such as Sailmail through which we can send and receive email and get good weather forecasts.

Lastly, we’d add a FLIR thermal imaging camera mounted up the mast, probably on a spreader, that can pan around in a circle and up and down remotely. These cameras show their thermal images on the MFD screen and give amazing clear images; they allow you to actually see in the dark and can be incredibly useful in a man overboard emergency or just when trying to find and pick up a mooring in total darkness.

ing toward you and you will get the ship’s name, home port, speed, course, destination and the time to possible collision. With this information, you can call the ship by name on the VHF radio with the high likelihood of getting a reply…because the ship sees you on their MFD and knows who you are and the likelihood of a collision.

I would never want to be struck by lightning again, and we know a few skippers who have been struck more than once, but going through the process of refitting our boat with an all new electronic navigation system was an eye-opener.

email through which you can access all sorts of forth.forecastsdata,information,weatherandso

fall, 2022 23

An added attraction to the AIS technology lies in the development in the last few years of personal locator beacons that transmit an AIS signal. If a person falls overboard, the PLB sends a signal that gives the precise location of the victim to any AIS equipped vessel nearby, particularly your own. This data reduces res cue times significantly and has and will continue to save lives. AIS transceiver technology is such a valuable safety tool, I would never go to sea again without it.

THE WISH LIST

First, a satphone with a built-in dome antenna so we can communicate easily and thus work from the boat. But these are expensive and still not fast enough to really work online. So, the simpler solution would be the new IridiumGO that provides a good connection to the Iridium satellites and enables quick and efficient

IS IT TIME TO UPGRADE TO A LITHIUM HOUSE BANK?

by Bob Osborn

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE HORROR STORIES of lithium batteries catching fire aboard planes, in cars and on boats. However, as so many parts of our world now rely on highcapacity energy storage and our boats become ever more energy hungry, it may be time to consider an upgrade to your electrical system.

{ TECH REPORT } 24 Blue Water Sailing

your boat is wired, possible increased loads and whatever is needed to ensure that the installation is up to code and safe.

Aboard our 2007 47-foot Aerodyne sloop, Pandora, our house bank was comprised of 4 8D Lifeline AGMs that were nearing the end of their life, so I had to do something. After two years of pandemic delays, making it difficult to even find a reasonable source for quality batteries, this spring we finally were able to move forward.

I say “electrical system” as converting to a lithium bank is not as simple as pulling out those trusty lead acid batteries and plunking in lithium. There are considerations of how

With this in mind, I decided to use four 210Ah, 12v “drop-in” batteries from Blue Heron Bat teries, meaning that they are sized to fit into the same general space as the batteries that they replace. One of the principles, Hank George, who started the company, has a deep background in engineering so he was able to help design a system that would provide substantially more usable power to handle the substantial power needs of Pandora.

Two more important considerations are the source of the batteries and, equally important, finding someone to handle the installation or provide guidance, that knows the standards, ensuring that the job is done right. Do the bat teries have the type of chemistry that are less prone to overheating and do they have a welldesigned BMS (battery management system)? I chose to go with batteries with lithium phos phate chemistry (also called liFeTO batteries), as they are considered to be the most stable and safest in a marine installation. Quality batteries come with a bewildering array of safety features, chips to monitor charging and discharging along with apps that will run on your smartphone or tablet to allow you to keep track of exactly what is going on “under the hood.”

Pandora is equipped with 600w of solar and

As a first step, I prepared a full inventory of my electrical system, engine alternators, solar controllers, charger inverters and any com ponents that distributed power to my starter battery, bow thruster bank as well as my house bank to determine which components could be used or reprogramed to be compatible with lithium. Some components needed to be replaced but most proved to be reuseable, which was good news.

There are some fundamental differences be tween the basic characteristics of lead acid batteries and lithium, so it’s not as simple as looking on Amazon for the cheapest options, swapping out those old lead acid batteries, reprograming the charger and off you go. At first glance, it might look like you could take that approach but you will likely not achieve expected performance out of your new bank. Additionally, a “non-code” installation may make it impossible to secure insurance or worse, expose you to a major electrical prob lem or fire.

fall, 2022 25

The American Boat and Yacht Council will soon issue guidelines for the installation of lithium batteries, an important development for safety and a milestone that now makes many more insurers willing to cover boats with lithium aboard when installed properly. Over the last few years, Pandora’s insurers changed their rules from “no lithium” to “lithium is ok as long as the installation is done to ABYC standards” an important development that gave me the confidence to move forward.

than doubling of our power reserves given the fact that these batteries can be drawn down by 90 percent without substantially impact ing their Additionally,lifespan.there is a big difference between the weight of the old and new bank with the four lithium batteries totaling just under 250 pounds, a savings of nearly 400 pounds when compared to the AGM bank. This weight savings would be particularly valuable for the cruising cats that are becoming more popular.

Pandora, built in Finland in 2007, is a 24v boat and the new system needed to integrate with my 12v starting battery and 24v bow thruster, both using AGMs that had plenty of life left in them, which complicated the installation

The original bank was comprised of four Life line 8DL AGM batteries each with 255AH at 12v, giving me a total of just over 1000ah or 500 at 24v when new. However, for practical purposes, I rarely used more than 25 percent of rated capacity as I wanted to extend the life of the bank as long as possible, giving me about 200 usable amp hours. Some folks sug gest that a quality AGM bank can safely deliver about 50-tp-60 percent of rated capacity but this does have an impact on lifespan of the batteries. The new lithium bank is comprised of four lithium batteries, each rated at 210ah for a total of 840ah at 12v, giving me usable power capacity of more than 700ah a more

Iconsiderably.amapretty

will soon have a new wind generator and I wanted to increase the usable kw/hrs available from the house bank with this upgrade. As I don’t have a house generator it was important to balance usage with the ability to put power back into the bank every day. As we spend the winter cruising season in the Caribbean, there is generally ample sun and wind to keep the bank up and fully charged. On the occasion when mother nature isn’t cooperating, I have a small 2kw Honda generator that has proven its worth over the years.

Additionally, most of us are not the first own ers of our boats and over the years, especially on older boats, we really don’t know for sure if components installed prior to our ownership were done properly. In Pandora’s case, the installer discovered wiring and components added along the way that created safety issues that needed correcting and terminal corrosion, all too common on older boats, that had to be remedied.

{ TECH REPORT } 26 Blue Water Sailing

handy guy and do most every thing aboard Pandora but in this case, given the complexities of the integration of 12v and 24v along with multiple battery chemistries, I decided to bring Pandora to a yard that is well versed in lithium and ABYC standards.

Blue Heron lithium batteries: American Boat and Yacht Council: ABYC certified electrical technicians:

reviews the real-world benefits of making the move to Resourceslithium.referenced:

As one example, I had a new inverter/charger installed about five years ago and it was discovered that the unit had not been prop erly installed, something that only the most experienced tech would have identified and never came up when the boat was surveyed last summer.

All and all, the addition of the new lithium bank was a meaningful investment but for us having the additional power aboard an increasingly power-hungry vessel was an im portant upgrade that should pay dividends in the coming years.

I will be keeping track of how the bank performs this winter season and plan a followup article in BWS in the coming months that

Bob Osborn is the president of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association and serves as port officerforAntigua,theprimarydestinationof the group’s fall rally to the Caribbean. He is dedicatedtopromotingbluewatersailingand the cruising lifestyle. He and his wife Brenda spendtheirwintersafloatintheEasternCarib bean aboard Pandora their47-footAerodyne. He has been keeping a blog for more than a decade and writes regularly.

fall, 2022 27

At the fall boat shows, builders will be rolling out their newest designs and many of them share a true performance edge. In the cruis ing market, apparently, the need for speed and sailing performance is still important. Here’s the new fleet for 2023

Now in its Seventh Generation, the Oceanis line of family cruising boats from Beneteau has long delivered an imaginative mix of performance and sailing options. The Marc Lombard-designed 34.1 comes with either a deep keel, shoal keel of unique swing keel. The basic rig is called the Easy Sail rig and has a full mainsail and a self-tacking jib, per fect for new sailors. More experienced sailors

{ BOAT REVIEW } 28 Blue Water Sailing

NEW MONOHULLSCRUISINGfor 2023

BENETEAU OCEANUS 34.1

will opt for the performance rig with a genoa, bow sprit, additional winches and downwind sails. An in-mast furling main is also an op tion. Down below, the 34.1 has the volume of a much larger boat with a quarter cabin, for ward cabin and full width saloon and galley. Two couples or a family will be very comfortable aboard for cruising holidays. The new Oceanis 34.1 offers huge value in a boat that will have wide appeal. Read more.

Three years ago, Beneteau came out with an all-new First 53 that is the flagship of the First line of performance cruisers. A First 36 followed and now the new First 44 is all set to be introduced this fall. The new racer-cruisers are Roberto Bisconitini designs with distinc tive styling by fellow Italian Lorenzo Argento. The 44 comes in either the First configura tion, which is more of cruiser, and the First Performance which has a reconfigured cockpit for a larger sailing crew and other refinements for racing. The interior has twin quar ter cabins and a large master cabin forward with a walk-around double berth. The saloon has the dinette and settee forward and the galley and large head aft. With a fine bow shape and very broad stern, the interior volume is not a great as you will find in an Oceanis de sign but the sail ing performance will more than make up for it. If you’ve got the need for speed, the new First 44 is the boats for you. Read more.

BENETEAU FIRST 44

DUFOUR 37

The Dufour 37 is a great new concept boat designed for performance cruisers. The hull has a broad stern and full run aft for power and sped while the bow sections are full for interior volume and pleasant sea keep ing. This new hull form allows for a greater power/weight ratio and the ability to carry a larger than usual sail plan. The cockpit is commodious and well set up for both cruis ing and racing. Down below, the interior of fers a fine forward cabin, a roomy saloon and practical galley and either a single or twin aft quarter cabins. This is a sexy new look for Dufour and a thoroughly modern reimagining of the racer-cruiser concept. Read more.

The new 50-footer from Elan is a real head turner. A dedicated family cruiser, the new design has a lot of resemblance to earlier Elans yet with a lower cabin profile and full hull sections fore and aft, she looks blue water ready. The cockpit is huge and has a folding table that will seat up to eight for al fresco meals. The foredeck is large enough to stow a 10-foot dinghy while on passage and has ample storage in the forward locker. Down below, the 50.1 has a sumptuous master cabin forward, two quarter cabins and two heads, with showers. It is easy to imagine a family of four sailing away over the horizon

{ BOAT REVIEW }

to islands far and wide in the new Elan 50.1. Read more.

GRAND SOLEIL 44

Italian builder Grand Soleil has a reputation for building high quality, stylish performance cruisers that acquit themselves very well on the race course or in point-to-point events. The new 44 completes their performance line with a boat that will sail rings around most cruising boats. It comes in either a Perfor mance version that is fitted out for cruising or a Race version that emphasizes race course crew work and efficiency. Both versions have airy, classic interiors that will be great for weeks away with the family or a Readistheawanting.regattaweekendhardofsailIfyoutosailPorsche,GS44foryou.more.

ELAN IMPRESSION 50.1

HANSE 460

HANSE DEHLER 38 SQ

I was lucky enough to sail a Hanse 50 across the North Atlantic a few years ago, a 17-day passage that proved the boat to be fast, well built for ocean sailing and extremely comfortable. The new 460 has all of the great DNA that went into the 50 plus design and build innovations that the company has developed in the interim. The cockpit is huge and the fold-down swim platform as large as it can be. The rig is powerful with a huge mainsail, a self-tacking jib and downwind asymmetri cals for running. These designs like to sail flat so reefing early is the game. Down below there is room and storage space for a family to live aboard for extended cruising, with three double cabins, large water and fuel tanks and a huge saloon. If you are looking for a quality production cruiser that you can take anywhere, the Hanse 460 should be on your list. Read more.

evolving new concepts. The new HR 400 does just that. It is an aft-cockpit design, in stead of a traditional HR center cockpit, and it has twin wheels and, stop the presses, twin rudders. The 400 has a modern performance hull and will, I suspect, be one of the best sailing HRs ever built. Combine that with the easy-to-sail cruising rig and classic HR craftsmanship and accommodations below and you can see what a thoughtful approach to evolution is all about. This is a couple’s world cruiser that will turn in some handsome daily runs offshore. Read more.

The best builders with great reputations know that they need to deliver new boats that combine their compa ny’s great DNA while also

HALLBERG RASSY 400

fall, 2022

Very much in the same family as the Grand Soleil 44, the new Dehler 38 was designed from the keel up to offer exceptional sailing and racing performance in a boat that will double as a fine performance oriented family cruiser. German builder Dehler, now owned by Hanse, is not well known in North America but has a well-deserved avid following in Europe where families often combine cruising and racing. There’s no reason North American sailors can’t do the same. The quality of the Dehler build and the fit and finish down below will make any new owner proud. Read more.

32 Blue Water Sailing

JEANNEAU SUN FAST 3300

Jeanneau is one of those brands that has ever been afraid to turn the world of cruising-boat design on its head and come out with something that solves all of the inherent yacht-design compromises in an entirely new way. Well, the new Jeanneau Yacht 55 does just that. The cockpit-deck configura tion is revolutionary. The twin wheels have been moved forward and the large dinette/ sunbeds are aft, adjacent to the huge folddown swim platform. The deck also incorporates the Jeanneau walk-around, side-deck design they invented a couple of years ago. For accommodations, the whole saloon and master cabin suite are one large living space, with appropriate doors. For a couple living aboard, we’ve rarely seen a better and more innovative use of space. The two guest cabins are accessed from the cockpit and are completely autonomous. This is not your grandfather’s family cruiser so if you are looking innovation and style, the new Yacht 55 is for you.

Blue Nose Yachts Sales, the local Jeanneau dealer in Newport, RI, where BWS is based, has been racing their stock SF 3300 in events all summer and has shown most of the fleets their transom in both offshore races (New port-Bermuda) and local regattas. Yes, this is a racing boat with modest cruising ame nities. But, it is also a boat that sails to or better than its rating, will plane in the right conditions and is nothing short of a pure gas to sail. For the right couple or family, folks who like to compete and then cruise a little in between events, there may be no morefun new designs out there than the SF 3300. Read more.

JEANNEAU YACHT 55

Lyman Morse in Thomaston, Maine, is one of America’s premier custom yacht builders, both power and sail. And, being in Maine, they are known for their Downeast roots that favor tradition, quality and exceptional craftsmanship. Now, LM would like to build a semi-custom boat just for you, their new Kevin Dibley-design LM 46. This is an unique and thoroughly modern design and build that will still crack a smile from diehard traditionalists. A cold molded wood hull provides the light-weight, stiff construction that provides exceptional 10 knot performance under sail yet provides the aesthetic and quietness of a wood hull. The boat will make a fine family cruiser and being built by LM it becomes a family heirloom. Read more.

large solar panel array. Dow below, the huge owner’s cabin aft will be a fine home for ex tended living aboard. You can have several layouts forward, but the most common will be twin forward cabins, each with en suite heads. The saloon features a dining table that will seat eight, a large sofa-settee and a true, enclosed sea-going galley. Crew quarters are optional extras. A proper flagship, the Yacht 65 will take you anywhere in comfort, style and safety. Read more.

fall, 2022

JEANNEAU YACHT 65

Five years ago, Jeanneau came out with their then flagship, the Philippe Briand-designed Yacht 64. At the time I thought it to be one of the best new large cruising designs to come along in many years. Everything seemed right. So, it is a pleasure to see that Jeanneau is updating their flagship Yacht with the new 65, also a Briand design. The new boat incorporates both the cockpit arch and walk around side decks of the more recent designs and offers cockpit comfort and convenience you’d expect from such a large ocean-going yacht. Plus, a hard top is available over the cockpit for added sun and rain protection and is a perfect place to mount a

LYMAN MORSE 46

MOODY 41 DECK SALON

{ BOAT REVIEW } 34 Blue Water Sailing

NAUTOR SWAN 55

The new Swan 55 is Nautor’s latest Ger man Frers design to join their fabled fleet of fast cruising boats. Built in Finland, the new 55 has a truly modern hull and deck design, set up for families who want it all, great cruising accommodations and a yacht that can be raced successfully. The cockpit is huge and can be set up with a range of options, including twin folding tables and or a large sun bed. The rig has a large, powerful mainsail and the headsails can be set up with a self-tacking jib, or with an overlapping genoa. A staysail stay is also an option. And, downwind sails will be flown from the bow sprit. The interior plan can be set up with three or four sleeping cabins and each can be configured in its own way. Swans are built to order and can be customized to an owner’s specifications. The company is famous for innovative building techniques and ultra-high-end quality. Just look behind the main breaker panel if you want to see an ex ample of boat-building perfection. Swans are not for everyone but if one is for you, then the new 55 is a gem. Read more.

Moody Yachts, which is part of the Hanse Group, has long been a builder of pure, cou ple’s cruising boats and has also been a pioneer of designing cruisers that have all of the living area, cockpit and saloon, on one level. The new 41 DS fulfills that aim in spades, with a large cockpit with a hard top, large doors to the saloon and then a roomy decklevel galley and dinette. The twin wheels are aft and the side decks wrap around the helms to join the cockpit without having to step over a coaming. The 41 comes with two sleeping cabins with en suite heads. The guest cabin can have either a large double berth or twin singles. The master stateroom is huge for a boat of this size. A great coastal cruisier that would be fun in the Bahamas and Caribbean, the 41 DS is unlike most of the boats in the cruising fleet and that sets her apart. Read more.

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