Three Fools

You, Me, and Lee

Equipment

Updated 9-March-2017.

What follows is some equipment highlights, as well as some comments about them.  It's divided up into:

Electronics

The boat came equipped with a Northstar 951X chartplotter, which I promptly pulled out, sold, and replaced with a Raymarine C80 chartplotter. It also came with B&G Hydra 2000 instruments and autopilot system.

The B&G autopilot seems to work great. The T2 ram is a little big for this size and weight boat, but it seems to have little trouble the few times I've had it in a largish following sea. The user interface is "OK" — not nearly as nice as the Robertson AP series with their very intuitive adjustment dial.

The Hydra 2000 instrument series is no longer made by B&G, but works reasonably well. Occasionally it stops sending out the compass heading on the NMEA 0183 circuit, causing the chart plotter to panic. Power cycling the B&G cures the problem.

I'm not a big fan of the B&G FFD displays. Too much information in one device. It can take a lot of button pushing to find what you want. Very British in its user interface (why on earth would you put Speed-Over-Ground under the Waypoint menu?). You can understand why Triumph never had a chance against the Japanese.

I'm very happy with the Raymarine stuff. The GPS locks onto the satellites superquick (maybe 15 seconds to get a fix from power-up) and the C80 display is bright and easy to read. I don't like entering waypoint names using a dial (rather than a minimal keypad like my old Simrad), but that's a minor quibble. Power consumption at 10W, including the GPS sensor, is very reasonable.

The ShipModul multiplexer is very complicated to configure, but incredibly flexible. It's easy to create new filters and rules to get it to output exactly what you want. It includes a WiFi transmitter, so you can receive all instrument data on a tablet (I use a Nexus 7). If you've got the technical chops, the MiniPlex is highly recommended.

The Vesper Marine Vision AIS transponder has its own screen, so it can be used standalone. Even better, they use some smart algorithms to filter out non-dangerous craft and ease them into the background. The vessels you really have to worry about are a little larger and in a bold color, so you can tell at a glance what your options are. The downside is the touchscreen controls. They are not very sensitive and inaccurate. I find myself using the chartplotter if I want to get additional information, such as the vessel name or MMSI number.

The Bitstorm "Bad Boy" has a ridiculous name, but works pretty well.

Electrical

Comments:

The Link 2000R battery monitor includes an alternator regulator (the "R" part of the "2000R" nomenclature). Unfortunately, about a month after I bought the boat, the regulator just stopped working. It had a little corrosion, but nothing out of line. The way it's constructed, it's just a circuit board slid into an open metal box, without much protection. I suspect somebody sat on the navstation seat with wet foulies and salt water dripped down through the hinge and onto the regulator installed below. By contrast, the Balmar is potted in epoxy and much less likely to corrode. I've had good luck with them in the past.

Hopefully, the Freedom Marine inverter/charger will prove to be more reliable than the ProSine I had on Cats Paw. It's certainly a lot bulkier. It's just as noisy, but in a different way — more 60Hz buzz, less fan noise. (Note added 6/15/14. It has proven to be rock solid. Nearly 15 years old with absolutely no problems.)

The boat came with a stock 60amp Hitachi alternator. In 2012, I replaced it with the ElectroMaax. They make a great kit that was easy to install. It includes a serpentine belt that was also easy to install. Highly recommended. The hardest part of the whole process was upgrading the wiring from 2 gauge to 2/0 to handle the extra current!

 

Dinghy

Comments

Mercury makes an inflatable? Yup! And it's pretty good. It seems to be ruggedly constructed, is reasonably light (80 lbs), and is easy (for an inflatable) to row. This is my first experience with an air floor.

I love the Honda 2HP. It is so light (27 lbs) that there is no need for a crane to put it on the dinghy. I just lift it with one hand and drop it onto the transom. The gas tank is integral, so there is no need to install a separate tank and hose, with its potential for leaks. It only puts out 2HP, but gets us around at maybe 5 knots with no trouble. The biggest downside is it is loud. They get that light weight by using air cooling. You can hear us coming from a mile away.

The combination weighs just over 100 lbs, so Lee and I can easily carry the dinghy up a beach without needing any dinghy wheels. By comparison, the Achilles and Yamaha combination I had on Cats Paw could easily plane at 15 knots, but the total weight with fuel tanks, wheels, etc., was about 220 lbs!

Anchoring

Comments

I'm trying to get by with much less chain this time — only 150 feet. Before buying it, I studied my logs of the last five plus years and found that 80% of the time I had less than 150 feet of chain out of the total 300 feet carried by Cats Paw. So, I figured why carry the extra 150 pounds 100% of the time for 20% of the anchorages? For the deeper anchorages, I've spliced some Samson "Deep Six" line to the chain. This is a new line, similar to Yale Cordage's "Brait", but I actually like it better. It's only six ply (instead of eight), so it's not quite as supple, but it doesn't lose diameter when under tension, so the anchor windlass can maintain a grip on it. To get the price down, I bought a 600' spool of it. The rest I'm using as a shore tie.

I have no fight in the anchor wars. I chose the Spade over the Rocna (or Manson) just because it does not have a rollbar, which would have fouled Velocity's little bowsprit.

The boat came with a Lewmar Ocean Series windlass, but it died after the anchor locker filled up with sea water during the 2016 Pacific Cup. That fall, I replaced it with the V2.

Plumbing

Comments

The SeaFrost fridge actually has two independent cooling circuits: a very powerful one driven by the engine, and a much less powerful one, which is AC powered. The holding plate sprang a leak shortly after I got the boat, dripping glycol into the icebox. Repairing it required breaking both cooling circuits, pulling the plate out, repairing a fitting, then replacing and recharging the circuits. Expensive. But there are big advantages of this system, principally that it doesn't require a big battery bank. In trying to keep this boat light and simple, I like this fridge despite its complexity.

Engine

Comments:

The Yanmar engine and transmission are great.  Never miss a beat, always start up instantly, easy to bleed and service.

The boat came with a really lame Martec folding prop that barely worked in reverse. I liked the MaxProp on Cats Paw, so I put one on Velocity.

Safety

Comments

I originally bought a Zodiac ISAF 6 person life raft, because it fits nicely in the purpose-built life raft locker on the J/42 fantail. No need to wrestle it out of the lazarette! Unfortunately, it failed an inspection in 2015 and was replaced under warranty by the even nicer Open Sea liferaft.

The MOB1 are clever devices that fit in the inflatable PFD. When the units inflate, they activate and broadcast an AIS signal, which can be picked up on the boat, helping guide you back to the man overboard.

The Switlik MOM-8 is an easy to deploy Man Overboard unit. Just pull a pin. While I like the old-fashioned fiberglass pylons for their stability and visibility, I've always been skeptical of how fast one could get one overboard in a hurry. The Switlik unit is a compact, easy solution, albeit at a price.

Navigation

Comments:

The SpeedTech handheld depth sounder is a great little gadget.  It looks similar to a flashlight.  Point it down into the water, pull a trigger, and Presto! it reads out the water depth.  Very handy in the dinghy for exploring water depths around an anchor site, or checking out  depths in a tight channel.

I love the Nikon binoculars, but the central focusing screw corroded out after three years.  I sent them in for repairs. [10/25/04.  Nikon repaired them at no charge!] [7/12/11. I dropped them, breaking something inside. Nikon replaced them again at no charge! That's my fourth pair!]

The Vion compass is easily the best handheld compass I've ever used. Very stable and accurate even in the wildest of seas. The first one I had developed an air bubble in the damping fluid. West Marine replaced it free of charge.

Sailing Gear

Comments:

View of bowsprit from the front

Front view of the bowsprit.

Through the years, Velocity has accumulated a pretty extensive set of sails. I doubt I'll be adding anymore. Indeed, some are getting old enough that I'll have to start all over again!

This is my first experience with electric sailing winches and I gotta say, I could get used to this. The powered mainsheet winch is unnecessary, but the powered halyard winch on the cabin top sure is nice!

The Garhauer snatch blocks work great! They are no longer the bargain they were a couple of years ago, but they are still much less expensive than comparable units from Harken, Lewmar, or others.

The light air asymmetric is flown from a really cool little bowsprit that is mounted on the port anchor roller.