2014 SEPT – BIG TICKET ITEMS $10,477

Sea Anchor – $641+

I had previously bought a parachute from a cruiser who had been lucky enough to never have to deploy it. He only sold me the actual parachute and I thought I would use my spare ground tackle as the line from the boat to the parachute.   I sent the parachute off to a sailmaker to have a hole/grommet sewn into the top of the chute so that I could more easily collapse and retrieve the chute from behind it.

However, after reading the DDDB for trimarans I realized that my storm planning was woefully wrong and I set out to correct the problem. I went off to Kelly Marine in San Pedro and showed him the configurations in the DDDB that other cruisers had used, and asked him to help me create the same.

The DDDB sea anchor deployed from the bow has an orange ball connected to 30ft of polypropylene. The orange ball is so that I can find the parachute when its time to retrieve it, and the polypropylene line is so that the line floats and doesn’t tangle with the parachute. This line is then connected to a stubby line with a large monkey fist inside the head of the chute. The monkey fist prevents the floater line from pulling thru the grommet.

Then I got 25ft of chain that cruisers say helps keep the parachute down and prevents it popping out the crest of a wave.

The chain is connected to nearly 400ft of stout line, and the line is connected to a 75ft bridle.

Each connection has a solid thimble and a strong shackle, making lots of connections and shackles and rotation points.   I know the cruisers in the DDDB say how safe they were with this configuration, but I pray I will never have to prove it – and that one day I will sell the entire thing to someone else, unused!

So to sum up – the orange ball is connected to the polypropylene line. The Poly-line is connected to the monkey fist stub that is connected to the parachute head. The parachute is connected to 25ft of chain. The chain is connected to 400ft of solid line. This line is connected to a bridle with each arm of 75ft. The bridle is connected to the pad-eyes on the bow.

3 bags containing sea anchor components

3 bags containing sea anchor components

And all stored in 3 separate bags on the (expected windward) side as we travel from CA to Panama.   The orange ball is connect to the outermost bag.  This nearest bag (easiest to get to) contains the parachute.  The middle bag contains the 400ft line and chain.  The innermost bag (next to the boat wall) contains the 75ft bridle.


AIS –  $1849   (HW and labor)  + FCC licenses ($65 + 215)

Having put a lot of thought into storm equipment, I figured it would really help if large commercial ships could see me lying dead in the water attached to a sea anchor.

Hopefully if I show up on their instruments, they will avoid running me down.


SAT Phone –  $360    + $600 data plan for 1 year

People that have survived storms always say – if only we had known…. if only we knew a storm was headed our way.

Consequencly I bought an Iridium phone and signed up for the unlimited weather messages.    If I know its coming, maybe I can avoid it.  And in a few years when I sell my boat, my storm anchor will still be safely stowed in its bag!


PLB – $309

I researched EPIRBs but they are attached to the boat itself, and have a short transmitting life. Thus if for any reason (eg. washed overboard) you are not attached to the boat itself, your location in the sea is pure guesswork.

Personal Locator Beacon

Personal Locator Beacon

I decided that a Personal Location Beacon made more sense for us.

The PLBs transmit for 30 hours but the blurb says that your location is known within 5 minutes. So hopefully most of the rest of the 30 hours of tranmission is mostly redundant as they rush to the rescue. Annie will also get her own PLB so that we are each covered individually.

The PLB is an itty bitty thing, but it saves lives.



Mini iPad – $570

I bought an iPad2 specifically for the boat because it has a GPS antenna built in, and spent DAYS downloading the Navionics charts for North America, South America, and the Caribbean. I took the iPad2 to South Africa when my mother was terminal and left it with her so that I could communicate with her from CA. My brothers promised to ship it back to me.   My mother passed away and I asked for my iPad to be shipped back.

18 months of PLEADING for my iPad back, I finally had to admit that my brothers would never send it back to me.  I was stupid to leave it there; I forgot how uncaring brothers can be.   If I had a R12,000 device of theirs and couldnt be bothered to return it, I know they would be furious.  Livid.

So now I am forced to buy another (new mini) iPad.   And the worst part is spending days and days and days downloading all the Navionics charts again!!


New batteries bank – $1,131

New starter battery and 4 new house batteries

New starter battery and 4 new house batteries

When my deep cycle batteries went phutt some years ago, I replaced them with 2 cheap lead batteries that I always forget to fill with water.

I did this on the advice of a cruiser that said that since I was some years from cruising, I should not waste money on expensive batteries, since batteries have a 3-4 year life.

That was good advice at the time.

Now that I am prepping to cruise next month, I need to put in a good house bank and new starter battery.






Solar Panels – $808 + $431 labor

I really should not have waited till the last minute to replace my solar panels because now I have very little time to do a shakedown (even at the dock) and test that my new solar panels can provide sufficient energy for my needs.

New solar panels putting out 5w - I can run a movie on the DVD, have the new TV playing the movie, and the fans all going.

New solar panels putting out 5w – I can run a movie on the DVD, have the new TV playing the movie, and the fans all blowing away keeping the boat cool.

I hadn’t realized what a trial it has been finding new panels that fit the space occupied by the old ones. Most panels today are so large that they overlap into the cockpit, which is not acceptable since I handle all my sails from the cockpit so I need the elbowroom. However, I eventually found a short panel and a long panel that together give me 250W and fit exactly into the old space.

Since installing the panels I turned off the AC shore power and have been learning to live on my batteries.  It takes some adjusting to.  Initially I spent my life walking over to the nav station to check the power content of my batteries.    At first, as I tried a new power user (like the shower wash down), I would set the timer to go off every 30 minutes and rush over to check how much power I had used, and if it was too much.  Now after 2 weeks I am more confident that my solar panels generate enough energy for daily needs.  And my new LED lights barely register on the power meter.

The solar lights also help because I can leave the head lighted all night for zero cost to my batteries.


Airbreeze wind turbine –

I have an Airbreeze 200watt wind generator that worked spectacularly well for years. However, the last time I used it was 2 years ago.  So when we went to Catalina last month, I was keen to try it out again. The whole weekend it barely trickle charged the batteries. It was very disappointing.

Back at the dock I climbed up and looked at it – not really knowing what I was looking at – and noticed that there was a notch down the center of one of the blades. I didn’t appreciate at the time that this meant the rotor had split and was defective. I found what this meant a few days later at the dock when it suddenly spun up and the cracked rotor FLEW OFF at high speed, taking the nose cone with it. Luckily no one was standing or walking within striking range of the flying rotor otherwise they could have been seriously hurt.

I contacted Airbreeze Customer Support and they sent me new rotors and a new nose cone. I installed them and will see how the turbine performs – just as soon as this heat wave passes and we get some wind.


Nissan 6hp serviced – $267

I havent used my dinghy and/or outboard engine for at least 3 years.  It was time to be serviced so I dropped it off at a Nissan outboard dealership.  The mechanic said that the cord was still sound, the engine kicked off rightaway, and it only needed a little TLC to get it humming away.


Honda2000 gen serviced – $125

I also havent used my generator in the 6 years that I owned the boat.   It was definitely time to be serviced so I dropped it off at Redondo Marine.  The mechanic said that the cord was still sound, …….

Isuzu 40hp serviced – $128  labor  + $38 fuel filters 

I decided that while I was servicing everything, I should do the engine too.  I already have boxes of spares so I had the oil changed, the oil filter changed, the heat exchange zincs replaced, the belts replaced, and the alternator tightened down (the mechanic said it wasnt as tight as it should be).  I didnt replace the fuel filters because they look good, but I did buy a bunch of spares because I have heard that MX fuel is not all that clean and the 10 micron filters fail all the time.

I have to stock up on more belts because I only have 1 x 7390 belt and am out of the small belts now.

Privacy shades – $180

After our venture to Catalina last month, Annie pointed out that privacy blinds over each bunk would be nice.

Port bunk (Julia's) with privacy screen 1/2 down

Port bunk (Julia’s) with privacy screen 1/2 down

Since installing shelves in the cupboards in the amas, now our clothes are in the cupboards instead of the head, and so we tend to dress in the side amas which have no privacy.

Annie was right of course, so I measured up our bunks and found a website that makes custom blinds of all shapes and sizes and colors and textures – linen, bamboo, cellular, wooden, etc.

I chose the most lightweight blind that was also cordless, and ordered 2 blinds in cream – one for my bunk (port) and one for Annie’s bunk (starboard).

They are gorgeous. So easy to install and so hide-away.

And they give complete privacy to your bunk area for changing.

Port bunk (Julia's) with privacy screen fully down

Port bunk (Julia’s) with privacy screen fully down



Dinghy – $90

I decided to buy all new lines for the dinghy where it is secured to the davit.  Those lines were original when I bought the boat 6 years ago, and I dont want them snapping from old age and tipping the dinghy into the sea behind FastAlley at an inopportune moment.  UPDATE:  the lines are still fine.

I also wanted new lines to support the outboard, for the same reason.  I dont want to be manhandling the outboard down to the dinghy when the line snaps from old age and the engine disappears into the sea.  UPDATE:  the lines are still fine.

And new dock lines since some of mine are frayed.  Bought 3 new dock lines.


Yachtsman charts – $110

I decided to back up my electronic charts with the Yachtsman Book of Charts, however, I wasnt sure if the 7th edition was the latest edition, so I emailed the sellers Customer Service.  This is their response:

“Thank you for your inquiry. As this is boating, the answer cannot be simple but here goes. First of all, Yes the 7th Edition is the most current available. But,……what the phrase “7th edition” really means is the 7th time that the company has printed this book. As far as the date/dates on the charts……there is no government agency doing any new charting of any of these areas so let me give you a few quotes from several of the charts in the book. “ESTERO DE SAN JOSE, From surveys in 1961 with additions from 1964. “PUERTO SAN BARTOLOME’, From a U.S. Chart of 1984.” “NAUTICAL CHART 21126,….1st Edition, October 27, 1990, From a Mexican Chart of 1976.” And one of my personal favorites, “From a survey by U.S.S. Narragansett in 1873 and 1875”. The inside of the front cover includes the following; “All charts are reproductions of official charts by the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrogaphic Topogrphic Center.” So now you know, as far as I know, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

I bought the chart book!


Bolt cutter – $60

Everyone keeps warning me to have a heavy duty bolt cutter in my spares, just in case I am ever dismasted and have to cut the rigging away. It’s like buying a life insurance policy – you know you have to have it, but you hope you never have to use it.


Cigarette Lighter charger – $175  (HW and elec connectors)  + $60 labor 

This is the MOST useful upgrade I have done to the boat.  I bought the cigarette lighter which a fellow installed for me.  I also bought the double USB charger and it is working constantly charging my iPhone, iPad, Bluetooth speaker, Satellite phone, GoPro, etc etc.

How did I ever manage without this!!


Tap water pump  $126

Like I havent enough on my mind, my taps suddenly stopped pumping water.  The pump had failed.  I suppose rather fail at the dock than out at sea, but it was yet another new thing I had to buy and have installed.  Hopefully I now have water for some years.


LED bulbs – $108  +  $77 flashlights

Man, these little things are expensive! I bought 2 (20W equivalent halogen) bulbs for each bunk so that we can read at night. I also bought 6 (5W equivalent halogen) bulbs to replace the galley and salon when they fail. And 3 (20W equivalent halogen) bulbs that are dimpled for the running lights.

So many lumens for about 2W of power! LED is fantastic.


Cockpit handholds – $44 + $18 (5200 glue)

I have noticed when sailing that I tend to stand just inside the cockpit enclosure where I can see 360 and am also protected from the sun. I do this on either/both the port and starboard sides where I am also protected from the wind. Unfortunately there are no handholds in those 2 spots, and Annie has complained of the same thing. I decided to add a stainless steel handhold on each side, and reluctantly cut away some of my Dri-deck panels to accommodate them.   The handholds look very neat, are solidly embedded, and are very useful.

New port side handhold

New port side handhold


Stuff – $1599

  • While I was about it, I stocked up on rolls and rolls of duct tape and painters tape (that I seem to use all the time).
  • I also bought rolls and rolls of string, that I also seem to use all the time.
  • I bought spare zincs, more shackles, and swivel.
  • I stocked up on sandpaper and AAA batteries. I can’t seem to go into Home Depot without seeing half a dozen things that I just have to have.
  • And I bought a plug for the bathroom/head basin.
  • I bought a rubber Welcome mat to put under the diesel containers in the cockpit. I am worried that the rough non-skid will wear away at the plastic containers and the next moment I will have diesel fuel running into the cockpit. So now the containers have the rubber mat between them and the non-skid.
  • I have a long very heavy hose that I use to fill the water tanks of the boat here at the marina. It is heavy and unwieldy and a pain to drag out of the lazarette. I decided to buy something light and easy and bought the 50ft expandable hose that stretches out as the water fills it, and shrinks down to nothing when you turn the tap off. It easily fits in a little bag and is no problem to handle.
  • A boater told me he had his boat numbers engraved into his boat in a place where removing them would case damage. I didn’t know we had to do that – I thought we just had to have the boat numbers “hidden” somewhere, which I have. Anyway, just in case Mexico makes a fuss, I got my numbers engraved and I glued them in the bilge (under the waterline) with 5200. Those suckers aren’t coming off.
  • I bought another 10,000mAh solar charger for my electronics. The last one I had worked perfectly right up until the time I decided to try the AC charger instead of the sun. Thereafter the solar did not charge using the sun – it was hooked on AC juice.   Anker immediately refunded my money, which I promptly returned the money to them for the new Anker. It’s a powerful little charger, and this time I wont charge it anywhere but in the sun.
  • Some years ago I bought a WinchRite. It’s a handy dandy tool that the magazine said would haul a man up the mast. I bought it especially to haul my mother out the sea should she fall overboard. I have never used it. So the other day I tried it and of course it didn’t work. So I shipped it off to be serviced.
  • My son loaned me his GoPro that needed a new card reader and power cable.
  • I got more diesel and gasoline additives, enough to treat 250 and 150 gallons respectively. FastAlley uses so little diesel fuel. I went from Long Beach to San Francisco to Redwood City at the very bottom of the south bay, on less than 80 gallons of diesel. The engine ran nonstop (its uphill from LB to SF) and we still had fuel in the tanks when we tied up.
  • My 5yr old grandson loved un-twirling the knob on top of the choke. Every time he visited the boat I would find it lying somewhere in the cockpit. I decided to hide it, but hid it so well that I could never find it again. The choke is really hard to pull out so eventually I went to Home Depot intending to buy a new knob. Unfortunately none fit, so the helpful assistant cobblied together various washers and nuts and bolts until he had a nice sized “knob” for my choke. It works great!
  • I stocked up on Sabiki lines to catch bait.  I seem to be okay at catching bait but havent yet managed to land supper.
  • Back at West Marine to buy epoxy to plug fibreglass holes, 4000 glues, and another radar reflector (after reading that the one I have has poor reflective qualities)
  • At Target bought iPad cover, plastic containers for medical supplies, and lots of  bottles of Orange soda stream flavor (I think I’m getting addicted).
  • My son designed me some business cards – he thinks I might suddenly become friendly and outgoing, and can then hand them to new friends.
  • I bought flags for all the countries down to Panama
  • I bought oversized fire extinguishers and 2 more little ones
  • More engine belts,  more BBQ propane tanks, and more jacklines, more glue, more ditch bag supplies, another external battery for my electronics, more fuel additives.  More more more.






imageBecause I have such a tiny refrigerator, I was going to buy a new 12V one. But fridges are large and cumbersome things and transporting it from the States to Mexico would have been very expensive. To mitigate not being able to fit meat into my current tiny fridge where it would stay fresh, I bought 3 cans of freeze dried beef and 3 cans of freeze dried chicken. I have tried the reconstituted meat and it is delicious! Now I don’t have to worry about my meat going off. And if I am lucky enough to catch a fish, I will eat it there and then.

imageWhile I was on the preserved food kick, I ordered 6 cans of fruit – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, and peaches. According to the reviews, they are delicious as a snack, or over a cereal with yoghurt. So that takes care of my fruit needs. I wonder if I should go the whole hog and get flash freeze veges?



imageI also bought some Meals Ready To Eat, 34 packets of chicken and fettuccine. I only have to boil water, open the bag, add the hot water, shake it up, and let it sit for 8 minutes, and the meal is ready. This will be great in bad weather and/or long nights if I have to singlehand and I am hungry.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: