Things fixed this month:

  • electric windlass
  • watermaker
  • new fuel gauges


ELECTRIC WINDLASS. $775 + $270 (2 remotes) + $650 (labor)

I found that having a manual windlass was simply impractical.  I timed how long it took me to raise 100ft of chain, and it was just over 10 MINUTES.  Clearly that is unacceptable, so I decided I had to upgrade to an electric windlass that would raise my anchor in 103 SECONDS.  I had the windlass installed in La Paz.
imageThe boat has a manual windlass which hauls up the anchor at a dangerously slow pace. If I let out 100ft of chain, it takes me 12 minutes to haul it up. A lot happens in a crowded anchorage in 12 minutes, so I decided to replace the manual windlass with an electric one that hauls up 103ft of chain in just over a minute.
Most modern windlasses take HT G4 chain only, and I didn’t want to have to buy all new ground tackle AND try to figure out how to transport 400lbs of chain to the boat, so I had to find an electric windlass that will take my 5/16 BBB chain, and 1/2 inch rode. The Maxwell HRC8 does the job. However, it only comes with a up/down switch in the cockpit, so I also bought the remote so I can operate it from the bow. After all, if it hauls up my anchor in around a minute, I need to have eyes on it, and I can’t see my anchor from the cockpit. A remote solves the problem.image


WATERMAKER. $3,304 (serviced) + $200 labor

I also found that it was a real pain with my watermaker malfunctioning.  A 5 gallon jug of water weighs a ton and lugging it out from shore, getting it aboard my boat, and then pouring it into the water tank was just too irksome.  Not to mention how I kept pulling muscles trying to heft that weight.  So I sent the watermaker for servicing and had it re-installed in La Pax.



When I bought the boat in 2008 I pickled the watermaker, and then forgot all about it. By the time I decided to check it for the HaHa last year, I found that the pump mechanism had seized completely.

I removed it and shipped it off to Katadyne for refurbishing because it has been awful on the boat without easy access to fresh water. Plus my intention is to spend 6 months in the San Blas islands of Panama where fresh water is scarce, so getting the watermaker fixed became a critical need.



FUEL TANK METER/GAUGE. $154 + $150 (labor)

My fuel tank gauges are significantly unreliable.

When the fuel tanks are brimming full, the gauges show anywhere between 3/4 to full.

For Empty fuel tanks, the gauges show anywhere between empty and 1/3 full.

So I have never been able to rely on my fuel gauges – I just estimate in hours how much fuel I suspect I have, and swap tanks based on my guesstimate. Unfortunately when I guess wrong, I land up with air in my fuel system.

These new 13 1/2 inch meters work on a simplified float system so that the gauges accurately reflect the content of the fuel tanks.

UPDATE:  Over the past few months these gauges have proved to be very accurate and I can now rely on their readout.



I noticed that my engine started running cold.  From San Diego to Cabo it started at 180 degrees but the last few days it started running at 160 degrees.   Apparently a diesel engine doesnt like to run cold, any more than it like to run overly hot.  So I got a mechanic to take a look.  He found that when I had the entire engine overhauled a few years back, the mechanic did not also overhaul the water pump and as I started the engine for the mechanic, water spat out in a constant stream.  When he took it apart, there were multiple things wrong with it, not the least of which was an almost shredded impeller.

Changed the two rear bearings
Replaced the rear shaft seal,
Replaced the badly chewed impeller
Changed the engine oil too, 4.5 liters
Checked the gearbox oil- OK
Filled the fresh water tank
Checked the temp gauge wiring and cleaned it
Engine bilge pump cleaned and re-seated correctly
Checked that all fixes were recording correctly on the relevant engine gauges.


I don’t have a sander. I always use sandpaper and sweat to sand any surface smooth. I bought the neatest sander with a baggy that catches the dust, and lots of sandpaper for any kind of roughness or smoothness desired.




I know this isn’t strictly boat maintenance, but I use my GoPro all the time and it’s old battery was not holding its charge. Hopefully a new battery manages better.

MACE $12
With all the stories that abound regarding pirates boarding cruising yachts, I decided to buy a pepper spray. The container is a bright pink color which apparently men find disarming – right up until I zap them with a blast to the eyes. I hope I never have to use it.

If I land up singlehanding my boat, and the trip covers multiple days and nights, then I need a timer that I can set to wake me every 20 minutes. I tried a few in the stores and most of them, when the timer is up, they give a gentle “ping” – as though a single soft Ping is going to wake me at 4:00am if I doze off on Watch. So I finally found this timer at Radio Shack that rings for a full minute! And loudly! That should do the trick.

I am finding that my legs are not getting as much exercise as I would like. Most of the work sailing a boat is upper body muscles – hauling the mainsail up, picking up heavy containers, trimming the sails. The only time I use my legs, besides walking, is to brace myself. So while in Big 5 I decided to buy leg weights so that I force my muscles to work with every step. While I was about it bought 1lb weights for my wrists to strengthen my arm muscles.



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.

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