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Old 13-08-2007, 00:40   #1
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Opinions, please, on refitting for extended Caribbean cruising?

I am planning to spend a lot of time in the Bahamas and Caribbean. I've spent a lot of time there already, but not in my own boat. One of my options is to singlehand in an Islander 32 MkII that I bought cheap, but it needs a refit and it lacks some equipment that I think is essential. It's in Ft. Lauderdale. Engine is a 13 hp Volvo diesel, which provides adequate power at best. Tiller steered, and there is a tillerpilot that works fine. Four foot draft, nice for Bahamas.

Here's my list:

Essential stuff:

New Bimini and dodger. I have the aluminum frames and I may do the canvas work myself.

Upgrade ground tackle. Currently there's a 22 lb. delta which I consider an adequate primary, and I will add an oversized fortress (37, I believe) as a combo storm/stern anchor, mounted on stern rail. Would this be enough for a 9,000 pound boat that has above average freeboard? Will rope/chain rodes be OK, if the chain is say 25-35 ft.?

Newer main. I don't want to spend on a new sail, but I will look for a used replacement. Either way, there will be three reefs, so I don't have to carry a storm trysail. Add lazy jacks with maybe one of those cool easy to use covers.

Add storm jib. Currently there's a good headsail (130 or so) on a good furler. Should I look for a small jib that goes on the furler, or one of those "gale sails" that is attached over the furled headsail?

Galley improvements. Currently for cooking there's a good, but slow, Origo alcohol two-burner. I will add a propane burning grill on the stern rail (how difficult is it to find those canisters in the Caribbean?). I could find room for a small microwave for in port cooking, but that's a maybe. The icebox is unimproved, and the only refrigeration is an AC driven small fridge that sits under the Origo. I can use that when on shore power, and as dry storage when not. I should probably upgrade the icebox insulation and add mechanical refrigeration to it.

Tankage. No easy way to upgrade fuel or water capacity, so I will use jerry jugs.

New batteries, with adequate amp hours to handle increased needs.

New, thicker cushions below.

Repair or replace cockpit engine panel.

Replace bad depthsounder and knotmeter.

Add chartplotter at companionway. (Already have handheld Garmin GPS as backup, and I will also have a laptop with charts and GPS capability for planning. Plus I will have paper charts and a good complement of cruising guides, etc.)

Add solar panels. Maybe a wind generator as well.... they are not that expensive.

Add inverter.

Add DC driven fans below.



Nice to have stuff:

Add hot water heater and shower in head and/or cockpit.. (Those solar showers should be adequate for just me.)

Repair windspeed/direction instrument.

Add windvane to supplement tillerpilot.

Upgrade primary winches to self tailing. The current two speeds have those blue rubber attachments that seem to work fine.

Add washdown system for ground tackle (salt water, the simpler the better.)

Upgrade to higher output alternator.

Add SSB.

Add a small hatch in head.

Add asymetic spinnaker, assuming the one I already have is the right size.



Very unlikely to do:

A stronger engine, if I can find a way to do it for cheap.

Add Radar.

Add windlass (unnecessary for rope rodes - if I decide an all chain rode is needed, I will add a mechanical one).

Upgrade some current fixed ports to opening.




So that's my current list, and I'd appreciate opinions, particularly from the Caribbean vets around here. And if anyone can recommend folks in Ft. Lauderdale that I should use to help me do all this, that would be helpful as well.
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Old 13-08-2007, 03:20   #2
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Propellor?

Not having any experience of the Carribean but of running a 7hp Yanmar in a 7 tonne ferro yacht I would expect that carefull attention to the pitch (and maybe the diameter) of the propellor should give an improved result.

I believe there is a test where the engine is run on full power while the boat is underway. If there is a touch of black smoke the propellor is about right. Others will have more information than me on this.

I'd also check the calculations on pitch and diameter for your boat. You should get (assuming a 25ft waterline length) about 7 knots with a clean hull with a smooth sea and calm conditions. A more powerful engine will not give much more than this but may be usefull against a headwind and chop.
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Old 13-08-2007, 03:31   #3
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I think that you anchor is to light for the conditions that you will be having, 1 really bad front a year. You will need 2.

All chain rode? yes for the coral.

More tankage, yes but you do not say what you have. 60 gal water should do and fuel for 300 miles.

What else? well, how much do you want to change your life style? How much do you want to spend?
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Old 13-08-2007, 04:32   #4
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This is an ambitious undertaking and it depends on how "tricked out" you want to be and how much redundancy you feel comfortable with.

I would approach the entire project by "systems" in no order of importance:

Safety,
Sail power
engine power
electrical
plumbing
navigation
food storage/ prep and water
anchoring
communications
entertainment
creature comfort
spares
tender/dink

Obviously many of the above interlock with each other as a cruising boat is an integrated whole.

If I had to identify the key upgrades or things to consider for a cruiser (me and my boat) I would say beyond the "basics":

Windlass and ground tackle
SSB radio
energy upgrades... solar, smart reg and high output alternator
refer
tender out board etc.
Safety gear (hopefully never used)
paper charts and crusing guides

GPS is so basic and inexpensive and a handheld is adaquate if you are prepared to plot your fixes on paper charts.

My boat had hot water, so I didn't add it, but I do consider it essential.

You need to have a reliable engine and charging system for your electrics. I chose solar over wind cos of the noise, cost and safety.

Refer is nice, but you can do with ice.

You can do many little projhects along the way... certainly all the cosmetics and so forth.

Adaquate spares are absolutely essential as getting them is diffcult and they will cost a arm and a leg.

I had a watermaker which I used for passage, but not in the carib. It was more of a safety feature and a convenience for offshore. Sold it.

Had a life raft... eventually it was stolen when I returned.

Enjoy

jef
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Old 13-08-2007, 05:31   #5
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Standing and running rigging should all be considered suspect if never replaced. A structural evaluation on chain plates and other serious deal breakers is needed too if you have not already done so.

I would agree with jef's tankage numbers in terms of minimums, but they are by no mean optimums. The attachment of jerry cans is not a trivial task given you want them to be still attached after a storm. A loose jerry can below could prove quite deadly. Lifelines make poor structural elements for multiple jerry cans. As you add more stuff it will be important to have proper secure storage for anything that weighs more than a pound or two. When launched in the air things can do great damage to crew and boat aside from being broken themselves. The boat changes a lot after you toss a ton and a half of supplies, fuel and water aboard. This is a light boat. Minimizing is the key.

If the budget gets tight I would add a second GPS and plot on paper as suggested. Chart plotters with charts can add up to a serious amount of money. Adding electrical items to a boat not really all that well built from an electric point of view can become a serious problem. The best of the Islanders were built in time when few things on a boat were electrical and the standards for building electrical systems were simple at best and not very good after 25 years of exposure to the moisture of sea air. If you find yourself really needing an inverter - find a way so you don't. You could be looking at rewiring the whole boat from the keel to the masthead. You need to really minimize your electrical needs no matter how large your boat or budget. You'll find a wealth of information in the CF archives. This is one area you really have to plan well before you start. It's the easiest item to screw up except perhaps for making your own dodger / bimini.

You have some big ticket items on your list and many take a lot of extra cost to get installed in just parts and things you have to buy. Doing it yourself to save labor expenses is already assumed. Add an extra 10% for redoing some things you failed to plan properly. Your time and dollar budget is perhaps the hardest part of the job. It's a lot of work with a lot of expenses in any event. It sure would be nice if you actually go away from the dock to do the trip. It's something that needs to be worked out on paper very detailed before you jump into this money pit. Your cheap Islander with all the trimmings is no longer a cheap islander.
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Old 14-08-2007, 19:19   #6
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Old 14-08-2007, 20:15   #7
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My experience - YMMV

Everything made of rubber - replace and or have spares (engine hoses and belts included)
Everything made of plastic - replace and/or have spares
Standing rigging including chain plates & stay fittings - replace if over 10-15 years old - upgrade if possible
Running rigging - have spares for all blocks and tackle on boat - replace the marginal stuff
Sheets, docklines etc. - replace if not in good condition

Be overly critical of this stuff. We spent 3 months replacing stuff one item at a time as it broke. This interrupted a lot of sailing days. It would have been better to do it all at once.
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Old 14-08-2007, 21:43   #8
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Quote:
We spent 3 months replacing stuff one item at a time as it broke. This interrupted a lot of sailing days. It would have been better to do it all at once.
Good advice. Some of the items on the boat just because of age alone will fail. Doing it now means you enjoy it the whole time you are out there and don't have to do on the spot replacements at those times not of your choosing (like when under way in a storm). Stuff still breaks and fails even after you do all the replacement. You never escape totally on any boat, but why not have the best shot you can get.
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Old 15-08-2007, 07:00   #9
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Can that small Volvo take a high output alternator? You will not have much hp left to propel the boat if you add a high output alternator. You may be better off with a Honda EU2000i which will work out cheaper than a high output alternator and regulator. Of course, with the Honda, you'll need a good battery charger so get an inverter/charger (100 amp) seeing as you intend to get an inverter anyway.
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Old 15-08-2007, 16:29   #10
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Rick-
See Power quality from various backup devices for some very interesting oscilloscope photos of the Honda generator. It is a great AC generator, and a useable battery charger--but as they caution, it could do a lot of damage connected to DC equipment besides the battery. Nice gensets, not a good DC power source.

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I'd guess the entire electrical system on a I32 is due for a gut replacement. Take the time to design a whole new system, with all components matched and sized for each other, and you'll come out way ahead. Sometimes a bigger alternator does you no good, what you need is one matched to run at optimum speed for best output, again matched to the maximum charge acceptance of your batteries. If you can put out 100 amps but the batteries can only accept 60...it's a waste. Making a choice of wet lead versus AGM will affect that, too.

Solar? Expensive, takes lot of space. Wind? Noisy. Genset? Needs petrol, who doesn't expect $5/gallon inside of two years? One answer is to look at your electrical system, use wire and cables sized heavily to prevent voltage drops and losses--everywhere. Replace the nav lights with those expensive LED lights, saving 20AH everynight can save a lot of money on the energy systems.

And your icebox, like every production icebox, probably needs to be ripped out and totally rebuilt, extensively insulated at least.

On the sails...I think I'd rather spring for a new mainsail, of good quality not necessarily the most expensive. Properly shaped and fit...you know you'll appreciate the extra power from it. Used sails are usually worth a little less than you pay for them, and considering your whole budget, a new main is not going to be the breaker. I'd also stop with two reefs, and get a stormsail for the boat. THAT'S something that can be fairly cheap, even cut down from a "wrong" used sail, since storm sails don't need any fancy shape, they just need to be strong enough not to tear apart. Why abuse a good main in high winds, when you can go for a storm sail?

Sounds like you've got a huge todo list to get started on.
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Old 15-08-2007, 16:56   #11
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Hi: I cruised extensively in an Islander 33 and I think that 22lbs is a little light for the primary anchor. I also think you should think about a watermaker since a powersurvivor 80 or a spectra 150 are about the same size and weight as one jerry can and water in the bahamas is expensive to say the least. I would ask my sailmaker about a foam luff for the jib as that allows you to reef down pretty effectively if necessary. Dino
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Old 15-08-2007, 17:11   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
Rick-
See Power quality from various backup devices for some very interesting oscilloscope photos of the Honda generator. It is a great AC generator, and a useable battery charger--but as they caution, it could do a lot of damage connected to DC equipment besides the battery. Nice gensets, not a good DC power source..
Hellosailor,

Interesting but I never use the Honda for DC. I always plug it into the boat's power supply and charge the batteries through a Freedom inverter/charger that puts out 100amps. It shows reversed polarity on the panel but this is not a problem. Has worked perfectly for two seasons. Don't know any cruisers that use the DC output of the Honda, it doesn't even come with the DC plug and leads.
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Old 15-08-2007, 23:25   #13
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Thanks, all, for the ideas and opinions. Obviously I have a lot to digest from this thread. But I value all your ideas very much.

Based on what I have read, I am already considering making the I32 strictly a Bahamas/Florida Keys cruiser. Seems to me that might cut down on some of the requirements you guys have noted.

Please let me know if you agree with these assumptions:

1. Better access to Florida mainland reduces (but not eliminates) need for spares.

2. Reduced open water sailing gives me a bigger margin for error on my standing rigging, eg if it's just old but still in good shape, I don't replace. This also makes it possible for me to use gerry cans for both fuel and water if adding tankage is too expensive.

Are there any other thoughts on Bahamas only vs. broader Carib?
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Old 16-08-2007, 05:43   #14
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speedoo,

You're right about not needing to carry a lot of spares if you're only cruising the Bahamas. Most boat parts can be had within 48 hours and can be imported without duty if you quote your cruising permit number.

Most cruisers there jug water and fuel rather than going alongside (many of the fuel docks are not in the best of conditions). I jug fuel even when in a marina in Nassau as the wakes at the fuel docks make it an ordeal for a sailboat. As for Bahamas vs the Caribbean, you will not find nicer waters anywhere!

As for your standing rigging, I'd still get it checked out as some of the sailing can be a bit boisterous at times.
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Old 16-08-2007, 07:49   #15
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I always hear water is costly in the Bahamas, get a watermaker. Yet if you do the math, of a watermaker vs. buying water. Buying water would take almost 4 years to equal the cost of buying a watermaker. Never mind the addidtional cost for the upkeep of the watermaker.
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