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Old 29-01-2008, 10:39   #1
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San Diego to Hawaii

Hi folks. I am in the planning stages of a solo round trip from San Diego to Hawaii this summer. My boat, Aquila, is an Islander Freeport 36B. For the trip I have ordered a new 135%cruising Genoa from Ullman. THe main, also Ullman is two years old and in perfect shape.
The engine is a 2 year old Yanmar 4JH 54hp. I do not have a genset, nor windvane steering, but plan on using my underdeck Simrad Autohelm.
My current battery bank contains 4 110amphour 12V. I have a 5amp PV panel. I plan on adding 400 more amphours and one more solar panel. I realize that if you balance the rig, very little power is needed.
My concern is that I have an 80amp alternator. If I plan to run the engine for 90 minutes each day to charge the batteries, will the 80 amp alternator be enough? I am investigating the purchase of a Balmar Alternator that generates up to 120 amps. Do any of you have an opinion on this?
Most of the interior lighting has been upgraded to LED. I am considering replacement of my all-around masthead (anchor) light to LED. THe cost is $150...
I am open to all advice from other who have made this passage.
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Old 29-01-2008, 12:19   #2
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Aloha Captain,
I don't think you need a larger alternator and I'm not certain you'll need an LED anchor light. You will need your navigation lights. Your biggest consumer of energy will be your refrigeration (if you have) and your autopilot. I'd look around for a cheap used windvane if it were me. Just one opinion. There certainly will be more.
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Old 29-01-2008, 18:21   #3
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WELCOME ABOARD!!!!

I will second the recommendation on the windvane over the other expensive items that you are talking about. You will cut your power consumption dramatically. Besides failure of windvanes are almost unheard of. If you are putting all your faith in an auto pilot, make sure that you carry plenty of spares and have the knowledge to hunt down problems and repair them.

IMO the LED anchor light will be helpful. I doubt that you will be burning your running lights out at sea. They are nearly useless as they are too low to be seen.

Your 80A alternator will be fine. No matter what size alternator you use, it will only put out 10-20A after a few minutes anyway.

Be sure that you lash all those batteries down very well. That is the #1 hazard if a vessel is rolled (however unlikely). If a battery or 2 get loose, they can do a lot of damage and could kill you if they land on you.

Wayne
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Old 29-01-2008, 18:58   #4
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If you are familiar with an Islander Freeport, you will know that it has an opening transom swim step. To mount a windvane steering, I would need a mount that would be wide enough to attach outside the swimstep, but blocking the opening for the step to fold out of. I have contacted Fleming regarding a custom "swing out" mount and they can fabricate one for about $500. Total package about 4.5BOAT units. Believe me, I have thought long and hard about the investment.

Regarding my refer, It is an Adler Barbour Cold Machine. Once the fresh food is gone, THe refer gets turned off. Of course, when I do so often in my dreams, catch a Dorado big enough to feed 7 people, I will turn the refer back on.

Lights at night, I have heard not to bother. I wonder if I will be even using power for my Radar...

This is good info on the alternator. I did not know that.

For those of you that have made the trip to San Diego to Hawaii, What latitude to you tack East? I have heard not to tack till you get to lat 38.
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Old 29-01-2008, 20:10   #5
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You can probably get away with not showing running lights while between California and Hawaii, but if you want to be legal I suggest an LED tricolor at the top of the mast. My incandescant tricolor was one of the bigger power drains. The LED fixture is great. I really suggest putting together a power budget so you won't be surprised halfway across, but I think your 80A alternator should do the job (and you will probably only get 60A sustained from it).

My belowdeck hydraulic autopilot (B&G) is a significant power drain, and I do recommend getting a windvane. It's not goiing to be cheap (as you've found out), but having some redundancy in the steering department is a very good idea. I wouldn't want to have to hand-steer for a week or more on that passage, should the AP go bad. If not a windvane, perhaps some sort of cheap(er) above-deck tillerpilot or wheelpilot arrangement.

By the way, even if you perfectly balance your boat, the big pacific swells will make the AP work hard and burn power.

On the trip back home, the turning point will vary from month to month and week to week. If you plan to motor through the Pacific High you can probably predict it a bit better because if you guess wrong you just get a little headwind. If you want to (mostly) sail, then you really have to watch the charts as you approach the top of the high. In 2003 (Aug-Sept) we turned right at 40 deg N, and had decent winds the whole way (with just a dozen hours under power). In 2006 (August) we had to sail up to 41 deg N to find a good track east. In any case, it is a great passage, and I might just enjoy it more than the trip to Hawaii (possibly because it takes longer!)

A good article on the California to Hawaii and back trip is "The Aloha Circle" from Bluewater Sailing: Blue Water Sailing Magazine | Articles | Issues | 1996 | October Unfortunately I can't see how to get that article from the website (I have it on my computer, but I don't remember how it got there).

You also might want to look at the Pacific Cup website. It has some good info on the passage and on preparation, not just the racing part. Also see Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" for passage info. If you're interested, I've got my daily log/journal for my two Hawaii trips on the VALIS blog: SAIL VALIS
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Old 29-01-2008, 20:38   #6
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You go without running lights? Hope your angels are looking out for you.
JohnL
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Old 29-01-2008, 21:26   #7
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There are diode replacement running lights avalable on the market now. fit into the same socket. I replaced mine a few months ago and saw a great drop in amps used.
The load current shows almost no movement when the lights are turned on. Dont think I'd run without lights...
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Old 29-01-2008, 23:23   #8
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I should have said: if you want to be legal and safer, I suggest an LED tricolor at the top of the mast.

Especially since this is going to be a solo voyage, which I had missed. So run the tricolor. It will give you a fighting chance when you're not on watch. I would also look into an AIS alarm system, which can be implemented in a reasonably low-power way. You need to sleep from time to time, and AIS is a decent way to improve your odds. A radar on "standby/timed-sweep/ watch-zone alarm" would also help, won't burn a huge amount of power, and you can turn it off when you're awake. A C.A.R.D. unit might be good, too.

Some of these are of perhaps marginal value when you have a crew who can keep a good watch going. When you are singlehanding I think this kind of gear becomes much more useful.
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Old 31-01-2008, 17:53   #9
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You go without running lights? Hope your angels are looking out for you.
JohnL
John,

Small craft running-lights are not effective at sea because they are too low. Masthead tri-color works better but the truth is, not many ships look for small craft lights at sea. The best thing that you can have is the best radar reflector that you can get. That is what will get the attention of the crew on watch.

LED lights would be the best. I wonder if you could find a tri-color LED with 3 bulbs in each color. You could probably do the entire trip on 2 D-cell flashlight batteries.

Wayne
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Old 31-01-2008, 21:11   #10
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I would not go to sea without legal running lights after sunset no matter where I was. I think LED would be best.

Regular old running lights might be low but at least they are something another boater could see if they were keeping a proper lookout which is also a legal requirement.

JohnL
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Old 31-01-2008, 21:46   #11
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I would not go to sea without legal running lights after sunset no matter where I was. I think LED would be best.

Regular old running lights might be low but at least they are something another boater could see if they were keeping a proper lookout which is also a legal requirement.

JohnL
John.......

Tell me that after your 1st long ocean passage..... It normally takes about 2 or 3 days at sea before you start feeling a little silly burning your running lights.

BTW.....mast-head tri-colors are legal. Stock running lights on the hull are absolutely useless at sea.
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Old 31-01-2008, 22:22   #12
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John.......

Tell me that after your 1st long ocean passage..... It normally takes about 2 or 3 days at sea before you start feeling a little silly burning your running lights.
Yes, but you meet other boats in the strangest places! I gone for a week-and-a-half and not seen any other vessels, and have sailed to within hailing distance of a singlehander 1000 nm north of Hawaii. You just never know, and the great thing about an LED tricolor is that you really don't have to worry about the power drain.
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Old 01-02-2008, 00:20   #13
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Please forgive me if Im hijacking this thread, but does an American citizen flying US colors have to stop in with Customs, and show a passport if you go directly from the US to Hawaii?
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Old 01-02-2008, 01:03   #14
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Please forgive me if Im hijacking this thread, but does an American citizen flying US colors have to stop in with Customs, and show a passport if you go directly from the US to Hawaii?
In a short answer...No. But it dosn't hurt to check in if you are there. I am bringing my Canadian doc vessel from the mainland US to Hawaii and I am a US citizen (now). To avoid confusion, I will check in upon arrival to avoid any panic on their part. It is different world now and somehow I do not expect it to become any easier.
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Old 01-02-2008, 12:18   #15
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In a short answer...No. But it dosn't hurt to check in if you are there. I am bringing my Canadian doc vessel from the mainland US to Hawaii and I am a US citizen (now). To avoid confusion, I will check in upon arrival to avoid any panic on their part. It is different world now and somehow I do not expect it to become any easier.
Cool, I got invited to help out on a cruise to Hawaii in the next few month, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get my passport in time. Hopefully I won't need it.
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