Thursday, August 24, 2017

Big Purchases That Were Worth It

The big items that we can no longer do without:

Auto Pilot

Emulating Rory McDougal's "Harry" (the Belcher wind vane for his epic ocean voyages), I have "Frank" the Raymarine ST1000 for my harbor and coastal micro adventures. In terms of the value of having an auto pilot, there is life before Frank, and life after Frank. Frank has changed my life.

12 volt power and Everything That Goes With It

Making the autopilot work practically has been a philosophical journey into evolving complexity on a boat. You want one thing that is good and useful, but it doesn't work unless you have this, and this also.

A really simple boat without the complexity of wiring and batteries etc. etc. is a beautiful thing. But it is a beautiful thing without an autopilot. There is a book about this called Catch 22.

New Sails

If you like to sail, you need good sails. That means new sails from time to time. Some folks almost never get new sails. Old sails work really well most of the time - that is they work well sailing off the wind. Even your auntie's old bloomers will work off the wind. If you ever want to sail into the wind (however), you will need sails that have some shape - that means fresh sails.


The Tiki has a really short rig. That is really good when you get caught in open water with big winds. It is not so good when you are trying to make progress down wind in 5 knots of breeze. Tikis with just the white sails up are really slow off the wind in light air.

The funny thing is that you would think that a spin would be the sail that makes the Tiki go the fastest, but its not true (in my experience). Once the wind is in the 20 knot range, Little Cat will reach faster with the white sails up. BUT, the spin will make the boat go way faster in the mid-wind strengths - in 10-15 knots of true wind speed, Little Cat will sit on 8 - 10 knots or more, for ever, and that is a rate that will really eat up the miles, or power the boat at a good rate against an outgoing tide etc.

Extra Long Shaft

Want to go exploring 50 miles up the coast, but MUST get back within X amount of time?

Want to venture out into a dubious coastal environment with a reputation for permanently detaining the unwary and the unprepared?

Want to take the CEO and the kids for an afternoon on the harbor, and still be married at the end of the day?

YOU need an extra long shaft outboard.

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