Cruiser’s Tech Talk

Following is where you’ll find Steve & Linda’s more technical articles, along with Cruisers’ Q & A…If you’re looking for info on the nuts and bolts of cruising, this is the section for you!

Shaft generator

Aloha Steve and Linda,
We are building a 65′ Catamaran and trying to get as much of our electricity needs from solar and hydro. We chose a Duogen turbine but so far haven’t found a way to install it in a cat. Then I read that you used a shaft generator in one of your vessels in your cruises around the world. Can you tell us the pros/cons of the system and if it could be installed in a Cat. How much power should we expect from the shaft generator? we are running a 24V system in our boat.
Mahalo for your help and safe sailing.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 19, 2010)    |    Comments (2)

nav software

Steve and Linda,

You have one of the most useful resources on the internet and I have learned a lot from your websites. I was curious what you currently use as navigation software and what you would recommend for someone looking to do world cruising and why that is the best choice in your very knowledgeable opinion. I did find your recommendation for Coastal Explorer referenced in your Nav section. I am pretty computer savvy if that makes a difference. I have tried to figure it out from the various pictures but (looks like VNS to me or maybe MaxSea) but what is best for you may not necessarily be best for me. I am building a motorsailor if that also makes a difference.

Thank you very much for your input.

Happy and safe voyaging.


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 15, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Furuno Fax 30

Hi Steve and Linda,

Hope this finds you well and having fun wherever you are. In all
honesty, I have not been keeping up with you the last 2 1/2 or so years.

In trying to find something in the way of a review for Furuno’s Fax 30, I
see that you installed one going on two years ago. So, I just wondered
if you would have time to say a word or two about how you like
it(couldn’t find such mention on your site). Maybe one of my questions
is whether or not it adequately provides on it’s own the weather fax
function of a ssb radio? I don’t have the transmitter yet, so wondering
whether the 30 might let me put that off for awhile longer, but get me
used to using the faxes. Please refer me to something that I missed that
you have already written if you like.

Roger N. Larson

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 7, 2010)    |    Comments (2)

Entry Level Cruising Boat

Hi, I watched you on TV last night. Wow talk about having a light bulb turn on in your mind. Anyway can you tell me what a good boat would be to start out with would be. I far from being loaded. My idea would be to live on my boat and make my way south. I’m at the very early stages of planning so knowing what boat I should be looking at is a starting point. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can pass on.

Robert West

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 2, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Sundeer Owner’s Manual

Hi there,

We recently purchased a 1995 Sundeer 60 and found the original ‘old’ Sundeer 60 Owner’s Manual on board. Is there any chance we can obtain updates and/or a new manual? E-format would be fine.

Thank you in advance.

Russ & Gwen Hobbs

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 29, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Cleaning Sails and Lines

I am trying to determine what products are ok to use with

* Marathon 3DL 2004 140% Genoa
* Marathon 3DL 2003 90% Jib
* Ace Dacron Challenger Cloth 2002 Main

for light cleaning, I have been using just mild dishwashing soap and no bleach and rinsing the sails in the fall, but would like to see if one of the following would be ok. I would like to use

* 20 Mule Team Borax Natural Laundry Booster (sodium tetraborate decahydrate)
* Oxi Magic Mullti-purpose stain remover (Chlorine Bleach free) which has Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate in it.

Are the two products above okay to use with the above sails?

Also my lines have some green mold/mildew and I’d like to see if I can use one of these on them as well
The lines are basically :

* Braided Nylon sheets and dock lines 1/2″
* StaSet-X halyards 3/8″
* Amsteel soling stay

I have not used any chlorox bleach.
I would like to use

* 20 Mule Team Borax Natural Laundry Booster (sodium tetraborate decahydrate)
* Oxi Magic Mullti-purpose stain remover (Chlorine Bleach free) which has Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate in it.

Are the two products above okay to use with the above lines?

I had both Jibs coated with Sailcote Plus about 5 years ago to help with the mildew problem and it seems to be working but this year we had more than usual on one jib and I need to clean it better than mild soap would do.

Rick Gleason

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 29, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Alubat – OVNI

what are your thoughts on the french OVNI range of cutters produced by builder Alubat?

they have several features – variable draught, all alloy construction, ability to be beached and a reasonable price – which i believe might make them a good starting point fo a long distance crusier.

my main concern, and it stems from having never personally sailed on a large centre-boarder – is their ability to go well to windward when required and their ability to cope with really rough conditions.

your comments?

many thanks

Marcus Petraska
New Zealand

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 26, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Gig Harbor Whitehall


Are you still happy with your Whitehall from Gig Harbor? Am looking to place an order this week…..



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 26, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Pilots in Alaska

you mentioned some time ago, that you encountered problems cruising in Alaska, as taking a pilot aboard was/is mandatory for non-US flagged yachts over 65ft loa.
This will become relevant for us – how did you get around that issue, or settle the problem?
Thank you!

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 18, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

‘air’ deck switch/electric winch

Hello, I need a replacement switch for the Lewmar electric winch, air activated. Lewmar says they don’t make them anymore. Any ideas where to locate one?
Wayne Simmons

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 13, 2010)    |    Comments (2)

Yacht Design

Steve, I have thoroughly enjoyed your books, dvds, and website for the past 30 years. I was wondering where you studied yacht design?

Thanks for sharing the dream,
Doug Robinson

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 9, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Sailing past

Hello Steve Dashew.

I am Vern Hanson, I do not know if you remember me. I worked for your father at Dashew business machines.

I would like to know what happened to or where the is the HU KA MANKI.

Any information you can remember, would be greatly appreciated.

It was my favorite pastime sailing with your dad on the HU KA MANKI.

Sincerely, Vern

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 2, 2010)    |    Comments (0)

Air Cond/ Sundeer 64′ ketch

Hello all, We are in process of adding a/c to our Sundeer. We would really appreciate hearing from any current or past Sundeer owners as to the design and installs of any a/c systems aboard. We don’t need it, but our friends seem to.
Wayne Simmons

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 2, 2010)    |    Comments (0)


Hi Steve & Linda,

I have been going through old blog posts and came across the series you did on SONAR. This reminded me of the recent update showing the install of a Furuno unit in a new 64. I just wanted to direct you to another manufacturer that you may not be aware of. They’re just across the sound from the folks who make your auto-pilot. (I don’t work for them in any way, just thought the product looked interesting.) I particularly found the testimony of a sailor who sails the Antarctic for a living compelling. It could prove to be a decent alternative to Furuno.

Happy Holidays,


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 28, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

Surviving the Storm


My edition of “Surviving the Storm” is from the year 1999.

1) There is a chapter about the Jordan Series Drogue (p 433 f). Are your conclusions today the same as 10 years ago?

2) Are there any updates available? Price?

Kind regards
Dr. Lampalzer

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 21, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

Suggestions for Boat Improvement

Hi Linda and Steve,
My name is Gilles Philippin and I’m reading since the first issues you posted about WindHorse, I love the technical stuff. I’ve spent much of the time I was not working on my “Backyard Project” checking out yours, and it helped alot. Now that my boat has splashed, I would like to hear some real comments, handling predictions, what you would not do with her, etc ,since you are at the very top of my list of designer/builders,your opinion would make my day, especially if you find something that would need modifications or something else that could be improved.
Carlotte.C. is 32feet LOA, 31 feet at waterline, 8,5 feet of beam, draft of 41inches, air draft of 17′ (8feet from the wheelhouse down)and weight 12000 LBS (she’s all cold roll steel). She has a VW 1.9 TD engine, so we have 50 horses. Thank you for your generosity, and please forgive any misspelling for I’m a “Canadian frog”(from cold Quebec).

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 21, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Bow Thruster Follow Up

Hello Again,

Just following up re a thruster. I see on the web that the FPB64 has a thruster. We are leaning twds. a retractable version.

p.s. We bought Hull #3, originally purchased by John Sabol who named her Tucan. He modified the steering config. to accommodate two wheels and moved the rudder back, extended the mast by 12′, swapped out the motor for a 140 hp more. Only put 450 hrs.on her before selling her to Peter Huttemeier, from Long Island, NY. Peter renamed her Bess and sailed her 35,000 miles before we bought her. We are thinking of a name change now as we are set to register her with the Feds shortly.

Russ & Gwen Hobbs
Vancouver (Tsawwassen), BC

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 15, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

Engine Cooling

Steve, I read with marvel at the thought that you put into your systems. I also spend far too much time thinking about systems and I know of nobody in the industry that has it to your level. I’m just surprised about one thing…engine cooling. You go to great lengths to cool your AC and
refrig. using the “internal keel coolers” in order to eliminate all of the saltwater usually associated with it, but what about the engine? Why not
keel cool that? I have always felt that the weak point of these engines is
the belt driven rubber impeller pump and all of the intakes, strainers etc.
associated with it. I know that you are going to say that it adds heat to
the engine room, but my Nordhavn 40 was really quite cool with a keel
cooled dry exhaust engine. With an aluminum boat, you could even cool
through the skin.

An even better solution comes from the late Phil Bolger. He once drew a
unique boat that used an oil/air cooled Deutz engine. If you are not
familiar with it, these engines don’t have antifreeze as their coolant.
They curculate their lubricating oil and air cool it in order to cool the
engine. To me, it would be the ultimate…get rid of all of the usual
things associated with heat exchanger cooling and even eliminate the
complexity of a keel cooler….heck, they even eliminate an entire
fluid…antifreeze. Are you familiar with these?

One other unique engine that could be nice for the new 64 is these Steyr
engines that have an integrally mounted electic motor/generator. During
normal operation that generator could supply all of your DC needs without
needing an additional belt to drive it. In an emergency, it could be
driven as an electric “get home” motor powered off of the generator. I
think this could be a nice solution for a single engine boat.

Allan Salzman

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 10, 2009)    |    Comments (3)

Catamarans vs Monohauls

What would be better for cruising. I keep reading about how catamarans are so great because of speed and comfort. I also have been told that they are extremely safe, even in extreme storms. Is this true. What about monohauls, are they that much slower, I realize weight become less of issue with them but is the trade off worth it for cruising. What do you this of the Atlantic 57 vs the Oyster 655? Which one is better?



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 8, 2009)    |    Comments (8)

Bow Thruster Options

Gooday Steve and Linda,

We recently purchased a Sundeer 60 and she’s in the yard undergoing a refit. Seriously considering a bow thruster and would like any feedback on the type/specs, ideas you may have.

Thank you in advance!

Gwen & Russ Hobbs
Vancouver, BC

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 7, 2009)    |    Comments (0)



As the risk of asking too many questions… (sent on on refer systems last week) I’m wanting to insulate my C&C Landfall. It has a cored hull/deck but after a winter aboard I’d like to insulate more. My plan would be to go with the insulation you used but I can’t see to find the information you used to have posted on

Appreciate the time.



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 21, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Greeting from Hamburg / Germany

So far i was only reading your comments and following your FPB adventures even to Europe. I am coming from sailing , actually from a Nordic folkboat and was thinking a lot about my next boat sail / power / motorsailor starting from some dutch steel motor vessels via Amel maramus up to Taiwanese Tayanas with my budget of 100 k EURO. I looked at old nauticat, Hallberg Rassies etc but nothing fits really.

One month ago I found small advertise in a harbour and meanwhile I am the owner of a nice boat which in never heard off or which I have ever seen. It is a Marimba 44 designed in 1980 by Dan Murray from New Zealand, built in Germany in 4.5 AlMng as round hull with centercockpit and interior was done in nice mahagony by another yard. A boat for 2 + 2 shortime guests, with a lot of storage , a sail locker in front of the saloon and head instead of add. Bunks, solid watertight alu bulkeads to separate the boat in 3 tight sections, no pressure water, but nice full batten sails etc. 13,5 m x 4 m x 2 m, 14 tons, 110 sqm

It looks like the boat found me and not I found a boat. So I can start some serious sailing. Thanks for your information and enjoy boating as long as possible.

Carsrten Fruendt
“ Mar y Sol”

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 21, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Bow thruster

Hi y’all!

I can’t see a bow thruster on your boat. Don’t you have one or do you have a retractable?
If you don’t have one, why?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 21, 2009)    |    Comments (2)

Induction Cooktops

hi linda and steve,

we recently sold our sailing catamaran we cruised on for 10 years and have gone to the “dark-side”. as i write this we are having a 47′ power catamaran being built in maine. we are just about 70yrs and in the future will limit ouselves to the usa, bahamas and the caribbean. no more sail handling in nighttime squalls!

it has been with great interest that we learned you are using induction cooktops.

power generation: we will have 680 watts of solar panels, 1260 amps in a house battery bank, and a 6kw. genset. in the past we could basically live off solar while anchored in the tropics even making water (12 gph at a draw of about 15 amps per hour). we will have “dumpster” style fridge/freezers that draw less than 5 amps and run 1/3rd of the time. all lighting is LED and we read and do not plan on getting a tv.

can we look forward to induction cooking? anything you can share about your experiences will be appreciated.

regards/glenn and pam cooper

p.s. we loved your high lattitude photos.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 27, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Domestic Water Pump

Dear Steve,

Will you be using the double action Surflo pump for domestic water on the 64? In other words, is it still a good choice or is there something better?

I’m looking at domestic water, washdown, RO feed and would like to do it with the same pump model.

Thanks for all you do,
Bill Shuman

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 27, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Refer System


I’ve just put my C&C Landfall up on the hard for the season and will be refitting her over the next year. I noticed that you have decided to go with putting the keel coolers for your refrigeration in the freshwater tanks on the FPB’s. Sounds like a wonderful idea. I have two keel coolers with my system right now and now think I might consider your idea. Do you have any recommendations? Tank size, corrosion issues with dissimilar metals, contamination, etc. Also, do you have any input on refer/freezer boxes?

Just finished your meteorology book last month. Very well done. I was excited to see that Steve is a sailplane pilot! I think it mentioned him soaring somewhere out west? I’ve been around the sport for years and it was nice to see someone compare the two disciplines. Lots in common. Very cool.



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 27, 2009)    |    Comments (2)

Glazing Question

Hi Steve,

We just bought a 60’ aluminium sailing boat, 6 years old, and we are in the process of rethink many particulars for adapting the boat to our plans who are to sail even in cold places like Patagonia, and Antarctica.

Your site is wonderful; a lot of passion is filtering in your words.

A big wave destroying the glazing is one of our nightmares and so we found interesting your thumb rule for dimensioning the glazing.

We’ve read of your concerns about laminated glasses, but you don’t talk about double glazing to reduce the condense inside the boat in cold places. May be because with such thicknesses is not an issue?

Thanks a lot,


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 20, 2009)    |    Comments (6)

Mainsail Control


What do you think of the idea of putting the main boom vang on a circular track so the boom angle and boom height (sail twist) can be controlled. I guess this is the sort of system you would have had in your cats many years ago.

I guess it would alssuito roachy mainsails.

Do you think it could be an effective and efficient means of mainsail control for a large yacht with a shorthanded crew?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 30, 2009)    |    Comments (2)

Multi-headsail Sloop/Cutter


Would you comment on the efficacy of the rig described below.

Let’s say we are talking about a 70 – 75 ft sloop/cutter with a DLR of around 60 – 70 – and beam to LOA of around 22% (typical of your style of hull).

It has a large foretriangle and fully battened deep roach mainsail.

The rig probably needs to be only low aspect given the area in the roachy mainsail and with say a 130% overlapping genoa in a large foretriangle.

There are 3 roller furling headsails (130% genoa, 90% jib, 60% jib) for the various wind ranges and an inner, probably permanently rigged, luff wire for a hanked on storm jib.

There are no backstays or runners and the mast has 25deg swept back spreaders.

Do you think this rig could work safely and efficiently?

What would be the main problems of the rig – balancing luff(4)/shroud tensions?



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 7, 2009)    |    Comments (6)

Advantages of British Weather


We’ve been thinking about the advantages of British weather. For one thing, folks from the Pacific Northwest of the US feel right at home. Then there is the British penchant for high end foul weather gear which supports a plethora of suppliers and pays for R and D which benefits the rest of us.

History buffs may recall that the island geography and industrial revolution are credited with the push to create the British Empire. But we have a different theory.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 4, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Open 60 World Cruser

Hi Steve and Linda, thanks for all your great work over the years.
I have to qualify this question with a few things. I am young enough (45) to still be crazy, I have extensive (30+years) of offshore (big boat) distance racing experience from the Islands to Nova Scotia, both shorthanded and with full crew, and I am a designer and builder (Houses and Commercial Projects) by trade, who has previously applied skills I have learned to such insane projects as helping to rebuild an Alden 42’ Cutter Rigged Yawl (replacing 77 out of 86 frames…).
I am in the process of considering my next boat. The intended use of this boat will be to do the “reverse” ARC, then bumping around Europe for some time, doing some races as desired, (Fastnet…) ultimately (if the mood strikes) returning after a year or two, or not, as the case may be. In addition while I do like and intend to have creature comforts, I have no problem with an austere (looking) interior (bare carbon or aluminum is fine with me).
Unfortunately one of your boats is not in my budget (although I have coveted one since you started), so I have been looking at used Open 60’s to convert to my idea of “the perfect cruiser”. Fast.
My logic (if you can call it that) is that from what’s available on the market, like the old P&J “Boomerang” while a fantastic boat (I have raced her) for the most part could not be simply modified to my needs (also a bit big, I think 60+/- is my max). My main issue is draft, so I am considering as part of my budget a lifting keel (or even canting/lifting) with a target draft of 4’. What is your opinion of the various lifting keel methods, and their relative strength/safety? Having had a near miss with a partially submerged container on a night with no moon doing 20+ Knots, I have some concerns.
In addition what are your thoughts on “detuning” (reducing the sail area (slightly)) such a boat for the displacement that I would have, since I will not be carrying the sail inventory or supplies for a non-stop around the world trip (I will have a complete inventory, but carrying 9 chutes/code-0’s – 6 Jibs and – 4 Staysails is more than I would use). My goal is to have target speeds of about 20 KTS reaching and 13 KTS Beating in 15 KTS. I would like to eliminate the runners and struts associated with such a large rig.

Thank you in advance.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 28, 2009)    |    Comments (4)

Which alternator do you use?

I am interested which alternators you are using on you boats. I have read about 2 pcs. Electrodyne 150A/24V. Gut on the website of Electrodyne they also say to have 250A/24V pieces. Would that be an option as well?
Are you not heating the batterie’s to much while loading the them that fast? How many Amp/hrs are they in your boat?

Thanks in advance,


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 22, 2009)    |    Comments (0)


What do you think about having a washing machine on board a boat for a family of four about to go cruising for a couple of years (maybe more)? We could make the space for it.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 16, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Swept-Back Spreaders

I just wondered what you think about the point the captain of the Morgan’s Cloud makes here about swept-back spreaders:

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 14, 2009)    |    Comments (4)

Hull Plate Thickness


I believe the hull plate thickness on the FPB65 is 12mm.

Can you tell me what you used for the FPB83 and Beowulf?

What was the deck plate thickness?



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 10, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

John Deere power

I have a question regarding the John Deere propulsion engine: Does the engine have enough power for maneuvering the boat together with driving two alternators and a hydraulic pump? What is the capacity of the hydraulic pump connected to the PTO and is the bow thruster also fed by this pump? If yes, how strong is the bow thruster and can you use full bow thruster power on low engine RPM?
Thanks in advance for your answers.

Another question regarding the alternators: How long does it take to fully recharge 25% percent charged batteries (how much Ampere-hours is the battery bank totally?) with the two alternators? Regards, Berend Hartman

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (July 25, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Wharram style “soft wing sail” viability on a monohull

Hi Steve,

I am designing a rig for a 42′ cruiser (monohull). Due to the nature of the hull I need a lot of sail area and a low center of effort. James Wharram, about 20 years ago, developed what he calls a “soft wing sail”. It is a gaff rig with the leading 1/4 of the sail made up as a sock which slides over the mast, in place of hoops, lacing, etc.
It’s obviously efficient aerodynamically.

My concern is that friction between the sail and mast could cause problems with reefing/dropping the sail. Wharram has been using the design now for decades and says that there is no problem, that it can be dropped on any point of sail. He has lots of boats sailing with this rig.

It seems to me that if this works on a cat it should work on a mono as well. I’ve crunched the numbers on rigging loads and mast compression and these can be made to work.

I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts any any experience you have to share on how this rig might work on a mono.

Regards, Paul

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (June 23, 2009)    |    Comments (2)

Skegs – Worth It?


Some months ago I purchased an uncompleted Turner 46 hull (Tripp design) and
am in the middle of its conversion into a 46′ motorsailer. I realize this
approaches lunacy, but I’ve wanted to build all my life and after two
aborted tries, I’m older, wiser, and have couple of more dollars to spend
and so am off down this road again. Your Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia is
a well worn design reference as is/was your website.

Of particular interest, and the purpose of this e-mail, was a web page on
your old site which discussed the appendages on your first FB. I really
liked the propeller shaft skegs, and wanted to emulate them on my
motorsailer, however the images have been removed from your new site. Not
to worry, as I have the basic idea but I would be very much appreciative if
you could share a few of brief thoughts on the pros and cons of these skegs
(vs. an open shaft and strut) on a motorsailer. I’ve searched in vain for
some internet discussion on the topoic but have not found much.

I guess my question boils down to whether or not you feel the added
protection of a skeg to the shaft and prop outweigh the added surface area
and maintenance complexity (changing out cutless bearings) in a motorsailer
application. I feel that in my case, directional stability and
maneuverability issues are a push, but would be very interested in hearing
your thoughts on the subject.

Best Regards,

Doug Brown

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 25, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Genset vs Alternators


I had a question about the cruising alternators on the main engine. I have been reading Ken Williams’ blog and there was a significant amount of traffic on this subject. Bottom lime was concluding that they drew more power, hence fuel, then simply running there normal 20kw generator. They went on to suggest that Nordhavn as a company was no longer installing them on their boats. I know you area a big fan and I was wondering if you could shed some light on the subject



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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 22, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Exterior use of 6061 alloy

Hi Steve,
As a long time builder, user and owner of aluminum alloy boats perhaps you can answer this question: How does the odd bit of raw 6061, above the waterline , but on the exterior, fare visually over time in comparison to 5086? In particular, we’re building a Dix 43 Pilot House and I’m looking at using a 3″ half pipe extrusion as a rub rail down each side and it is only available in 6061. The hull plating is 5086 H116. The alternative is to buy vastly more expensive 5086 schedule 80 pipe and rip it on the table saw. I don’t mind spending when it’s justified but don’t want to waste money. We love the look and practicality of unpainted alloy, but my experience in non-salt environments with 6061 is that it can look pretty nasty after awhile. Perhaps it’s just a matter of an occasional scotchbrite rub-down.
The other place we’ll be using 6061 is for the rudder shaft . It’s a spade rudder with a 115mm diameter shaft and Jefa self aligning bearings. Appearance is not an issue here, and I think the 6061-T6 will be stronger than 5086 . Do you think corrosion could be an issue on the 6061 rudder shaft? We will have a comprehensive anode system.
Thanks so much-I love the new site format!

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 16, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Oil Filter Leak


The last couple of days we have had a small oil leak on the port engine. Not much – what you see above is after six hours of running – but we wanted to find the source before proceeding.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 14, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Ultimate Thermostat Solution


We’ve been using a digital programmable thermostat to control our diesel boiler. This allows us to program four different set of time and temperature during the day. Our sleeping cabin is kept cold during the day, turns the heat on an hour before bed time, and goes to low heat (but still on) until morning, when we are programmed to warm up just a bit.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 8, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

How Big Should Your Anchor Be?


We submit the photo above as a baseline for thinking about anchor size. We are ensconced in Vikingevagen, Norway. A tight, protected anchorage. Water depth is 40 feet (12m) and the barometer is plunging. It is gusting 40 knots, and the granite shore is 150 feet (45m) off our stern. This is not a situation in which you want to worry about anchor size.

So, how big an anchor is right?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 8, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

bottom paint for aluminum boat

Steve, I have a Lavranos-designed aluminum 13M cutter. The bottom has 6 coats of Interlux 2000e epoxy barrier and a couple of coats of Interlux “trilux 33” bottom paint. What brand of bottom paint do you use in warm climates. Thanks.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 5, 2009)    |    Comments (2)

Getting to the Bottom – Rocna

There is considerable discussion about Rocna vs Manson vs Spade floating about. This discussion is somewhat contaminated by the defensive jabbing amonst some of the designer/manufacturers.

Given your tacit endorsement of the Rocna, can you give us some real life (NZ to UK via Alaska) insight into where the Rocna proves to be superior and when it does not (e.g., bottom types, fast currents and shifts, storm conditions). Thanks!

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 28, 2009)    |    Comments (3)

Using Radar in Traffic

Dave Snow, a Puget Sound sailor sent some excellent questions about our recent blog about crossing the English Channel. We’ll try and answer them here.

channel cross-5a

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 20, 2009)    |    Comments (3)

Wireless Broadband – Maybe We’ve Found the Answer

You’d think London would be bristling with wifi options. There was good service in marinas from Falmouth to Southampton. But we’ve been bandwidth challenged in St. Katherine’s Docks.

We see two pay to play wifi options with our high gain antenna and access point. Both – BT Open Zone and Something Wireless – are slow and of intermittent availability. We subscribed to both – roughly US$22. per month for each – so we had a choice.

But wait. It gets better.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 20, 2009)    |    Comments (4)

High Modulus Dock Lines


We have been using the same set of Yale Ropes high modulus dock lines coming onto four years now. These 11mm (7/16″) ropes are as strong as our normal 24mm (one inch) polyester, weigh a fraction of the latter, and are less prone to chafe. And they are obviously a lot easier to handle.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 18, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Warming the Bunk – Electric Blankets at Sea?

Last summer in Greenland, with water temperature barely above freezing and air about the same, we decided to see how tough we were, and if we could sleep with the diesel heater turned off.

A double dose of blankets did the trick. But the pain of warming the cool sheets at the beginning of our sojurn abed disuaded us from further experimentation.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 17, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

Genset Sound Shields – Good or Bad Idea?

When we purchased the Northern Lights genset for Wind Horse it was only available at the time with a sound shield. Since we were paying for it we decided to give it a try. However, a hidden salt water leak and less than robust latches convinced us to leave off the side panels. We were not comfortable with having to remove the side panels for routine inspection.


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 10, 2009)    |    Comments (1)

Tips for Winter Yacht Storage


Although we have left our boats in many parts of the world, this is the first time where we have had to consider sub-freezing temperatures. We talked to folks from various areas who live in these climates and received all sorts of advice, some of which was in conflict.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 30, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Answering a SetSailor’s Questions about Medical Insurance

At the request of a reader, Linda discusses how she handles health insurance while cruising, some new things she’s added to the medical kit, and her experiences getting health care in foreign countries.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (July 28, 2008)    |    Comments (1)

It’s Getting Warm: Awnings at Work in Georgetown, Bahamas


We’re anchored off Georgetown in the Bahamas. Water is 87F/30C and air about the same. Today the breeze lightened up and awnings, always important in the tropics, became critical. So we took a ride around the anchorage to see how folks were keeping their cool.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 12, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Conference Calls from the Boat Using Skype


We’re anchored a mile from a beachfront restaurant to the west of Georgetown in the Bahamas. Amongst the services offered (in addition to cold beer) is WiFi. $15 for the week – not bad by cruising standards.

As it is the beginning of the slow season and there are not a lot of users right now, the connection is robust. And with our hi-gain WiFi antenna and “access point” we are able to enjoy the benefits of being connected to the world while anchoring away from the crowd (thank you for installing the system, Troy Bethel!).

One of the biggest benefits of this solid WiFi connection is the new (to us) Skype phone system for calling over the Internet. We are just getting up to speed with this 21st century marvel.

Today, after digesting the latest metalwork drawings on the FPB 64 from New Zealand (the 3Mb file arriving by WiFi) we had a two-hour phone conference with Dave DeVilliers and Ed Firth who are doing the detailing. Both our drawings and theirs were open on the computer, and we could refer back and forth as various details were discussed. Exactly as would have happened if we were standing at the desk in our land office. The big difference is that we are out here, actually using the product as it was intended to be used.

This is the only way to run a business!

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 11, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Cool Tool for Hot Work


Our recent foray into replumbing our hydraulic cooling system under way brought to the fore how valuable these heat resistant gloves can be. We picked them up in an Ace Hardware store some years ago. They are made from Nomex or Kevlar (cannot recall which), and for hanging on to fittings which are at 125 F (52 C) they work great.

They are light enough to retain a bit of feel, enough so we are able to wrap Teflon sealing tape around small fittings (albeit with some difficulty).

For jobs where it is really hot and/or the risk of being scalded exists (as with cooling circuits on the engine) we carry a set of welding gloves. These are not easy in which to work, so they remain new in appearance.

The gloves above are worn in the engine room when it is warm, even for casual inspections.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 24, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

AC Power Management

With AC power consumption aboard at a personal record for us, we are experimenting with different management schemes. To begin with, we now have all four air conditioning units running. That is a total of 54,000 BTUs of capacity. In addition, the wash cycle is in full swing as this is being written. As the washing machine heats its own water, and the drier is a full sized unit, they really consume the Watts. In addition, it is breakfast time and the microwave is periodically using its 1000 or so Watts.


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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 24, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Cool Running: Managing Heat in Interior, Fridge, & Engine Room

The stop in Acapulco was brief. Eighteen hours to clear out of Mexico with the port authorities, top off the fuel tanks (again at US$2.40/gallon) and check the engine room.

The latter revealed that the raw water pump on the port engine had begun to leak sea water and oil from its shaft seals. This is just a couple of hundred hours after the starboard pump was changed, so we now know to rebuild these after 2000 hours. There is a spare on board and the R and R took half an hour. Everything else looked fine.

We’re crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec as this is being written. Conditions are perfect, four to eight knots of breeze from the aft quarter and calm seas (just as predicted by our Expedition routing software and GFS weather model GRIB files). Water temperature has been between 85 and 87 F (29.5 to 30 C), air temperature the same in the evening and a little warmer in the sun.

The heated environment stresses systems and potentially crew, unless the correct precautions are taken.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 21, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Cruising Compromises: Air Conditioning

Air conditioning on board: The logic behind the compromises.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 21, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Wind Horse Communications Update

We have a love/hate relationship with our comms gear. We really do like to stay in touch, especially with family and friends, but we don’t like the complexity. And the options keep changing. Prior to leaving for Panama we went through an analysis of what was currently available, our needs, and played this off against our tolerance for hassle (low). Here is what we found.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 18, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Wind Horse Ethernet Update

Last spring we set up (with the help of a Best Buy “Geek”) a wireless network on Wind Horse. With a Verizon broadband card on one PC, a printer, and a second PC, this seemed like the right way to go. But then we needed to allow for the Furuno Fax 30 network weatherfax which is connected via an ethernet cable, which forced our Geek into all sorts of contorted computer logic.

Now things are even more complex. We wanted to add a high gain WiFi antenna and amplifier so we could use WiFi at a long distance once we leave the world of Verizon. In addition, we now have an Imac (Apple) computer. This makes six items to connect to the network.

Troy Bethel

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 11, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Antenna Connections: Keeping Them Secure & Dry

A couple of new tricks we’ve learned from Troy Bethel, who has been helping us with updating our SSB e-mail system and installing a high gain WiFi antenna.

To begin with, secure, dry antenna connections are a must, albeit not easy to do on a seagoing vessel.

dielectric waterproofing filler

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 11, 2008)    |    Comments (1)

Fresh Water Pressure Switch

If you have played with boats much, you know that the least reliable item on board is likely to be the pressure switch on the fresh water pump. To make matters worse, these are usually difficult to change.

We have been averaging a year of use on our pressure switches, and a year ago decided to install an industrial pressure switch. But it wasn’t until a recent failure during Steve’s evening shower that action was initiated on this long overdue project.

Square D fresh water pressure switch

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 10, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Victron Inverter Chargers: Is This Revolution for Real?

When we designed the systems for Wind Horse, a key component was the theoretical ability of her Mastervolt inverters to work in phase with the generator so that if necessary, the inverters would handle excess load. In theory, this allowed a smaller genset (our is just 8kW) which would be run at load most of the time.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 2, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Wind Horse’s CV Axles after 2600 Hours

With 2600 hours on our CV Axles (between transmission output flange and prop shaft thrust bearing) and 8000 miles of travel in the offing, we figured it prudent to have a look at this important gear.Removing these is not easy. They reside in the very tight space between transmission and hull. But with the help of Dave Wyman, and expert suggestions from Tom at Ventura Harbor Boat Yard, we had them sitting in the shop after a couple of hours of grunt work. It will be easier next time as we know the system now.

CV axle maintenance

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 21, 2008)    |    Comments (3)

Cool Tool: Crimping Heavy Cable Lugs

hydraulic crimper for electric cables

Here is something that can have a big impact on your cruising plans. It is a hydraulic crimping tool, used to properly affix electrical lugs on heavy cables. If the correct dies are used, this makes a perfect job. Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 21, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Bottom Paint Maintenance

It has been 17 months and 12,000 or so miles since we last hauled out at Ventura Harbor Boat Yard. We were probably good for at least the trip to the UK before needing another coat of paint, but with some other maintenance projects to do we figured to get a jump on this chore (at half the cost of doing it in Europe). So we are back at our favorite haul-out site.

bottom paint performance

Wind Horse has basically been sitting since mid-September, with a couple of brief forays away from the dock. This has been in a canal, with lots of growth potential. The grass is on a spot which has been rubbed bare of anti-fouling. Most of the rest of what you see here would polish off if we went to sea for a few hundred miles. Being close to the waterline this area gets a lot of sun, which makes for more growth. Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 20, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Marine Insurance in Remote Cruising Grounds

When we launched Wind Horse we went with a new (to us) insurance carrier, Pantaenius. This is a German firm which acts as a broker, using various insurance markets. They appear to have a large percentage of the Eurpean cruising boat market.

What impressed us were the comments we read on folks who had dealt with them on losses, and the fact that they would cover us for areas off the beaten path, with just two of us aboard.

With the FPB 64 program coming along we’ve been getting questions about insurance, so we checked with Peter Kelly, who represents Pantaenius in the US. He said insurance rates are currently about seven tenths of one percent. The exact amount varies with which of the coverages are selected. We apparently get a very efficient rate due to the double bottom, water tight bulkheads, high factors of safety, and emergency systems aboard.

A couple of weeks ago, as we started to think about “Plan B” (heading to Europe via Greenland and Iceland) we asked Peter what the difference would be in our insurance policy. He checked with the home office and we were advised that there would be no increase in charges. However, our deductible would be increased while we were in Greenland waters to what works out to four tenths of one percent.

We were pleasantly surprised to find coverage was available and the increase in deductible seems quite fair, considering the remoteness of Greenland’s cruising grounds.

If you would like more information on Pantaenius from the US contact .

Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 13, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Dinghy Tent/Awning

dinghy/life raft with rescue orange awning/tent

We have always thought of a properly prepared dinghy as a better option than the life raft in most situations. Our dink on Wind Horse always has its outboard spares/tools of course, along with ground tackle and abandon ship gear packed in watertight backpacks. There is a five-gallon (19 liter) water jug, and two six-gallon (22 liter) gas cans stored aboard as well.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 28, 2008)    |    Comments (2)

Testing an Induction Cooktop for Wind Horse

induction cooktop on boat galley

We have been testing an “induction” (magnetic) cooktop on Wind Horse. In theory, this takes a fraction of the power of conventional electric units, and we will be using these in lieu of propane on the FPB 64s.

Result – this technology works really well. Linda was able to make a Sunday morning breakfast (boil water for coffee, cook bacon, and fry eggs) in just under 14 minutes of cooking time. Average draw off the inverter was 1300 watts during this time. This works out to 330 watts for a rather large (for us) breakfast which otherwise would have been cooked with propane.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 26, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum Hull Maintenance (AKA the Grind)

Last summer we spent a few days hanging out on the dock in Anacortes, Washington, seeing some friends and checking out the local boat building scene. It so happens the dock to which Wind Horse was securely affixed was the perfect height for touching up our topsides.

When you consider Wind Horse had been on the go for the better part of 24,000 miles without our once having done any maintenance, it became apparent that the time had come for some serious cleaning.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 4, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Mechanical vs. Electric Engine Gauges

Faulty VDO oil pressure gauges

The photo above of the oil pressure gauges on our two engines was taken last summer as we were working our way through British Columbia. On the face of things, the oil pressure on the port engine is a little low and that of the starboard engine alarming. Is this the result of low oil level, a true oil pressure issue from bearings or oil pump, or a bad sensor?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (December 14, 2007)    |    Comments (0)

Strobe Lights for Visibility

Years ago we fitted a strobe light to the masthead of Intermezzo, to serve as a warning light to make sure we were seen by shipping. Later we heard this was not such a good idea, because it was difficult to determine distance off when viewing strobe lights.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 9, 2007)    |    Comments (1)

Collisions/Radar Reflectors

In the summer of 2006 a 25-foot sailing yacht, Ouzo, was thought to have been run down in the English Channel by the passenger ferry Pride of Bilbao, with three lives lost. The British Marine Accident Investigating Branch (MAIB) conducted an inquiry. While debriefing the ferry’s crew, it was determined that the yacht did not show up on the ferry’s radar, but was seen at the last minute by the watch stander.

In typical MAIB fashion the report goes into exhaustive detail about the yacht, the ferry, their respective crew, electronics, even types of eye glasses (with some interesting findings about photochromatic eye glasses). They discuss in detail maintenance issues about yacht running lights, including the information that the aging of plastic running light lenses reduces the transmission of light.

A second report resulting from the MAIB investigation focuses on the various types of radar reflectors fitted to yachts and how they show up on the ships’ radars. The conclusions of their testing on this subject are sobering and bear careful reading.

  • To download a copy of the Radar Reflectors report (a 2.1 MB PDF file), radar_reflectors.
  • To download the MAIB report on lessons learned from the collision (a 1.4 MB PDF file), click here.

Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (October 8, 2007)    |    Comments (0)

Knipex “Plier Wrench”

Knipex Plier Wrench

This tool is ideal for working where a standard crescent is too bulky or thick, and a channel lock does not have the grip power you need.

You can order these in various sizes from most tool suppliers. Googling “Knipex” will get you a bunch of websites to check.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 3, 2007)    |    Comments (0)

PAR Bilge Pump Repair – Jury Rigging Check Valves

The air vents for the water tanks empty into the forepeak and engine room. We rarely fill these tanks, but when we do, we just wait until the bilge pump starts to cycle, indicating the tanks are overflowing, to turn off the hose.

You can imagine our surprise when we heard the high water alarm sounding. We turned off the hose, and then checked the engine room. There was four inches (100mm) of water in our usually dry bilge. The big PAR diaphragm pump was running, but it wasn’t pumping (and as a result was quieter than normal).

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 28, 2007)    |    Comments (2)