Major Boat Preparations and Equipment

It has been a busy time at the boat from running new lifelines and jacklines to setting up and learning how to use the IridiumGo, a satellite connection that allows us to make phone calls, send and receive texts and emails and to download weather files while offshore.

Below is a summary of some of the work that has been done:

SAFETY

Jorden Series Drogue

There is a lot of debate in the sailing community about the best storm tactics.  On a basic level, they all involve slowing the boat down and keeping the boat at the correct position relative to the waves.  There are two basic devices used: storm anchors and drogues. Storm anchors are like large parachutes that go into the water connected to the boat and keep the bow (front) of the boat at an approximately 45-degree angle to the waves.  In this position, the boat creates a slick (area of disturbed water) that helps inhibit the development of breaking waves.  Deploying a storm anchor can be difficult and requires skill and judgment as to how it is deployed.  In addition, it requires a person to leave the safety of the cockpit.

Drogues, on the other hand, can be deployed from the cockpit and are designed to keep the stern into the waves.  The advantage of the Jorden Series Drogue is that it is easy to deploy and does not require any particular judgment or adjustment. We concluded that it was better to have a system that we could safely and correctly deploy every time than to try to have the “perfect” system.  As you can see, the drogue is a line with over 150 yellow cones that will “catch” the water and slow the boat down.  Because the line is long and there are so many cones, we do not have to worry about a single large cone failing or being pulled out of the waves and becoming ineffective.

Viking Life Raft

We selected this raft because it inflates quickly and is self-righting in any conditions to facilitate direct boarding from the boat into the life raft.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 10.55.49Lifelines and Jacklines

We had completely new lifelines installed.  Lifelines are metal wires around the perimeter of the boat to help prevent people from going overboard.  Jacklines are webbing attached to strong points on the boat to which a tether can be attached, the other end of the tether being connected to a harness that each of us will wear. With the tether attached, should one of us fall,  we will only go as far as the length of the tether and hopefully not overboard.

AIS

AIS stands for automatic identification system (AIS) and is an automatic tracking system that uses transponders on ships and is used by vessel tracking services.  Information provided by AIS equipment, such as unique identification, position, course, speed and closest point of approach between two vessels can be displayed on our chart plotter.   Vessels fitted with AIS transceivers can be tracked by AIS base stations located along coastlines or, when out of range of terrestrial networks, through a growing number of satellites that are fitted with special AIS receivers.  In fact, you can track Dream Weaver with this MMSI number: 338053988  using this or other websites:  https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:5740347/mmsi:338053988/vessel:338053988

In summary, AIS allows our boat to be seen and tracked electronically and for us to see and track other boats that have AIS.  Also, we can set an alarm to sound when other boats with AIS are within a certain distance of us or will pass within a certain distance.

Boom Brake

The boom is what holds the bottom of the mainsail. If the boom is forced over by the wind too quickly from one side of the boat to the other it can be damaged as well as damage other parts of the rigging. To avoid this, we have installed a boom break which slows the motion of the boom as it moves from one side of the boat to the other.

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ELECTRICAL

After water, electricity is the most precious commodity on a boat.  Without electricity, none of our key equipment will work, most notably our satellite connection, AIS, radio and navigation lights. To ensure that we have enough electricity for the voyage we had the following work performed:

New Batteries- We increased the number of batteries on the boat from 6 to 10 giving us 1000 amp hours of battery capacity.

DuoGen- In water mode this device is lowered into the water and the motion of the boat through the water causes a propeller to turn which then turns an alternator to create electricity.  Our expectation is that at our average boat speed of roughly 5 knots the DuoGen will produce 120 amp hours of electricity per day.  The good thing about this system is that it produces electricity continuously as long as the boat is moving.  It is also possible to use this same device as a wind generator.

Solar Panels- We have also installed flexible solar panels with a total potential output of 300 watts.  However, the actual production of solar panels depends on the amount of light and whether there is any shading on the panels. We hope to get 100 amp hours a day from this source.

Diesel generator- In addition to the DuoGen and solar panels,  the boat has a 7.6kw diesel generator that can produce a substantial amount of electricity, but requires us to use diesel fuel which we hope to keep to run the engine if needed.

COMMUNICATION/NAVIGATION

Iridium Go

The IridiumGo is a satellite connection that permits satellite phone calls, vessel tracking text and email.  But, the connection is as slow or slower than the original dial-up connections when people first started to connect to the internet from home.

Chartplotter

We installed another chartplotter at the navigation desk below decks in addition to the one currently at the helm (steering wheel).  This allows us to see our course and if any other boats are around even when inside the boat.

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