Boat equipment we love or hate

Rutland 913 wind generator. Evidently amps are quite loud because our Rutland is dead silent and pretty much makes a nominal amount of amps. We really need a steady 18 knots or better to get any useful amps out of this unit. Its been a bit of a disappointment.

But by far the biggest disappointment on the boat is our Fischer Panda diesel powered generator, which was on board when we bought her. The thing literally runs for 10 hours and then another $200 part breaks. Their technical service support staff is usually helpful on the phone but I guess that it is because they field so many calls. I've had more than one friend with the same unit and we've all had multiple problems. Unfortunately, I've actually become a pretty good repair technician when it comes to Fischer Pandas. If somebody put a gun to my head they couldn’t force a free FP on me.

We do carry a Honda 2000 gasoline powered generator. We rarely need it but when we do I know that unlike that damned Fischer Panda it won't let us down. I would guess that half the cruising boats we see have one and I can see why. It starts on one pull and just sips gasoline.

We've added a Village Marine Little Wonder 200 watermaker. It makes about 8 gallons of fresh water an hour and we're able to run it off our solar array. Space was an issue so we chose a modular unit so the components are scattered throughout the front of the boat. We carry 160 gallons of fresh water in our tank and we were able to stretch that for about a month. The watermaker gives us a lot more latitude as to where we go and for how long.

We installed a WH Autopilot. The “Whale” is an absolute stud. We've been in 15 foot seas with 40 knots of wind and steering the boat was the only issue I didn't have to worry about. The main control lives below while we use the remote out in the cockpit. Its accurate enough that we even use it in the ICW. If our boat is moving then you can safely bet that Rover is driving. It's awesome.

This past summer we built and installed a hard dodger and bimini to replace our aging Sunbrella protection. The dodger is fiberglass encapsulated marine plywood with pale green safety glass windows. The bimini is strong enough to walk on and is a pleasure to sit under while it rains.

Our Furuno radar was on the boat and is a pretty old unit. It still works but doesn't have all the bells and whistles like the newer generation units do. Its kinda like the difference between your old black and white TV and your new Hi Def flatscreen. But it hasn't let us down and the safety factor it brings to the boat is huge.

We added a Militech Marine AIS. Our AIS displays its information on our Garmin chartplotter. I can't begin to explain just what a difference it has made for us. The thing removes all the guess work out of dealing with the big boys.

The Garmin chartplotter is another good choice that we've made. It uses the preferred Explorer Charts for the Bahamas which makes life easier for us while we're there. The color display is easy to read and the menus and buttons make sense and are easy to navigate. Our old chartplotter is now mounted next to the bunk in our cabin where it is utilized as an anchor alarm/ alarm clock.

The Engle freezer is a self contained stand alone unit. It can be either a fridge OR a freezer. We have it set up as a dedicated freezer and its been worth its weight in gold. It uses less than 2 1/2 DC amps an hour and freezes stuff as hard as stone.

The Alpenglow lighting is expensive but the quality is outstanding. We've gone through several types of halogen and LED bulbs with mixed results. The Alpenglow lights are a HUGE step forward. We have also installed lots of fans, mostly Hella fans with a Camfrano here and there. Although we have 16 opening ports and 4 large hatches we still use the fans nearly everyday. Fans make living on a boat much more comfortable, especially for the women on board<<<< very important. Just sayin'.

We've slowly added a few solar panels here and there until we found ourselves sporting 620 watts of Kyocera solar panels. They're monitored by a Blue Sky MPPT solar controller. Between them and the nominal input from the wind generator I can truthfully say that we're pretty much energy independent.

As much as I love the autopilot and the AIS I can safely say that my favorite thing on the boat is our 66 pound Spade anchor. We will NEVER use another anchor as our primary anchor. Once properly set the thing is a beast. We wake up everyday in the same spot we went to sleep the previous night. You'd be surprised how many people can't say that. That hook combined with 200 feet of 3/8ths chain is the set up of the gods as far we're concerned. We sleep like babies while others are conducting anchor watches.

Dinghy & Outboard
We started out with a 6 horsepower 2 stroke. It did all it was supposed to but with both of us in the dink we couldn't get up on plane. Distances that others were traversing in 10 minutes would take us 40. We'd also arrive wet because as other planed across the top of the chop we'd be plowing through it so while we were in the Bahamas we bought a 2 stroke 15 horsepower Yamaha. Its one of the best decisions we've made.

The dink itself has been a learning experience. We left with a roll up inflatable and had holed it within the first month. Then we bought a new Caribe 9 foot RIB. The Caribe was a heavy inflatable dinghy with a fiberglass bottom that offered a dry ride but the 9 foot length offered less surface area so it was tougher to get up on plane.

We're now driving a 10 foot West Marine RIB. Last year we sold the Caribe at a good price and bought the West Marine Rib used. The 10 foot length lets us get up on plane and stay there at a quarter throttle. Its a little wetter ride than the Caribe but its definitely been a step in the right direction. Even though I’m not actually Kreskin I do see an AB 10 foot RIB in our future.