There have been changes since we last cruised. Yes, we have grown older, not having found a way to slow the march of time, but I’m talking about other changes. Some we chose to make, those designed to make living aboard both comfortable and easier. Others chose us, and we have had to adapt to them.
What changes did we choose to make? The bigger ones include:
Installing an electric motor for propulsion, along with the necessary batteries, chargers, instruments and sources of charging (solar panels, generator and a prop suitable for providing regeneration). The payoff – a motor with lots of torque, quick response and extremely easy-to-use controls.
A radar arch at the stern that is relatively light, unobstrusive, and does not interfere with the windvane (for those who are not sailors, a windvane is a mechanism that uses wind to steer the boat so we don’t have to). This is still a work in progress – we’re thinking of the one we have now as a preliminary version. It does what we want, but another material would probably work better.
Creating a navigation instrument panel we can see from inside or outside the cabin, and mounting the radar so it can be turned inside or toward the cockpit. We mounted our knot meter/depth sounder, our chartplotter and the system monitor for our electric motor and batteries below the hood over our main hatch (entrance to the cabin) and above the level of the cabin roof. Then we put windows in the hatch doors so that we can see them from outside even with the doors closed. The radar is hinged; normally it’s against the cabin wall, but we can turn it to face into the cockpit.
Changing the steps into the cabin – there are now four instead of three, they have sides (nice when the boat is at an angle), and since they are attached to it and just below the cabin entrance they also help fasten the cover for the engine compartment securely in place.
Changing the berths from foam cushions flat on the surface below to pads on a rope base (as in picture above). We did this so that we no longer had to deal with damp or mouldy cushions. Experiments while we were still land-based taught us we would have to tighten the ropes a few times before everything stayed comfortably taut, and that there will always be a curve to them. Good pads are essential for spreading our weight comfortably. One unexpected advantage: this arrangement damps the boat’s movement and makes sleeping more comfortable.
One change we did not plan for but are learning to work with. A few of you already know that an illness in January 2012 left me (Margaret) with something called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. I’ve written about it elsewhere, but the short version is that the same virus that causes chickenpox destroyed nerves in and around my right ear, leaving me with some paralysis to the right side of my face, some loss of hearing in my right ear, some difficulty swallowing and the need to work constantly to maintain and improve my balance. I’ve come a long way since it all started, but it does mean there are some things we’re doing differently.
On this trip we’re travelling in a series of short hops rather than longer sails. This does have the advantage of allowing us to see more of the provinces we’ll be passing through, something we’re looking forward to. And I’ll be staying in the cockpit and cabin while we’re under way.
But – we’re under way! And looking forward to sharing our travels with you.