Sunday, January 9, 2011

Things I don't like so much....

Having graduated from the school of grumpy olds recently, this list is mainly about those irritating things that will pop up in your life and cause a drama when you least expect them to! 

Water Tanks.  5x plastic, which are fine, but I don’t know how you would ever get them out if ever they needed to be replaced ie they are largely covered by furniture.  One of them has lost its intake fitting and I have had to block it with a (screw-in) plug however seems ok since I can fill the tank via its neighbour.  All tanks are interconnected and have individual cocks (neatly together and easily accessible in a central console under the floorboards) but, from my experience, you also need to keep them open otherwise the water pressure system seems to malfunction.  The forward tank seems to empty first and can’t be isolated, which I would like to do to help keep the weight forward for hull trim.  I’m still learning. 

Cruising lets you see new places

Fuel Tank.  Aluminium 100 gallons but there is no inspection port so can’t clean it that way. In the event of grunge getting established you would have to use one of those expensive cleaning pumps which swishes the fuel around, pumping it in and out while cleaning it.  So far, I haven’t had that problem and this could be because the boat is a previous charter boat so that fuel was turned over relatively frequently and I also treat any fuel I put into it.  If the tank cracks at, say, one of its welds then one would have to cut out a substantial portion of the stern to get the tank out.  We have also used a fair amount of fuel so it has been turned over a fair bit and I also routinely check and clean the primary filter.

Complexity.  The boat’s systems appear to be complex but, if you want all the bells and whistles, then one probably has no choice.  The owner’s manual helps a lot too however it does mean that there is more to go wrong, as it inevitably must.  See my ever-growing list of stuff I have had to repair/replace or upgrade along the way.

And chat to a few locals about good fishing spots 

Rudder.  One aspect of these balanced rudders – like most production boats – is that the rudder base is almost level with the bottom of the keel and they have no skeg in front of them so could be quite vulnerable in a grounding.  This fact has made me very careful whenever I approach an anchorage – I watch the depth sounder like a hawk.

Stern Cleats.  The Hunter 460 stern is quite unique in that there is no side deck at the stern that one can walk around when handling docking lines – you need to attach lines from the cockpit.   The mooring cleats are a little small in my opinion ie they can really only take one dock line comfortably, although there are three each side, which is good.

Improve your diet
Deck Lining.  The internal deck lining is a mixture of rigid plastic and soft coverings that are easily marked and/or distorted.  One day I will rip out the soft covering and replace it with something like timber battens or ply so that I can easily access all the bits and pieces attached to and under the deck - wiring, etc.

Internal Moulds.  They are good when it comes to keeping clean and cleaning showers, etc but also some will need partial destruction if and when I have to replace water tanks, etc.  Fortunately there are quite a few internal access plates that can be unscrewed for access to electrical junction boxes, winch bases, etc.

Access to Engine.  See above, generally good except that the port side is, to an extent, covered by one of the galley benches.  The bench can be only partially removed and it is a bit of a chore, not assisted by the plumbing pipes to the sink.  The raw water pump is also located in a very inconvenient position on the port side of the engine and faces aft so I’m not looking forward to having to replace the water pump impellor when next I should have to.  I have also had to reinforce the bench mountings as it moved around a bit in a seaway ie the screws that should have attached the base of the bench to a wooden stringer were not in fact in place ie they had never been fitted as indicated in the owners manual.

Thru Hull Fittings.  There appear to be hundreds when you first look although, at last count, fourteen.  Most sea water intakes could be via one or two fittings I would have thought – one back one front – although outlets might have to remain.

Enjoy a little music

Stern Pushpit and Stern.  Not as large as some other boats this size and now a bit crowded with davits, Lifesling, lifebuoy, barbecue, flag holder, fishing rod holders(2), outboard & bracket and an outboard crane.  Windvane self steering gear also takes up one side of stern when fitted. 

Attention to Detail. Such as screws on interior furnishings!  Initially I was constantly replacing wood screws on interior furniture because they had become loose and no longer held.  I am using more substantial self tapping screws as I replace the older ones.  Some of the screws didn’t actually attach to anything eg occasionally they missed the piece of beading, etc they were supposed to be attached to.  The galley centreline bench was not attached at all to the stringer at its base – I had to do that after the bench started shifting while in a seaway!

Portholes.  The rear portholes in the aft cabins seem to line up with the deck overflow.  If it rains, and a really silly crew member/guest forgets to close those ones in particular, water just flows over the side of WJ3 and floods into their cabin.

Then go shopping for staples

What I liked about the Boat (Part 3)

Engine 76 HP Yanmar 4JH2HTE.  Good size, plenty of power but not too much so that engine still has to work at revs – likes about 23 – 2600 revs although tends to consume more fuel at higher revs.  Forgiving, see comments on fan belt repairs below.  Easy to prime – I can inspect and clean primary fuel filter, refill it with diesel and not have to prime the fuel system again – starts easily after replacing the filter.  Runs relatively quietly.

Engine Access.  This is actually quite good for both the main engine and generator, which sits above and behind the main engine.  The main engine cover can be removed revealing the front, rear, top and starboard sides so that most of the engine can be easily accessed.  Not so the port side and so see observations below.  Changing oil and filters is quite easy but not the raw water pump impellor.

Thru Hull Fitting Access.  All are easily reached for servicing, turning on and off, etc.  I would like to have screens fitted over the engine and generator raw water intakes as they suck in a lot of muck, especially when in harbour, but they might slow the rate of water intake.  Strainers are easily accessed and cleaned however.

Stern Gland.  This has one of those dripless mechanisms – great so far, no drips and appears easy to get to.

Main Hatchway and Companionway Ladder.  The main hatchway and companionway ladder are easy to move in and out of – like real easy.  The ladder is not really a ladder but a relatively gently sloping stainless steel framed stair case so that, especially at anchor, one can walk easily in and out of the cabin without needing to hold onto anything ie both hands are free to carry one’s gin and tonics, wine for First Mate, etc.  Considering one uses this walkway many times a day it is a delight.  The ladder is also solid and convenient to use when sailing and easily removed to access the engine.

Convenient nav station
Electronics.  We have:
Depth Sounder.  A must have and fortunately it survived the lightning strike.  Couldn’t do without it.
Log.  Autohelm. Old model, just needed the dial replaced.
Entertainment. Stereo - not working; VHS player never used.  No TV.
Grounding System.  We were struck by lightning while on anchor at Titusville, Florida in July 2009. (More detail later.) However, the boats major metal fittings are grounded and this appears to have saved us from major damage.  US-manufactured boats apparently have to be grounded (unlike European-manufactured boats, I’m told) so avoided major structural damages because of this. 

Cockpit Seat Cushions.  These are comfortable, look good, use closed cell foam, get dirty but are easily cleaned with a pressure water cleaner.  We generally stow them under the dodger at night so that they don’t get wet from overnight dew or rain.

Rigid Inflatable Boat.  ‘Bruce’, our RIB, is about 11’ long, a Caribe.  Hardy, heavy, versatile, great for two to three people, plus bikes, fuel tank, etc.  I thought it was a bit big (came with the boat) but now appreciate its size.  Also great to use as additional fishing platform – to get away from First Mate & any crew!  We keep Bruce locked at night time to WJ3 via padlock and stainless chain.

Meet our RIB, Bruce

15HP Yamaha Outboard.  Bruce is powered by a 15hp outboard which moves us very quickly, to the extent it can also do service towing someone on their wakeboard – great for bored (adult) children.  Very pleased with the engine’s reliability, so far.  It is constantly padlocked when mounted on Bruce.

Cruise to dream locations - Bitter End, British Virgin Islands

What I liked about the Boat (Part 2)

St Martin

Manoeuvrability. The wheel steering is light and the boat responsive, especially when manoeuvring around a marina.  It’s also well balanced providing the sails are set properly, same as any other sailing boat. Big fella though and so need to be careful and well fendered when approaching a dock (I’ve got 10 fenders). 

Ventilation.  Very well ventilated with lots of opening aluminium hatches (8 on top, 8 on the coach house sides, 2 on the hull in the quarters and one into the starboard side of cockpit: total 19.  Allows lots of air to circulate which is great in the tropics but also requires some frantic scrambling to close them all when it suddenly rains.  

Galley.  Large and seaworthy ie the galley largely runs fore and aft allowing the cook to wedge in securely between the two fore and aft benches while sailing.  Force 10 Marine 3 burner gas stove, with oven, plus deep 110 volt fridge and freezer (freezer keeps things frozen but does not freeze stuff unless you are on shore power) plus a fair amount of stowage.  Double deep sinks.  Microwave oven fitted.  When at a marina you can use continual shore power to continuously run the fridge/freezer - plus air conditioning, etc.

Generator.  I didn’t particularly seek a boat with a generator but this boat happened to come with one, plus two air conditioners.  A bit luxurious but very nice on a hot day and when at a marina.  At sea, I run the generator twice a day to charge batteries, run fridge/freezer and sometimes air conditioning for the cook (necessary in the tropics) when preparing meals.  Northern Lights generator, very good but works harder than anything else on board.  Need to check water intake strainer routinely to check it does not clog with any debris, especially in harbour, and regularly check coolant.

Internal Grid System Glassed to Hull.  The Hunter’s internal grid system is actually glassed to the hull, rather than glued like some other production boats, and so are the knees for the chain plates – quite substantial.  No/little noise from hull twisting, bulkheads rubbing, etc but there is some noise at sea in a swell.

Gelcoat.  The gelcoat shows no signs of osmosis.  I understand it includes isothalic resins which are supposed to resist osmosis plus some Kevlar around the bow area.  Surveyor reported gelcoat in above average condition.

Deck to Hull Joint.  I think the Hunter approach, ie deck attached to hull with sealant, and bolts through a flange facing outwards, makes a lot of (common) sense – keeps any leaks outside the hull.  It has a ‘rubber’ flange over it which also acts as a rubbing strake.  This arrangement might also be one of the reasons why the boat is quite dry.  The rubbing strake is a very good idea – I’ve tested mine on docks at least on one (or two) occasions.

Rudder.  Balanced rudder makes for easy manoeuvring and steering.  Most production boats have balanced rudders these days.  Rudder had a fibreglass rudder stock.

Mainsheet.  This is mounted on a substantial stainless steel arch which is part of the bimini.  Out of the way so that boom can’t hit heads although not quite as easy to operate as a mainsheet system mounted in the cockpit. You get used to it.

Canvas Work.  Great bimini over back of cockpit makes for good shelter from the sun and rain – well reinforced with stainless tubing. 

Protection from all sorts of things under the bimini

Lights.  There are lights and power points everywhere, plus shore power plugs for the 110volt system.  There’s as much electric cable as a house – 12 volt and 110 volt – which can be a good thing but can also be not so good ie complicated, with wires running everywhere.  I’m determined to become an electrician so I can understand it all.

Tank Capacity.  Plenty of water (200 gals) and diesel tankage (100 gals) however see NOT LIKE section.  Need to fit a manual water pump for the galley – everything electric.

Owners Manual.  The boat comes with its own comprehensive manual – thank goodness.  The boat has so many systems that you need it and particularly for electrical tradesmen when they come on board to fix stuff.

Anchor Well and Anchoring.  I can stand up in the well so there is lots of room.  The well floor is well above the waterline, so drains well when at anchor.  Self draining although I’ve added some plastic grating at the bottom so that anchor chain is not continuously immersed in a small puddle of water.  I filed the drain holes at the bottom so that the anchor well drained more efficiently thereby minimizing the amount of water that sits in the bottom of the well.  The anchor winch Lewmar is one of our favourite devices and easily handles our large Rocna anchor (33kg/72lb) and all chain rode.  Anchors that came with the boat are 45lb Delta and 40lb Danforth, which I tend to use as secondary or stern anchor when I have to, each with 50’ of chain plus 5/8’’ line (length as required) – a ‘blend’ of nylon and polyester.  The chain and rope solution makes it easier to put it all in the dinghy and then lay it down as I motor away from the boat.  The bow fitting rollers allows for the anchor to drop itself when lowered ie the anchor doesn’t need to be pushed.
Room to snooze in the cockpit

Sugar-Scooped Stern.  We love the sugar scoop stern with boarding ladder, lockers, etc. It’s easy to take an early morning swim, get back aboard then shower with the stern shower – lovely!  The steps allow for easy entry and exit to the dinghy plus a great place to catch then clean fish so that smelly blood etc is kept out of the cockpit.  Older or less able-bodied visitors really appreciate this access. The lockers hold heaps of stuff – spare anchor, shore power leads, mooring lines, buckets, fishing gear, etc etc.

What I liked about the Boat (Part 1)

There are so many things to like about our Hunter 460 that I've broken it down into 3 parts.  If nothing else, it will help when deciding what is important to you and your style of cruising. 

Price.  Let’s not mince around here, it largely comes down to cost in the end notwithstanding the importance of the boat being strong enough to cross oceans, etc.  I haven’t heard of any Hunters falling apart.  The Hunters, I think, provide very good value for money and they have a modern fitout.  At the end of the day, a cruising yacht is a bunch of systems and the actual hull is only part of it eg on this boat mast and furlers are Selden/Furlex, hatches Lewmar, Edson steering, sheet/halyard winches Lewmar, anchor winch Lewmar, engine Yanmar, generator Northern Lights, and so on – all good quality.  We wanted a vessel that was comfortable to live on/cruise in for six month at a time. 

Size.  It’s a good size for both of us with plenty of space for family or friends that might like to join us.  Below decks we don’t trip over each other and can have a choice of bathrooms and toilets.  Good privacy.  My crew said she wanted a cruising boat that would be large enough to get away from me (when she needed to) and so around 45’ seemed about right.  Our boat back home, WJ2, was 38’ long with an 11’ beam; WJ3 has twice the volume inside.  You do have to get used to the size though – it’s a big boat (for me anyway).

Accommodation.  In a word - roomy.  Two bedrooms and a third bedroom converted to a store room make it comfortable and uncrowded (relative to smaller boats).  Beds are queen sized and there is sufficient head room in the aft cabins not to feel squeezy.  Plenty of lockers and drawers; life is still fairly minimalist though, even on a 6 month cruise.  Three showers – one per bathroom and one on the stern for when you get out of the water after a swim.  The stern shower gets much more use than the other two showers.  Air conditioned, hot and cold pressure water.... quite luxurious really.

Interior Woodwork.  There’s plenty of it, it’s not varnished and it gives the interior a nice woody look, offsetting the plastic hull/coach house liner.  Very nicely done.

Sailing Performance.  WJ3 sails well although not so well in light airs – needs a bigger head sail at times.  The boat feels solid and is relatively dry when bashing close hauled into the short chop of the Caribbean.  Pounds a bit but that’s modern sail boats.  A delight when broad reaching.  Sails set well and the jib remains well set no matter how much it is reefed – a yankee sail – and there is no need to move the genoa car.  The main also sets well.  Well done Doyles.  The Hunter is also easy to set up and sail singlehandedly, a great advantage when there’s only the two of us onboard for long sea passages.  Previous boats of this make and model have been sailed around the world and one singlehanded, so this influenced me to go for this particular model. 

BVI to St Martin over the Anegada Passage

Easily Handled. The in-mast mainsail furler and headsail furlers are quite easy to reef and let out, although a bit of muscle is required – good exercise but this might change as we get older.  I tend to use the winches while furling manually ie wrap the jib furling line on the winch and haul on the line without using a winch handle.  This way I don’t over tighten and break something if the line gets caught, for example (which has happened to others).  It is also quite easy to walk all the way around the boat, which makes anchoring, docking and handling lines & sails safer and faster.  My First Mate really likes WJ3’s flatter bottom, which keeps us on a more even keel, so “we don’t lean over too much”.  Ahem, we’re cruisers not racers….. 

A Few Observations

Watching the world go by in Nanny Cay

Length.  I’m uncertain why the owner’s manual states the LOA as 44’3’’.  If it’s called a ‘460’, I assume that means 46’ long.  Sales advertisements describe the 460 as being 46’, some 46’1”.  May be Hunter could throw some light on that or perhaps the bow fitting extends the hull length.  One day I’ll get out the tape measure…. 

Seaworthiness. Information we’ve since read (eg. sales brochures or magazine reviews) describes the Hunter 460 as having been certified in Europe as a Category A vessel for offshore voyaging.  

Dinghy is sturdy enough to use as a diving platform

Ex-Charter Yachts. Don’t be afraid to buy an ex-charter yacht.  Advantages for us were that the boat came equipped with a full complement of crockery/cutlery, pots/pans and some bedding.  The interior was clean and came up well with a little TLC.  The island settee had been removed; we assumed because it offered more open space below.  Even though we could have used more easy-to-access storage space, we didn’t replace it.  WJ3 came with a sizeable dinghy and outboard, and a few cruising charts/guides.  The sails were in good condition and the engine had benefited from regular (not over) use.  We felt we saved a few dollars with all these extras and it gave us time to replace items at our leisure eg. decent bed linen was hard to find in the Caribbean.  Overall, concerns can be raised at the time of a survey.  A survey is always money well spent as they reveal hidden defects anyway. 

WJ3's roomy layout

Living Easily.  We were impressed with Jeanneau’s (DS 42) accommodation plan.  It had an easy living layout of 2 cabins, a centreline queen bed (no climbing over each other to get out in the middle of the night) and a separate storeroom for all those tools, sails and other “garage” items you accumulate.  The Hunter 460 also offered us this opportunity.  It didn’t take long to turf out the mattress and set up a workshop in the third cabin aft of the galley.  But in the interests of compromise, finding something that satisfies all your (& the crew’s) needs is highly unlikely.  Life is a compromise, but you can get close.

What did we get for our Money?

A sistership undersail
Dimensions, Capacities, Etc - Hunter 460 (as per the Owners Manual)

LENGTH OVERALL (LOA)………………………….. 44'3" 13.49m
LENGTH OF WATERLINE (LWL)………………….. 38'8" 11.79m
BEAM (MAX)…………………………………………..14'0 4.27m
DRAFT ..........................……………………………5'6" 1.68m
DISPLACEMENT…………………………………….. 28.000 lbs. 12,698 kg
BALLAST ...........................………………………..9,500 lbs. 4,309 kg
SAIL AREA (100% TRIANGLES)……………………908.1 sq. ft. 84.4 sq.m
SAIL AREA (ACTUAL W/STANDARD SAILS)…….1155 sq. ft. 81.29 sq.m
I………………………………………………………….55.26 ft. 16.84m
J ……………………………………………………….. 7.16 ft. 5.23m
P…………………………………………………………50.42 ft. 15.37m
E…………………………………………………………17.91 ft. 5.45m
MAST HEIGHT (FROM WATERLINE)………………62' 9" 19.13m
HEADROOM…………………………………………..6'6" 1.98m
WATER CAPACITY…………………………………..200 U.S. gal. 757 liters
HOLDING TANK CAPACITY………………………...50 U S gal. 189 liters
FUEL TANK CAPACITY……………………………..100 US gal. 378 liters
LPG TANK CAPACITY……………………………….10 lbs. 4.54 kg
BATTERY CAPACITY………………………………..75 amp (1) start battery
ELECTRICAL VOLTAGES…………………………..12 V.D.C./ 110 V.A.C.
INBOARD ENGINES………………………………….76 hp 37.3 kw
MAXIMUM LOADING…………………………………10 people 2460 kg (including luggage)
LIFTING POINTS………………………………………indicated by "sling" labels on hull
PROPELLOR ……………................................... 3 blade driven by a YANMAR 4JH2HTE (turbocharged
                                                                         76 H.P.) 18" X 17 R.H.(457.2mm X 431.8mm)

View over boatyard in BVI
Capsize Screening Formula (result should be less than 2) = beam/cube root of (displacement - in pounds - divided by 64) = 14/cube root of 28000/64 = 14/cube root of 437.5 = 14/7.6 = 1.84.

Displacement Length Ratio = (long) tons/(.01 x LWL in feet) cubed = 12.5/(.01 x 38.67) cubed = 12.5/.3867 cubed = 12.5/.0578 = 216.  Boats with a D/L ratio of more than about 325 are heavy cruisers. A number between 200 and 325 indi­cates a light- to moderate-displacement cruiser, and less than 200 is very light displacement.

Ballast to Displacement Ratio:  Ballast/Displacement = 9500/28000 = .34 or 34%

Clean Lines
SA/D = sail area divided by (displacement in cubic feet) 2/3 = 908/437.5 squared then cube root of result = 908/cube root of 191406 = 908/57.6 = 15.76.  Sail area is the size of the mainsail plus the size of the foretriangle (the area bounded by the headstay, mast, and deck).  To find dis­placement in cubic feet, divide it by 64, then square the number and, finally, find the cube root.  A SA/D ratio around 12 indicates an extreme under-rigged heavy cruiser.  A ratio double that one is typical of racing boats, and most modern cruisers fall between the two extremes. You can carry all the sail you want for light air (so long as you can reef quickly).

Hull speed = 1.34 times the square root of LWL  = 1.34 x square root of 38.67 = 1.34 x 6.2  = 8.3 knots

Why, Oh Why??

Why purchase a boat overseas?  They are often cheaper than can be found in Australia, which was certainly my case at the time I purchased Windjammer III.  In Nov 2007, we found in the British Virgin Islands a well-equipped seven year old fibreglass production yacht, 46’ long with relatively few hours on engine and generator.  And it cost me $USD115000.  The exchange rate (ever fluctuating) was brilliant at the time and this translated to about $AUD125000 – a real bargain.

On the Hard at Nanny Cay

Searching for the perfect boat took time – in fact, years**.  A number of possibilities cropped up; usually the timing was wrong (work reasons) or the “deal” was not quite as it seemed.  We spent a lot of time touring boatyards and going to boat shows locally – all in the name of research!  This helped us come up with an ideal boat profile and list of necessary inclusions for a “live-aboard” situation.  Hours on the internet, an ability to spot a sound boat (which also means a responsible salesperson) and having time to get to see it ASAP were important factors. Skype is a great way to talk to overseas sales staff cheaply.  And talk a lot we did…. 

Having committed to the deal, we found getting funds “wired” to overseas bank accounts a bit of an ordeal initially, but once the process was in place we had few problems.  It helped to use the same bank branch and if at all possible, the same staff member to assist when moving money to overseas accounts.  Make sure you understand the implications of the business banking details.  We’ve had to transfer to accounts held in different countries, not necessarily to where the business operated (ie offshore accounts), adding to the complexity of the transfer.   

We were also lucky enough to buy at a time when the exchange rate was favourable. If the market is fluctuating, it may be worth waiting to pick up really good bargain.  

Into the Dragon's Mouth, Trinidad

**We came up with the live-aboard idea after holidaying in Phuket, Thailand.  The First Mate was keen to live (permanently) in Phuket and had done much research to this end.  One fine day she & I did the marina rounds (as you do to view harbour-side apartments) and came across an interesting couple busily doing maintenance on their yacht.  Kindly they told us their story.  In essence, they had sold their house and lived on board for many years.  They kept an old car in the marina to enable them to shop and travel.  Living was inexpensive and as a bonus they found it cheaper to fly the family out to Thailand than to travel home (paying travel & accommodation costs etc.).  So the seed was sown…. 

Buying Overseas 101

Poster Girl Advertisement

This blog is about the trials and tribulations of buying a second hand yacht overseas and then bringing it up to a reasonable standard suitable for blue water cruising. It is aimed at technically minded, budding owner skippers and anyone else who wants to know the viewpoint of one person who has “achieved a dream”.  

Most of the initial work (details in a further post) was undertaken (firstly) during a two month period in the British Virgin Islands in 2008 and then over another two month period in 2009 in Trinidad.  The boat was on the hard during both these periods and we were lucky enough to be able to live on board whilst undertaking these repairs and upgrades, saving heaps of money on accommodation. Some repairs had to be undertaken whilst cruising; not always a good idea!

Anchored in Antigua
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and the reader is free to agree or disagree as they so choose.  I offer it so that anyone contemplating buying and upgrading overseas might find it helpful.