Okay here’s a brain dump of all the things we found that didn’t work.
After this post I’ll start writing up my daily log which I wrote so I’d have something to bore nurses with in the care home when I’m old and smell of dog food.
In no particular order here’s what didn’t work.
Washing up. Washing up was a pain in the arse as we have a single round sink in the galley. What we really needed was a deep twin sink. Washing up became a two person job as there wasn’t anywhere to put the drying up without it flying off the work tops.
I’d have liked better fiddles on the cooker. I learned to trust them on the passage, but I was never fully confident that a pot of boiling water wasn’t going to fly across the cabin. Ideally I’d like some fiddles that hug pots and kettles. We heard the other day a woman had to be taken to hospital after being scalded while making a celebratory cup of tea rounding the island at the end of their ARC crossing. We have packets of burn gel off Amazon which dissipate the heat quicker than water in an emergency.
We thought a lateral galley would be better than one that runs down the side of the boat. Obviously there’s not much we can do about that on Excalibur. When we were rolling you tended to try and use your elbows or hips to push into the side of the worktops to keep yourself upright when cooking etc. I ended up bonking the worktops some days and nutting myself as Excalibur rolled from side to side, all for a cup of tea.
Obviously the backing pad on the Hydrovane definitely didn’t work. I wouldn’t for obvious reasons recommend Navigators of Chichester. Had I had the skills I have now I would have done the job myself. But at the time I didn’t so there’s not much more to be said, other than to ignore comments like “We know what we’re doing, we’ve installed loads of xxx before”. Nobody cares as much about your boat as you do, so when it comes to it you’re more likely to do a belt and braces job than they are.
The wind gen wasn’t throwing out as many amps as it should and needs checking. Though this wasn’t a problem as the 200w of solar did the job.
Comfier cushions. Ours disintegrated in the sun and were pretty hard on the touche.
The eyes on the old jib needed replacing. Think I already mentioned that.
Could have done with two spinnaker poles instead of using the boom to pole the jib out.
Could have done with one more fan in the saloon. The marine fans aren’t super powerful, so the breeze doesn’t travel very far. Would have been great to have one directly over the main settee where we usually crash out.
Our fishing rod slowly became unusable. We learned how to use it properly once we’d broken the damn thing. We should have filled the reel up with strong nylon, and avoided trying to join braid to nylon, as the knot couldn’t get through the smaller eyes in the rod and ripped them off.
The battery monitor wasn’t working properly. They all need re-calibrating every so often as the amp counter gets out of whack, but ours just wouldn’t do any amp counting. I won’t explain why they all need re-calibrating every so often as it’s long winded. We now have a Merlin Smartgauge based on my friend Dan’s recommendation. Merlin explain the differences between their mointors and the traditional amp counting ones if you’re interested. This battery monitor professes to be able to tell you how full your batteries are without needing re-calibrating in the future. Anyway, we survived by just running the engine whenever the voltage dropped below 12.5v which was perhaps a bit overly cautious.
As mentioned in my previous posts our water tanks were full of smelly Cape Verdes eggy farty water. Not much we could have done there as we were in a hurry to leave.
We could have done with a small bit of fabric to use as a sunshade on the crossing. The boat isn’t big enough to warrant a bimini, so we relied on the solar panels for shade when it got too hot.
The Raymarine autopilot display gave up the ghost. It’s funny how something that’s worked from day one, and has been fine for years suddenly gives up as you embark on a long crossing. We were able to get by without it.
The rolling rattles were a constant challenge. This will be the same on all boats I’d imagine. Spice racks, mug holders, cutlery drawers, they all rattled on passage, unless stuffed with tea towels and wooden wedges to keep things in place.
We could have done with a bit of velcro on the back of the toilet seat to keep it up. Our toilet is on the starboard side and faces to port, meaning as you’re getting bashed around trying to ready yourself for a quick number 1 or 2, the toilet seat would close before you could get bum on seat. This tiny annoyance drove me to insanity towards the end.
We bought way too much milk. I opted for a cereal bar, an apple and a orange for breakfast, which beats chasing a bowl of weetabix around the boat first thing in the morning. Though now on reflection it’s mighty handy to have a massive stock of milk now we’re here.
We wasted a lot of fresh food on the trip, peppers, carrots, courgettes, leeks, egg plant, all went off before we had time to use them. I wouldn’t bother taking any of the above on a long passage again. By the time you’ve had a few nights of super noodles to get over the seasickness and gone through your vacuum packed meals, all the soft veg has gone off, even the carrots that were individually wrapped in tin foil as advised went to waste. The first week or so was a bit bumpy, so we really only wanted noodles, one pot meals or cereal bars.
We wasted all the lunch meat, steaks, chopped beef and pork chops, as again, by the time we had got through the vacuum packed meals, a lot of the fresh meat had gone off.
We forgot to turn our eggs once a day, so only used up one box in the end for homemade tortillas.
I would have replaced anything on the boat that gave me any concerns or doubts instead of running with the mentality of “It’ll be alright”, as that’ll be the thing that’ll bite you in the ass and you’ll be kicking yourself.
For example, the batteries were plain old lead acid batteries. We should have bitten the bullet and gone for AGMs as they’re much more forgiving. That cost us over a week in Lagos. Incidentally, don’t automatically head to the nearest chandlery. Trina found the batteries much cheaper online.
Should have serviced the larger jib, looked okay, but should have replaced all the eyes.
Epoxy, we were reluctant to buy West Systems epoxy in the Canaries as it was £20 more than what it was at home. In the end we had to buy 3 smaller packets in Mindelo as that’s all they had. Definitely stock up on loads of cloth, some light, some heavy, a large tub of epoxy resin and hardener and filler!
It’s best to bite the bullet and get everything done back home, it’s just cheaper and easier to get sorted at home than abroad. Saying that there’ll always be unexpected breakages and repairs to do. There really isn’t much point chancing it. Waiting for batteries to turn up and paying for a marina cost money.
We would have got a thin duvet off Amazon or from Ikea back home. We spent quite a lot of time searching for a thin duvet using Google translate all the way day the coast. We got one from Ikea in Lagos in the end. Now in St Lucia it’s too hot for duvets but there you go.
Buy a 32amp shore power socket or 16 > 32 adapter before you come to St Lucia as the marina only has 32amp sockets. They want £20-£40 for a 32amp shore plug here which costs £5 back home!
We were on a boat the other day who had metal wine glasses. I hate plastic glasses and we’ve smashed sooo many glass ones on the way down. Got to get us some of these metal ones.
On a side note, camping gaz has been readily available all through Europe and we’ve filled up today in St Lucia without any problems.