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Our cruising boat is a Norsea 27. She is a 1977 model, hull number 4 of just over 500. We are the third Owners. The first owner sailed her to the orient and back in the late 70's with no electronics, virtually as delivered from the factory.
The Norsea is designed to be a trailerable blue water cruiser. At only 8 feet wide she can be transported on any road, with no special permit. A tabernacle mast allows the rig to be dropped by two people in a few hours, without the use of a crane. Although the Norsea is a trailerable blue water cruiser, very few Norseas both cross oceans and go on a trailer.
We fixed Eva up to be a trailer sailer with the intention of spending winter vacations in the Sea of Cortez. Crossing oceans was an idea that only came later. Because she is a trailer boat she is very simple above decks. No dodger or bimmini, no jerry jugs of diesel or gasoline tied to the rail, no solar panels or wind generator. Except for the recent addition of a Monitor windvane she looks like a day sailor. Below decks however she is bristling with all the modern equipment normally found on cruising boats.
AC and DC Electrical
Inboard Diesel - The inboard is the original Yanmar SB8 that was installed by the factory in 1977. It was rebuilt by the Yanmar distributor in 1997. Between 2005 and 2012 we have put over 5000 hours on the engine with no major problems, save for the forward clutch disk that we replaced in Tahiti in 2009. The engine is raw water cooled, but shows no signs of cooling jacket corrosion after 35 years in service. Only 8HP is a bit on the low side for a cruising boat, but never the less performance is acceptable. In flat water Eva will motor at 5 knots while burning 0.3GPH. By running at only 2000RPM the fuel consumption is cut in half, and she still goes nearly 4 knots. Motoring into the wind and waves though is hopeless. In exchange for poor upwind motoring performance we are able to motor for 1000 miles in calm conditions on the 40 gallons of diesel Eva carries in her single tank. (see section on Diesel Engine Basics)
Electrical- Eva's electrical system is both simple and sophisticated. Charging comes solely from a 90A Bosh alternator running on the main engine (see section on Motors and Generators). From 2005-2009 two 225 Ahr 6V golf cart batteries served as Eva's house bank, but were a bit undersized for the 90A alternator. In the sweltering heat of the tropical South Pacific the four year old golf cart batteries used more water and slowly lost capacity (see section on Lead Acid Battery Basics). The house bank is now a four cell bank of 180Ahr Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP) cells, which is really quite a lot of battery capacity. A battery selector switch and a group 31 flooded lead acid battery provide a backup battery system, and engine starting if the LFP bank has been run very low. The shore power inlet is connected directly to a 40A Sterling Power Systems shore power charger, and the boats AC wiring is connected to an 1100W modified sine wave inverter. LED cabin and nav lights keep the lighting loads low, but Eva still uses about 50-70Ahr of 12V power each day to run her many electrical loads. A Xantrex Link Meter lets the crew know when it is time to start the engine to recharge the batteries. The LFP batteries charge up very fast, with no taper charging stage. Less than one hour of running the engine each day keeps the lights on. In practice the engine is usually run for several hours at a time, every second or third day. Burning only 0.20 GPH while charging at 75A, the Yanmar diesel is a very effective charging source. The large alternator loads the tiny diesel sufficiently so that it operates near its maximum efficiency. And because the LFP batteries do not require a taper charging stage the system is efficiently putting out its full 75A for the entire charging time. The LFP batteries do get a bit sluggish if they are not fully charged for a few weeks, but this does not appear to dammage the cells. The cells have stayed perfectly in ballance for the past three and a half years with no active cell ballancing system. The LFP bank is charged up to 14.4V, but not held at that high voltage for more than fifteen minutes or so. In over three years of more or less continious daily use and probably about 500 deep cycles the LFP bank has lost some capacity, but will still hold 90% of its rated capacity. A folding 15 watt solar pannel is carried for emergency use. This would be enough to keep the LED nav lights and a handheld chartplotrer going, with the LED nav lights being the big eaters. If the LFP bank was charged at the time of engine failure then these loads could be powered for a month or two with no charging at all.
Refrigeration - The stock ice box on the Norsea is both a top loader and a front loader, with an insulated storage compartment behind the galley sinks capable of holding 70lbs of ice. We cruised for about two months feeding ice into this behemoth. In the summer heat it sucked down nearly 10lbs per day! That was a lot of work hauling all that ice, and a significant expenditure. In August of 2006 we purchased a Waeco/Adler Barbour Coolmatic ice box conversion kit. This kit uses a Danfoss BD35 compressor which runs on 12VDC. The kit consisted of the compressor, control module, condenser and cooling fan mounted together, plus an "O" shaped evaporator and connection lines. These units come pre-charged with refrigerant, one has only to bolt the fittings together, connect DC power and turn the thing on. We were able to place the Condensing unit inside the old ice storage compartment, with several large holes cut for ventilation. The partition between the new "machinery space" and the refrigerated space was built up with two layers of 1 1/2" foam, and sealed with spray foam. We glued the top lid on the icebox shut, and insulated underneath again with two layers of 1 1/2" foam. Additional insulation was added to the perimeter of the ice box where the stock insulation was a bit thin. We now have a 3.5 cu ft front opening refrigerator, with a very small freezer capable of freezing about 5lbs of meat. The electrical consumption is between 15 and 30 Ahr/day depending on the climate.
Propane Cooker - The two burner stove runs on LPG gas from a 6lb capacity aluminum bottle located in the deck box. A solenoid valve and pressure gauge are fitted to comply with the ABYA recommendations for LPG on board. We also carry a portable Olympus kerosene stove in case the main cooker stops working, or we should run out of gas. LPG is a much superior cooking fuel on board a cruising boat. It is not only much easier to light than a kerosene stove, but it burns cleaner. So far it has been no major problem to keep our two 6lb tanks filled while cruising. They are called 6lb tanks, but they will acctualy hold seven pounds of propane when filled up to the bleed tube at 80% capacity. We have been able to make any type of LPG cooking fuel that we have come accross work in our stove. Both the 150psi LPG used in north america and the 50psi LPG used throughout much of the pacific and asia work acceptably on the same jetting. There is another 50psi fuel as well, which burns yellow and smokey with the jetting for straight propane. As this is the common fuel in the Mediteranian we switched over to leaner jetting for our year and a half in Europe.
Watermaker- Since Eva only carries about 35 gallons of water, in two tanks, we figured we needed a watermaker before we could head off across the pacific. We found a used Powersurvivor 35 for sale, which we got for $500, what a deal, and it even worked. The problem was that the aluminum housing for the pump was cracked. We took the unit apart, chamfered the pieces and had it welded. The repair turned out well, and we found a place in the machinery space to mount the unit. On some of our longer passages it has been a godsend to have extra water for bathing and clothes washing. Our longest passage, 43 days from Hawaii to Tahiti, might have been the end of us if it were not for the watermaker. Of course we could have caught rainwater, and as a mater of fact rainwater was often collected in the mainsail, which we used for bathing. We found that this caught water began to grow green slime after only one day if we did not add sodium hypochlorite (Chlorox) to it. The decades old powersurvivor did fail on us once. The problem was a corroded roller in the drive mechanism. A new roller got the unit working again.
TV/DVD Stereo - The 13" flatscreen TV and DVD player does not get used much, but it is fun to have such luxury on a small boat. The flatscreen mounts on the bulkhead forward of the enclosed head compartment, and takes up little space. An external tuner box allows us to tune in digital HD TV on our old enhanced definition 3:4 aspect ratio flatscreen. An omnidirectional antena and amplifier hauled up the main halyard provides good TV reception even when swinging to a single anchor. The stereo system, an automotive CD player with 4" car speakers, simply fills the little cabin with tunes.
Anchor Tackle - Eva's primary anchor is a 33lb bruce anchor. Not one of the Bruce type knockoffs, but a genuine Bruce. The Bruce anchor works extremely well in all types of bottoms, and is particularly good on a short scope in tight anchorages. With 220 feet of 6mm chain we are easily able to anchor in over a hundred feet of water. We also have an additional 150 feet of 9/16" three strand nylon spliced to the end of the chain for even deeper anchoring, but have never needed to use it. To pull all this anchoring gear back up we have a Lewmar Pro 700 horizontal electric windlass. This particular little horizontal windlass is a very efficient model which pulls the chain in rapidly while drawing very little current from the 12V system. Raising the anchor in shallow water the current draw is ususally only fifteen or twenty amps, in deeper water the current draw goes up to around 30-45 amps. This low current draw allows the windlass to be wired to the house bank with relatively small cable, keeping the weight of the system low. The low current draw also allows the windlass to be controlled by a switch mounted on the engine control panel with out the use of a relay. Eva is small enough that the windlass and rode can be seen from the cockpit, allowing one person to operate the motor controls while raising the anchor. We also have a spare 25 pound CQR anchor with 80 feet of chain stored bellow deck. And a 5 kg Bruce stern anchor on 20 feet of chain and 150 feet of nylon rounds out Eva's anchor tackle. The stern anchor is more often used as a flopper stopper than it is as an anchor. We have a 3 square foot aluminum plate that we bolt to the bottom of the 5 kg bruce which makes a very effective flopper stopper when poled out on the end of the 16' genoa pole.
Rig - Eva is a masthead sloop with a roller furler head sail. About as basic as they come. We did add a second fore stay, just in front of the roller furler, so that we can hank on sails. The roller furler interferes somewhat with any sail that is hanked on, but being able to use hank on sails is a major plus. We use the second fore stay to hank on a huge light air Genoa when the going gets slow. This allows us to keep a relativly small headsail on the roller furler for easy sail handling in a wide variety of conditions. Two points of single line jiffy reefing on the main sail, and a storm try sail on its own track round out the sail handling gear. After the trusty old mainsail ripped a seam in the Gulf of Aden we purchased a new full batten mainsail in Greece. The new sail performs quite well in all conditions, but can be a bit of a handfull at times as well. A third deep reef is easier to pull in than putting up the storm sail, but has been requireded only three times in the past two years.
Self Steering - Mostly we have used autopilots for self steering, but after numerous failures we also installed a Monitor windvane self steering gear in New Zealand in 2010. The Monitor works extremely well when it is in top condition, but there are a number of things that have gone wrong with our old unit that tend to make it perform poorly. Any play in the linkage between the air foil and the water foil causes the unit to work poorly. Of course any friction in the linkage also seriously affects light wind performance. Using small diameter line for the tiller controll lines keeps friction low, and allows a unit for a much larger boat to work on Eva. For running downwind in a big swelll the Monitor is capable of steering Eva very well, probably better than any autopilot could. When there are luls in the wind it is a toss up between the autopilots and the Monitor. The autopilot keeps the boat pointed in the right direction, which is usualy highly desirable for acctualy arriving somewhere. If the direction of the apparent wind is changing frequently the Monitor can keep the sails trimmed simply by adjusting course, under some conditions this can be quite usefull. In any event a wind vane steering gear is far superior to tiller lashing.
Tender - Eva's Tender is an Avon Rover 2.81 that used to have a high pressure floor. Over the years we have lost every part of the dingy not perminantly attatched but it is still a perfectly servicable little boat. For a motor we have had several Minn Kota Enduro 30 electric trolling motors, which push the dingy allong at about two and a half to three knots while drawing 25A 12V. For battery power we first had a 36Ahr AGM lead acid battery which lasted for many years of severe service and deep discharges. Then we had a 26Ahr Litium Ferro Phosphate battery made up of 32 little cylindrical cells that worked extremely well, powering the dingy faster and farther while weighing only eight pounds. Sadly this little battery died from poor managment by its individual cell ballancing circuitry after only about two years in service. Then for a while we had only a 10Ahr 11V "airplane" battery made up of six 3.7V 5Ahr cells of unknown chemistry. This battery was extemely light at less than two pounds, and would push the dingy along quite nicely for about 20 minutes, but eventually the cell ballancing charger stopped working. The battery still works and seems to hold at least 80% capacity, but manually charging it using a resistor is a laborious and potentially dangerous opperation. Faced with lack of ready availability of replacement Lithium Ferro Phospohate batteries we went back to lead acid in the form of a small high performance 44Ahr automotive starting battery. This battery worked quite well powering the dingy faster and farther than the old AGM battery had while weighing hardly more, but suddenly lost half of its capacity after only a few dozen cycles. This despite being very carefull never to discharge the battery beyond about an 80 to 90% depth of discharge. We continued using this little lead acid battery after its sudden catastrophic failure, but it continued to loose capacity and soon was next to useless. The replacement was a very slightly larger flooded lead acid starting battery that carries no meaninfull rating. From it's size, weight and performance I would estimate it to be a 50Ahr battery, and we have been carefull not to discharge it beyond a 70% depth of discharge. This battery has held up well, and seems much more like the AGM batteries we used before. Minn Kota recomends a big Group 31 deep cycle battery which would be too heavy to lift in and out of the dingy. The key to using a lead acid battery as a dingy battery is to charge it after each use. The Avon is much lighter without its thwart, floor and inflatable keel and is easier to inflate and deflate. It is however not quite as fast under power, is much more difficult to row and harder to land on the beach. Having lost the thwart in the tsunami in Pago Pago the dingy still worked just as good, it was the loss of the high pressure floor in a storm in the Sea of Marmara that now causes the dingy to motor slower and draw an inch or so more water which can make it more diffcult to land. The little Minn Kota motors hold up fairly well as long as water does not get into them. When we lost the thwart and oars in the Pago Pago tsunami the dingy flipped over and the motor filled up with mud. Taking the motor apart and cleaning it and greasing the brushes got it back in service for two more years untill it fell off the stern rail in the Hellispont in Turkey. By that time the transom mount clamp threads had corroded away badly as the motor had been used in salt water for three years. We were able to buy a replacment Minn Kota Enduro 30 in Istambul. As a back up dingy we have a Walker Bay Airis high pressure kayak that works great for landing through big surf.