pjbharrison 11:09am, 29 November 2010
Sites been quiet so I thought I'd start a topic!
Now that sailing season is over in this part of the world and boats are awaiting preparation for next seasons wonderful sailing weather(!) what are the addition/alterations we are all looking to make?
What gadgets, safety equipment alterations have you made or are looking to make to enhance your boat?
I hope to change to roller reefing for the head sail and add a radar reflector.
There are some other minor alterations I'd like to make too and hopefully we'll get a decent spring before launch when the weather will allow me to do the work outside. All this is very dependent on budget considerations and the Irish economy situation doesn't look at all good.
Has anyone any suggestions for (preferably inexpensive) handy or brilliant, indispensable additions/alterations they have made to their boats?
What should I ask Santa for on my Christmas list?
Red Marlin 8 years ago
Interesting topic. All our ideas will differ depending on where we are and what we plan to do next year. Dinghy could be on the list. Current Achilles I bought from Sowester 18 years ago is still going strong even though it has been in the Med sun for half that time. Good going but can't last much longer. Love a small RIB but do not have room. Dinghy is important to us anchoring a lot in Greece and Turkey. Have to think what the ideal dinghy is for a 9 metre.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
I bought a Yam330s from a friend with a Yamaha 2stroke 6hp engine this summer but found the 3.3 m to be too big for my needs. It's too heavy and bulky. I'm going to change it for a 2.3-2.6m one hopefully.
blueachilles 8 years ago
Best addition to Blue so far is probably the lazyjacks/stackpack, which makes lowering the main a doddle. dead easy to fit, once you have got halfway up the mast to drill a couple of holes.

Best value for money addition is the "Secret Weapon" , as we call the plug that fills in most of the outboard well with the engine in. Made out of offcuts of ply and a bit of epoxy resin, it adds half a knot or so to boat speed.

This year we are adding roller reefing, which I expect to be a huge improvement; no more bouncing around on the foredeck to lower/change sails, more room down below because the genoa in its bag seemed to fill up the forepeak, and easier access when anchoring/mooring.

We were hoping to fit the roller reefing at the weekend, but not only was it f-f-freezing in the boatyard, but the boat was covered in a sheet of ice which would have made working on it very dangerous indeed.

As for dinghies, if anyone can suggest an inflatable dinghy which will take two people plus gear, and be light enough and small enough to get it aboard and stow it somewhere, i would be pleased to hear from you! We currently tow a hard dinghy.

Oh, and we want to put in a new "car" radio to replace the existing one, which only works when it feels like it.
rothwell_neil Posted 8 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 8 years ago
LED lights are the best addition as they draw 10% of the power of incandescents and 30% of the power of fluorescents. This means you never skimp on light and even have one for the cockpit at night. Nav lights and anchor lights can be on without running scared of flat batteries and they are so cheap you can put them all over the boat to cover all options.

Also the bags that I have made for the forepeak. Will take some photos of these but basically rip stop nylon sewn into bags about 36" long and 10" deep with elastic draw string screwed (stretched) around the top. These are fixed along the side of the forepeak and hold all sorts of things without them coming out loose. Also made one for the cockpit that hangs inside the dodger to hold cups, camera etc safe. Very handy for dropping things in when about to tack.

I also got a Fortress Aluminium anchor FX11 rated for a 32ft boat but weights 7ib or 3.2kg. Easy to handle as light and ideal for sand and mud. Big enough to sleep well at night with 40M of 6mm chain on it.
jendave1 8 years ago
Best bargain additions for our first year:
1- Fitted a teak handle onto the hatch, made it easier to open & close and a good point to hang on to!
2- Two Barton line tamers (we call them lion tamers!) in the cockpit for stowing halyards.
Our next must-have is a reliable depth sounder!
Red Marlin 8 years ago
Started making a list of the additions I have now compared with when I bought my first 24 in 1985 and the 9 metre in 1990. The list is getting too long.

Navigation - moved from Breton plotter to Decca to Garmin hand held to Cobra Chartplotter (got to be near the top)
Autohelm (way up there)
Refrigerator (cold drinks oh yes)
Winter tent cover and summer bimini (life changing)
Electrics - fridge started this change of events. Oversize solar panel, Siemens smartcharger, Big fitted mainscharger, LED interior lights, 2 x 110 Gel service batteries, 1 x 85 amp gel Engine battery (just forget about power management)
Water tanks - always had trouble with flexible tanks, now have two rigid tanks made in Turkey, one in bilge, one at back of cockpit. (big improvement)
Swim platform and gate in pushpit - great for swimming but also good mooring stern to but really good for docking the dinghy and unloading the shopping (once we put the frame up for the solar panel and bimini we could not climb out of the dinghy into the cockpit)
Anchoring - electric winch and 60 metres of chain (wife said once my back passed 65 years old this is a must have) Spade anchor which has transformed our piece of mind
Yamaha Malta outboard - really useful in Scotland when trying to get back to the boat against the tide but would be better off with a 2 hp in turkey. It is heavy to lift so I have not used it for about two years, it is easier to row.
Washing machine and vacuum cleaner - not my idea but she who does washing and cleaning rates them pretty high.
Entertainment - we now have ipods, DVD's, PC, LCD TV (None available in 1985)
Cold weather gear. Started with very little, got cold, gradually bought more and better as I could afford it moved to the Med and put it into storage.
Cooker - Smev 4 burners grill and oven (essential when living aboard to have a decent cooker, oh and add the pressure cooker to this) the original caravan cooker did not have flame failure device and I considered this a danger
Electric blanket - in harbour leave it on all day, front cabin is so cozy

Maybe No 1 should be the friends we have made along the way

Wish list
Forward looking depth instrument
Lagun cockpit table (all others have proved useless)
Mutinous crew has requested 5ft on the length 2ft on the width and the appearance of a Swan. Well her swan will remain a duck.
Bigger cruising kitty.
Skykomish E29 8 years ago
We are in the process of lining our boat out as the deluge from condensation on GRP is getting on my nerves, plus without a headlining and vinyl on the sides the boat looks half finished. Have part lined one side with thin ply and insulated with plastic loft insulation, actually looks very nice as the boat was built to look as if it was made from wood.
( For those who don't know my boat is not an Achilles any more, though I do wish i was still paying the Achilles mooring rate)
Slycat777 8 years ago
Well my ambition is to get my Achilles coded, and to that end I've lots to do!

Install 4 man liferaft
Additional bilge pump
2 fire extinguishers

Lots of obvious things. The tricky part will be producing a crew manual !
pjbharrison 8 years ago
That's a long list, Red

I concur with your condensation problems, Malcolm. It's really bad here with the snow now. How have you attached the insulation and ply (2 or 4mm)?
Jendave, I added a handle to my hatch too last April, one of the few remaining parts from my last boat! Very handy indeed.
LED lights sound like a great idea Neil especially on a 24 where battery size is a bit limited, particularly without an inboard.
My outboard has a charging circuit and socket on the casing but I don't know if would supply much of a charge. Anyone know how much power it might supply? It's a Honda BF6 4 stroke.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Hi Chris
Do you intend to use her as a school boat?
A reliable and obedient crew would be nice too but I'll just have to do with my daughters for the moment.
Skykomish E29 Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Skykomish E29 (member) 8 years ago
When we had Aeolus we changed the bulbs in the Nav lights mounted on the Push and Pulpit with LED replacements however noted that the green was then the wrong colour, however with the addition of a piece of Yellow plastic film inside the housing it became a lovely emerald green.

We used 4mm ply which is very flexible but prone to splinter when sawn. I chose this as it had a very pleasing grain pattern, which once varnished in Exterior Satin varnish (it iis inside cabin so tough stuff not needed) looks really nice, we have added warm white LED light which is deflected by a trip of oak Dado rail from B&Q.
I screwed wooden batten to the bulkheads and we already have a wide heavy strip of wood running along the hull to which we screwed more batten to make a frame, the front batten was siklaflexed directly to the fibreglass. and the panels screwed directly to the frame, this served to level things up and create a small gp into which we ran the cable for the lighting and stuffed full of insulation. I stress this is only one small section of the boat, behind the saloon sofas, the real challenge will come with the headlining, but at present cannot afford this. I will take some pictures when next at boat as it is difficult to describe

I was shocked (no pun intended) at how little an outboard generates. I had a charging circuit on the original Mercury 6 h.p. when i owned Aeolus and apparently it only delivered less than 1 Amp /hour
I understand that the later models have improved somewhat, but still nothing worth relying on, we get about that from our Solar panel, so i didn't invest in a new charging circuit when i replaced the Mercury on Aeolus as i couldn't really justify the cost.
busy home [deleted] 8 years ago
My old computer died... Just bought an Acer 5742z.
With out doubt the best addition ive found is the spray hood,
early on in the year its still cold in the evenings and beating up the
Fal is no fun. Put her on autohelm and shelter behind the hood.Also keeps the rain off and allows you to sit in the cockpit dry when on the mooring,
Auto helm magic,
Cutting the bulkhead out and putting a perspex window in the hatch
makes her much bigger.
Roller reefing is great but more performance loss than I barganed for.
Blue ,, Large tubes are important. My Zodiac is brill I bought it in 1985 and though patched well is still ok .. I tow it hoisted well up the transom ,Its possible to carry deflated on the lazerette ,but blowing up again is difficult. The big Compass I have is tooo heavy for me but Ian loves his,, Keep down to 25kg or less,
rothwell_neil Posted 8 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 8 years ago
BF6 Honda should be at least as powerful as my BF5 and that produces 3amps on virtually any throttle over fast tickover. This is a regulated charger so can connect direct to a battery (I use a switch to turn off when not running as otherwise the lead is powered up and I run an inline fuse to be sure). It is difficult to test as it won't show any volts until you connect to a 12v battery but if you then run an ammeter in series it will show you the charge.

LEDs are the way to go and the latest warm white are better than the first generation cold white ones. Th Bay15d bulbs are cheap for nav lights and as Malcolm says either a warm white or a bit of extra film gets you the right colour. I was surprised at the drain on the old bulbs, claimed to be 10W but drew closer to 16W each and if you just use the front and backs that is 2.7Amps which is a lot over the course of one nights sailing. 10 hours would be 27 AMP hours and that is 50% of the available discharge on a 100Amp hour battery. 2 nights and flat. With LEDS 1.6Amp hours per night. For the anchor light this would be 0.8amp hours for a 10 hour night. The difference is amazing and last year with solar panel and the motor charging never had anything less than a fully charged battery. Had a light rigged over the cockpit for evenings to see where the wine was when glasses needed topping etc. Once you start you end up with the boat fully lit as why not!

I have a solid transom RSM 240 inflatable and this fits under the cockpit in the lazarette in its bag. Also leaves room for oars, poles, spares etc.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Hi Ron
Sorry to hear the laptop died, did you get my email about the power switch?
I agree about the hood, it makes life more comfortable and keeps the interior dry while hatch is open. Which autohelm do you use?
Disappointed to hear of the performance loss with roller reefing, did you get a cruising or racing cut?
I use a 12v air pump from Lidl, designed for airbeds, toys etc with a portable battery pack- the type used for jump starting cars with a car tyre inflator. Pumps up 3.3m inflatable in a couple of minutes.



Thanks for the engine info Neil. That's perfect, just the information I needed. LEDs look the business. Can you recommend a brand or perhaps an Ebay seller?
Good to hear that a 2.4m inflatable can be fitted into the lazarette, I had to carry the 3.3 on top of the lazarette. The 3.3m Yam330s is a great inflatable, just too bit big as a tender for the A24.
busy home [deleted] 8 years ago
I have an inflator, £14 on ebay ,, Its just room thats needed,
I have a spare autohelm, I will email .
Got the email but the switch is micro soldered in,,, so bought new.
(b thing would not go to reply)
Crusaider cruising no foam luff .mistake?
In fairness I should play with sheet leads more. but when its blowing and you are alone its not easy,
Be carefull with those inflators .. you need hvlp... high volume low pressure.. not tyre inflators, or air bed pumps
rothwell_neil 8 years ago
To be honest I think the loss of performance is not that great, sure you are bound to lose something but this year the boat has been going like a demon and that is with roller reefing. To me no contest, I only race other boats on the same patch of sea and not in races, I can reef by rolling a bit in and never have to go on foredeck unless it is nice and put up a spinny or to anchor. Works for me. Will post something on the LEDs as have spent some time on this!
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Thanks Neil
I hope to cruise further afield next season and power generation/conservation may be an issue. Your expertise is always appreciated.
Skykomish E29 8 years ago
I agree with Ron with ref to the Compass inflatable, it really is far too heavy to use as a practical tender however the size of the tubes make it a very dry boat and safe ride for children, , unlike Ron's Zodiac in which we got soaked...haha, but it is always going to be a compromise small easy stowable boat = low freeboard, small tubes and wet ride.

We were wondering about a "round tail" inflatable for stowing aboard in a locker as it is often the transom that adds a lot of weight and makes the boat bulky.
Amrum 9171Y 8 years ago
Great topic - really enjoyed reading through it just now, and am soooo envious of Red Marlin, particularly looking out of the window, and deciding it really is too cold to go out sailing today.
Getting an Autohelm working is my priority - I found an old 800 when clearing out my parents' house. it had an old plug which fitted A24 Julie 3, so I borrowed her to try it, and it worked perfectly. When I changed the plug and wired it into Snifter it worked, but intermittently, so I have to rewire.
I'd really love a windvane self steering (Sea Feather or Neptune), but the price is very high, unless I can find a 2nd hand one.
Re tenders, one of my friends has bought an inflatable canoe this year, and it may be a good compromise. It packs up small, takes 3 people in comfort, 4 at a pinch, and with 2 paddling should go faster than a rubber dinghy rowed or with a small outboard. I'll report back when we actually get a chance to try it out!
Mike A1 8 years ago
I agree with what has been said about sprayhoods - life on board would be a lot less enjoyable without one. I'd also like to recommend a tiller extension to anyone who doesn't have one. It allows you to sit further forward (under the sprayhood) and to reach into the cabin for food, drinks, VHF, etc.

Next year I'd like to improve the self-steering. I've got an autohelm (Simrad ST10) which works fine, but it drains the battery too quickly. I don't think I can justify the cost of wind vane steering so am considering whether to fit a wind generator or get a small petrol generator for topping up the battery.

LED lights are definately the way to go. I have a red/green bicolour bulb and a white stern light bulb from www.doctorled.com, plus a warm white internal light. It's a big topic and probably deserves it's own thread.

My dinghy is an Avon Redstart (bought second hand a a boat jumble) and it fits under the cockpit quite easily. This keeps the weight low down although I'm sure it would also fit in the cockpit lockers.
Slycat777 8 years ago
As for the coding, my plan is to do some skippered chartered trips around the north coast (like over to Rathlin and back). Be nice to do a few days over the summer working with the boat rather than in an office.

There are a lot of requirments but I'd almost completed them all on my last boat (Corribee 21') before working out that the Corribee didnt meet the strict stablity requiments.

No problems with the Achilles tho!
busy home [deleted] 8 years ago
They did not read Ming Ming.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Beware the tides of Rathlin!
Dived some wrecks there a long time ago, tides, currents and whirlpools are amazing.
Whats Ming Ming, Ron?
busy home [deleted] 8 years ago
Roger Taylor Jester fame .. Voyages of a simple Sailer, Sails a bilge keel corribe Ming Ming, Sailed to artic and thousands of miles alone ,,,Mad.
Full of foam and sealed up... Junk rig sailed from inside slides rather than gripping the water. Amazion two books good read, Has dolphins talking ..no singing ..hes a musician, He recon s they sing,,also whales x 100 s
Red Marlin 8 years ago
Big list I wrote and missed the sprayhood !!. Should be right up there as number 1. Did not have one on "A44 Achilles of Abersoch". Sailed it a lot of the North East coast of Scotland and a sprayhood would have been great. 9 metre has had 3 in the last 20 years (fitted Neyland/Limehouse/Bodrum). Now need a new one. The Bodrum one has lasted 5 years but was not made of genuine "Sunbrella" material so has stretched and faded and needs some mods. Will get zipped panel centre front to open up on hot days for ventilation. Must make sure this time the clear panels are clear of SS or GRP as there is a reaction causing brown staining if it touches
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Hadn't thought of a round tail dinghy before, Doh!!
Would be much easier to store. Thanks Malcolm & Mike.
There a few for sale on Ebay in the UK but none in Ireland atm but I'll keep an eye out
Had a look at Roger Taylor's site etc Fearless and Mad
Great photos though
Got a second hand handheld Garmin Extex Venture CX last May or so. It has a basemap but I have Garmin Mapsource on my PC. Can't transfer maps to the unit but can transfer waypoints and routes. Great gadget for ETA SOG Course etc, Would highly recommend one. Runs on 2 AA batteries for up to 22hrs.
NormanKlipspringer 8 years ago
When I bought my Garmin GPS MAP CX handheld I also got Garmin Blue Atlantic charts for the Bristol Channel Area. The maps came on CD and Mapsource was also supplied. The maps had to be loaded onto the PC and from there to the handheld. This means that I have two way transfer of waypoints, routes and tracks. So I can passage plan on the PC using the bluechart and then transfer the route and waypoints to the handheld. I usually use the Garmin to navigate a route which for Rhumb line courses is fantastic using either the compass or highway to follow the route. If crossing strong tides then I will passage plan a route which takes the tides into account and adjust the Garmin route accordingly (this is not so friendly). I have even been known to let the Garmin drive my Raymarine tiller pilot on the NMEA interface. After the voyage I then transfer tracks back to the PC. Makes for some interesting analysis. I find this combination great since the handheld runs off the boat battery when on board but also can run off its internal 2X AA batteries if necessary (gives complete independance). Unfortunately Garmin no longer supply their maps on CD only on SD or microSD which plug directly into the handheld and cannot be transfered back to the PC and Mapsource. Garmin do make another product called Home Port which is similar to Mapsource, which it claims will get around this problem.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Hi Norman
My unit didn't come with charts, just a basemap and the Mapsource CD. Its a brilliant little tool and a great introduction to GPS technology. The screen size is a bit small for me as I'm longsighted and use glasses for reading etc but it'll make a great backup device to a chart plotter on longer cruises. It has a Micro SD card for adding charts but I don't know if they're worth £110 extra to me at the moment.
G4NLA1 8 years ago

It seems a bit endless on Little Plum.

Anyway here goes..

I need to upgrade the current VHF to a DSC unit. However I am due to trial a Chinese DSC base and hand held for an importer. With luck I will get to keep the units.

Electronic Charting. I am about to take delivery of an e-pad (with GPS) running Android and UK-Holland coastal charts. Android applications can be a bit 'clunky' so it will be interesting to see if the app is fast enough to offer sensible reatime nav information. Mounting and waterproofing may be interesting too. Again this is for evaluation purposes..

I will need to fit port and starboard life lines this year. Interestingly both my crew are not as convinced, as they regard them as another trip/snag hazard. My call - we are fitting them.

Sail protectors for the outer/upper shrouds.My initial idea was to use 12mm electrical conduit, but having gone through peer review ( as engineers we do that kind of thing ) we are going to have a go at using PTFE tubing.. another advantage being that we can use Red and Green variants..

I have decided to stick with her hank on genoas. I really appreciate the huge drive that our deck scraping No1 generates. Albeit that we do need to practice tacks more to get the skirt over the lifelines neatly. One of my more pragmatic crew members pointed out - 'well if they are all going over to headsail reefing there must be dozens of genoas out there that we might be able to get hold of cheaply'. HINT HINT !!

My crew are not ready for spinnaker handling just yet, but we should experiment with developing a neat whisker pole. During discussions we realised that I have some carbon fibre tubing floating about from another project - so we will play with that.

We need to service or replace the wind hawk - so another project is to make a hoistable mast ladder.. One of my crew used to be a pot-holer ( are all my crew bonkers ? ) so we are thinking along the lines of a caving ladder as opposed to a bosun's chair. In addition shroud tell-tales, and we need some more tell-tales for the No1 genny.

Down below....

I should have listened to Ken. I was aboard for the weekend two weeks ago. Although it was only -3C or -4C I had been all cosy and comfortable with the mains fan heater. It takes nothing more than a few minutes for a 1KW heater to keep the cabin of Little Plum comfortable. The damn thing failed. I spent all night keeping warm. Ken had INSISTED that I ought to have an electric blanket.. Having given it some thought.. I will purchase a new Fan Heater, an Electric Blanket and two hot water bottles. I know how to survive when it is cold, but I am not as young as I used to be.. and the technology is available. Anyway, I want to spend Christmas on Little Plum..

Although not an operational requirement, LP's cabin does represent something that may look something like a fetish brothel. John thinks he has found a company in Nottingham that has 70 odd sheets of the ply that Butler Mouldings may have used for head lining. It is under revue.... anything but purple....

Red Marlin 8 years ago
I agree with the crew about the lifelines being a hazard, they are deadly if you step on them. My answer is to use webbing - still works but safe to stand on
rothwell_neil 8 years ago
I have webbing life lines. Go to a climbing shop and buy the webbing they sell, good price and strong. I take it off in winter to extend the life.

My Android is anything but clunky and runs the Navionics and Viewranger GPS applications superbly.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
Hi Neil
Which phone do you have and which OS is it running?
rothwell_neil Posted 8 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 8 years ago
I have the HTC Desire on Android 2.2. This is the same manufacturer as makes the google phone and has a 1G processor. It seems to be fast at all things, very impressive.
pjbharrison 8 years ago
I've heard great comments about it and read excellent reviews about the HTC Desire. Sometimes referred to as THE iphone Basher.
rothwell_neil 8 years ago
Best of all it isn't an apple or microsoft and as Android is the Linux of the phone world many of the apps are free when they charge for the same app on the iphone.
G4NLA1 8 years ago
Webbing does seem to be a more satisfactory solution.

I have an e-pad running Android, and perhaps it is just mine that is clunky. When you twizzle it from landscape to portrait it takes about 30s for it to make up its mind. I am looking forward to getting my hands on this later model and running Navionics.
rothwell_neil 8 years ago
Portrait to landscape is a few seconds so sounds like they fixed that. Navionics doesn't change orientation but as screen is large not an issue.
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