Best and Worst Equipment

Spade Anchor
Lets us sleep at night and so far we haven’t needed an additional bow anchor in any wind strength. We turned 180 degrees during a squall but the anchor didn’t budge.

Solar Panels
Fitted in Trinidad in 2012, these power our fridge, freezer and watermaker. We have 4 x 135 watt panels with an MPPT Controller. It is great to see the batteries being charged as soon as the sun rises. The batteries are on float charge by 1400 most days and we never think about the battery level now. As we only have about 520 amps of battery capacity, they do drain down a bit on night passages so we just top up with the generator if necessary.

Part of our new stern arch, we hoist the dinghy whenever we are not using it. This stops the barnacles and keeps it secure. We used to spend ages scraping the bottom of the dinghy! It is much quicker when we move from anchorage to anchorage, just to lift the dinghy with the outboard on, rather than take the outboard off and go through the process of securing the dinghy on it’s side across the stern.

We have now revised our opinion of the DuoGen due to finding several people who have had the same reliability issues as ourselves. The stata warped and had to be replaced. In Trinidad we had to have it completely stripped down and rebuilt and decided to fit a stainless steel arch on the stern to take solar panels instead. The DuoGen would have been in the way, so had to go anyway. We have had a bracket made so we can fit a D400 wind generator in the future if we need one.

Water and wind generator which has been in constant use for years. The power generated in the water mode especially has been impressive although we estimate the boat speed decreases by between quarter and half a knot. This worked well in wind mode for years but we had 2 fuses blow whilst crossing the Atlantic. Perhaps the swell got too much.

The bearing at the base of the supporting pole also seized up where the drive shaft goes into the generator, so we couldn’t use it for months. Not ideal in such windy conditions. We intend getting a spare part in the UK and having it sorted out in Trinidad. Other owners of Duogens we met also had small issues with parts breaking but fortunately we had all the spares they needed, the only 1 we didn’t have was the 1 we needed!

Mr D’s Thermal Cooker
Given to us by our friends Dave and Looies, this amazing gas saver cooks using thermal energy and once you have simmered a chilli or casserole in the inner pot for 5 minutes, you can put it into the outer casing and close the lid. A few hours later the meal is beautifully cooked. Cakes and bread can also be cooked in it although I haven’t tried that out yet.

Simmer Mat
Another great buy from Lakeland which stops the food boiling rather than simmering by diffusing the heat. I find the gas on lowest heat is still not low enough.

Solar Christmas Lights
We put the tiny solar panel outside every day so we can have the blue and green lights around the cabin every evening, or put up under the bimini. They are also a back up if we are late back to the boat and didn’t leave the mooring light on.

AIS and Radar
Great backup crossing the shipping lanes and when caught out by fog.

Plotter at the Helm
Another piece of technology which makes navigating far easier and safer, especially if there are only 2 of you onboard and on a watch system.

The ability to heat water, charge the batteries, dry your hair, charge up all the electrical equipment and make toast all depend on the generator. Lets hope it continues to work as well as it is doing currently.

We had the impeller shred a couple of times and it also coughed and spluttered sometimes but always recovered itself. We contacted the suppliers regarding the impeller and as it always happened when the boat was sailing in a rough seas, it was suggested we make another hole, lower in the hull to ensure the water gets to the generator to cool it effectively.

A necessity for cruising freedom as it means we don’t need to go into harbours and marinas just to pick up water. We have 3 water tanks and our watermaker puts 60 litres an hour into the forward tank. We make sure we use that one all the time when out at sea, the other 2 then being reserves.

The pump gave up in January 2013 and the engineer in Martinique is currently awaiting a part from the US. Once fixed I will update this page.

Bimini and Sun Awnings
Keeps the sun off but also the rain, so in warm climates we can still sit outside and enjoy the fresh air, even if it is raining. In Trinidad we had new awnings made for the entire deck area, incorporating a water catcher in the bow one. These keep the decks cooler, reduce UV damage to teak and hatches, give an area to sit under and let us leave the hatches open when it is raining. We can collapse the sprayhood and increase the air flowing over the boat at anchor. Much cooler!

Sprung Mattress
Bought from Susan Hughes and made to measure for the awkwardly shaped forecabin bunk. It is in 2 sections so we can still use the leeboards on passage and we have sheets for the 2 halves also. When you live full time on the boat, a good matress is essential to avoid back issues.

Bubble Wrap & ‘Sticky Mat’
I wanted to take crystal wine, champagne and shot glasses plus a few tumblers as I’m not keen on the plastic ones. We also have china mugs. All of these have travelled with us the last 3 years without breakage as they are stored in bubble wrap. The 8 champagne flutes fitted into my old knee high boots box perfectly, so they live in there all snugly wrapped in bubbles.

The sticky mat has been spread over the tops of cupboards and a few plastic crates sit on top with light goods in them, such as biscuits and crisps. None have moved so far.

Hand Held Whisk
This is one with gears which you madly turn for ages until the cream thickens. Does away with the need for electricity and is faster than a balloon whisk.

Lock ‘n’ Lock Boxes
Brilliant for storing almost anything. Seal completely and if you buy the rectangular or square ones, saves space.

Green Salad and Veg Bags
From Lakeland again, these are definitely keeping our salads and vegetables a lot longer in the frige and well worth buying.

This was an addition this year and is brilliant! As it is keel cooled, it doesn’t need as much energy to run as the frige yet it enables us to have ice cream, bread, butter and milk even if we haven’t seen a shop in a fortnight. There are 8 casseroles and curries for 5 people already stored away at the bottom and hot cross buns, smoked salmon, bacon and croissants for special occasions.

Fly Screens
Haven’t used these before but some Lewmar fly screens came with the boat and in the warmer weather it means we can leave the hatches open and not have uninvited guests joining us!

Outboard Fuel Tank
This holds 25 litres of petrol and feeds directly into the outboard, saving us time and effort. It also avoids spills over the outboard when you are trying to fill it in a rolly anchorage. The tank is locked to the dinghy and outboard, so stays in the dinghy all the time.

Battery Monitor
We changed our Xantrex monitor because it was unreliable but the new one isn’t much better. It shows voltage of our battery banks and we think it gives us amps, in and out of the domestic bank but we are not convinced the figures are accurate, nor does it give us the % charge remaining in the batteries.

It could be that not everything is connected through the shunt but various electricians have looked at it and not been able to solve the problem. We are considering a unit marketed by Merlin Electronics which doesn’t need a shunt.

Outboard Motor Lock
This so-called marine item rusted away within a year.

Sevylor Inflatable Kayak
Our Canyon model leaks badly and all the supplier could suggest was to send us some glue! The stitching is clearly of poor quality and has left holes, rather than thread in the kayak. There are numrous bad reviews on Amazon but we didn’t see them until after we bought it.

Featherstream Prop
For the 473 and despite providing all the information required, it doesn’t do the job for Beyzano. It is the biggest prop they do but isn’t man enough to push us through the waves. We are sure it is fine for smaller or lighter boats but just not for us.

We bought a new courtesy flag in May and it was in tatters again within 2 months! They just don’t seem to last.

Cockpit shower head
This is a push button and really hard to press when your hands are covered in shampoo.

Log paddle wheel
Gets fouled up if we are stationary for more than a couple of days, so we just clean it every time we leave an anchorage now.

None of these are lasting and the one on our fishing rod tube holder disintegrated completely. Even the ones on the sprayhood are struggling and surely a sprayhood is designed to withstand salt water.

Freezer Lid Spring
This is supposed to hold the heavy lid up but you only have to catch it slightly and it falls down on your head! We are going to buy a gas strut instead which should be stronger. Actually in the end we rigged up a bungee hook and clip it to the handrail above the freezer as it was cheaper!

7 Responses to Best and Worst Equipment

  1. Did you convert the entire top loading cool box into a freezer? What make/model is the compressor? Thanks

  2. Rhian says:

    Yes. the whole of the cool box is now a capacious freezer. Penguin supplied a Frigoboat kit, model Frigomatic Capri, which they have used for many 473s and we fitted it ourselves. We just needed to let them know where we wanted the cooling plate to be bent. It uses a keel cooler most of the time and we can also just use the batteries so we can run it when the boat is out of the water. It has been brilliant. No problems at all since we started using it in May and it doesn’t use much power.

  3. Caroline & Robert (Yacht Aragorn) says:

    This is great info for our future planning. Have not noticed the drop in speed you talk about with the Duogen – maybe we have not been so dead downwind when we have used it. We hardly notice it going in the water on our speed. Had thought it might give you more power than having to run the engine for 4 hours. Something for us to keep an eye on as we do more miles with it!

  4. Jo Fraser says:

    Agree with all of that. We haven’t notices the drop in speed with the Duogen. We would also add solar panels (we have Aurinco) as they have been brilliantly even on dull days and our Hydrovane as it sails to the wind and takes no power.

  5. Steve Houssart says:

    I notice you say you fitted a water maker, which is on the top but at the back end of my list before we go, if you know what i mean. where did you install the unit and what make was it, as you guys know its all about use of space on a 473!

  6. Rhian says:

    Our watermaker is a 12v Horizon, gives 60 litres an hour and the unit is quite large but as it is in separate units rather than one module, it is spread out under the forecabin bunk. It is located stern side of the water tank. The high pressure pump is under the saloon sofa by the mast and the pick up hole is in the hull just to the port and aft of the mast.

    It has been a godsend in the Caribbean where water can be quite expensive and difficult to source sometimes. Even with the costs of running the generator to use the watermaker, it is still cheaper to make our own.

  7. Mr D says:

    Hi Rob & Rhian,
    It was great meeting you both at the Southampton Boat Show yesterday. I do remember your friends buying the Mr D’s from me last year and I am so pleased that it is working well for you.
    I am always amazed when we do shows how many people like yourselves have decided to go off and live their dreams. I did this once when I left a safe job in television to work for myself (in my own production company) and although it has at times been a slightly rocky ride I have no regrets as it has allowed me to meet lots of lovely people and travel to places all over the world.
    Now promoting and selling thermal cookers I am living a different dream but I love it. My passion has always been cooking and the Mr D’s allows me to create recipes for a completely different concept in cooking food. But most of all selling thermal cookers has allowed me to meet people like yourselves who have had the courage to move out of the rat race and do something completely different.
    Have lots of fun with your Mr D’s and please let me know if you need any help with recipes or how to cook new things.
    Take care
    Mr D.

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