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Old 01-03-2021, 10:16 AM
jmupstate jmupstate is offline
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A-4 and the Caribbean?

Hi all,

We are new to the forum and looking for input and advice. We own a 1974 Irwin 30 with an A-4. The engine was rebuilt after we purchased the boat and upgraded to an electronic ignition. (10 years prior) We sail on Lake Erie and the boat has been fresh water its entire life. We are considering upgrading the engine and boat and taking it to the Bahamas. Erie Canal, Intercoastal, West Palm and then across is the initial thought. We are looking for input and advice as to our thinking.

We have seen many comments out there about gas versus diesel and about taking a 30 on such a journey. We do not intend to do any "long" passages and were thinking that the range of the A-4 would work. the engine has been incredibly reliable since the electronic ignition upgrade and it is fun to work on. Access is probably our biggest issue.

If anyone has thoughts or input we would appreciate any expertise, experience and advice. Are we thinking crazy here? What upgrades would you consider for such a trip? Thoughts on managing the engine and maintenance schedule for such a trip? Spares to have on hand?

While we have good experience sailing and racing on the Great Lakes for many years we humbly realize that many have already forgotten more that we have learned. Any input greatly appreciated!

Happy New Year! jmupstate on Takara
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:41 AM
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My thoughts.

I'd consider a few things. These are my thoughts and what I'd have as priority.

-Good Chartplotter, AIS (receiver ability at least), DSC radio
-Freshwater cool that engine. Spare coil, spare plugs and electronic ignition. Keep in mind you can still get your hands on spare parts. If the engine is running well, has good compression ratio etc I would not allow the fact that it's an atomic 4 be an determining factor.
- Ensure all thru hulls, standing and running rigging are good, decent sails. No maybes.
-Good Solar Power system and decent battery bank that can handle a refrigeration unit. Talk to someone very knowledgeable about that.
- Bimini (yours looks good) for shade in the cockpit...a must. If the boat set up allows you may be able to mount solar panels there.
- Inflatable dinghy and good motor for it.
- Water maker.

One of the most underestimated things about cruising is electric power consumption and the ability to keep your gear running. These days, I think solar power is the best. 30 foot boat is OK for two people but one needs to consider the cash going into the boat to make it a self sufficient cruiser. Otherwise you would always need to be hanging out in places that can resupply you and that adds up to cash in the Caribbean as well.

Engine maintence on trip:
15w40 motor oil, change 50 hrs interval
Raw water pump, ensure grease cap turned every 3 hrs running and bring extra in a small tub.
If Freshwater / heat exchanger cooled always check reservoir level before firing it up daily.
Get in the habit of listening to the water batching out the transom and be keenly aware of the sound...when it stops you will know.
Get in the habit of glancing head on a swivel, sails (if up), ahead, to stb, to prt, behind, look at gauges. |
A good socket set, wrenches, wiring kit...just in case.
The few spares I mentioned above.
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"Odyssey"
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The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.

Last edited by Mo; 01-03-2021 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 01-03-2021, 12:45 PM
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First, Happy New Year and welcome to the forum!

Ed will be along eventually.
He has made that trip a few times in a 30-footer with A4.
He can share his experience and advice.

I have also made the journey a number of times, albeit on larger vessels (sailboats) with diesel auxiliary.
Mo's list is very good and I especially highlight the chart plotter with current charts and the AIS.
Upgrading the A4 to a freshwater cooling system is absolutely a must as well.
I would also encourage you to invest and/or get familiar with weather and wind prediction and/or subscribe to one or two services.
Crossing the gulf stream in the right weather AND wind conditions are absolutely important in any size vessel but especially a small sailboat.

On that note...
The Intercoastal Waterway is your friend.
Don't be shy about using it if in doubt about "going outside" at any time or weather condition.
Remember to take your time, not be in a hurry and ENJOY the journey.
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Old 01-03-2021, 12:48 PM
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A few more pics to "stir the juices"...
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Old 01-03-2021, 03:43 PM
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Welcome to the forum.
Not crazy. The Marian Claire, a 30ft homemade sailboat with early model A-4, and I have made several trips roaming from Baltimore to Key West and across to the Abacos. Mostly staying in the ICW but doing short, day long, jumps off shore. You can avoid some of the issues the ICW offers this way. The longest was 36 hours crossing to the Abacos but that was my choice. So it is doable in your boat.
My approach on spare parts. I wanted a plug and play spare for anything that I can remove from the engine while it was in the boat. Plus the tools, gaskets and instructions/knowledge to R&R. The A-4 itself has not let me down. It even got me home, over 1000 sm, with a broken ring. I have had electric fuel pump, coil, water pump, spark plugs etc go bad but all repaired or replaced from spares and without hauling out or stopping the trip for more than a day.
As stated the ICW is your friend but you will be motoring 99% of the time and the hours add up quickly. If you have a way to add a oil filter it could cut your oil changes in half+-. Oil you can get most anywhere but it may not be the brand you want. Have enough oil and filters for several changes and restock when you get to a convenient place.


Dan
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Old 01-03-2021, 06:15 PM
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Thank you!

I would like to thank all for the great feedback on the destination, the outfitting and the engine upgrades/care/maintenance. I am starting a planning document and will include the great feedback as I build my plan. It is great to get a true appreciation for what I have always thought was a great and reliable engine in the A-4. The pictures are definitely an inspiration and it is pretty cool to see a Ranger 30 out there! I started sailing and racing on a Ranger 22 and it was an awesome boat! Gary Mull design!
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Old 01-03-2021, 06:49 PM
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First, welcome to the forum and Happy New Year!

In advance, please excuse the long rambling post.

No, you're not crazy at all. I can't speak for the Erie Canal portion, as I havent done that yet, but I do know that you will have to unstep the mast at the beginning and have it restepped at the end of the canal system.

As for the ICW, I wish Hanely was still here on the forum. He did the trip from New England down the ICW to FL and back around a dozen times in his A4 powered boat, and could tell you endless things.

We've done it twice in our A4-powered 32 ft Pearson 323, and are planning a third trip, possibly this coming fall.

Mo has a pretty complete list of things. Even with our indego oil filter system, we changed the oil & filter every 50 hrs. This meant from 10 to 12 oil changes on our whole trip, as we motored almost the entire time on the ICW. With our starting in the Chesapeake, down the ICW to FL, over to the Bahamas for 5-6 weeks, and back up the ICW, we traveled about 3000 NM and put about 500 hrs on the engine. Because they're small, I simply ordered a whole case of 12 oil filters from Amazon and carried them aboard so there would never be any problem with finding the right one. Also kept 4 one-gallon jugs of 15W40 oil aboard, and replenished those as we used them. The 15W40 "diesel oil" is readily available, unlike straight 30W heavy duty.

One item that almost caught us by surprise is the blower motor. Right before our first trip, we had one fail and I replaced it. I was surprised to discover that these are only rated for a 500 hour lifetime, and that the brushes (which are the things that wear out) are not replacable! Since we run it all the time the engine is running, this means it would only be good for one trip! I ordered a spare, and rigged up the wiring to use a terminal strip to make it easily swap-able under way, and pre-wired the spare with ring terminals. Sure enough, towards the very end of our trip, the blower failed and I had to swap it again. On our second trip, we had a similar experience, so the 500 hr life seems to be pretty accurate! Anyway, carry a spare blower.

Another item is cooling system pumps. Be sure to do a full rebuild, not just an impeller replacement, on both the fresh water and raw water pumps. Those 500 hrs represent about 5 years of normal use for us, and the seals and bearings do wear out. Much better to do the rebuild in your home port, with access to resources, than while at anchor on the water (DAMHIKT).

And rebuild the head pump as well. You REALLY don't want to do this job while you are living on the boat!!

The primary three things that will control your life while on such a trip are fuel, water, and pumpouts. Food is usually a distant fourth. In the US, finding a working pumpout was always our number 1 concern. Although they are required and subsidized, it can often be a challenge to find an operating one, particularly in the south. We repeatedly heard the story that "they were still waiting for it to be repaired after the damage from hurricane <insert name here>". Several times on our first trip, we had to make significant detours off of the ICW in search of a working pumpout. Our boat had the standard head plumbing from the 60s and early 70s, which meant that the ONLY way to empty the holding tank was from a shoreside pumpout. Combine this with our small 10 gal tank, and it meant that we needed a pumpout every other day! Before our second trip, I installed a macerator pump, and reworked the plumbing so that, in an emergency, it would be possible to find the mouth of a fast moving river and pump the tank overboard. Not that I am advocating this, you just need to be aware and make your choices.

Once in the Bahamas, there are NO pumpout facilities, and almost no restrictions. You either pump directly overboard, or sail out a bit from the anchorage and pump out your tank. The large currents from the twice daily tides carries everything off to deep water.

So in the Bahamas, the priority order became fuel, water, food. Water is generally available everywhere, although you'll usually have to pay for it, and food is expensive, but gas can be hard to come by, particularly in the Exumas. There, we only found gas at Highbourn Cay, Staniel Cay, Cave Cay, and Georgetown in Great Exuma. In the Abacos gas was more readily available.

Another thing that will rule your daily life is your electrical power budget.

Again, while on the ICW and motoring every day, your batteries should get fully charged every day, and this isn't as much of a problem. But once you're at anchor for days at a time, either waiting in FL for a weather window or in the Bahamas, the equation changes. You need auxillary means of producing power to equal your daily consumption. We have 200W of solar panels, and a wind generator. In the Chesapeake, the wind generator is pretty useless, but in the Bahamas, the wind blows a lot and the windgen can make a big difference. Anyway, what we found is that 200W of solar by itself is not enough. With our 12V refrigeration running, we needed to make up power daily in Florida. (My research has since showed that about 400W of solar is the "sweet spot" for a cruising couple). Our original plan was to run the engine daily to get the batteries charged. This turned out to be unworkable, as we found we were running the engine as much as four hours per day to break even. This both consumed too much fuel, and put too much heat into the boat, further causing the refrigeration to work harder and consume even more power.

Our solution was to buy a small "suitcase" generator. Many of the cruisers we met favored the 2000W honda EU2000i, but this was more than we needed, and weighed in at around 39 lbs. We got a 1000W EU1000i. It weighs a mere 19 lbs and I can lift it with one hand. It can do everything we would want except run the water heater. We perch it on the stern and use it to power our boat's shore charger. It is super quiet, and the little 1/2 gallon tank will run it for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on how hard we're loading it down. And it runs on the same fuel as our main engine, so no need for a separate set of jerry jugs. As a bonus, it lets me run small A/C powered tools onboard ('cuz you're always fixing something!). And it gives us options. Options are always good. On our second trip, our windgen broke, and we had to fall back on daily charging with the generator.

Motoring range with the A4 has not been an issue for us, but we don't do any long offshore passages. We consume around 1 gal per hour under normal motoring conditions around 5 kts, and have a 30 gal tank. This translates into about a 150 nm motoring range. In addition, I carry five 6 gal jerry jugs on deck, for an additional 30 gal. This is also used for the generator and the dinghy outboard (we're a one-fuel boat). On our first trip, we went offshore from Charleston SC to St Mary's on the GA FL line. It took about two days, but we were able to sail a lot of it. On this last trip, we departed Florida from Marathon Key and motored all the way to Bimini, taking around 24 hours. Normally, we leave from Miami to Bimini, a mere 10 hrs and 42 nm.

While offshore in the Gulf of Florida, crossing to the Bahamas, an AIS receiver is HIGHLY recommended. There are a LOT of freighters and Cruise ships (well, there used to be...) out there and the AIS in invaluable in sorting out which ones are on a converging course and which ones you don't have to worry about, especially at night. And a radar reflector is an absolute requirement so they can see you!

The last thing I want to touch on briefly is weather. It's not as big a deal when you stay in the ICW, but it's crucially important when going offshore, particularly when crossing the Gulf Stream. We subscribe to Chris Parker's weather service, and it has been outstanding. Chris has daily HF radio broadcasts and simultaneous webcasts for each day's weather, and will address specific quesrtions from subscribers, submitted either by radio or online. We've used him every time to recommend a crossing windows both there and back, and he's always come through for us. I've read so many horror stories from people who did not plan their crossing properly, and had a very rough and unplesant experience. We also use Windfinder and Predictwind online to suppliment our knowledge.

I'm sure there's lots more I haven't covered, but I'll be happy to try and answer any questions you have. And I want to encourage you to make this trip. It has been the highlight of our sailing careers.

In the words of Lin and Larry Pardy, "Go small, go simple, go now!"
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Old 01-04-2021, 06:59 AM
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Spare fuel filters might be a good idea. You will be getting fuel from sources that are unknown to you in terms of quality

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Old 01-04-2021, 10:59 AM
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Spare fuel filters might be a good idea. You will be getting fuel from sources that are unknown to you in terms of quality

Peter

Quite right. We also carried and used a Baja filter (a clone actually) for every bit of fuel that went into the tank, even from the jerry jugs.
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Old 01-04-2021, 02:00 PM
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Thank you!

Ed & Peter,

Again thank you for the input and the detail. I am continuing my notes and planning document and working in all of the great input that is being provided. We have solar as part of the plan but the smaller portable generator sounds like a great addition. It sounds very frugal with fuel as well. I will send over any other specific questions as we move forward. Best-
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Old 01-04-2021, 11:23 PM
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Ed, I have since let someone borrow or lost BOTH of my "Mr.Funnel" brand clone filters like that..thanks for the reminder to replace them over the winter when I am not burning too much petrol. It was amazing watching them separate water out of bad fuel.
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Old 01-05-2021, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
It was amazing watching them separate water out of bad fuel.
I thought these funnels just took out particulate matter. Water, too? Gotta' get one!

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Old 01-05-2021, 10:06 AM
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I thought these funnels just took out particulate matter. Water, too? Gotta' get one!

Bill
Do they simply work on the principle that gas will float on top of the water?
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:23 AM
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Do they simply work on the principle that gas will float on top of the water?
No, they have a fine mesh screen made of some hydrophobic material. The water's high surface tension keeps it from flowing through, while the gas goes through freely.

There are some downsides. The flow rate is somewhat slow, so fueling takes longer. And there is always a small "sump" at the bottom that retains the water and a small bit of gas and must be disposed of. Both of these pale in comparison to having flush and clean out the whole fuel system!
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Old 01-05-2021, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jmupstate View Post
Hi all,

We are new to the forum and looking for input and advice. We own a 1974 Irwin 30 with an A-4. The engine was rebuilt after we purchased the boat and upgraded to an electronic ignition. (10 years prior) We sail on Lake Erie and the boat has been fresh water its entire life. We are considering upgrading the engine and boat and taking it to the Bahamas. Erie Canal, Intercoastal, West Palm and then across is the initial thought. We are looking for input and advice as to our thinking.

We have seen many comments out there about gas versus diesel and about taking a 30 on such a journey. We do not intend to do any "long" passages and were thinking that the range of the A-4 would work. the engine has been incredibly reliable since the electronic ignition upgrade and it is fun to work on. Access is probably our biggest issue.

If anyone has thoughts or input we would appreciate any expertise, experience and advice. Are we thinking crazy here? What upgrades would you consider for such a trip? Thoughts on managing the engine and maintenance schedule for such a trip? Spares to have on hand?

While we have good experience sailing and racing on the Great Lakes for many years we humbly realize that many have already forgotten more that we have learned. Any input greatly appreciated!

Happy New Year! jmupstate on Takara
My A4 powered boat has been to Bermuda 3 times, that is a 1500 mile round trip, if that helps you
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Old 01-05-2021, 08:34 PM
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Lady K sailing did this trip from Lake St Clair

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW4u...H0aOX&index=75
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:47 PM
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To add to Ed's comments..The solution for that small bit of leftovers could be a couple of those absorbing petrol pads + a tupperware container..you can dump the stuff (or the whole funnel) into it until you are away enough from land you can let it evaporate without upsetting anyone. I keep fresh ones in a ziploc bag, but my 'in-use' pads are in a tupperware that could hold the funnel. Any "Clean Marina" has tons of these...I lay them around my fuel fill to catch any splashes and try to keep gas out of the Bay.
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Old 01-06-2021, 11:09 PM
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Hi, Jim:

I found your YouTube channel. It's definitely a must-watch for anyone contemplating that trip.

Bill
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Old 01-07-2021, 07:22 PM
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First, welcome to the forum and Happy New Year!

In advance, please excuse the long rambling post.

No, you're not crazy at all. I can't speak for the Erie Canal portion, as I havent done that yet, but I do know that you will have to unstep the mast at the beginning and have it restepped at the end of the canal system.

As for the ICW, I wish Hanely was still here on the forum. He did the trip from New England down the ICW to FL and back around a dozen times in his A4 powered boat, and could tell you endless things.

We've done it twice in our A4-powered 32 ft Pearson 323, and are planning a third trip, possibly this coming fall.

Mo has a pretty complete list of things. Even with our indego oil filter system, we changed the oil & filter every 50 hrs. This meant from 10 to 12 oil changes on our whole trip, as we motored almost the entire time on the ICW. With our starting in the Chesapeake, down the ICW to FL, over to the Bahamas for 5-6 weeks, and back up the ICW, we traveled about 3000 NM and put about 500 hrs on the engine. Because they're small, I simply ordered a whole case of 12 oil filters from Amazon and carried them aboard so there would never be any problem with finding the right one. Also kept 4 one-gallon jugs of 15W40 oil aboard, and replenished those as we used them. The 15W40 "diesel oil" is readily available, unlike straight 30W heavy duty.

One item that almost caught us by surprise is the blower motor. Right before our first trip, we had one fail and I replaced it. I was surprised to discover that these are only rated for a 500 hour lifetime, and that the brushes (which are the things that wear out) are not replacable! Since we run it all the time the engine is running, this means it would only be good for one trip! I ordered a spare, and rigged up the wiring to use a terminal strip to make it easily swap-able under way, and pre-wired the spare with ring terminals. Sure enough, towards the very end of our trip, the blower failed and I had to swap it again. On our second trip, we had a similar experience, so the 500 hr life seems to be pretty accurate! Anyway, carry a spare blower.

Another item is cooling system pumps. Be sure to do a full rebuild, not just an impeller replacement, on both the fresh water and raw water pumps. Those 500 hrs represent about 5 years of normal use for us, and the seals and bearings do wear out. Much better to do the rebuild in your home port, with access to resources, than while at anchor on the water (DAMHIKT).

And rebuild the head pump as well. You REALLY don't want to do this job while you are living on the boat!!

The primary three things that will control your life while on such a trip are fuel, water, and pumpouts. Food is usually a distant fourth. In the US, finding a working pumpout was always our number 1 concern. Although they are required and subsidized, it can often be a challenge to find an operating one, particularly in the south. We repeatedly heard the story that "they were still waiting for it to be repaired after the damage from hurricane <insert name here>". Several times on our first trip, we had to make significant detours off of the ICW in search of a working pumpout. Our boat had the standard head plumbing from the 60s and early 70s, which meant that the ONLY way to empty the holding tank was from a shoreside pumpout. Combine this with our small 10 gal tank, and it meant that we needed a pumpout every other day! Before our second trip, I installed a macerator pump, and reworked the plumbing so that, in an emergency, it would be possible to find the mouth of a fast moving river and pump the tank overboard. Not that I am advocating this, you just need to be aware and make your choices.

Once in the Bahamas, there are NO pumpout facilities, and almost no restrictions. You either pump directly overboard, or sail out a bit from the anchorage and pump out your tank. The large currents from the twice daily tides carries everything off to deep water.

So in the Bahamas, the priority order became fuel, water, food. Water is generally available everywhere, although you'll usually have to pay for it, and food is expensive, but gas can be hard to come by, particularly in the Exumas. There, we only found gas at Highbourn Cay, Staniel Cay, Cave Cay, and Georgetown in Great Exuma. In the Abacos gas was more readily available.

Another thing that will rule your daily life is your electrical power budget.

Again, while on the ICW and motoring every day, your batteries should get fully charged every day, and this isn't as much of a problem. But once you're at anchor for days at a time, either waiting in FL for a weather window or in the Bahamas, the equation changes. You need auxillary means of producing power to equal your daily consumption. We have 200W of solar panels, and a wind generator. In the Chesapeake, the wind generator is pretty useless, but in the Bahamas, the wind blows a lot and the windgen can make a big difference. Anyway, what we found is that 200W of solar by itself is not enough. With our 12V refrigeration running, we needed to make up power daily in Florida. (My research has since showed that about 400W of solar is the "sweet spot" for a cruising couple). Our original plan was to run the engine daily to get the batteries charged. This turned out to be unworkable, as we found we were running the engine as much as four hours per day to break even. This both consumed too much fuel, and put too much heat into the boat, further causing the refrigeration to work harder and consume even more power.

Our solution was to buy a small "suitcase" generator. Many of the cruisers we met favored the 2000W honda EU2000i, but this was more than we needed, and weighed in at around 39 lbs. We got a 1000W EU1000i. It weighs a mere 19 lbs and I can lift it with one hand. It can do everything we would want except run the water heater. We perch it on the stern and use it to power our boat's shore charger. It is super quiet, and the little 1/2 gallon tank will run it for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on how hard we're loading it down. And it runs on the same fuel as our main engine, so no need for a separate set of jerry jugs. As a bonus, it lets me run small A/C powered tools onboard ('cuz you're always fixing something!). And it gives us options. Options are always good. On our second trip, our windgen broke, and we had to fall back on daily charging with the generator.

Motoring range with the A4 has not been an issue for us, but we don't do any long offshore passages. We consume around 1 gal per hour under normal motoring conditions around 5 kts, and have a 30 gal tank. This translates into about a 150 nm motoring range. In addition, I carry five 6 gal jerry jugs on deck, for an additional 30 gal. This is also used for the generator and the dinghy outboard (we're a one-fuel boat). On our first trip, we went offshore from Charleston SC to St Mary's on the GA FL line. It took about two days, but we were able to sail a lot of it. On this last trip, we departed Florida from Marathon Key and motored all the way to Bimini, taking around 24 hours. Normally, we leave from Miami to Bimini, a mere 10 hrs and 42 nm.

While offshore in the Gulf of Florida, crossing to the Bahamas, an AIS receiver is HIGHLY recommended. There are a LOT of freighters and Cruise ships (well, there used to be...) out there and the AIS in invaluable in sorting out which ones are on a converging course and which ones you don't have to worry about, especially at night. And a radar reflector is an absolute requirement so they can see you!

The last thing I want to touch on briefly is weather. It's not as big a deal when you stay in the ICW, but it's crucially important when going offshore, particularly when crossing the Gulf Stream. We subscribe to Chris Parker's weather service, and it has been outstanding. Chris has daily HF radio broadcasts and simultaneous webcasts for each day's weather, and will address specific quesrtions from subscribers, submitted either by radio or online. We've used him every time to recommend a crossing windows both there and back, and he's always come through for us. I've read so many horror stories from people who did not plan their crossing properly, and had a very rough and unplesant experience. We also use Windfinder and Predictwind online to suppliment our knowledge.

I'm sure there's lots more I haven't covered, but I'll be happy to try and answer any questions you have. And I want to encourage you to make this trip. It has been the highlight of our sailing careers.

In the words of Lin and Larry Pardy, "Go small, go simple, go now!"
Ed, how's it going. You know what, that inverter generator you mentioned, it made sense. So much sense that I opted for it rather than increase solar power. I operate in fog...lots of fog and read your post. There is no solar in fog...none. So I was thinking I want to do a trip Northerly...more fog, less sun light...yeah, a generator sounds like a plan.

SO, today I went out and bought a 2500 Watt inverter generator. It will be used just like you said....charge batteries. I was thinking I might mount 4 recliners on the foredeck and 65 inch TV out front to watch Youtube sailing videos ...in the fog of course.

Seriously, good idea, I bought in and the cost of upgrading solar or a genset was around the same. The only difference is the genset will run 10 hrs on a gallon of gas and I might not see the sun for 4 days.

Good call Ed.
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1976 C&C 30 MKI

The pessimist complains about the wind.
The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
...Sir William Arthur Ward.

Last edited by Mo; 01-07-2021 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:29 PM
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roadnsky roadnsky is offline
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One piece of valuable gear we neglected to mention is an AUTO HELM or autopilot...
I made one long journey and crossing on a vessel without one and would never want to do it again.
A reliable autopilot is a key member of your “crew”.
A shorthanded crew that steers all the time, is a tired crew.
And a tired crew is a dangerous thing.

Another comment is related to Ed’s excellent info regarding the head and the hassle of scheduling pumpouts...
On a recent crossing, my friend had just installed a “AirHead” composting toilet.
I was so impressed with it, I bought one for my boat and we absolutely love it.
(Ever heard the word love used for a marine head before?)
It was THE number one issue the Admiral had with our boat and now she is as comfortable as she is at home.
And we all know that keeping the Admiral comfy is... well, everything.
No more planning around pumpout stations.
No thru hull for external water source to flush.
No extra weight from the holding tank.
And... no more SMELL!
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Old 01-30-2021, 11:07 PM
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Happy sailing into the Carribean

I've survived almost 15 years with my A-4 in a 35 ft Ericson in salt water, and would add to the shopping list an extra electric fuel pump (around $98?) and maybe even a carb (Moyer). Ditto the recommendation on the fresh water heat exchange (glycol mix) with a filter basket, add an impeller and seal gasket kit for your water pump- these should be changed annually, so an extra won't go to waste, and new zincs into your heat exchanger, plus a spare set. Clean the tubes gently so each one flows freely. My A-4 always ran 5-10F hotter than spec off the heat exchanger than the direct fresh water cooling, around 185 F. It could go to 190 F if I cranked it up faster than hull speed testing it. Easiest to just use the premix 50/50 anti-freeze solution so you can stop guessing how much water or antifreeze to add. And watch the overflow tank, to keep it at the normal line.

An unlikely extra I'd take an oil pressure sensor, mounted really low on the port side on most A-4's (with electric fuel pumps) and impossibly difficult without a mirror. It is your fuel shutoff valve in case of an engine fire so the electric pump stops when the oil pressure drops. Nice feature you hope to never use - but IF it fails - your engine won't start because it cuts off your fuel pump. Rarely fails, but... difficult to troubleshoot (except the engine doesn't start).

Check all fuel lines and fittings, little air leaks are a bad idea and easy to prevent. I check my A-4 fuel filter basin for water or 'mung' buildup (usually from ethanol in a jerry can). Use marine, non-ethanol gas only. Ethanol in marine engines, including outboards causes many problems. In my Honda and Suzuki outboards I run them dry when coming in if I didn't use non-ethanol gas. Home Depot and Lowes sells non-ethanol lawn mower gas (pricey), but works for limited use in an outboard. Good luck, happy sailing in the Carribean!
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