Q: Tell me about the best thing you added for the boat…the expense, the install and why you love it.
A: That’s a tough one. There are three things that I added that I just can’t imagine living (happily) without. The Monitor Windvane might be the one I would choose above all others, but only by the thinnest of margins. That beautiful hunk of stainless steel engineering steers our boat for all but the first and last half hour of any sail. It’s so wonderful that I can’t even complain about the small defect that caused the cam cleat to fail. I ended up tying the control sheet off and might just replace that cleat one of these days.
The install for the Monitor was the hardest of any of my projects. It took forever and every step was involved and sensitive to error. I am really proud of how careful I was with it, but I don’t think I would volunteer to help a friend with their install 🙂 Price ~$3500
The second item is the Solar panel array that Rob and I developed. My whole life seems to revolve around the making and burning of amps and the solar panels are what keep the balance. We put 420W of collecting power up there and I firmly believe that a cruiser should cram just exactly as many Watts per sq inch as they possibly can on their boat.
The install for this was fun. I took a really long time dreaming up the method, and then changed the dodger top portion pretty radically when I couldn’t find the barstock I wanted. I’m delighted that I was forced to re-think that, as the new design actually made my dodger stronger in the process. The electrical install was a cinch for me, but I’m geeky that way. I learned a lot about solar charge controllers along the way, and would highly recommend the Tri-Star MPPT controller to anyone in the market. Price ~$2500.
The third place is a tie between the water maker (Spectra Ventura 150T) and the North Sails Quick Cover. The quick cover is awesome and I’m sure our sail will last 100% longer because I actually cover it every time. I probably could have saved a lot of $ by installing lazy jacks myself and just sucking up the sail cover issue, but I would never go back. Install was a piece of cake. Price ~$1600
The Spectra though, it completes the self-sufficiency trifecta (Shelter, Energy, Nutrition). Without it we would be spending much more time in and around marinas. With it the only thing I have to worry about is amps. Simplicity like that makes cruising more fun.
The install was insane. It wasn’t as hard or fussy as the Monitor, but I did it while cruising, in a strange port, with no car. It meant opening holes in the hull, which means water everywhere, and some of the ancillary installs (higher power fresh pressurized water system) came with their own unexpected consequences (water leaks where there had been none). All that said, I would do it again, and if it completely fails someday, I will get another. Price ~$5000