As Lorraine has been doing a great job updating the blog, I have kept a low profile (!), however, pressure has now been brought to bear and I have been ‘asked’ if I would write something a bit more technical for the blog, so here goes…….
Somoya, our trusty 1987 Westerly Oceanlord, has performed exceptionally well so far, she has handled all the weather that has been thrown at her. I would say that the biggest improvement that we have made since owning the boat has been the installation of the new Volvo Penta D-55 engine. The extra 12HP gained has transformed the boat into a really good motor-sailing vessel. As we have experienced more than our fair share of head winds on the trip so far, we have used the motor considerably, and been able to maintain 6 – 7kts without any problems. Fuel consumption is averaging 3.5 litres / hour which means that the range on a full tank of 200 litres is about 340 NM, plus we always have an extra 66 litres in jerry cans, thus increasing the range to more than 450 NM.
The replacement of the three bladed fixed propeller with a Brunton’s Autoprop has made a large contribution to the increased speed and reduced fuel consumption. The only issue we had to deal with early on was the fact that the bolts connecting the propeller shaft flange to the gearbox flange had worked loose by the time we got to Milford Haven. The nylock nuts were replaced quite easily and have not been a problem since.
I have carried out a complete engine service, replacing fuel and oil filters, and of course, oil. I make a point of doing this every 100 – 125 hours any way, although the manual says 500 hours! Changing the oil frequently is probably the best thing that can be done to ensure long engine life.
Since replacing the electrical distribution panel and carrying out a major ‘tidy up’ of the wires behind the panel, the electrical system has performed faultlessly, and the for the first time since we bought the boat, all the Navigation lights have worked as intended! Before leaving Niall Falconer of Quay Marine carried out major improvements to the battery bank wiring which is now very tidy and much safer than it was. We also installed 4 x 110Ah AGM batteries for domestic power, and 1 x 110Ah Gel battery for engine cranking, again these have performed exceptionally well.
The last major improvement we made was to replace the Bruce anchor with a Manson Supreme. This anchor sets very easily and we have not dragged it once, even after spending a night anchored of a lee shore with a very uncomfortable swell and 25kts of wind. I do need to install a larger diameter bow roller and extend it a few inches, as it does have a tendency to bang against the hull when we weigh anchor.
I am starting to get used to using the Furuno radar system, which I have not used at all in the past. Probably a good thing too, as we have experienced the fog that can suddenly roll in at any time on the NW coast of Spain. The coastal fog is never forecast, as it is very common here, so it is easy to get caught out! Getting forecasts has been straight forward through email on my IPhone (just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘metarea2.txt’ in the subject field, and a blank message, and it is returned within seconds….try it!). Other IPhone Apps that have proved to be excellent are ‘Tidesplan12’ and ‘WeatherTrack’; these give really good tidal information and Grib files which give a 3 day pressure and wind forecast. For extended forecasts, I use Zygrib on the PC which gives a 7 day, more detailed forecast.
Lastly (if you are still awake at this stage, then I am impressed), the WIFI extender system I installed before leaving, has been great (coming from N America, it could only be called the ‘BadBoy Extreme’!). It will pick up a WIFI signal up to 5 miles away. I have it connected to the mini ITX format PC that I built and installed at the Nav table. Only on a couple of occasions have I not found a free WIFI service that I could access . It also gives a much stronger signal when connecting to WIFI services provided by marinas. For next season I will improve the system by adding a WIFI router on the boat, so we will be able to connect to our IPad, IPhone & Laptop.
So that’s about it from the Ship’s Engineer, I hope some of our faithful readers have found it interesting, but I will understand if you haven’t made it this far. Lorraine’s normal blog service will resume shortly……….