1. What were your best bits of kit?

I’ll base this on how often I used them, and how much bang for the buck they delivered.

  • Lock ‘n’ Lock waterproof food containers – useful for electronics as well as food
  • Aquapac iPod bags
  • Audiobooks from Audible.com and Audible.co.uk, loaded onto iPods
  • Bottomsiders seat cushions with MSR Packtowls as a cover – easy to rinse and quick to dry
  • Kakadu golf gloves – great for preventing open blisters
  • Shockles and bungee cords – necessary for securing everything on deck and in the cabin
  • Pelican cases – bombproof, and more relevantly, waterproof
  • MSR Dromedary bags for water ballast (doubles as emergency water supply)
  • Duct tape and cable ties – don’t leave home without them!

2. Would you change any aspect of the spec of the boat? e.g. Navigation system, solar panels, batteries, entertainment, steering, sliding seat?

I’m really happy with the spec of the boat now. As time has gone on, and more and more kit has fallen victim to the combined effects of seawater, age, and sun exposure, I have made the setup more and more simple. Electronics only get trashed. I’ve found it best to have mostly handheld gadgets, and to keep them in Aquapacs and Pelicases when not in use.

Navigation – I use a compass while I am rowing (mounted between my feet) and check my position on the GPS at the end of each rowing shift when I write up my logbook. When my chartplotter broke, my TomTom car satnav system was perfectly adequate. Unless you are weaving between islands, all you need is lat and long.

Solar panels – the ones I have now are the ones I used on the Atlantic. They are about the only piece of kit still surviving.

Sliding seat – I highly recommend Gig Harbor Boat Works in Washington state. My seat from them works brilliantly. Robust and smooth as silk.

3. Water maker – which model did you use? Did it break down?

I have been using the Spectra watermaker throughout all my rows. It is very efficient – running it for about 45 minutes produces enough fresh water for a full day of drinking, cooking, and bathing.

It worked just great on the Atlantic. During the first leg of the Pacific I went through some prolonged rough weather, and there was a small hole in the compartment housing the watermaker that allowed enough seawater in to completely swamp the equipment. It didn’t last too long after that. I should probably have taken the feed pump out and rinsed it with fresh water.

On the second stage of the Pacific, the plastic casing for the seawater filter ceased to be airtight, probably due to prolonged exposure to sunlight and seawater. It would have been easy to fix if I’d had a replacement casing, but I didn’t.

Overall I would say that the Spectra is an excellent piece of kit, and the guys at the company have been very helpful over the years. But it is well worth taking a spare feed pump (or two), plus spare lengths of hose and a few spare hose clips.

4. What else is on your kit list?

In no particular order:

  • Garmin 276C =GPS chartplotter
  • VHF Radio – fixed
  • VHF radio – handheld
  • VHF radio – handheld, in ditch bag (Uniden Atlantis 250)
  • White LED navigation light (Aqua Signal, battery powered)
  • Halogen map lamp
  • Battery monitor (Sterling Power Products)
  • Locator beacon by Solaradata
  • Watermaker (Spectra Ventura 150) + manual backup (Katadyn Survivor 06)
  • Bilge pump
  • Radar enhancer (Sea-Me)
  • AquaPac black bag containing instruction manuals
  • Bag of spare AquaPacs
  • Assorted galley items including food containers, box of forks & spoons
  • Assorted water bottles (about 6)
  • Bag Balm – 4 tubs
  • Bag containing spare sea anchor line
  • MacBook in black AquaPac
  • Fishing rod
  • First aid kit
  • Mattress
  • Big grey bag containing, ruler, chart plotter, baseball caps, buff, spare inner for sleeping bag, spare seat covers, spare gloves, spare bed pan, & tool box
  • Bucket containing trip line for sea anchor
  • Bucket containing Wilderness Family Naturals cleaning products, vinegar, dust pan, rags, 1 bin bag, 1 brush & dustpan
  • Clear plastic box containing fishing kit
  • Crash hat
  • Cushions x 2
  • DaKine ankle leashes x  2
  • Darren drums 2 – 1 containing 5 bags bean sprouts & coconut milk powder. 1 containing 48 oatmeal sachets, soy sauce, salt, pepper
  • Deck bag containing bungee straps, tripod for video cameras, items from hanging pocket including Quackers the Ship’s Duck, Squishie the Dolphin and a few first aid items for everyday use
  • Dromedary bags 12 x 10 litre size (for water ballast)
  • Electrical crimping set
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Floatation devices – 1 square, 1 jacket
  • Funnel & tube for decanting water
  • Grab bag containing flares, duct tape, flashlight, signaling mirror, fishing kit, GPS, sun cream, 2 VHF radio, spare compass, more flashlights, personal locator beacon, emergency biscuits, snap lights, emergency top, & emergency poncho
  • Immersion suit
  • Katadyn manual emergency watermaker and cleaning chemicals
  • Pelican case (large yellow) containing spare electronics, Hero cameras, spare recharger for spare satphone, spare Pentax Optio camera, spare 175 watt inverter, spare recharger for Solara data unit, spare mini USB cable, & spare figure of 8 cable.
  • Pelican case (small yellow) containing Solara data unit, Garmin GPS, waterproof Sanyo Xacti camera, & Gorilla Pod.
  • PowerFlares
  • Safety harness
  • SeaLine drybag containing 3 drybags, 2 bags marine flares, small box tool kit, mask & snorkel, 1 buoy (medium) & 1 buoy (small) for sea anchor
  • Seat cushion yellow
  • Shockles
  • Spare ropes and line, drogue
  • Spare sea anchor
  • Throwing line
  • ToughBook in grey Pelican case
  • Watermaker feed pump
  • Waterproof bag containing 10 tins of fish
  • Waterproof bag containing Pacific charts
  • Toiletries – shampoo & conditioner, 6 tubes of sun lotion, razors and tooth floss, 20 tubes of toothpaste (err, yes, rather obsessed about not running out of this!), tea tree oil, 13 packs of 24 wet wipes, shower gel (2 tubes tea tree and mint)
  • Contents from central locker of aft cabin: 2 compartmentalized boxes of useful bits & pieces, spare nuts and bolts, another tub of useful bits & pieces including 2 rhino clips, mini Pelican case of batteries, small first aid kit, matches, cable grips, compass, spare eye straps, spare flashlights, duct tape, electrical meter, cable ties, spare fuses, knives, & spare swivel shackles
  • Petzl head lamp
  • Sproutamo bean sprouter
  • 12V electric kettle x 2
  • Paper charts for Solomon Islands and Australia
  • Photos, pictures and small gifts from friends
  • Sarong
  • Spare iPod Aquapacs
  • Cockpit mount for GPS
  • AIS system on loan from Digital Yacht
  • Pickling solution, wrench, and replacement sea strainer cup for watermaker
  • Solar powered fan

Power System

Solar panels (Solara 4 x 60W, Flexcell 2 x 14W)

Batteries (SeaVolt Deep Cycle AGM, 3 x 79Ah)

6 x 12V recharging sockets

1 x 150W power inverter

1 x 175W power inverter

The six solar panels supply power to two large marine batteries. (I have tried installing a wind generator, but it was too large and made the boat top-heavy.) These batteries power everything else – the fixed instruments and two 12V sockets.

These 12V sockets allow me to plug in rechargeable items. Some – such as the satellite phone and iPods – have 12V recharger cables, such as you would use in a car to recharge your mobile phone. Others have to be connected via a power inverter that converts the 12V DC current into 110/240V AC current. Using the inverter is an inefficient use of scarce electricity, as some power is lost in the transformation, but 12V rechargers are not available for some items like laptops and camera batteries.

My boat is a perfect showcase for sustainability and self-sufficiency. All of the on-board electronics are powered either directly or indirectly by solar power.