Wrightsville Beach, NC November 20, 2013

The boat and crew have held up well since departing from Marblehead last month.

Items that have functioned well (my $250 and under items off Craigslist and Ebay) include the Simrad TP10 Tiller Pilot that effortlessly guides Sedna along thru varied courses and sea states encountered. A few times with crossing sea’s abaft of the beam we decided to hand steer for more effective control to counter the turbid breaking surf that would rise astern and cause the tiller pilot to over-adjust as the froth boiled beneath the cockpit’s watch.

The Honda 4 stroke 2HP air cooled outboard motor showed up on Craigslist a week before departure and I’m very pleased with my purchase of it. It’s simple modern design and robust yet light construction give a surprisingly good amount of thrust as needed to and from the shore, and it uses very little unmixed fuel. It sounds like the lawnmower I drug over many a childhood lawn, chugging away through the viscous sea.

The 25 pound Manson Supreme Anchor, along with 100 feet of 1/4” G7 chain (both used lightly), plus 200 of 1/2′ of rope (yet to be scoped) have Sedna firmly held to the bottom with no drag of fowl.

We’ve anchored half a dozen times thjus far in 10-20 feet with an average of five to one scope, and I fashioned a double snubber line from a robust SS snap shackle attached to a galvanized anchor shackle, and about 25′ of 3/4” dock line.

The $425 Zray Chinese/Ebay inflatable has held up well since new in July. We tow it in smooth conditions or deflate then roll it up to stash in the Vee Berth.

The two burner Origo 3000 alcohol stove has boiled as needed. It is simple, clean, and has securely held every pot and pan cooked over it as Sedna thrashes along. The housing immediately rotates in its gimbaled housing while the adjustable sliding clamps secure whatever’s being heated upon it.

The $700 Aluminum framed Dodger I ordered from Sweden was a must-have item and has held up well. The Albin Ballad is a popular design in Europe, and the dodger’s design and fit have been refined and shaped to reflect the simple needs of its dry cockpit and my frozen budget. I fastened it securely to the cockpit combing’s forward shape and tightened it well with adjusting straps to secured and some flexable snaps, and so far it’s still taunt with no structural or fabric issues. The crew knows not to stress it; as that aluminum frames and fabric laps are as robust as their expense, though it’s already taken the full brunt of heavy water without complaint. Once the dodger wears out I will use it and the frames for patterns and fashion a more robust version from SS, Sunbrella, Shelter-Rite, and Strataglass.

The $600 Yanmar 2GM (15HP) diesel engine is working well. I had to literally chisel apart and remove in pieces the old Volvo MD7A auxiliary that came with the boat. It had been leaking all manner of defecation throughout every lower orifice of the Ballad, and it took a lot of prep work to prepare the Yanmar for it’s new chamber. After a few errors in linkage and plumbing the engine/boat package has performed well and seems to be burning a bit less that one half of gallon per hour at 1900 rpms. This propels Sedna anywhere from 3 to 5 knots depending on sea conditions and heading.

Motorsailing at 1450 rpms charges the batteries in a few evening hours to continually engergize nav. lights, the tiller pilot, the cigarette lighter/charger and all its embryonic system (laptops, smartphones and cameras), and the Standard Horizon CP300 Chartplotter.

I relocated the two group 27 deep cycle batteries below the port quarter berth behind the chart table. A 40 watt solar panel is mounted above the main hatch’s combing, below the boom, forward of the dodger. This setup, combined with the 35 amp hour stock Yanmar alternator has been totally effective in keeping our power needs satisfied. While on the hook I hardly ever need to run the engine, and I have an extra 10 watt flexible solar panel I can plug into the cig. Receptacle (it’s backwards capable) but haven’t needed to yet. The equatorial sun will grow with our electronic.We’re always checking our batterie’s state with a multimeter. I also purchased a new 400 watt wind generator off Ebay for $250 that another cruiser had bought several years ago but didn’t use, but I’m realizing I don’t need it either. It’s still in the box (a bit unwieldy in the vee berth), but I like to have it aboard for wherever I may roam.

For a sense of security (false?) I purchased a Winslow emergency liferaft off Ebay for $200. Unused, with a canopy, 2-3 person, not certified since a while ago. I’ve read up on many of the issues associated with used, self inflating,emergency liferafts and their associated certifications. Self inspections, inflation cylinders,nozzles, gas mixes, rot, etc. are all concerns. They mostly will inflate far beyond their re-certification expiration date, and mine is small enough the pump up manually if needed. I’m slack in that I’ve yet to unroll it for a visual inspection, but it does look new.

I also failed to consider the need for sails in good condition. I tested the Ballad locally in the Marblehead/Salem MA waters all summer but never paid much attention to how worn out her sails were. The boat performed well in her local element but wasn’t ready for the big screen in her worn, comfortable shoes.

The other problem with the mainsail is that it’s attached to the original roller reefing boom and has no reefing points added. The Ballad’s high aspect ratio gives the main little drive, and to compensate the sail has a lot of roach (belly) at the foot for more lift, but this lends to an ineffective shape when roller reefed, as I’ve found out now twice. I had to reef it for stability and control in adverse conditions, but the old sailcloth combined with the belly in it put uneven pressure along the leech, and I’ve torn it twice horizontally (I then just kept rolling the boom until the rip was also wrapped up to prevent all hell). I just can’t roller reef it again, and it’s too worn out to add any reefing points for a simple slab reef conversion.

I’ve found a few Hong Kong sailmakers that will cut me a new main, with two reef point for about $700. The furling jib is hanging in there, but it too is mostly worn and I can see thru some of it’s threads. About $800 from Hong Kong. I fixed up the car but forgot about the tires. I’m working on it.

The boat has never been out of our control and has behaved exceptionally well. Our redundant navigation systems and techniques have equally kept us on a safe and efficient course while remaining flexible with the ever-changing conditions we’ve thus encountered. The nav. table mounted Standard Horizon chart plotter is visible from the cockpit beneath the dodger, and each watch can easily view our rhumb line’s route, location, and speed while spying the horizon, sails, sea, rpm’s and perform incremental adjustments with the tiller pilot and sheets as needed. We also have two Samsung Galley phones loaded with chart piloting software, one Mac laptop with MacENC raster and vector, and my Optimus V phone with raster charts and software. I also downloaded all the pertinent Coastal Pilot PDF’s, and I also have been using the ActiveCaptain online program that has been an invaluable cruising guide. I have a Virgin Mobile account that gives me unlimited internet access for $25 a month (grandfathered plan) and 300 minutes talk time. It’s worked for me well for several years now.

The space available aboard is enough, and we’ve not run dry of fuel, food, or water so far. When we departed Marblehead I filled up the 7.5 gallon diesel fuel tank and supplemented that with four-five gallon portable tanks (more on refilling techniques later). I’m finding that three extra five gallon tanks should be more than enough for the practicable future’s coastal cruising needs.

The 13 gallon fresh water tank beneath the vee berth is supported with two five gallon water jugs, and once the fresh water pump runs dry we simply fill the main tank, ferry the jugs a shore, and refill (same with the diesel). We use maybe three gallons of fresh water a day, sometimes less, between the three of us.

Fishing-I’ll get to this subject later when I actually catch something, but I do occasionally try. Live or frozen bait will undoubtedly help.

Our food supplies and cooking have been adequate but not spectacular, though both my crew members have managed to rustle some favorable grub that’s kept us all fueled enough to carry on. Cooking has never been a strong point for me but if pressed I can do it, and I do my part by cleaning up afterward. Natasha is a vegetarian and shares her healthy eating habits with Travis and I who have no complaints, though every so often we feel the carnal need to go ashore and gorge a cheeseburger drowned in a local IPA. I would love to stock Sedna with all manner of ready made eats but our budget at the moment can’t allow it.

This broke captain in currently seeking work/$ for food, sails, and diesel, but is also living well aboard Sedna and brite company.

I soon write about all those who have enabled this boat to be where it currently is; Untied from the dock/untethered from the mooring, adrift and somewhat under control.

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