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New Boats Are Not Like New Cars. Do we have issues?

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TTR before her departure from Xiamen.

So let’s state the obvious first: cars are mass produced and before the first one appears on a showroom floor hundreds of prototypes have been well and truly tested.  Then a bajillion cars are made and 99% of the time, any problem you take to your local dealer will have been addressed in another car before you arrive.

Boat builds are significantly fewer in number.  The number of units of a “mass” production boat model built is still in the 100s after a couple of years.

Ticket to Ride is one of only four HH55s produced to date, and each boat is customized to the specifications of the buyer. Due to this customization, some of the issues we face on TTR are probably different from issues the other three HH55 catamarans have experienced.

In addition to the uniqueness of each boat, our catamaran is a little city unto itself that must safely carry us from one port to the next and provide all of our electrical, refrigeration, water, power and navigational needs.

Given these facts, it is unrealistic to think that every system on TTR, or any other new boat, would be functioning perfectly at the time of delivery.

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La Paz under a full moon taken from where we are anchored.

Knowing we would have issues that needed to be addressed, we decided long before Ticket to Ride was delivered that we would spend a season living on board to figure out what is working and what needs fixing.  That is the purpose of our trip to the Sea of Cortez.

First let us reiterate that we are very pleased with our boat.  The quality and precision of the interior spaces; cabinetry, tech spaces, painted or veneered surfaces, etc are excellent and we are very impressed.

Ticket to Ride sails like a dream and is more capable than we are. I’m not saying we aren’t decent sailors, but this boat has excellent performance rigging, sails and equipment and she is set up to goooo.

But TTR does have some issues and in the spirit of sometimes removing our rose colored glasses, we will share a few of our current concerns and what is driving us to return to the U.S. for warranty work.  To date we have had very good service and response from Hudson Yacht Group with our questions and concerns. 

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The nav desk on TTR.

Perhaps the most complicated and potentially problematic system on Ticket to Ride is CZone; the electronic control and monitoring system that is the brain of everything with an electron flow on TTR. CZone essentially is the replacement for the AC and DC switching panels seen on most boats plus a whole lot more. With this computer brain and the touch of a screen, through CZone we can program our electrical system to fit our current situation. For example, TTR’s CZone system has 6 programmable modes such as “day cruise” or “anchored home” that allow one to turn off and on all the systems used in those situations with the touch of only a single button.  So when we press “day cruise,” VHFs, navigation screens, winches, etc all turn on when we touch that one button. CZONE is a beautiful thing and yes, there is the potential for problems.  After many, many hours reading manuals and technical support phone time with CZone Tech Support of New Zealand, the CZone, Frank and Mary Grace are living in harmony.

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The company responsible for our electronics package is Pochon out of France.  At the time of writing our purchasing contract, we tried to convince HH to use a U.S. company for this pivotal installation. We knew the chances of having everything right from the start were slim because the system interactions and programming are complicated.  We lost that battle and now we are facing a few disadvantages because our resource for fixing the electronics is a French speaking group in France. Between the inconvenience of differing time zones and language barriers, even issues discovered during the delivery phase are still not fixed.

Explaining the details of the electrical / electronic / navigational issues is complicated and more details than we think most of our readers would like to wade through. The summary is that we are having compatibility issues between CZone, B&G, Mastervolt and the Victron electronic components.  We would really like an expert to come on board to resolve the problems. We also need that expert to communicate clearly so we can become more efficient at modifying the system to meet our particular needs.

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Half of the solar panels on TTR.

The solar installation on TTR is excellent and our 1900 watts delivers so much power that we only run our generator once in a while to make sure it still works! The HH team did a first-rate job of adding the individual solar controllers Frank requested and as a result, our solar farm is producing about 80 percent of the energy we require! (The remainder is topped up by the engines when we motor.)

The wiring, neatness, detail and labeling of our boat electronics done at the HH Factory are amazing. Sailors who come on board and peek at our tech room are suitably impressed, as are we.  However, there are a few glitches in the wiring that need to be addressed.

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That is a pretty tech space!

There seems to be a multi-pronged issue with the wiring to our air conditioning units.  Anytime we try to run the port ACs (the side of the master berth), a relay fails, the inverter/generator reads overload and the ACs quit completely. Frank has spent a lot of time trying to trace the issue and with the consultation of Jessica, HH engineer extraordinaire, he has replaced the same relay switch twice.  Both of the new relays failed immediately. Our Northern Lights 9kw generator is powerful enough to run our ACs but the inverter isn’t recognizing the power coming from our generator and consistently shows “overload” and shuts down. 

Related to this problem is that the generator and inverter/charger aren’t talking well even for basic charging of the batteries.  If we try to charge the lithium batteries using the generator, the charger always shows “float” and never reads “bulk charge”  even when the batteries are low enough to accept bulk charge. Frank has spent a lot of time talking to Victron and MasterVolt (inverter/charger and batteries respectively) and neither is willing to work through the problem with us ie, there is some finger pointing going on. Somewhere there is a wiring issue or a setting issue or a communication error in these units.  This needs to be fixed as we won’t always be in sunny Mexico where solar power is an everyday full charge event.

We really like our B&G navigation/charting system but there are a few issues with it too.  Our AIS and VHF systems are not working consistently and when they do work, they only broadcast or receive information for a maximum of 2- 2.5 miles. Considering our air draft is 88 feet, we should easily transmit and receive for at least 8 miles.

(AIS is an automatic identification system used on vessels to identify traffic. Notices of ships nearby show on the electronic chart and information about that vessel’s size, speed and closest point of approach can be seen. This is a big help when sailing at night and very important because we want large container ships to know we are out on the ocean with them.)

Our B&G autopilot, aka Jude, is mostly excellent. Jude can hold to a wind setting or a heading very well.  She can follow a navigation route too. But sometimes Jude decides to change herself from navigating a route to just holding a heading… that would be like skipping a turn(s) when following directions. 

Speaking of autopilots, we intentionally outfitted TTR with a completely separate back up autopilot system. Our primary one is on the port side and is working. Our redundant system is supposed to be installed on the starboard side but we have absolutely no reading from it and do not think it has been completely installed.

Also, we have recalibrated our electronic compasses several times and there still seems to be some discrepancies between the true compass readings and the electronic readings.  We had our traditional compasses professionally swung before we left L.A. and we are confident that the error is in our electronic compasses.  This has a bit of a domino effect and can cause calculated electronic information to be wrong. Frank is confident this issue involves magnetic interference and relocation is the answer. The problem is finding a 6 meter NMEA 2000 cable in Mexico.

Small things still need to be addressed on TTR as well. Some of these include:

~ a light switch mix up where two unrelated lights turn on/off by the same switch.

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~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tight that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together. 

~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.

~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. (HH is fabricating and sending us a replacement to fix this problem.)

This is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be corrected on Ticket to Ride, but it does give you an idea of the types of issues we need to resolve when we get back to the U.S.

We must make a very special mention of Thomas and Riccardo of the HH Team.  These two men have done an amazing job of e-mailing with us, trying to troubleshoot our issues from the other side of the world.  They have been extremely prompt and thorough in their responses and we are truly grateful.  It is their responsiveness that keeps us positive that these issues will get resolved.

We are currently achored in La Paz, Mexico, preparing to move south to Cabo San Lucas where we will wait for a good weather window to sail back north toward Ensenada, Mexico and eventually California. 

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Frank is trying to get a few things resolved on our Spectra water maker before we leave here.  Yes, there are a few bugs relating to the water maker, but so much progress has been made with it that I am not even listing it as a problem anymore.  However, kudos to Spectra WaterMaker support and Riccardo of HH.  They have been extremely responsive to Frank’s e-mails and phone calls and so far  we have been able to make water all along even with the problems!! (Everyone knock on wood, please!)

Phew, so there you have another “report” from TTR.  I promise, the next post will be full of pretty sights from the Sea of Cortez.

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Sunset from our anchorage in Isla Coronados.

Thank you for reading our blog. Our posts are pretty sporadic right now because our connectivity is hit or miss here in Mexico. I try to post to the FB page to at least share some of the beauty of this area but I am limited by access. Thank you for stopping by.

Four Months In ~ How Does Ticket To Ride Sail?

This post is long on sailing information and short on photos, but those who want to know about the HH55 Catamaran might find it interesting.

Ticket To Ride was offloaded from the container ship on January 14th and life has been busy since then…in a good way. 

The first two months were all about commissioning our HH55 and having people visit the boat.  TTR is one of only 4 HH55s on the water, and the first one on the West Coast of the U.S., therefore several people came to see the boat and sail on her.  We were happy to meet new people and help Hudson Yacht Group and Morrelli & Melvin show off their 55’ design.

On March 16th we left LA with the Newport Beach Yacht Club Race to Cabo and we arrived in Cabo San Lucas on March 22nd.

After our last guests departed on March 30th, it was time to settle into life on board Ticket To Ride and figure out just how we feel about her.

Hands down the answer is that we are pretty much in love with our new home.  We enjoyed sailing our Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Let It Be, but we wanted to find a catamaran that was faster, sailed upwind and had a tad more space.

We found exactly what we were looking for in the HH55.  The fit and finish of TTR is great and we are very comfortable. However, some boats are built to be very comfortable but they sail like dogs.  Happily, this boat can really sail!

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True wind angle: 134 degrees, true wind speed: 10.6k, SOG: 9.3k, boat speed: 9.6k

We have now had several experiences sailing Ticket To Ride at various wind angles and we love her performance.  TTR’s sharp reverse bows allow her to cut through the water cleanly and the dagger boards help maintain her course without much slippage at all. 

One afternoon we left Ensenada Grande to sail to Isla San Francisco (Sea of Cortez) which is about a 19 nm trip. The sea was choppy and the waves confused.  The wind was fluctuating around 15 knots.  Our destination required us to sail with a true wind angle of 50-53 degrees which translated into 30 degrees apparent wind.

We were flying the main and genoa and averaged well over 9 knots!  AND we sailed directly to our destination – without slipping.  We are definitely fans of the daggerboards.

Oh and not to show off, but we made lunch and sat in the salon to eat it while we sailed!!

Another day in the Sea of Cortez, we were sailing from San Evaristo to Los Gatos and we were tucked in fairly closely to the land, which turned out to be a good thing.  Here are the notes I made after that sail:

The early sail was quite mild with 8 knots of wind and we had the reacher and full main up. Not long into the trip, the wind kicked in and we furled the reacher, put one reef in the main and unfurled the jib. 

The wind continued to climb and soon we were seeing 25 knots of wind.

On Let It Be we used to be able to “reef” the jib by rolling in some canvas but that didn’t work at all on TTR.  When we rolled in a bit of the jib, it wobbled wildly and we quickly unfurled it again.  The winds were very strong so we spilled the main a bit to reduce pressure in the main sail.  We had to keep a close eye on the main and jib sheets and be prepared to release them as we didn’t want to fly a hull!

Our true wind angle varied between 100 and 65 because we altered our heading when we had lighter winds (20K) so we could make our course.  It was a very sporty day and we saw Ticket To Ride move along at 15+ knots for much of this trip! 

Frank was LOVING the sail! I was a little nervous at first but I enjoyed the speed once we were prepared to release the main or jib if we had too much power.

I am amazed at how quickly 20 knots of wind seemed mild after bursts of 30!

We reached Los Gatos quickly and had our choice of spots to anchor.

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The beautiful anchorage in Los Gatos.

Later in the day as boats we had passed while sailing set their anchors, several called us on the VHF and asked just how fast TTR was sailing. (Did I tell you we passed several boats as we sailed?)

Anyway, our AIS and VHF are only working intermittently (at the moment) and apparently the other boats were unable to contact us or see our speed through AIS.  They were very interested to hear how fast we were sailing because they “felt like they were standing still” in comparison to TTR

Yep, this boat can move!

FYI, in hindsight, although we had a reef in the main we should have hoisted the staysail and furled the jib.  But the winds were not in the forecasts and we had no idea they were coming along. 

Here in the Sea of Cortez, we have found that the winds vary often and suddenly. The boats that contacted us on VHF were in the center of the channel and saw winds up to 35 knots. They were also caught off guard by these unexpected winds.

The fastest we have sailed TTR is 24.7 knots when we had professionals on board and pretty perfect conditions in Long Beach, CA behind the breakwater.  We have not replicated this speed on our own and I’m not sure we will try to anytime soon.

In light air with true wind angles of 85-125 degrees, Ticket To Ride often sails very close to wind speed.  It is exciting to be able to put the sails up in 8 knots of wind and sail at 8 knots!

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True wind angle: 96 degrees, true wind speed: 8.3k, SOG: 8.3k, boat speed: 8.7k

TTR feels like a race horse that wants to take the bit and ruuuunnnnn! She gallops through the water and is capable of more than I am willing to do.  Probably Frank should go out with some guys and put her through her paces just because he wants to and I don’t. 

As I mentioned earlier, TTR easily moves through the water. I believe we have less motion on this boat than we did on our Helia and the cleaner motion makes the ride more enjoyable to me.

Ticket To Ride is very comfortable to sail deep downwind, but she isn’t as fast as she could be because we do not have a spinnaker.  We decided that handling such a large sail with just the two of us would be extremely taxing so instead we bought a Doyle Sails Cable-less Reacher which is cut deeper and is on a continuous line furler.  It is this sail that we use when sailing downwind and so far it has worked well. A spinnaker would sail faster, but the reacher is manageable for us.

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L-R: Boat speed: 10.6k, true wind angle: 149 degrees, true wind speed: 18.9k.

We made a long sail from San Juanico to Bahia Conception, about 58 nm, and the wind was deeper than forecast. As a result, we were sailing with a true wind angle of 155-165 in 8-11 knots of wind.  In these conditions, we averaged between 6 and 7 knots of boat speed.

At 150-160, our reacher stayed well filled and the ride of the boat was extremely comfortable.  Frank and I spent the day cleaning the decks, doing laundry, reorganizing a closet or two, etc.

The bottom line is that our HH55 Catamaran is an excellent sailing boat and sail handling is easy with just the two of us on board.  We have high speed winches that allow us to quickly raise sails and make the large sails easy to change or adjust. TTR moves so well in light air that we find ourselves sailing most of the time, even when other boats are motoring. In fact, often we sail much faster than we can motor. 

We sincerely appreciate the excellent design Morrelli and Melvin created and the few modifications they made at our request to make TTR an excellent sailing and cruising sailboat for our needs.  The design by M&M and the fabulous build quality by HH Catamarans has resulted in a boat home we can sail easily and live in comfortably.

Please understand that Frank and I still have a LOT to learn about our HH55. We have not made an overnight passage by ourselves on TTR and we have not faced adverse conditions.  Clearly these observations and comments are based on our current level of experience with our new catamaran.  We do not expect our opinion to change much, but we still consider ourselves inexperienced on this boat.

Thank you for reading our blog. Feel free to visit our FB page for more frequent posts. 

Dolphin Reef

As Frank and I were leaving Isla Coronados on Thursday, we saw waves in the distance we thought might indicate a reef or shallow area.

We double and triple checked the charts, which are completely incorrect here. But we saw nothing.

Binoculars revealed the disturbance was a huge pod of dolphins! We estimated about 500 dolphin in this pod.

Needless to say it was a blast watching these guys swim around.

We idled in the area of the dolphins for about 30 minutes just watching them jumping and cavorting.

We could hear them chattering to each other as they swam. We were surprised how much noise they created.

Wow! I only wish I could share with you how fun it was to see these guys.

Thanks for stopping by. Please see our FB page, HH55 Ticket To Ride, for more regular updates.

Cruising Mexico with Mahalo/Women Who Sail

Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.

After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.

There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.

For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:

The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:

~emergencies among the cruisers

~weather information

~boats arriving or leaving

~activities in and around the area

~items people have for sale or things people are in need of

~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done

The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.

Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.

Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.

Sunset in La Paz

One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.

In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.

So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.

I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.

Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.

The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.

The school in San Evaristo.

The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.

Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.

By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)

An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.

I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.

It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.

Dawn in Caleta Partida.

A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.

Swimming with sea lions.

One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.

Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.

One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.

Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.

Throwing a casting net for bait fish.

The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.

But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.

We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.

I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.

This is truly a win win event!

I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.

Whale Sharks in La Paz!

While in La Paz, Frank, Kristen, James and myself went on a whale shark adventure.  For conservation purposes, visitors must be accompanied by a guide which is a great idea so these giant beasts aren’t bothered TOO much.DCIM100GOPROGOPR2195.JPG

Hello fishy!

I was surprised how much swimming was involved – after spotting the shark, the panga driver would get in front of the fish and the guide would tell us to slip into the water.  Soon the whale shark would be upon us and we would swim like crazy to keep up.

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A large mouth for filtering food!

We would swim for about 10 minutes then return to the panga and repeat the process.  We had a blast!

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This swimmer gives you an idea of the size of the whale shark.

The largest confirmed whale shark recorded was 62 feet! The ones we saw were a mere 35-40 feet. The life span of whale sharks has been difficult to determine but using two methods of estimation, modeling and field study, have shown two contradictory life spans.  Modeling suggests that whale sharks live about 70 years, but field studies suggest that whale sharks could live as long as 130 years! Amazing.

As we were leaving the protected waters of the whale shark, we saw a large pod of dolphins and asked the guide if we could swim with them.  The panga driver accelerated to get in front of the dolphins and we all jumped in as the dolphins approached us.

The water was only about 12 feet deep and the dolphins swam right toward us, checked us out a little, then swam quickly below us and away.  We could hear them chattering as they swam and it was exhilarating! Sorry no photos. 😦

I have a great video of the whale shark, but I cannot get it uploaded on WP.  I will try to upload it on Facebook….

Thank you for reading our blog. We have zilch connectivity in the Sea of Cortez, so I don’t have the opportunity to write often.  This is the best I could do for now. Please check our FB page for more regular posts.

 

Casual Time On Ticket To Ride

Over the last few weeks we have had time to sail with a lot of different people on TTR.  Many come aboard with an HH representative or a Morrelli & Melvin rep to decide if this is the type of boat they want. Others are friends/future HH owners. And happily, sometimes our kids and their friends visit.

I know some photos while under sail would be a nice addition, but we are still pretty focused on improving our sailing of this boat so I don’t usually stop for pictures. But I did get this quick clip of a friend enjoying a comfortable sail on TTR:

A perfect place for a spot of coffee.

We have had the opportunity to sail to Catalina Island one weekend by ourselves and one weekend with friends.

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Avalon Harbor at sunset.

When the friends on board are future HH owners, Frank and I get a kick out of watching how often the measuring tape comes out so comparisons to the boat plan and our physical boat can be made.  And anytime a hatch is opened, every man on board gets in the mix whether they want an HH or not!

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“Let’s just see where the shower pump is located.”

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Jeff and Harry deciding where the wiring will run on their HH cats.

Tyffanee and Melissa also took advantage of being on board this HH cat and learned a bit about the electronic equipment on TTR.

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Becoming familiar with the C-zone

The weather cleared so we strolled about the shops in Avalon and hiked one side of the harbor. The up side to all the rain we have seen in California is that the whole island of Catalina is lush and flowering! Here are some things that caught my eye:

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This cactus photo bombed my picture of Avalon Harbor.

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Do you think those will all bloom?

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Just a pretty shot with vibrant colors.

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Hmmm, is the car dumping rocks downhill?

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Pausing high in the hills of Catalina.

The pretty weather allowed me to stroll out on the breakwater at Avalon and get a decent picture of Ticket to Ride chilling on the mooring ball. It is still hard to believe that this pretty boat is ours!

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It was fun to see TTR moored!

One thing that delights us about TTR is that she is extremely comfortable under sail. Even when we are clipping along at 15 knots, the boat slices through the water and the ride is easy.  Also, I do not hear any noise in the rigging on Ticket to Ride. On our last boat, Frank worked hard to reduce the creaking and squeaking of the mast, boom and shives.  His efforts helped, but even at her best, LIB was noisy compared to TTR.

TTR’s tall black mast seems to be a beacon for sailors, especially racing sailors.  We have had many folks follow the mast and stroll down the dock or stop by in their dinghy just to see Ticket to Ride. It has been interesting to meet so many people.  What I have learned is that I know nothing about the racing side of sailing!  But TTR draws the racers and they are willing to put up with my lack of knowledge just because they like the looks of TTR and can imagine how well she performs.

These days we are pushing hard to get Ticket to Ride settled as best we can before we shove off for Cabo San Lucas.  We have joined the NHYC to Cabo Race but our motto is “Party not podium!”     The meaning of our slogan is that we are joining the race so we can meet a lot of nice people and enjoy the festivities.  We do not have any illusions or plans to win.  

In addition to ourselves, Gino, Rogan, Kristen and James will be on board TTR.  This “race” to Cabo should be a great chance to get some miles under our keel and learn a bit about sailing from experienced folks.

Our start date for the race is St. Patrick’s Day so I have advised crew members to bring green! Until then, our days will be filled with details like meeting the race safety requirements, getting our paperwork in order for Mexico, making sure our communications systems are all working properly, preparing food before the passage, etc.

It will be very difficult for me to leave California as I have loved having the opportunity to spend time with our sons.  But I’m fairly confident that the wind and waves (kite boarding and surfing) will entice them to come see us in Mexico. (At least that is what I keep telling myself to prevent sadness from setting in.)

We are also looking forward to exploring Mexico, being back on the hook and getting in some snorkeling and diving.

Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. I hope things will slow down a bit and I can write more often, but we shall see.  If  you want to hear from us more often, please check out our FB page.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part II

Our previous post concerning customizations for TTR seemed to be well received; so we will go forward with “Our Stamp, Part II”. Please remember that the decisions and changes we have made are not necessarily right, wrong, or suitable for everyone; they simply reflect our preferences. These aren’t necessarily the most exciting topics, but they are important when planning to live on a sailboat.

Dinghy davits – As much as we loved Let It Be, one of the Helia’s weakest features is inadequate dinghy davits. Frank and I removed the dinghy engine for any overnight passage and the dinghy remained a matter of concern on passages.

Improving on the dinghy davits seen on previous HH Catamarans was well spelled out in our contract for TTR. The redesigned davits in addition to carrying a sufficient load with a big safety margin would have to meet the following criteria 1. With the engine down, the bottom of the shaft had to be 38 inches off the water 2. Both davits had to touch the port and starboard inflatable tubes of the RIB for stability 3. The dinghy had to sit level from side to side when fully lifted into the davits 4. The stern of the dinghy had to be lower than the bow to allow water drainage.

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Initial renderings of the modified davits.

Combining the design skills of Gino Morelli and James Hakes with HYM’s fabrication capabilities,  dinghy davits have been created that are both esthetic and functional. The design and fabrication of the first set of davits was finished in time for installation on Utopia, HH55-04, which arrived in Newport, RI last week. The reports so far are very good. Many thanks to those involved, we look forward to a happy and stable dinghy.

Solar MPPT controllers – HH offers several solar package options and all HH solar installations include Solbian SP flex panels fabricated in Italy using ultra-efficient monocrystalline Sunpower cells and installed on the coachroof of the boat. HH’s standard install involves  wiring 2 of these super expensive 12v panels in series to one 24v MPPT controller to charge the 24v house bank. All this makes sense except when confronting the shading issue which is inevitable in all boat applications. When only 2 of the total 72 cells (36 cells each panel) on these 2 series wired panels becomes hard shaded, the charging output drops by 60% or more. Genasun boost controllers to the rescue! TTR will have 1 Genasun MPPT boost controller for each panel boosting the charging voltage from 12 to 24v. Therefore, if 2 cells on any panel become hard shaded the loss will be only the output from that one panel not two panels. I know this all seems like a lot of mathematical gooble-dee-goop but that’s what my man does well! We are hoping that our solar charging will reduce generator run time to only 4 hours every third day at anchor. Thank you to Jessica Li, the HH electrical install team, and the onsite supervision squad for helping us to make this happen.

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Installation of the solar controllers in the salon ceiling of TTR.

Folding propellers – HH offers a Gori 3 blade folding propeller as it’s standard; it’s shiny and beautiful. Nevertheless when researching folding props for Let It Be; we were overwhelmingly led to the Flexofold 3 blade folding prop and specified the same for Ticket to Ride. Yachting World Magazine performed the most objective testing of folding and feathering props and published the results in their March 2015 issue. These tests showed the Flexofold prop was the top performer in all categories including forward and reverse thrust, top speed, low side force, and low drag when folded. The Flexofold prop has an inexpensive off the shelf hub anode in comparison to Gori’s expensive proprietary anode. The Flexofold is simple and maintenance free without the gimmicky overdrive feature touted by Gori. And last but not least we were incredibly happy with the service provided by our Flexofold props on Let It Be. We could see no reason to change from what was working.

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3-blade saildrive folding propeller by Flexofold

Antifouling Paint – During our 5 years owning Let It Be, we had antifouling paint applied 5 times. Three different paint brands, 3 different boatyards, 3 different islands and all the bottom paint work (sanding, preparation, application) for better or worse was performed by the boatyard. The paints ranged from Sherwin Williams (least expensive) to Sea Hawk Islands 44 (most expensive). Regardless, none of the bottom jobs looked satisfactory at 10 months much less 12; very disappointing. While living on LIB a bottom job cost $5000-7000, required planning, involves some risk for the boat, and moved us off for at least a week. Our cost involved haul, launch, blocking, paint, labor, yard days, lodging for us off the boat, kennel time for Captain, and eating out. We figured there has to be a better way. TTR will have CopperCoat brand epoxy paint applied to her clean hull undersides under the supervision of the Chinese Coppercoat rep and we hope to get 5 years out of CopperCoat. CopperCoat will add about 100 pounds, cost maybe 25% more, and only comes in a brownish/tan color that will patina into a blackish/green color; however, it could save us mucho dinero, is much more environmentally friendly, and could remove the hassle of annual bottom jobs.

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LIB’s hull full of barnacles only 7 months after an expensive bottom paint job!

Yes, HYM really has worked with us to deliver a boat that meets our needs, plans, and expectations. I have saved the major interior customizations for a later blog when I will have pictures from TTR.  I think the interior changes are as exciting and important as the outside changes that have now been discussed.

Please stay tuned and let us know if you have a question or comment. Check out our FB page for more frequent posts.

 

 

Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part I

One of the benefits for us of buying an HH55 catamaran is the opportunity to customize the boat to our liking.  No doubt that Morrelli and Melvin designed an incredible boat and HH is doing a fabulous job of fabricating that boat.  But we still have been able to add our own little stamp to the boat we will receive in a few months.

Beginning on the outside and forward at the bow, here are just a few items we have changed from “the norm” on previous HH55s.

Trampoline – The standard trampoline supplied by HYM is a 1 1/4 inch knotless dyneema material that is attached with individual lashings to the many, many attachment points on the hull. The 1 1/4 inch reference relates to the size of the hole between the strands of dyneema line. This dyneema trampoline is an excellent, lightweight choice for offshore and racing, the getting there part of sailing; however, for both the getting there and the being there part of sailing we chose an alternative. We wanted a trampoline comfortable for bare feet, dog paws, knees during yoga and relaxing at anchor.  Simply put, we wanted  to make the trampoline serve as both a useful and comfortable outdoor space.  Sunrise Yacht Products to the rescue! Richard worked beyond his duty to properly size and manufacture an offshore trampoline that would have all the benefits of dyneema with a host of other advantages. We settled on the Sunrise Offshore Polyester Open Net with 3/8″ net openings and attachment grommets to match each of the hull attachment points. We are super excited to play and work on this trampoline. By moving to this trampoline we did add 22 pounds to the overall weight of TTR.

 

Left represents the weave we chose for TTR. Right is a 1″ dyneema open weave.

Generator – Hudson Yacht has been installing a 12KW Fisher-Panda generator on the previous HH55’s and this was simply a deal breaker for Frank, my favorite mechanic. We have had different gensets on previous boats; however, the Northern Lights 9KW genset on Let It Be far surpassed any generator we have owned. The NL was quiet, easy to service, incredibly dependable, and NEVER failed to start. When we sold Let It Be, the genset had over 8,000 hours, ran beautifully, and the only part we had replaced was one alternator. Frank feels that the key to the NL genset success is that it has No, None, zero green circuit boards, only relays, and it runs at 1800 RPMs not the 3200-3600 RPMs seen with the Fisher-Panda. The NL genset is about 40 pounds heavier than the FP which makes zero difference to us. Our boat, for better or worse, will be electrically demanding and we accept the need for a generator; however, we absolutely wanted a machine on which we can depend.

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A brand new Northern Lights Generator for TTR.

Bow Thruster – HH offers a bow thruster located in the starboard forepeak with a dropdown lower unit when the thruster is in use. All 3 of the previous HH55s have opted for the thruster; however, we chose to delete the thruster from TTR. Having the experience of Let It Be with no bow thruster and the fact that we expect to spend very little time coming to and from marina docks; we feel very comfortable with no bow thruster. The financial savings was big and eliminating the thruster saved us over 440 pounds!! However, we did build a monolithic patch in the forward hull allowing for easy installation of a bow thruster if desired in the future.

450 mm Extended longeron (bowsprit) – Since our sailing plans and reason for buying Ticket To Ride include a tropical circumnavigation, we realize that much of our sailing time will be spent with the wind aft of the beam. On Let It Be some of our favorite sailing days had the wind TWA at 130-170; however, we also found that to be a challenging wind direction for sail configuration. Alas, with Gino Morelli’s advice and working with our sailmaker, Matt Bridges, from Doyle NZ, we decided to extend the longeron / bowsprit by 450 mm and fly a large furled reacher from the very end of the bowsprit. This bring the headsail further forward into cleaner wind, less blanketed by the mainsail.

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Longeron installed on TTR.

Cableless Reacher – The mainsail, genoa, and self tacking staysail on Ticket to Ride will be supplied by Doyle NZ (our choice) and will be very similar in size and cut to the previous HH55s.  The reacher/Code sail is where we have changed course from the previous HH55s. Again, since tropical circumnavigation is our plan we talked at length with anyone knowledgable about appropriate sail configurations for such plans. Matt Bridges from Doyle NZ is an excellent listener and his first proposal included a cableless reacher. “What is that animal?,” we asked. In brief, a cableless reacher eliminates the very thick torque rope around which a removable, furled headsail is normally wound when furled. Instead of the 3/4 inch torque rope tensioned to sometimes over 5 tons, the cableless reacher has additional spectra and carbon fibers built into the luff of the sail and is tensioned to about 1/8 of the torque rope specs. The trade off with a cableless reacher is that it will not go upwind as well as a torque rope and will never be a Code 0 or an A1. Rather the cut is more A2 or A3. WOW, that’s exactly what we want!

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Cableless reacher production drawing from Doyle Sails.

Considering all the above features of the cableless reacher, we also did not order a gennaker at this time. We feel the cableless reacher will be much easier for us to handle alone and it provides 80% of the benefit of a gennaker. Eliminating the gennaker is a huge dollar, weight and storage savings.

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Another view of the reacher drawing.

Spade Anchor and galvanized chain – Hudson Yacht’s standard spec for anchor and chain is a Stainless Lewmar Delta anchor and stainless chain manufactured in China. I don’t know about you, but, we say thank you to our anchor every morning when we wake up to find ourselves in the same spot as when we went to bed. Let It Be was delivered with a Lewmar Delta Anchor which worked fine in ideal conditions. Sailors know that ideal conditions are seldom found! After 3 weeks on Let It Be, much anchor research, and a boat show special, we chose to give Let It Be a new Spade Anchor and we never looked back. Grass, mud, sand, wind, or any combination of the above and we were always set. So why would we want to return to the past with Ticket To Ride? TTR will be sporting a beautiful stainless 1 piece Spade anchor. Concerning anchor chain, Practical Sailor says it best, “Steer Clear of Stainless-steel Mooring Chain.” Stainless chain, in addition to being inherently weaker, suffers from crevice corrosion leading to failure with no warning. We have spec’d 10 mm galvanized Acco chain for Ticket To Ride.

Stainless-Spade

Hopefully our anchor will never land in such a shallow spot!

Watermakers – We really did not vary too far from the HYM standard Spectra watermaker. What we did change is its location. Frank and I had a love/hate relationship with the huge storage capacity below the berths on Let It Be. On the love side it allowed us to carry ample spares, tools, and toys. On the hate side it seemed like every time we needed something different it was stored below a bed requiring the removal of bedsheets, mattresses, mattress support boards followed by digging.  The watermakers on HH5501 and HH5502 were installed below the master berth…. a much less than ideal location in our opinion!  Considering filter replacement, checking for leaks and the noise generated while making water, my maintenance specialist began an earnest search for a different location. After many emails, evaluation of drawings, and support questions to Spectra, the decision was made to put the Spectra 24v Newport 700 in a purpose built compartment in the port side forepeak. The HH crew is confident this will be an excellent long term home for the watermaker due to access for service, weight distribution and water spill cleanup. Only time will tell for this untested location.

It’s very fun to share the construction of a new boat with our friends and readers. The items above really only scratch the surface of the changes we have made to TTR to meet our needs. In a future blog post(s), we will share other custom changes to solar, electronics, seating, general arrangement, and so on.

In just a few days we are heading to China for the ‘soft launch’ of TTR and we look forward to seeing her in person! During soft launch, Ticket to Ride is placed in a pond so most of her systems can be tested. Soft launch allows HH to review all of the components of boat systems and it will give us our first chance to begin learning about the systems on TTR that will be new to us. (And I get to see how the interior colors I chose actually work together. Fingers crossed!)

Many, many thanks go to the HH crew, Gino Morelli and Mark Womble (Morelli and Melvin),  Matt Bridges (Doyle NZ), Paul Hakes, and at the top of the list is Let It Be. She was much more to us than a platform for learning but WOW we did learn a lot from Let It Be.

As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We love hearing from you, so feel free to add your comments. And if you want to hear from us more often, check out our Facebook page.

 

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