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Monday, April 16, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly April 2012

Being a Gemini you get to see the good and bad in all situations,  Problem is that you can't alway see what you really want at first.  You may buy a Kayak thinking of great fishing, simple tender, or easy handling.  When you actually use the Kayak it is heavier than you expected, too big to store, and just plain hot on a windless day.  Being able to see all this is why our little boat doesn't have one on the deck like so many other cruisers, most with a little larger main boat.  We do have a seat and paddle for our future Kayak but we couldn't justify the 13 foot mass on our decks for the journey.

So where is this post heading you ask?  It is a reality check on equipment for the beginning cruiser, at least from our point of view.  Most die hard cruisers have become so accustom to their choices and upgraded to their preferences that they are just second nature or assumed.  We being so new to cruising it is a major decision every time we make a choice.  With some of our choices being a total waste of cash there will be plenty to "suggest" you avoid the same mistakes.  So we will randomly post both a "good" and a "bad" item we have chosen to evaluate.

The Good..T-top Canvas:  Before I moved onto the boat I found at a sharp discount a T-top canvas with grommets all the way around.  This has been excellent!  When at anchor it goes over the mast with four bungee cords and makes extra protection from the sun and rain over the companion way all the way to the bimini top.  When under way it can be a quick spray shield or sun shield.  When going by the everglades last year I put it up as a side curtain on the bimini to block the hot sun.  It has also done time as the front hatch cover last year when we needed an AC unit during the heat of the summer.  I sure there are other uses just waiting to be found.  This is a best buy item for a small sailboat!  Now if I had one a foot wider and 6 feet longer to dedicate to the mast at anchor.

The Bad... ATN top climber:  I will give it credit as to when I went up the mast in Morgan's Bluff for a few minutes it was not as bad as I remember from last year.  But at a whopping $475.00 There should be a Blonde Amazonian stuffed in the bag to help you up the mast.  The basic gear can be purchased from a climbing specialty store for less than a third, maybe even less than a quarter of this prefabricated kit.  It will get you up the mast single handidly without much effort since your wallet will be so light.  But beware of you foot control on the way up you will put scratches and scrapes into your annodized mast.  If you can sew then make your own web ladder and buy a harness to clip into for safety.   If it was only $150.00 or less it would be moved over to the good pile.

The Ugly...  Davis Windscoop:  I love and hate this item.  First it increases the air flow substantially. That is as long as it faces the wind.  You ask "why wouldn't it face the wind?"  Tides would be the answer to that question.  If the tide over powers the wind (ie 2 knts tide and 10 knots wind or less) you are suddenly abreast the air flow and it is like turning on the heat.  Then in a few hours you get the breeze again.  I have tried endlessly to counter act this by moving the bottom four attachment points as needed but it gets to be a pain.  Then when the wind over powers the tide and it works, it works too good making a gail force wind rip through the cabin. Over the last year the seams have done well but the little wooden dowel that keeps the scoop open and ready to catch all the wind is way to fragile.  I replaced my with a piece of batten stock which I have lost over the last two months and am using it without.  This makes catching a small breeze even less of a chance.  A way to make dedicated port, bow, and starboard facing attachments may lessen the head ache of chasing he wind over the tide. It has stood up to 50 knts and is still alive! But seriously it is very ugly!  One made of nice navy rip-stop with improved attachments would be great.


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