Category Archives: Buying Guide

Best Systems: Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker

I’m going to write a few post about some of the projects and systems we loved the most on the boat and less about things we didn’t use as much as we thought or wish we had done differently. To kick this off, let’s brag about our watermaker.

Our Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker was expensive and it was worth every penny. We love water. We drink it. We cook with it. We wash dishes with it We shower in it. We never wanted for water and especially when we we’re surfing or cleaning the bottom we’d take two showers a day. There’s just nothing better than fresh clean water. I pitied those folks carrying water jugs looking for a free spigot, or looking for a cart to carry full water jugs from the store. If you want to do one thing which will make your boat more like your home, then I say a watermaker is it.

Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker <- Can’t say enough good things about it!

New Found Metals, Port Townsend, WA

We spent today hanging around Port Townsend and waiting to meet up New Found Metals (NFM) to get a new gasket for one of our portholes.

Richard (the owner) was gracious enough to come down to the boat and meet us personally to help replace one of the gaskets which was sticky and hard to open. Cutting out the gasket, cleaning up the frame and glass and putting in the new gasket took about 45 minutes of actual work time I’d estimate. A very simple repair and we were impressed with the personal service.

Richard is the kind of guy who always has a great story to tell and we heard about a slew of products he’s working on and the very cool plant in China to build them. If you order portholes and have the option to pick them up in Port Townsend and meet Richard I highly recommend it. New Found Metals is a company recommend fully!

12V DC Ship’s Computer by Aleutia

I just ordered the PC which will become the heart of our navigation systems–the Aleutia P1 Marine PC (@Aleutia).

I have probably spent 4 the equivalent of four full days mostly late at night looking into fanless PCs that either designed to be run on 12V DC power or happen to be powered as such but come with an AC-DC converter. PCs in that secondary category might work fine hooked directly up to the ship’s 12V power, but really should be run on a DC to DC regulator that essentially guarantees the PC is seeing 12V consistently or if it’s a 19V PC (lots of options out there for that) then it could handle that as well. I would look at the Carnetix Regulators if you decide to go that route.

I decided on the Aleutia because I felt it was the most hardware for the right price. I’m not saying it was the cheapest! However it is a very cable power sipping PC that can do the work I need. It also has the advantage of already being able to accept a wide input of DC power (6V-32V DC) which means I won’t need the regulator for the PC (I might still need one for a monitor TBD). Here’s a quick list of the specs of the unit I selected:

 

Processor Intel ATOM D510 1.66GHz (The lower power slower of the two choices)
RAM 4GB (Upgraded from 2GB)
System Cooling Fanless
Power Input 6V – 12V DC
Power Draw 19W * Let’s discuss this below
Solid State Drive (SSD HD) I will supply
OS I will supply
Bulkhead Mountable YES
Tested in Nigeria YES – No really…
Wi-Fi No * (Optional)
64Bit Yes

 

I didn’t include a Solid State Drive  because their options for SSD HD were limited and I can slide in a better larger drive than their choices.

I didn’t buy Windows 7 64 bit from them because I have a better deal than theirs.

I didn’t include Wi-Fi because this PC is going to be mounted less than a foot from the wireless access point. I will cable it directly instead.

As for the power draw, the PC is designed to be very efficient, but if I go buy a crappy SSD which is a power hog then this will all be for naught. When I select my SSD I need to be very conscious of that! Aleutia’s options were for a 32GB or a 64GB Corsair Nova SSD which draw 0.5W (0.04A @ 12VDC) at idle and 2.0W (0.16A @ 12VDC) max. If I bought Corsairs most high performance SSD it would draw 0.2A at idle 0.5A Max. Not as much as other things on the boat, but I want this PC to stay on 24×7 so I need to watch every little bit I can. I’ll probably go with the Corsair Force F120 120GB SSD because it is larger, has better perf and the same power draw as the NOVA series which Aleutia has spec’d and tested. I might be able to find an even more miserly SSD but I’ve not looked yet.

The next step is making a decision about the Monitor…. but that is another post for another day.

Puget Sound Sails

A week ago I met with Jim from Puget Sound Sails to checkout the loft, take a look at some different sail details and then we did the deed and put the earnest money down on a full set of working sails–main, mizzen and genoa. Jim has ben great all along the process thus far, very open to questions and free with his knowledge.

Over the past three years at the Seattle Boat Show and Strictly Sail Pacific, I met with sailmakers in Washington, California and even looked into some offshore lofts. Since this was our first sail purchase I decided to go with someone local who could be available to look at things on the boat, do the onsite measurements and who had a great price!

Dawn and I are excited about the new sails to in 6-8 weeks to see how well Deep Playa can really go!!

Watermakers–Ya gotta have Faith…

I’m deep into my research about water makers, having met with Spectra, Hydrovane, and Village Marine yesterday at the Seattle Boat Show. I’ve also had extensive conversations with CruiseRO. You can see all the makesmodels and specifications of the units I’ve been looking at in my Watermaker Comparison spreadsheet.

The main debate I’m having with myself is DC or AC based systems. A DC based system has to run much longer to make an equivalent amount of water to an AC based system, but you can run it any time without starting a genset. An AC based system would mean running the Honda EU2000 generator anytime we want to make water including on longer passages.

This is feeling more and more like one of those faith or belief based decisions, as opposed to one that’s entirely gallonamp-hour based. One the one hand with a DC based system we have the opportunity to leverage alternative fuels (sun, wind, etc). With the Generator we’re always committed to burning gas, LPG or Natural gas. We also would be committed to managing the generator and running it on long passages (> 1week).

I’m really torn on this one… I’m hoping there’s something I’m not seeing and that you all might have some additional insight to help me make my decision.

Evaluating PC Navigational Software

I’m going to start working on a feature comparison of PC based navigation software packages and could use some input from you on what you want to know. Do you have a favorite feature you think should be in all nav programs? Let me know and I’ll try to include it in my research. Here’s what I have so far after just a few minutes:

  • Company
  • Software
  • Website
  • Price
  • MOB
  • RADAR Overlay
  • Tides
  • NMEA 0183
  • NMEA 2000
  • Instruments
  • Custom Depth
  • Ship’s Log
  • Maintenance Log
  • Ship Inventory
  • Social Networking
  • Photo Support

The obvious omission is chart format. That list of formats seems really really long, so I’m trying to figure out a way to handle that more efficiently than 30 different checkmarks.