The Birth of Ocean Watch
Before the Around the Americas crew set sail, a liveaboard cruising boat was transformed into their expedition-style workboat. "Hands-On Sailor" from our April 2010 issue
Once the Lugger was in, everything else could start coming out, including roughly 300 pounds of wire. A systems-rich boat like Ocean Watch is a complicated machine, particularly with regard to electrical systems and outputs. The team spent a lot of time drawing maps and schematics of how things could and should work. Gear that could be salvaged was integrated with new systems, breakers, pumps, and circuits in the simplest way possible so it would be easy to understand and operate once the voyage was under way.
The power for these systems is supplied by three banks of absorbed glass mat batteries that have a storage capacity of around 1,700 amp-hours; about half of this is available as 110-volt electricity through the inverter. The batteries are charged via four systems: the Northern Lights genset, the main engine alternator, shore power (when possible, via the inverter's charging circuit), and four 80-watt solar panels. A trio of automatic charging relays adjusts the charging rates to bring all three banks up equally.
In addition, an entirely new circuit-breaker panel and system was designed and implemented, with a new panel door. The inverter was replaced before the delivery north from Mexico, as the old one was deemed underpowered and unreliable. The batteries and all the high-draw motors on the boat-for the electric winch, the bilge pumps, the high-pressure watermaker pump, and the water-pressure pump-are all now fused either ahead of the breaker panel or in addition to the panel, to create "double" protection.
The largest single plumbing project was the addition of an industrial-strength Village Marine reverse-osmosis watermaker. The refit team also added some 1,000 to 1,200 feet of new hose of varying diameters, along with roughly 800 to 900 new hose clamps. Roughly a mile of new wire also came aboard.
Installing all that wire and hose meant gutting the interior of the boat. In its previous incarnation, Ocean Watch had been set up for two cruising couples, with a double bunk forward and another aft. The refit team replaced those with three single bunks aft and four forward for expedition-style crews. A durable cork floor replaced the old indoor/outdoor carpeting. Cork is a renewable material that's installed with a water-based glue and finished with a nontoxic green product called Osmo, which was also used on the interior woodwork.
With the boat bound for the high latitudes, a reliable heating system was a necessity. An 80,000-Btu Webasto central-heating system from Sure Marine was the answer. It's a boiler system that heats hot water that's circulated throughout the boat in PEX tubing, which runs to radiators in several compartments of the boat; each radiator is controlled by an individual thermostat. The system also heats the domestic hot water and the engine block, in essence keeping the core of the boat continuously warm.
The galley was equipped with a new three-burner stove and oven. The propane tanks were rebuilt and recertified, and a new propane system was implemented with new "bilge sniffers" and alarms. In addition, the entire refrigeration system and the deep freezers were overhauled and rebuilt.
For electronics, Ocean Watch received a state-of-the-art integrated system from Raymarine that includes an autopilot (which engineer LaRussa was able to mesh with the boat's existing hydraulic systems), a navigation package (with a chart plotter, depth sounder, fish-finder, and radar), and an array of wind instruments.
Additionally, the boat is equipped with Admiralty Marine's Nobeltec electronic charts, from Jeppesen Marine, that are installed on two computers. All computers are protected by the new pure sine wave Magnum Energy inverter.
On the original delivery north to Seattle, the crew discovered that Danzante III not only performed poorly under power but also struggled under sail due to a 20-year-old in-mast mainsail furling system and a tired sail inventory.
Because the cost of an entire new mast and rigging was prohibitively expensive, the idea was to change the existing rig from one with a furling main to one with a conventional main, complete with its own dedicated track. First, the 78-foot rig, which weighed 1,700 pounds, was removed from the vessel. Next, the standing rigging was stripped and replaced. Then, with the assistance of Euro Marine Trading/Antal Marine, a new extrusion-complete with the hardware and fittings for a traditional main, including the corresponding full-batten cars and track-was fitted and bolted onto the original spar, with a few reinforcing tabs strategically placed in the mast.
The mast was also completely rewired, including a wiring array to accommodate the 25-pound meteorological package affixed to the masthead. The running lights and radio antennas were all replaced, as was all the running rigging. New winches for the mast were added, along with new rope clutches and hardware. When the mast was restepped, Ocean Watch sported a new cutter rig with a modern mainsail employing three slab reef points, outhaul, topping lift, and downhauls.