I received an email a few days back from some regular readers of my blog, Scott and Cindy Stolnitz, of the 51’ sailing catamaran “Beach House” (www.svbeachhouse.com). They were arriving today in Cabo, from Mazatlan, and invited me to stop by their boat to say hi.
Almost the first thing that Scott said when I boarded their boat was “It’s a sailing catamaran, but we really use it like a trawler.” He went on to say that they could run under power as much as 1,600 miles, and that they had hardly sailed the last few months. It struck me a little funny, in that I thought that perhaps he was wanting me to feel at home, like I might not feel comfortable on a sailboat. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but there always seems to be a bit of a culture gap between power boaters and sailors. One way or the other, it was a beautiful boat and there was much to be admired.
Even though I knew it was a waste of time I once wasted an entire day trying to compute the size sail I’d need to move my boat through the water. It takes very little horsepower to move my boat; as little as 100hp can easily give me 5 or more knots. I searched everywhere for a formula that would convert square feet of sail to horsepower, and did actually find one. I forget the math, but remember that the size sail to move my boat was only slightly bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
Scott and Cindy said that their primary passion is diving. They are only in Cabo for a day or two, before heading to Socorro, a small group of islands 200 miles south of Cabo. Socorro is Mexico’s version of the Galapagos Islands, and a paradise for divers.
Check out these photos: http://www.solmarv.com/photos/Socorro/index.html
Roberta and I tried to visit Socorro last year, but couldn’t get the permits. Scott says that the process has been greatly simplified, and that now, Mexico is actually encouraging visitation by non-fishing visitors. He said that there is a small office in Cabo where you can go to get a permit, and normally receive permission within a week. He said he posted all the info on the “Southbound Net”, but I’m not sure what that is, or where to find it, and forgot to ask him.
I asked how long they’d be staying in Socorro and thought they had a perfect cruiser response: “As long as we are having fun!” When asked for further clarification, they said “It could be as long as a month. However long it takes the food to run out.” After Socorro they mentioned going south to Panama, then out to the Galapagos, over to Polynesia, up to Hawaii, continuing to Tonga and New Guinea, and then, perhaps back to Polynesia. I was ready to sign on as crew if they’d have me!
When Scott mentioned they had a dive compressor, I asked to see it. As it turns out, they have the same compressor I’m trying to find room for on my boat (the Bauer Jr.) It was packed into the bottom of a locker, and seemed smaller than I expected. Great news! They also said that it wasn’t very noisy.
We then started talking about sharks. I wasn’t completely disappointed when our trip to Socorro fell through. I have seen many photos of sharks at Socorro, and would be nervous about diving. Scott’s eyes lit up proudly at my comment. He went below and returned a minute later with something that I thought at first was a dive regulator.
He described it as a Shark Shield. I’d never heard such devices existed. [Note .. if you’ve never seen these, watch the video. It’s very interesting.]
The Shark Shield is basically a long ¾” thick flexible whip that straps to your ankle. It shocks you if you touch it, and allegedly provides an impenetrable shield from shark attack. Scott and Cindy were passionate about it, and when I left their boat, I planned on ordering at least one for mine (they run around $600 each).
Tonight, surfing the net, I found a few articles questioning how well they work, including an article saying that one was eaten by a great white, and another article referring to a fatal attack on someone protected by the shark shield. So, my euphoria over the discovery has dimmed a bit. I need to do a bit more research to decide if they really do something or not.
And… on a different topic…
Jeff, the project manager doing all the work on my boat sent an email tonight recommending that I go with lead cell batteries. At first I was convinced to make the change, but then after doing all the research, I decided to buy new AGM batteries (the same as I have now, except in a different size, so that I can cram them in better).
Ken: I have checked out the batteries and fisheries has 9 in stock and I can order more they are $379.00 a piece. I agree these are designed more for what you are using them for. No gassing, But if you were asking me to design and build a bullet proof system this would not be my choice. I got involved with a huge project to run a inverter on a 119 Foot vessel that had huge batteries, and did a lot of research because I was leaning towards a Gel Cell battery. The owner paid me to provide him with all my data. He switched and went with the Lead acid. I installed these huge batteries and with the exception of having to fill them with distilled water they are still working. He runs his inverter every night with huge loads. I am not trying to challenge you but you hire me to make the right decisions and I have to a least give you my opinion. But I think this change is in the right direction.
My rationale for wanting AGM batteries is three-fold: 1) The lead acid batteries put out gas during charging. This gas needs proper venting or it can be an explosion risk. And, 2) Lead-acid batteries require more maintenance than AGMs. And, lastly 3) AGM batteries can accept much higher charging rates.
We haven’t yet tested my current AGM bank, but I’m confident we will find the batteries are ruined. When I first took delivery of my boat, the Atlas international shore power system had major problems. We solved the problems, but before we did, the batteries were fully discharged several times. I don’t think the batteries died, I think we killed them. The Atlas, now that we have it fixed, has been rock-solid. I am not worried about this new set of batteries being mistreated.
So many decisions… Jeff’s a bright guy, and usually right. I suspect I’m going to go with the Gel-Cells, but it will be a tough decision.