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George:  When we purchased Soul Catcher we were impressed with the overall construction. Barry Bennett, her builder,  did a good job on the basics and there was little in structural work needed. However, Soul Catcher was 20+ years old and a lot of her equipment was either dated, non functional or just not there. So we began the refit.....

Cosmetically, we removed as much of the orangenew diesel tank carpet with a teak and holly sole. 

So began the long and arduous process of replacing the tanks. First we needed to tear up the plywood floors to find out just where the leaking diesel fuel was coming from. Unfortunately, the leaks were in two of the four tanks, so, out they came. It wasn't an easy job. The tear out took two sawsalls, lots of blades and hours of hammer and chisel work. After four weeks all the tanks were out and it was time to have the new ones custom made to fit the reworked tank spaces. This was a major job that was absolutely essential, and I never want to do it again! But after the tanks were installed with all new fuel plumbing it was a reward to do the teak and Holly floors that give Soul Catcher a real finished look.

Gear we added-

1)Radar-  with a self leveling mount.  This turned out to be one of the most used and reassuring tools on the boat. We were so grateful for our radar during the fogged in passages in California and in the shipping lanes.  We also relied on the radar to help us dodge the squalls in the Gulf of Tehuantepec.  

2)GPS- we added a console mount  as well as a handheld backup. 

3)watermaker- we added a Katydyn 40e unit that makes 1.5 gallons per hour. I wish we could have afforded a unit with higher capacity, but it keeps us in good tasting, pure, clean drinking water and lets us use our tank capacity for domestic use. We definably like the good tasting water.  In retrospect, we would buy a bigger unit.

4) Our sails were at least 15 years old, so we took them to Scott Rush of Rush Sails in Seattle. He gave us a thorough evaluation and we took his recommendation to replace our main and add a new 135% roller furling jib as well as the new furling unit. We purchased a Selden roller furling unit and have had no trouble with it so far.  We would love to add a well cut storm jib and a reaching spinnaker.

5) We had a 45lb plow anchor, but I wasn't very happy with the way it sometimes failed to set. So I looked for an alternative anchor and found the Bulwagga. It is a very different design but it has been great. It sets fast and holds like a bulldog. In our first Norther in Turtle Bay we set the Bull in 30 feet with 125 ft of chain and rode.  For three days the wind never dropped below 25 mph and mostly was 30+. We sailed all around that Bull and it never moved! It has held in some really tough conditions and we really trust it to keep us where we put it. Just to round out the field we also added a 37 lb Fortress with chain and rode for a stern hook. We sure hope three anchors are enough. We would add an additional 100 feet of chain.

6) Soul Catcher has hydraulic steering, so we wanted  backup capability for the steering system. We also wanted self steering under sail to relieve the autopilot  and keep us from having to hand steer all the time.  In retrospect, don't even think about a trip longer than a couple of days without an autopilot unless your boat literally will steer itself.  We spent a lot of time on the internet and then at boat shows looking and talking to different reps about their self steering units.  We finally settled on the Hydrovane unit, mainly because it would work with our hydraulic steering. Check  the  Hydrovane web site to get all the reasons and specs that sold us on this unit. It was the single most expensive piece of gear we purchased for the boat. It was also one of the easiest major equipment installs with all the necessary mounts and brackets and great instructions. It took a little while to get the vane dialed in and getting it to do it's thing, but it has performed well and takes a lot of stress and strain off the crew. All it needs is a consistent breeze and good sail trim and magic happens. Check the Mazatlan page for a word about how it worked on our Sea of Cortez crossing.



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Webmaster:  Betsey Barnett betseybarnett@gmail.com
Last modified: April 27, 2010