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Kiwi Spirit - Is She Bullet Proof?

Not yet on the 1,200 mile delivery from Maine to St. Augustine from where on November 8th (weather permitting) the second and final attempt at a solo circumnavigation will commence, we had a number of failings on the boat. The weather was mild and while not good for sailing it was fine for testing. Here now is what went wrong:

  • The motor on one of the three primary winches failed - yet again. On a second winch, the disc at the top that grabs the rope started to spin - yet again.

  • The radar guard, a structure meant to protect the mast mounted radar from being struck by a sail came off its mountings and was held by a bungee cord! The radar mount itself dropped a screw onto the deck. This we had to fix at sea. You might wonder how we can hear a screw fall onto the deck. Well the deck is fiber glass and the hull is largely carbon fiber and so deck sounds reverberate inside rather like in a base musical instrument.

  • Finally two of the hydro generators failed. The first was due to striking some object which stripped the blades off the propeller like generator. This happens and is expected and hence I carry spares. However the second breakage should not have occurred and did so as a direct result of a disconnect switch being mounted in the wrong position such that when the hydro unit swung it crashed into and shattered.

So in just 1,200 miles and with some 29,000 miles to go I have had once again some major problems. Optimistically I assure myself that these breakages are good for we will get them right. I carry spares for almost everything and I added two more manual winches in anticipation of the above problems. But still I have to say that there is a vast difference between a day sailor or an occasional off shore cruiser to what It is I am planning for - a non-stop global circumnavigation during which I cannot put into port, receive any help, spare parts etc. I must be totally independent. Hence I have to say that I don't think many who manufacture the gear and work in the trade really get it. Just not enough reliability in the system.

Steve Pettengill, my project manager, may have it right when he says its 60% the boat, 20% the sailor and 20% luck. I am inclined to agree.

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