Alternator Upgrade

Feb 2013. The decision to refit with a new engine has given the opportunity to look at the engine charging regime. Yanmar do a standard 80 Amp alternator but with the amount of systems on the boat and size of the battery bank an alternator upgrade will be inevitable. Yanmar do a second alternator kit but it sticks out of the starboard side a long way so will not be practical. When faced with a problem, enquiries on the forums usually always turns up trumps and on this occasion it was true to form. I was put in contact with Elextromaax who have a very helpful website and are specialist in aftermarket charging systems. The problem with larger capacity alternators is two fold. Firstly they put undue strain on the pulleys and belts and secondly they tend to be inefficient at low revs. Electromaax have a total solution off the shelf which comprises a range of alternators from 80 to 180 amps, smart charging regulators and the Pièce de résistance, the Serpentine Pulley Kit. This kit replaces the existing pulleys to provide an industrial 10 grove segment belt. This has significant advantages over the normal V Belt as it does not wear the same, avoiding dust, grips better and distributes the load around the pulley putting less strain on the bearings. I was initially worried about replacing parts of the new engine and the result this might have on warranty but a quick telephone call to the local agent reassured me that firstly the system is kinder to the engine and secondly the system is designed in conjunction with Yanmar. The order has been placed and I will document the fitting when the engine arrives in two weeks.
March 2013. The packages arrived very quickly and were delivered to ABC Powermarine to fit with the engine. There was a moment of panic as we couldn't find the package for the automatic belt tensioner. It turns out it was smaller than we thought and was in the small pulley box. Ron the engineer was keen to install the engine with the original equipment and retro fit the Serpentine system. Although this might make the later fitting slightly more difficult it would a least prove the new engine with Original Equipment.
Apr 2013. The Install. The engine has been fitted and today was the start up day. Everything was prepared and it was decided to start her up with the original alternator fitted. Much to my surprise but not to Rons, the engine fired up first time and ran like a dream. After shutdown it was time to break out the Electromaax Serpentine system and larger alternator. The instructions were relatively simple and to be honest the install was fairly intuitive. There are detailed photographs and commentary here. The only thing we did get wrong was fitting the plate for the belt tensioner before the belt. Should have followed the instruction more closely! The most surprising thing was it only took 2 hours from start to finnish to do the install and that included a tea break. Over the next few weeks I will report on its use and the performance of the charging.

Goodbye 4.108, Goodbye Vetus, Hello Yanmar

It was never going to be simple. After nearly 12 weeks we have finally concluded that we cannot fit a Vetus 4.65 into the space available. The final decision was taken after Vetus confirmed that the engine gearbox combination shown in the manual was not actually available as it had been shown to cause undue vibration. At least we now know once and for all that it is not an option. The further options we considered today at ABC Powermarine were the Vetus 4.55 or the Yanmar 4JH5E 54HP. The Yanmar is more expensive but the Vetus is a smaller engine turbocharged to give the 55HP. Despite running a 3L Turbo Charged diesel engine in my car for 140,000 faultless miles I don't fancy the added complexity of fixing a turbocharger in remote places. So the decision is made and the order placed. I hope it doesn't take long to arrive as time is definately ticking away. It has been great to have the team at ABC helping me through this and I am now confident we have a workable solution. The alternator is too small so a 120A OEM replacement needs to be sourced. The spares list I will worry about later. Other progress is signalled by boat show order arrivals. Such heavy weight items such as spare and kedge anchors, an anchor chum, spare anchor rode, and the new cooker. All very exciting but I am definitely going to have to raise the water line. Another item in progress is the refurbishment of the saloon table. It has always annoyed me that it is the first thing you see as you go below and it has had its day with chipped varnish and dints and worn hinges. Nothing for it but to get Barry and the TLC team to work their magic. I have set them quite a task as I want it to be a show piece. I have seen the plans and the first view of the inlays! you will have to wait for further updates to see what I mean.

ARC entry now live

It is now official! Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) entry now live on world cruising website here. Off to the London Boat Show to buy last minute safety gear. Sephina's new engine has now been made to fit by Vetus replacing the gear box with a shorter one. Hopefully all will be in by next month. Storm Sails have been ordered and a tropical Bimini.

London Boat Show

I have read a lot of criticism of the London Boat Show since it moved from Earls Court and I can understand that it has certainly lost its charm. For what we needed however it was a great two days out. We stayed in the Customs House Hotel which was pleasant enough. On the first day I visited the entire show to get my bearings and met up with a fellow 406 owner which was a great joy. Made even more pleasant by the use of the Oyster Owners' Lounge. One of the added benefits of Oyster ownership is access to Oyster's fantastic after-sales service which includes lifetime access to the lounge. You feel a million dollars breezing past the queues to go on new Oysters then onto the lounge. I took a couple of friends for the experience. On the first day I bought the following.- An Ampair 100W towed generator, JonBouy with auto launch and personal AIS, Fortress FX-37 anchor, anchor buddy and in a weak moment I was persuaded by my wife to replace the perfectly functioning cooker with a new one! My wife also splashed out on new cutlery, plates, glasses and a kettle! On the Friday night we were invited to the Rival Owners' dinner at the India Club in central London. For the second day of the show there was more browsing and I had an informative time at the BlueWaterSupplies stand looking at security, anchor bouys, medical supplies and emergency equipment. Another visit for more champagne to the Oyster Owners' lounge and I was lucky to spot yet another 406 owner and his wife which was delightful. I also took a friend and colleague onto the stand for the experience of Oyster ownership. We then attended the World Cruising seminar which was very helpful hearing from other owners about their first hand experience of world cursing. My meticulous attention to safety was moderated somewhat by one of the panel saying that in the entire history of the ARC no yacht had deployed a drogue! Since returning I have commissioned a new main sheet system, blue water Bimini, new storm sails and have had the new white sails further strengthened with additional UV protection. News of the engine replacement hangs in the balance and there will be more news to come!


I will live aboard, the clock is ticking

This is the title of a Practical Boat Owner forum post that has the most hits. The reality is now this applies to me. This week I handed in my notice at work after 33 years working for the NHS in N.Wales. My wife has also given her notice and we set sail on the 7th July to go around the world. Scary or what. The engine refit continues as we try and get to the bottom of will it or won't it fit. Carl from TLC is getting on with stripping out redundant engine wiring and Ron is clearing up the engine bay and extending the size of the access panel in the aft heads to make it easier to get to the starboard side of the engine. It has been fun tracking the ARC fleet cross the atlantic this year and boy have they had a bit of a battering. Lets hope 2013 ARC will be the one they can use in the brochures of the future! My wife was on her Ships Medical Course with Bardeau and we visited the yacht in Gran Canaria before the start of ARC 2012. It has been fun reading his posts and getting a flavour of an Atlantic Crossing. I have now identified 14 Oyster 406 owners and have regular email correspondance with them. It has been really helpful for owners to read of other owners views on such things as Teak Deck replacement, Holding Tanks, Props, engine replacement and general issues as our girls get older. There were 36 built in total so still a few to go.