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Equipment Review

What works and what doesn't

Last updated 05/17/2011

Vessel Specifications

Jeanneau SO43

Length           43' overall, 42.1 hull

     LWL          37' 5"

Yanmar 56 hp diesel

     Model JH3E SN E25521

Draft             5'3" fuel       56 gals
Beam         13' 8" holding  2 @ 20 gallons
Air draft       58' water     105 gallons
Hull speed   8.2 knots calculated, sails and powers in 7-9 knot range

Overview

After 6 years and over 27,000 miles of fresh and salt water sailing we've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't.

When we bought the boat the dealer modified it to increase holding tank size to 20 gallons each under the v-berth and settee opening space for storage cabinets in both heads with y-valves for blue water usage (we later re-plumbed the y-valves to feed the heads to the tanks and used the y-valves selecting pump-out or macerate), we added shelves to both head cabinets as well as shelves to galley and salon cabinets. Dealer installed navigation station electronics. Bottom finish includes Interlux 2000 epoxy barrier coating and Micron 66 Plus ablative paint.

Extra equipment includes an Espar forced air diesel heater for comfortable cold weather cruising and anchoring, 2 automatic fire systems, inverter with link 2000 monitor for power management and Accu-gage tanks monitor on water and holding tanks.

Red Bullet header text indicates produces we would not recommend - particularly if alternatives are available. Red denotes short-comings in performance. Green text gives our initial reaction to the product. Blue denotes expanded comments on service life and fixes.

Equipment List

Sails

  • Main, 3 slab reefs, stack pack - Original Aero Techniques, has stood up well except for a couple of mis-installed grommets in leach.
  • 135% Genoa, furling - Original Aero Techniques, body standing up well. Foot and luft tapes and sun cover lacking. Mac Sails replaced the sun cover Jan 09 - great job.
  • 1150 sq ft red gennaker - North Sails, has performed well though we find we use it infrequently. We tore the sail in half in a Chesapeake wind burst and just finished re-sewing it 2/09. We've flown it twice since with good results though bottom line an adjustable whisker pole for the genoa would probably been a better investment than the gennaker.

Safety

  • EPRIB, 406 mghrtz - haven't had to use it yet - hopefully never. 6/08 we replaced the battery for another 7 years of service.
  • Rechargeable horn and pump - *** worked well for 4 years, now looses pressure, replaced with an electric horn 6/08.
  • (2) Automatic fire extinguishers - haven't needed these yet, whew!
  • (2) ABC manual dry powder - date and replace every 3 years
  • (3) 10 BC dry powder extinguishers - date and replace every 3 years
  • VHF, ICOM IC-M402 with remote at helm - had a transmission noise problem... added a filter on the alternator, found the inverter is the biggest noise maker.
  • (2) Mustang Air force automatic life jackets - Adult - we like them a lot.
  • (3) Suspenders type life jackets, adult, manual - comfortable to wear
  • (2) Adult offshore life jackets - Okay for Great Lakes, not for offshore.
  • (2) Adult Type III life jackets - Proper protection.
  • Lifesling overboard system in hard case - Case and gear standing up well.
  • (2) retracting tethers - Sailrite design, very nice, easy to use
  • Misc flare gun, flares, parachute flares, wooden plugs - haven't had to use them yet - reside in our ditch bag.
  • Delta 45# anchor with swivel on 150' 3/8" chain/200 feet rope - has proven itself in a wide variety of conditions. The swivel is critical to performance when on all-chain rode as is the snubber. The chain lasted 5 years and had to be replaced 6/08 due to rusting.
  • Fortress # anchor on 50' 3/8" chain/150' rope - our secondary, used in very soft bottoms over rock where delta is lacking.
  • Hela running lights - regular contact failure due to corrosion, finally rebuilt with Stecktronics LED modules that failed due to circuit board corrosion after one year. Rebuilt with halogen bulbs, soldiering all connections. June 2008 we replaced the lights with Hela sealed LED units.

Dinghy

  • 2005 Hard bottom Zodiac Dinghy - good choice, though a Caribe would be better as it's higher bow deflects waves better.
  • 2006 9.9hp Johnson Outboard - runs like a charm though it no longer starts first pull.
  • Aqua Signal Dinghy running lights - Our experience with the removable Aqua Signal dinghy lights has been mixed. In fresh water they worked for a couple of years before the switch integral to the housing failed. In salt water we have to replace the housing every 6 months (in other words - buy a new light).
  • Aqua Signal LED dinghy stern light - switch failed after 2 months, had similar experience with their incandescent unit and the bow light. LED replacement also failed due to salt water intrusion.

Galley

  • ENO 2 burner gimbaled stove with oven - It's a sweet unit though the oven is anemic.
  • Refrigerator - Performing well. Added a safety latch to prevent opening of front door when at sea and added a second grille for better cooling .
  • Freezer, Sea Frost DB 35 - performing well though it could use better insulation. Developed a leak in a fitting 5/08, readily fixed and recharged.
  • Microwave - hey, it's a $70 microwave - it works.
  • pressure water, hot/cold - replaced Jabsco pump at 10,000 gallons; we have 12,000 gallons on the second unit.
  • Water heater - OEM - Replaced 8/09

Saloon

  • 16,000 BTU Air conditioner/heat pump, Marine Airsystems - has worked well in fresh and salt water, even with extended periods of non-use.
  • Espar 12,000 BTU diesel forced air heater - has worked well and makes boat comfortable in cold/damp weather. We had to replace the computer module after 4 years - $500.00.

Heads

  • Two Jabsco compact manual heads - Both have been replaced during the past 3 years. Additionally both have had new pumps installed between replacements. The problem with the Jabsco heads is that the pumps crack at the base of the barrel and at the mounting flanges. If you want to replace a pump and a seat it is cheaper to buy a whole new head. That said, the new twist lock pumps are a nice improvement - they stop water from backing up in the bowl.

Navigation and electronics

  • Cell phones - We had Sprint and AllTel, both had been frustrating as range and connection reliability are poor on the water. We need to find a better solution to voice communications. Recently we got a new Sprint phone and find the connection is much better.
  • Sprint PCS card - range and coverage better than cell phones though still limiting. A new EVDO card has made this a bitching system. Still need to find a tool to increase our range of reception.
  • SkyMate satellite weather/e-mail system (2007) - weather forecasts have been very accurate. E-mail works well. Doppler position reporting not very accurate due to Raymarine:SkyMate GPS incompatibility. We find our dopper position is normally within a mile, occasionally a continent off for a few minutes.
  • VHF, ICOM IC-M402 with remote at helm (new 2006) - System works okay. We have had water get into the remote mic though it worked after drying out. There is a noise issue while transmitting (found to be the inverter) - even with all other electrical systems and the engine off. The radio tests 25 watt out put and the antenna system tests good. Working on this one and appear to have isolated the noise problem to the inverter.
  • (1) Handheld radios - now used for dinghy to ship and emergency ditch bag.
  • Bushnell Yardage Pro 500 laser range finder (500 yd) - was for racing position, now used to check anchor holding.
  • (2) Plastimo Horizon 135 compasses at helms  - performing well.
  • Raymarine electronics - generally the system works... you just can't depend on it when things get tight. There appears to be a flaw (only one?) in the software that causes regular system crashes. I don't think I'd put another RM Autopilot system in though the ST60+ Speed and Depth have been very reliable.  For current info visit here.
  • Accu-gage Ultra-8 monitor on 2 water and 2 holding tanks - the system is great to have aboard as it lets us accurately monitor the levels of these tanks.
  • Sony CDX-L400x CD/stereo with 2 cabin and two Bose 151 exterior speakers - system has stood up well.
  • Powermax 125 amp alternator with echo charger - has been a good system. Recently replaced the voltage regular with a Balmar smart system - big improvement.
  • Balmar ARS-5 voltage regulator - added 2/08, major improvement in alternator charging.
  • Heart Freedom 20 charger/inverter with Heart interface Link 2000 - has been a good system.
  • (4) Kyocera 130 watt Solar panels with Blue Sky monitor/controller - the system is working well with max output around 25 amps.
  • Rutland 913 Wind generator with monitor/controller - working well, nice & quiet - max output around 8-10 amps, avg about 5.
  • 110V power supply connections bow and stern, 50' and 25' cords with 20 amp plug adaptor - the initial relay switch failed, locking on to the stern outlet. We replaced it with a newly designed unit by the same mfr and it is working well.
  • House battery bank of (3) 32 Series 115amp wet cells (2004) - adequate with the solar and wind though I wish it had more capacity. In 5/09 we replaced the bank with (4) West Marine gel batteries as the originals were only taking a surface charge.
  • Starting bank 1 series 27 100amp wet cell (2003) - adequate, performed well. In 5/09 we replaced it with a West Marine gel battery as a preventative maintenance move.

Propulsion

  • Yanmar 4 cyl , model 4JH3E, 56 hp @ 3600 rpm, 2100 hrs - running like a clock at 4,400 hours!
  • 3 blade PYI Max Prop - performed well but wore out of tolerance (blade wobble) after about 1,800 hours. Rebuilt and now a spare until our next haul-out. Reinstalled on 11/09 haulout. First thing we noted was more vibration than our fixed prop. It did however increase our sailing speed about 0.6 knots.
  • 3 blade fixed prop - We have used this unit most of our over 28,000 miles. 11/09 - now it's back in the spares locker.
  • Cutlass bearing - we ran 5,000 hours on the original bearing - pretty impressive. Replaced it 6/1/10.
  • Drip-less packing gland - our boat came with a Volvo Penta 8285 4 drip-less seal. It had to be burped to flood it each time the boat was launched and often after exceeding 8 knots. Miss burping it and it would overheat the seal. It finally starting dripping regularly at 5,000 hours after a 8-9 knot sail. We will replace it with a vented gland.

Deck Hardware

  • Headstay furler, Profurl - the unit has performed well. We've learned I need to tighten the screws at the segments each time we take the genoa off..
  • slab reefing (3) with lazy jacks and cover - works well, permits reefing on the run from the cockpit.
  • Primary winches - 2 Harken 53, 2 speed, self tailing - stellar
  • Secondary winches - 2 Harken 44, 2 speed, self tailing - stellar
  • Starboard cabin top - Harken 44, 2 speed, self tailing - stellar
  • Port cabin top - Harken 44, 2 speed, electric, self tailing (hoists main, reefs, furls genoa) - this unit has been a blessing, we use the main much more than we did on our 35.5' Hunter.
  • Electric Windlass - when it stops working I'll shed a tear. Rebuilt it fall of 2008 after the relay failed (yes, I shed a tear as I pulled in 50' of 3/8" chain). The original Vega Remote failed (saltwater intrusion shorted the circuit board). We replaced it with and imtra remote that failed within 18 months (water intrusion). On 10/10 we replaced the imtra remote with an identical unit for $300.00.
  • SS Arch (2006) for solar and wind generator with 12VDC dinghy hoist - working well, the dinghy hoist is great to have in place.
  • Wash down system - installed 08. First pump (Jabsco) failed in 10 hours, second pump still in service.

Ground Tackle

  • Anchor, 45# Delta - has proven reliable in virtually all conditions. We anchor approximately 330 days a year.
  • Swivel, SS - added to prevent chain twists from dislodging anchor
  • 3/8' Triple B Galvanized Chain, 150' - Original chain survived 2 seasons in fresh water, 3 1/2 years in salt water before rusting to the point it started staining the deck around the windlass. Replaced 6/12/08 with galvanized chain from West Marine which had lost all of the galvanizing by 6/10 to the point it was staining the foredeck and freeboard.
  • Anchor Rode, 150' -

Misc. gear

  • Cruising Solutions headsets - these "marriage savers' have proven themselves time and again in difficult anchoring situations and when we need to go up the mast for maintenance.
  • (4) fenders, approx 10" dia x 26" - adequate given that we have a 5' dock board we use when alongside pilings. We also added detachable lines that we use to hang the fenders horizontally.
  • (4) dock lines - we need to add a 5th line for tying to pilings in slips. After 4 years all the dock lines were replaced due to wear and stiffening.
  • Dock step - this hangs from the toe rail and is great for floating docks as it splits the difference between dock and deck height.
  • Bilge pump (mounted above waterline) - works well, seldom used
  • Jabsco Macerator for fwd & aft holding tank discharge - for offshore this is a lifesaver. It also lets us clear the tank after we've been in port (island ports often don't have pump-outs). We flush only with freash water. One unit failed and started leaking after 8 months - warranty. The forward one jammed after 60 gallons (6 months) but was easily cleared.
  • (2) shower sump pumps w/filters - work well as long as we clean the filters.
  • Spares
    • fuses
    • latches
    • fasteners
    • belts
    • alternator
    • filters
  • Aft and forward cabin fans - make sleeping more enjoyable when the night is still and hot. On 6/10 we replaced the aft cabin fan with a larger quieter one (the old fan is still serviceable).
  • additional salon light - we added this for reading, it was worth the effort.
  • LED cabin lighting - another Cruising Solutions product, helps reduce our night time power consumption (10 LED's consume the power of one halogen bulb). 6/09 - We have finally re-lamped all our fixtures.
  • Custom shelves in most cabinets - the boat came with large cupboards but poorly organized storage. We added shelves to make better use of the space.
  • Norcross Marine HawkEye Digital Sonar DF2200PX - Received the unit for Christmas in 2007 from Ruth. It is a handheld unit, leaked, failed after 4 months - West Marine. Replacement failed in a week as did the 3rd unit. After submitting the last unit to Norcross they sent us another one... we'll keep you posted. Update 2/09 - we've used the new unit about a dozen times successfully, I hope they have it right as its a great tool. On 10/30/10 the depth function failed while temperature works. The unit initiates depth mode is on but returns only 4 bars indicating it isn't receiving an echo and the unit doesn't tick indicating it is not functioning. We returned the unit to Norcross with an RMA and they immediately sent a replacement - fantastic service!

Canvas

  • California style dodger - I wouldn't travel without it. It keeps the waves and spray out of the cockpit and provides primary shelter from the wind. We'll be upgrading this to include side and rear panels - creating additional all-weather living space.
  • Helm bimini - Again a cruising necessity. In addition to protecting us from the sun it cuts down on teak maintenance in the cockpit. Replaced and expanded in 2008.
  • Filler panel - bimini to dodger - This little gem makes the cockpit more usable when it's raining or we are taking heavy spray. Replaced/revised in 2008.
  • Cockpit enclosure - In 2008 we started adding panels to enclose the cockpit - mainly for bug protection. The first panel on each side aft of the dodger made a big difference in the comfort level, protecting us from spray and wind. The second panel made the helm even mover comfortable.

Finishes

  • Bottom Paint - VC17m is our hands down fresh water choice. In salt water we've had good success with Petite Trinidad and Micron Plus (our current finish with two years service). 6/08 we re-painted with Micron66 Plus. 11/09 we were disappointed with the Micron 66 Plus as it eroded in 18 months and peeled in some areas. We have gone back to 2 heavy coats of Micron Plus.
  • Teak - We tried Amazon Oil, Amazon with their acrylic top coat - didn't work in salt water. 3 coats of Sikkens with 3-4 coats of Captain's Spar varnish has been the best to date. Good for 3-4 years if chips are touched up and the teak isn't in direct sunlight. 1/2009- We are now testing on the cockpit table and swim platform a finish created by two coats of West epoxy and 3 coats of Captain's varnish. As of 2/10 this system is holding up well.

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