Date: 27 Mar 97 11:36:02 EST
From: Gene Gruender <>
Subject: What works, what doesn't

Notes from Rainbow Chaser:

Since we've taken off, we've learned a few things. Here are some thoughts.

If I had to list today what was the most important things added to the boat, I think my list would start with either the refrigeration or the autopilot. Which was first would probably depend on whether we were going to be in port or traveling.

The third thing, and this I never would have guessed, would be my water maker. I thought of it as just a luxury when we got it, something we might use, but it has set us free. Water is scarce and expensive here and we can stay anywhere we want and not worry about it. We watch what we use, but we take showers daily, we use water when we need it. Our Powersurvivor 35 will make enough for the 4 of us (Jason is leaving but was here two weeks) to do all we want. I can't vouch for how long it will last or how good a unit it is, but I can say I'm glad I have one.

The big alternator is a must. Anything else is a waste if the engine is running.

Dual alternators are great, too. No messing with a battery switch and it gives you a backup. I'll preach this system.

Our mail service is making me smile. Being able to call on the SSB, talk to them and arrange for the mail delivery or check on an important piece of mail is a wonderful comfort. There are a lot of mail forwarding services out there, and John and Beth at mine will even tell you that most their competitors will do a good job, but I'll vouch for Voyagers Mail Service. ( or 800- 860-9256)

Things that are a problem:

Trying to use the bread maker has been frustration. It worked for a time, but now the inverter has a problem. I tried to use the generator two nights ago and, about 2 hours into it, the generator started putting out 250 volts. The bread maker was plugged into a surge protector type cord, but the cord was fried. The bread maker is fine. I ended up cooking the two loaves in an oven made of a pot inside the pressure cooker (no pressure) on top of the stove and it turned out pretty darn good. I think that is our new bread system.

Solar panel. I'm really disappointed with this. At the dock it was a boost, it added some amps. Here it's always pointing the wrong way and it's in the way. I see the wind generators going night and day and wish I had one. However, I've heard that once you get down into the Virgin Islands with the tall hills there is not enough wind to make them work. I guess there is no perfect answer, but I'll leave the solar panel home if I go back.

I'm looking for information on wind generators. If anyone has comments on them, I'd be interested in hearing it. We see many more of the West Marine models than any other. It may be due to price, or they may really be good. I don't know. Suggestions?

Storage. We have too much junk on board. If it isn't easily stowed, it will make you miserable. Get rid of enough that everything can be stowed out of sight and secured or you'll regret it. If I was in the states I'd UPS about a huge pickup load of stuff home.

We need a pole for the jib. It's sorely needed for downwind. We'll get one soon.


Gene Gruender
aboard Rainbow Chaser (sitting in Nassau Harbor)