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
orange carpet with a teak and
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
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
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.