Outfitting a Boat to Sail Around the World: What We Bought, What We Learned & What We’d Do Differently

in Life at Sea / Sailing the World

When talking about our boat, Cheeky Monkey, I’m not one to rattle off stats like amp hours, watts, horsepower or, really, anything technical regarding the equipment we’ve had installed. That stuff just doesn’t excite me. At all.

In fact, if you asked me right now for a tour of the boat and Ryan wasn’t around, I would most likely sit you down for a drink in the cockpit, show off how comfortable the space is, then I’d take you up to to our sun deck and show you the spectacular view. I might even make you another cocktail. And if you really wanted me to get technical, I’d show you how the espresso machine works and, possibly, the washer/dryer.

Any discussion that ventures beyond the general virtues of having an inverter (so I can make cappuccinos), a generator (so I can run the washing machine) and a high-tech spinnaker (so we can sail fast) will find me excusing myself from the room. “Go ahead and show yourself around…I’m just going to be over here, you know…zzzzzzz.”

So when a very excited couple motored their dinghy up to Cheeky Monkey one day and invited themselves on board for a tour, I cursed Ryan for not being there to save me from the mind-numbing boredom of showing an overexcited gear-head the engine room.

“Yep. That’s our diesel engine. Looks like every other diesel engine you’ve seen. Aaaand here’s the other engine. Yep, exactly the same.”

Normally I enjoy impromptu visits from random cruisers. We’ve met some extraordinary characters in anchorages all over the world, some of whom have become lifelong friends from the first encounter. Which is why I never turn down the chance to meet new people.

I also know that, at some point over sundowners, all conversations with fellow live-aboards will inevitably turn into a discussion about battery banks. Because life at anchor is all about batteries; they are the power source that keep everything running in our little floating homes. They’re what allow us to charge our laptops, power our electronic charts, make ice, refrigerate food and have I mentioned the espresso machine? There is also a multitude of methods for charging your batteries, which cruisers love to talk about. It’s like suburban homeowners getting together and comparing how often they have to mow their lawns and trim their hedges. Both are perfectly understandable, considering the demands of the lifestyle.

It’s just that the people I most enjoy talking to understand that conversations about battery banks come well after the introductory banter about where they’re from, how long they’ve been sailing, what they do for work, where they’ve sailed from, where they’re headed to and places they’d recommend visiting. You know, the kind of conversation that endears a new acquaintance to me before I have to forgive them for boring me with stats of their solar panel wattage and how we should consider getting one of those irritatingly noisy wind generators.

“Yoo hoo!” The two strangers cooed from their dinghy, causing me to look up from my laptop. “Hi! We just LOOOVE your boat! We’re thinking about buying one of these in a year or two.”

And before I could ask what their names were, I was handed a dinghy painter as the woman and her husband clambered onto the stern of Cheeky Monkey. “Do you mind if we come aboard for a little look?”

“Uh. Yeah, sure.” At a loss for anything else to say, I introduced Kristi, who was sitting in the cockpit working intensively on her laptop. She pulled her Beats headphones off her ears and looked at me quizzically as if to say “Are they staying long? Should I stop working?” I shrugged and said, “These guys are thinking about buying a Helia. I’m sorry, what are your names?”

“Jane and John.” Of course, those weren’t their names. But after spending an hour draining my brain of every mechanical detail short of a full wiring diagram for the boat, I completely forgot their real names.

“Right. Jane and John, this is Kristi.” I gestured towards the table. “Come on in, have a seat. Can I get you a drink?”

“Oh no, thank you. We won’t stay long. We really just wanted to have a look around, if you don’t mind. It’s such a beautiful boat.”

I looked at my watch to calculate how much time I thought would pass before someone made me open up the engine room and talk about alternators.

Forty-five minutes, it turned out. And there was no small talk or cocktails to ease me into it. Just forty-five minutes of the kind of rapid-fire questioning that made me feel like I was on the world’s dullest game show.

“Is this the owner’s version or the charter version?” – Owner’s version.
“What’s her cruising speed?” – 6.7 knots, on average.
“How big is your fuel tank?” – 500 liters.
“Your water tanks?” – 600 liters.
“How many watts of solar panels do you have?” – 900.
“Why did you get the flexible solar panels?” – They look nicer. And you can walk on them.
“But they cost more and they’re less efficient, I hear.” – They work for us.
“What’s this?” – The ice-maker. It doesn’t work.
“Don’t you have a freezer? Why do you need an ice-maker? – For parties, silly.
“You say it’s not working?” – Sore subject. I’d rather not talk about it.
“So you have a generator?” – Yes.
“Is it a Cummins or an Onan?” – It’s a Cummins/Onan.
“Really? I’ve never heard of that. Can I see it?” – Um, okay.
“Huh, look at that. A Cummins/Onan. Is that your watermaker?” – Yes.
“What’s the brand?” – Aqua-base.
“Never heard of it. Why didn’t you get a Spectra?” – I don’t know.
“How much water does it make?” – 60 liters an hour.
“Do you have problems with your mainsail? I’ve heard it’s tricky to pull down.” – Yeah, we added 3 cars to the mast. Problem solved.
“What brand?” – Z-Spar.
“That’s a very good brand.” – Yes, so I hear.
“Wow, a washing machine. Do you even use it?” – Yes. All the time.
“Do you like your davits?” – Not really. I wish they were higher off the water.
“Is it strong enough for that heavy dinghy?” – The dinghy’s not heavy. It’s aluminum.
“What make is it?” – AB.
“How long is it?’ – 10 feet.
“Is that a two-stroke outboard?” – Yes.
“How many horsepower?” – 25.
“25 HP! Do you need that much?” – Yes. We like to wakeboard. And go fast. Mostly just go fast.
“What kind of engines do you have?” – Volvo Penta.
“How many horsepower?” – 55.
“Wow, that’s a lot. Did you get the upgrade?” – I don’t know.
“I think the standard option is 40, so you must have gotten the upgrade.” – Okay. I don’t know.
“Can I see the engine room?”

BOOM. There it was. 45 minutes of being jack-hammered with questions and, finally, they asked to see the engine room. Surely this is the end of the tour, I thought, as I glanced at my watch. I was secretly wishing for a small galley fire or some other mild emergency to pull me away from the interrogation.

Thankfully, John must have spied the flutter in my eyes as they involuntarily tried to roll themselves into the back of my head because, finally, he said, “I just have one more question and we’ll leave you alone.” I nodded and exhaled. “We saw your blue lights from our boat last night and we were wondering if they were a factory option or if you added them.”

“We added them,” I said.

“But why? What are they for?” said John, showing genuine confusion.

“Ryan wanted them,” I said. “He’s from Essex.” I knew full well that my answer didn’t make much sense. But I didn’t care to explain the “boy racer” DNA that all East Londoners are apparently born with.

“Wasn’t it expensive? Seems like a waste of money for something so unnecessary,” said John, who was on a roll now. “I’d rather spend the money on more solar panels. You can never have too many solar panels. Except I’d install fixed panels, not these flexible ones. I’ve seen some boats where they’ve built a platform off the back of the roof so they can fit more solar panels. It’s a good idea, I think.”

“Yeah, but it looks like shit.” I said. Apparently, I’d lost my patience. “And it’s not cheap. Plus it looks like shit.”

“Who cares what it looks like when you have all that solar power? Anyway, that’s what I would do.” John said.

Now, it was clear early on that Jane and John probably weren’t going to become my new best friends, but that comment about the blue lights was the nail in the coffin.

Since when is fun a waste of money? Nobody spends a crap-load of cash on a quickly depreciating boat because it is a “sensible investment.” IT’S A FREAKING BOAT.

But of course, I didn’t say any of that out loud. I simply shooed Jane and John towards their dinghy as politely as I could, all the while checking my watch and making comments about the time, as Kristi looked up from her computer and tried not to laugh.

“That was intense,” Kristi said after our visitors were gone. “I’m super impressed. I couldn’t have answered any of those questions.”

“I made half of it up.”

Which is true. I asked Ryan, when he got back, how much water our tank holds and how many watts of solar panels we have. Apparently, the answer is 750 liters and 760 watts. Not 600 liters and 900 watts. Also, yes, the 55 HP engines were an upgrade from the standard 40. What the hell do I know?

Which brings me to my point: boaters (who are not me) love to geek out on gear. And there is no greater opportunity to dive head first down a rabbit hole of technological research than beginning the process of buying a new boat. And even though researching gear is most riveting when it’s your own future gear, I could not seem to muster enough interest to be of any use in this department.

This is why Ryan did all the research and ordering for the technical equipment we installed on Cheeky Monkey. Because, when pressed to make a decision about things I know very little about, I generally just go with the method I use for shopping at Ikea: cross off the cheapest and most expensive options and go for something mid-range and attractive. I have realized, however, that this is not a suitable method for selecting items like autopilots, anchor chain or battery chargers. But it is a perfectly appropriate method for selecting things like espresso machines, kitchen utensils, decorative cushions and linens. Therefore I have tried my hardest to stick to the areas where my methods are applicable, leaving everything else (as in, the bulk of the hard work) to Ryan.

Unfortunately, it seems the information most enthusiastically demanded of me by readers and YouTube subscribers alike is what technical gear we selected to install on Cheeky Monkey and why. My inbox is full of polite and enthusiastically written emails asking if I could — pretty please — itemize our purchases for Cheeky Monkey and briefly comment on how we decided on the products we bought.

And because I know there is no way to briefly comment on such long-winded decisions, I have unintentionally ignored all those emails and promised myself that one day, when I have more time and greater patience, I will write those lovely readers back and give them a fully formed response worthy of their attention.

Except those emails are still sitting in my Inbox, unanswered. Because technical talk bores me to tears. And because time just keeps slipping through my fingers.

So I am hereby issuing an apology and disclaimer to those who are like me (as in, you would rather spend an hour in the dentist’s chair than spend that hour talking watts and amps and the gauge of cable required to properly install a chart plotter) because I’m about to do what I have desperately avoided doing for a very long time. I’m going to give you a semi-comprehensive run-down of the major stuff we installed on Cheeky Monkey.

I’m going to tell you all about the stuff we love, the stuff we regret and the stuff we would have done differently if we knew then what we know now, after nearly a year of owning our Fountaine-Pajot Helia 44 catamaran. And because I have absolutely no ability to retain technical information, I will borrow Ryan’s expertise in this area. So, all thanks should be showered on him, not me.

It’s also worth noting that though this is a list of gear we ordered specifically for our Helia, most of the product research we did can be applied to any cruising boat, whether it be a monohull, a catamaran or a motorboat.

So to all you amazingly patient gear-heads out there, you’re welcome. This one’s for you. I hope it has been worth the wait.

To the rest of you, I’m sorry. I know this isn’t our thing. But the next time you have trouble sleeping, skip the Ambien and read this list instead. You’re welcome, also.

13 things we’re thrilled with (and would totally order again)

1. The boat


outfitting-boat-sail-around-world-cheeky-monkey.jpgCheeky Monkey in San Blas, Panama (Photo by Bruna Toledo de Arcangelo)

This is probably obvious, but it needs to be said: we LOVE our boat. There is no such thing as the perfect boat, of course, but there is the right boat for the journey you’re planning. And we definitely made the right choice of boat for us and this round-the-world trip.

The main things we love? The comfort and the performance. Even with crew on board, having upgraded from a 34-foot monohull, we feel positively spoiled for space. And contrary to common lore about catamarans, the Helia sails beautifully – she’s fast and light, especially going downwind, and she’s not that bad pointing upwind, either, though it’s not Cheeky Monkey‘s most comfortable point of sail. Yes, there is some slapping of waves under the hull when beating into rough weather, but it’s no more disturbing than what we’ve experienced on monohulls in stormy conditions. Also, we love the modern layout, the brightness and the incredibly spacious and comfortable cockpit, which is where we spend most of our time on board.

For us and this journey sailing around the world, the Helia is about as perfect as a boat can get.

2. Battery charger upgrade + 2nd battery charger

Remember when I said all cruisers’ conversations eventually lead to discussing battery banks? Well, part of that discussion involves battery chargers and inverters and…zzzzzz.

Oh dear. So sorry. It looks like I fell asleep while typing. I think it’s probably best if I turn this bit over to Ryan to explain. Because when it comes to battery chargers, I just…zzzzzz.

Here’s Ryan:
“When I asked our broker what the options were for the largest inverter/charger available, he said Fountaine-Pajot could only install a 1000-watt combination inverter/charger with a 60-amp battery charger. Which is fine if you’re just a weekend sailor or a charter boat that lives in a marina. But, living full-time on anchor and sailing around the world, I didn’t want to have to run the generator or the engines all day to fully charge our batteries.

So I worked out what I wanted, which was a 3000-watt inverter with a 120-amp battery charger. But I couldn’t get that through FP, so I had to go with their standard option and then install my own inverter/charger later. Our post-factory outfitter found me the Victron inverter/charger I wanted — basically the biggest one I could buy — and then bought the FP-installed inverter/charger off me.

Later, I ended up buying a second 60-amp battery charger — ironically, the same one I’d sold. Why? Because our batteries will take up to 200 amps. So I figured why muck about with less?”

3. Permateak floor in cockpit

Fountaine-Pajot offers 3 options for the cockpit deck: plain non-slip fiberglass, teak wood and Permateak (fake teak).

The one option we ruled out was the fiberglass, as we felt it made the cockpit space too white and forever in need of scrubbing (I always opt for less scrubbing). Also, we liked how the wood floor felt underfoot, as well as the way it looked; it breaks up the overall whiteness of the boat and camouflages dirt and smudges (again, less scrubbing).

But this was definitely one of those things we might have ordered differently if we hadn’t gone to a few boat shows and talked to a few different owners about their choices. Without consulting anyone, I probably would have opted for the teak because I love wood (so long as it doesn’t require varnishing). But we met a Helia owner with a badly stained teak deck that he regretted ordering because it required so much maintenance. He said with kids and guests spilling everywhere, it wasn’t long before the teak looked terrible.

Then we saw a boat with Permateak laid in the cockpit, which we thought looked nice, and we spoke to the owner who said he’d bought his boat with a teak deck and then had it all ripped out because after just a year it looked so bad. He said the Permateak was an improvement because it was lower maintenance and it looked brand new after a year, despite the same amount of spills and traffic. There is a drawback to the Permateak, which is that the surface absorbs more heat than its real teak equivalent. But as the flooring is only laid in the cockpit, which is shaded from the sun, this has never been an issue for us.

After a year on board, I’m so happy with our Permateak deck that I’ve considered having the same material laid on the floors of our heads, since the white non-slip surface always looks dirty to me (and, as I mentioned, I hate scrubbing). But, really, I should have thought of that back when the boat was in France. Now that we’re on the move, it seems unlikely that I’ll get this done anytime soon.

4. Parasailor (spinnaker – 156 square meters)


parasailor-outfitting-boat-fountaine-pajot-cheeky-monkey.jpgThe “Big Banana” in all its glory (Photo by Kristi Wilson)

This sail, made by a company called Istec (not offered by Fountaine-Pajot), is just plain amazing. Though it is expensive, it has become a crucial piece of kit on board Cheeky Monkey for crossing oceans with speed and comfort. Not to mention, it looks totally badass.

I wrote an entire blog post on our Parasailor when we first got it, but now that we’ve had a year’s experience using it, here are some statistics so you can judge whether this sail is of any use to you:
It’s a dead-downwind sail only: despite what salesmen have told us about the Parasailor being able to handle true wind angles ranging from 180 degrees to 60 degrees, we’ve only been able to use this sail between 160-180 degrees. Maybe it was a typo? Perhaps they forgot the ‘1’ in front of ’60’ degrees?
On a dead run, you can’t beat this sail for speed. Crossing the Atlantic, we were easily clocking 10-13 knots in 18-25 knots of apparent wind.
Our top boat speed was 17.9 knots with the Parasailor, surfing down a wave on the Atlantic.
It’s a great light wind sail, too. We get 4 knots of speed in 5 knots of apparent wind.
Incredibly stable, low-maintenance sail to operate: the super handy “snuffer” sock allows you to hoist and drop the sail single-handedly (though it’s even easier with two or more sets of hands), unlike other types of symmetrical spinnakers. The hole or the “wing” at the front lifts the sail up and keeps it filled, which means there is very little work required on the sheets to keep the Parasailor flying. We’ve had our Parasailor up for nearly a week and barely touched the sheets during that time.

5. Genniker (with bowsprit addition)


outfitting-boat-genniker-sail-around-the-world.jpgIf I had to choose just one sail, this would be it (Photo by Kristi Wilson)

This is another amazing sail, which we have found to be, perhaps, even more essential than the Parasailor because we use it far more frequently on both long hauls and short day sails.

Fountaine-Pajot installs a bowsprit if you order the furling genniker (also called a screecher) from them, which is great because it means your warranty for the sail and the bowsprit is held with FP. We’ve had endless nightmares trying to get warranty work done on our non-FP orders, so it’s always a relief when something breaks and we find out it’s covered by FP.

Here’s how versatile this sail is:
It’s great in light winds (anywhere from 5-15 knots apparent) at a wind angle of 90-130 degrees with the mainsail up. Any more downwind than that and the mainsail blankets the genniker.
We’ve recently discovered a new trick with this sail, which allows us to sail with the wind at a 120-150 degree angle, a window we previously had no sail for. We detach the tack from the bowsprit and bring it over to the Parasailor block on the windward bow. And then we use a barber haul tied to our mid-ship cleat to pull the sheet downward. Note: we have no idea if we’re meant to even do this with the sail, as we’ve just invented this configuration. But as it is working for us, we’re going to keep at it until someone gives us a valid reason not to.

If I were to buy only one extra headsail to go cruising with, I would go with the genniker (screecher) because of its versatility. Of course, you can get by with just the jib as a headsail, but we use our genniker as much as (if not more than) our jib. So if you have the extra cash in your budget, this is the sail I would go with.

Now, if you’re looking to fully kit out your boat, and you can afford the $13,000 price tag, I would absolutely recommend buying a Parasailor. Especially if you’re planning to sail around the world with the trade winds. There is nothing more enjoyable than sailing fast downwind with a no-fuss spinnaker that requires little to no trimming. It’s an incredible ride.

6. Extra blocks for sails

It boggles the mind how many additional blocks (pulleys) we’ve ended up adding to Cheeky Monkey. The Parasailor required ten additional blocks, the genniker needed seven additional blocks and we also added a block to each reefing line on the mainsail to help them run better. So, in total, we’ve added twenty blocks to the boat since we bought her.

And, crazily, we use them all.

7. Additional winch

For some reason, with the genniker headsail and bowsprit installation, Fountaine-Pajot includes a Lewmar 45 winch on the port stern for the port sheet, but they don’t include an additional winch on the starboard side.

If we didn’t install another winch, we would have had to use one of the winches at the helm for the starboard genniker and Parasailor sheet, which is strange because that would make the angle of the sheet to the winch drastically different from that on the port side. Also, it would mean the sheet cuts across the walkway along the starboard hull, preventing anyone from leaving the helm to go forward while on a port tack.

So instead of settling for that option, we ordered an additional Lewmar 45 winch to be installed on the starboard stern, parallel with the port winch.

These winches are essential for manning the genniker sheets and also the Parasailor sheets and guys. I couldn’t imagine being as happy with our set-up if we were running all our starboard headsail sheets to the helm, so this post-factory addition is something I’m now grateful for.

8. Barbecue upgrade


outfitting-boat-sovereign-bbq-catamaran.JPGMy prized Sovereign BBQ alongside our custom outboard hoist

Remember how I said my method of shopping is to go for the mid-range option (not too cheap, not too pricey) that looks the most attractive? Well, that applies to pretty much everything but cooking appliances.

What can I say? I like to have nice things to cook with.

And it’s not because I’m a fabulous chef or I take an extraordinary interest in the culinary arts. It’s just that food and cooking has a become a much larger part of my life on a boat than it ever was on land. Living in New York City, I could count on one hand the number of times I cooked at home in a year. Living on a boat, we cook all our meals. And my favorite meal? MEAT. As in, grilled steak, grilled chicken, grilled ribs, grilled fish…you name it, I’ll grill it.

Which brings me to my favorite accessory on the boat besides our espresso machine. It is our state-of-the-art Sovereign barbecue propane grill, which is manufactured in Australia, a country of people who know a thing or two about barbecues. And one of its best features is that it’s plumbed into our main propane line, so all I have to do is flick a switch and my barbecue is alight and ready to go.

I’m sure the standard Fountaine-Pajot grill option would have been fine if I never knew what life was like as a discerning connoisseur of barbecue grills. But, now that we’ve experienced cooking with the Sovereign, I don’t think my life on board would be complete without this incredible piece of culinary engineering.

9. Washer/dryer

When we lived on our old Catalina 34, the most time-consuming of our regular housekeeping tasks was collecting water from shore and doing laundry (as in, bagging up two weeks’ worth of clothes, schlepping it all to shore, tracking down a laundromat, if it existed, and then sitting around for a few hours waiting for the machines to finish before schlepping everything back to the boat).

So when I found out we could have a washing machine on board Cheeky Monkey, I was doing cartwheels for joy.

The trick, however, is finding the right machine to fit the space provided. We selected an LG combo washer/dryer unit which fits perfectly into the space across from our linen closet in the owner’s cabin head. Granted, we rarely use the dryer function since our clothes dry so quickly in the sun. But the washer has a 30-minute speed wash function that uses an amazingly minimal amount of water, which is great because, as you know, water is precious on a boat.

To give you an idea of how much I love having a washing machine, if you told me I had to give up either my Sovereign barbecue or my washing machine, I’d throw that barbecue overboard without hesitation. But the dryer function? I could probably live without using 3 hours of electricity to turn my pile of wet clothes into a pile of hot, damp clothes.

10. Custom-designed outboard engine hoist and mount

When we sailed Cheeky Monkey out of La Rochelle, France for a 1400-mile shakedown cruise, we didn’t want our outboard engine bouncing up and down with the dinghy hanging off our davits, especially with the way our davits sit so low to the water. But the mounting plate we ordered for our outboard was on backorder and the whole of France was going on vacation for a month.

So instead of waiting around for a month for our mounting plate, we used a halyard to lift our very heavy 25 HP engine into the cockpit and laid the outboard down on its side, wrapping it in a heavy mat and tying it down for our trip. This was a makeshift solution and not a long-term plan for passages, but we weren’t sure yet what the ideal set-up would be for transferring our outboard from the dinghy to the mounting plate.

Once we got to Menorca, we hired Pedro’s Boat Centre to do the work we couldn’t get done in France, which included installing a mounting plate on our stern rails for the outboard. Ryan also decided he didn’t like using the halyard to hoist the engine, so he collaborated with a metal worker to design a reinforced pulley hoist on the stern so we could lift our outboard off our dinghy using the electric winch on the stern.

To get the hoist to work with the outboard, we also hired a canvas guy to design and sew a cover for the outboard which had a sturdy strap for lifting. And all of this work went smoothly because Pedro and his guys were incredibly good at what they do.

The fact is, if you can find the right expertise, you can design almost anything you want for your boat. You can do what Ryan did and sketch out on paper what you want, then find a guy to build it for you in a way that’s structurally sound.

But if you don’t trust the guys working on your boat, leave the complicated stuff until later when you can find the right people.

11. Generator / air conditioners

For reasons we could not control, we have the largest generator known to man or boat. It’s a Cummins/Onan 8.5 kilowatt generator, which was installed by Fountaine-Pajot as part of the standard package that comes with the boat when you order air conditioning.

From what I can tell, if we had not ordered AC, we could have gone with a much smaller generator, which would also have weighed a lot less. At the time, we hemmed and hawed about whether to get the AC, since we hated the idea of having such a big generator weighing down the foredeck. But then we also knew we would be sailing to a lot of hot countries and the idea of ducking out of the scorching sun and stepping inside the air-conditioned cabins sounded like a luxury we could get used to.

The crazy thing we couldn’t understand was why FP insisted on installing six air conditioners (two in each hull and two in the saloon). If we had a choice, we would have gone with one air conditioner in each cabin and one in the saloon (four in total), but we didn’t get a choice in the matter. It was either all six air conditioners, or no air conditioning at all. And if we wanted the air conditioning, we had to get the bigger generator.

So even though we think six air conditioners and an 8.5 kilowatt generator are a bit overkill, the fact is we like our air conditioning, so any complaints you hear on the subject will be made from inside a climate-controlled cabin while sipping a cocktail.

12. Ground tackle

When we outfitted our Catalina 34 to go cruising, we replaced our Danforth anchor, which served us well in the sand and mud-bottom harbors around New York, with a Rocna 20 (44 lbs.) which essentially changed our life at anchor. Though the Danforth was fine in the Northeast of the U.S., it gave us a few sleepless nights from dragging as we sailed further south towards Florida and the Caribbean. Our Rocna, however, never moved. Not even once. We slept like babies.

After that experience, the Rocna 40 (88 lbs.) was the obvious choice to go with for Cheeky Monkey. But we also got a 66 lb. Mantus anchor for a back-up because, while it has the shape and effectiveness of the Rocna, it packs up small once it’s disassembled. We’ve laid ours in our anchor locker and it fits there perfectly in case we need to throw out a stern anchor or if something should happen to our Rocna.

But as we learned with our first Rocna purchase, the real investment isn’t in the anchor; it’s in the chain, which costs about 3 times more than the anchor itself, if you’re springing for 100 meters. And that’s just for your standard 12 mm stock, which is what Fountaine-Pajot recommend, since the gypsy on the windlass is designed for 12 mm chain.

After weighing up the options, however, Ryan was concerned about weighing down the bow of Cheeky Monkey and negatively affecting its performance, especially since the foredeck was already burdened by the weight of a massive generator. The fact was 100 meters of 12 mm chain would add 900 lbs. to an already heavy forward load, which sounded like an awful lot.

But as with everything else we looked at buying, Ryan wouldn’t rest until he’d explored all the options in the universe. Which is how, in his research, he came across a different kind of chain — something called high-tension chain. Personally, I never would have found such a thing because I would have just assumed that standard chain is what everyone got. “Sure, 900 pounds sounds awfully heavy, but if that’s what it weighs, then that’s what it weighs.” That’s why I wasn’t in charge of buying the chain.

Ryan, on the other hand, said to himself, “What if someone somewhere invented a stronger, more lightweight chain… [*Googling furiously*] Oh, look at that! They have!”

And that’s how we ended up buying 100 meters of 10 mm G70 high-tension chain, which only weighs 510 lbs but has the strength of the standard 12 mm chain. The only problem was that we had to change out the gypsy on our windlass at an additional expense. Also, the G70 chain is pricier than standard chain (like everything new in technology). But as we’d sheared off nearly 400 pounds of weight from our foredeck, Ryan was happy. And I knew no different, so I was happy anyway.

13. Blue lights


sail-around-the-world-cheeky-monkey-blue-lights.jpgCheeky Monkey showing off in Port Vell, Barcelona

Last, but definitely not least on this list of loves, is our infamous custom blue lighting package.

When Ryan explained to our post-factory outfitter, Pierre, that he wanted to have blue “party lights” illuminating the deck as well as blue lights under the hull, Pierre looked at me with confusion. “But why?”

“It’s difficult to explain,” I said. “Have you ever seen the TV show ‘Pimp My Ride’?”

Pierre furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand, but whatever you want, we can do it.”

And so we had blue party lights installed on the deck of Cheeky Monkey, which actually come in handy at night when we’re sailing in fickle wind and we want to illuminate the sails without losing our night vision. The underwater lights, however, have no other function than to make people say “ooh” and “ahh”.

When you’re standing on the back of our boat shouting, “Ooh! Look at that shark!” you’ll understand.

2 things we regret

1. Ice-maker

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, then you know why this damned ice-maker is #1 on my list of regrets.

But, if you’re new to the Saga of Dashed Dreams, aka The Little Ice-Maker That Couldn’t, then let me give you the 10-second summary.

Once upon a time, there was a Vitrigo 12-volt ice-maker that promised to make Ryan’s cruising dreams come true…

The problem was that Fountaine-Pajot didn’t offer an ice-maker for the Helia. So our broker added “ice-maker” to our list of post-factory installations and assured us he’d installed similar machines on a great number of other boats. Great! Ryan did a little dance and imagined himself hosting parties and making cocktails with an endless supply of ice.

Then one day, the ice-maker arrived. And, as it was being installed, Ryan sat patiently nearby, waiting to try out his new toy. Except it didn’t work. The ice-maker would get cold, but it refused to make ice.

This prompted some probing around inside the machine, which dug up a piece of broken plastic, causing the installers to stand around the ice-maker for a while, scratching their heads and smoking cigarettes. No one could identify whether the broken plastic part was the reason why the ice-maker wouldn’t work and so, instead of replacing the machine, our outfitter spent the next few months ordering random parts to be mailed without instructions to various ports where we were docked. Meanwhile, we ran around hiring refrigeration experts to look at our ice-maker and install the parts we were sent.

Fast forward 8 months: The ice-maker still doesn’t work. Eventually, we are told Vitrigo stopped making our model of ice-maker in the 8 months that passed and therefore a replacement cannot be ordered. Our broker offers us a refund, which we take in lieu of having him order another brand of ice-maker which we would no doubt spend another year chasing after him for.

After all this hassle, it has occurred to me if we’d just gone for the standard beer fridge option offered by FP, instead of the non-standard ice-maker in the cockpit, we wouldn’t be telling this sad story over and over again. But we just couldn’t see the point of a tiny little fridge that would essentially save us from having to take two extra steps into the galley to get a beer out of the main fridge.

But who am I to criticize? We basically opted for a machine that would save us from having to fill up our own ice trays from a faucet. And, as a slap in the face, it won’t even do that.

2. Extra sleeping quarters (forepeak cabin & mattress)


outfitting-boat-sail-around-world-fountaine-pajot-helia.jpgOur friends’ daughter, Ellia, loved her forepeak cabin (Photo by Genevieve Stolz)

Fountaine-Pajot offers an option to convert the port forepeak storage space into a small cabin with a fitted mattress, a porthole and a reading light. And we went for this option because we thought it would be a great space for a couple and their kids, since the forepeak cabin is just ahead of the forward port cabin. Plus, when I looked at the cozy little cabin in the forepeak, I imagined if I were a kid on a boat, that would be my favorite place to sleep.

The reality, however, is that we use that forepeak primarily for storage. We stow the genniker there when we take it down and we store extra supplies in that space when we’re provisioning for ocean crossings.

But because we opted for the cabin, we got stuck with a terribly leaky porthole, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise and which has caused us no end to problems with seawater pouring in through the seals when we’re underway. We now store the mattress in a body bag we ordered online (who knew you could order body bags online?) for the sole purpose of keeping the mattress dry from the water that constantly drips in through our porthole.

It’s only with hindsight that we could know that the forepeak cabin would rarely get used for sleeping quarters because, in all practicality, there are more comfortable spaces to sleep on the boat if all the cabins are occupied. The saloon settee is one such spot, as is any one of the cushions in the cockpit or up on the sun deck, when the weather is warm.

We also could have opted to have a dinner table in the saloon (instead of the coffee table we ordered) which converts into a double bed, but we had to ask ourselves just how many overnight guests we would even want to cram onto Cheeky Monkey at any one time.

On the Shoreseeker Challenge across the Mediterranean Sea, we discovered that we could fit fifteen crew on board for four days in an emergency, but that was far from ideal. We think the maximum number of crew we can fit comfortably on Cheeky Monkey for long passages is six. We could fit more than that for a weekend or two, but for long-term sailing, we probably wouldn’t.

Basically, if we were to redo our order for the boat, we would have just kept the forepeak space for storage and not added a leaky porthole to our list of boat problems.

2 things we would’ve done differently (if we knew then what we know now)

1. Autopilot(s)

The only Cheeky Monkey saga that has rivaled the frustrations of our ice-maker is the trouble we’ve had with our autopilot.

To make a long story short, we bought a Garmin autopilot for Cheeky Monkey because we’d had a bad run with our Raymarine on our old Catalina 34. What we didn’t know was that Raymarine had come a long way since then, blowing Garmin out of the water with their new 9-axis gyroscopic compass thingy…I’m not really sure what it’s called or how it works; I just know it’s amazingly accurate.

But never mind the technicalities. And let’s skip over the story of the faulty Garmin installation, the multiple repairs, and the final realization that the Garmin, even when correctly installed, steers like it’s drunk, and get to the point: we now have two autopilots on board Cheeky Monkey. Because after all the trouble we had with our Garmin, we decided to install a Raymarine as our primary autopilot and relegate our Garmin to the back-up in the event that we lose our autopilot; something we have a great deal of experience with. I have clocked just as many miles hand-steering as I have with a working auto-pilot, so I knew the risk was real.

And thank goodness we installed a second autopilot because we have yet to cross an ocean with both of our autopilots in tact. On the Atlantic crossing, the “no drive detected” errors on our Raymarine increased in frequency to the point where we had to steer the rest of the way using our Garmin. And, case in point, while I was literally writing this post in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, our Raymarine suddenly decided it only wanted to steer to starboard, causing us to jibe in the middle of the night. So we’ve shut down our Raymarine and turned on our Garmin which, for all its faults and our complaints, has never actually broken on us. In fact, it’s only ever saved us when our Raymarine has ceased to function, so perhaps I should say nicer things about it.

There’s an accidental lesson in all of this: never cross an ocean without a spare autopilot, unless you’re prepared to hand-steer the whole way across. We never had a spare autopilot on board Hideaway, but then we never sailed for longer than three days without stopping, so hand-steering in a bind was never that big a deal.

But if we only had one autopilot on board Cheeky Monkey right now, which was the original plan, I’d be hand-steering for six days while trying to type at the same time. Which sounds awfully tedious.

I guess now I should say we were lucky our Garmin was so crap to start with because if we’d only ever known a working autopilot, we never would have thought to install a second one.

2. Aqua-base 12-volt water-maker

Back when we had to schlep all our water back and forth from shore in leaky five-gallon jugs, we would protect each drop as if it were a gold nugget. I got good at washing a sink full of dishes with two cups of water and I could go a week without showering.

But now that we can make our own water, and we have crew who have never known a life without free flowing faucets, we get through about 150-250 liters of water a day. But the upside of that is we smell a lot nicer.

To replace all the water we use, we have to run our water-maker for about three to four hours a day because we only have the capacity to produce up to 60 liters an hour. Which was a bit of an oversight, really, because it turns out we didn’t get the biggest water-maker available.

While our water-maker only produces 60 liters an hour, Aqua-base makes the same unit but with two membranes, which produces 50% more water in the same amount of time, therefore taking 35% less time to do it.

So, why didn’t we get the bigger water-maker? I really have no idea. It’s possible that we got so caught up in trying to decide if we should get a DC or AC-powered unit that we forgot to ask whether it was even possible to get more than 60 liters an hour out of a water-maker. I know there was an overwhelming amount of research involved in outfitting our boat, so it’s not surprising that some information slipped through the cracks.

But the good news is that we made the right decision with a DC-powered (12-volt) water-maker because it means we can make water anytime we want and not just when we’re running our generator. We probably couldn’t have known this before we got out on the water and started actually using the systems we installed, but it turns out we don’t run our generator nearly as often as we run our water-maker. We might turn our generator on for about an hour and a half each day, but we run our water-maker for at least three hours a day when we’re cruising full time.

In hindsight, we should have asked ourselves if there was any reason why we wouldn’t want to make 100 liters an hour rather than just 60. The answer would have been “no.”

2 other modifications we ordered (which we love)

1. Instruments moved for better visibility


outfitting-boat-sail-around-the-world-garmin-instruments.JPGWe wanted our instruments in view of the cockpit, not hidden behind the helm

Fountaine-Pajot offers a few different electronics packages for the Helia, but the problem for us was we couldn’t control where our instruments would be installed and we didn’t like the spot where they wanted to install them. Strangely, the instruments get installed behind the helm about parallel with your knees if you’re sitting down, which means you can only see the instruments if you are sat directly behind the wheel, looking down, with your legs apart…so long as you’re not wearing a skirt.

To us, this was not ideal because the luxury of having an autopilot is that we don’t always have to be sitting behind the wheel. We wanted to be able to see our boat speed, wind speed, wind angle, depth, etc., from the cockpit and the helm, not just when reclining at the helm and squinting to read the numbers near my knees.

So we declined to order our electronics through FP and instead had our instruments installed by our post-factory outfitter in a much more ideal spot (for us). Now, as we’re walking around the boat, going about our daily business, we can look up and see the boat speed and whether the wind has shifted from anywhere in the cockpit.

2. Additional electrical outlets

When buying an older boat, I expect to find systems in desperate need of an upgrade, like energy-sucking halogen lights and a gross shortage of electrical outlets. But when buying a brand new boat, I fully expect the manufacturers to take into account the needs of the average blogging, YouTube creating, virtually connected New Yorker and provide the appropriate number of electrical outlets.

Or maybe I’m underestimating where on the spectrum I fall when it comes to how many electronic devices the average person has in 2016.

In my mind, if you’re under the age of 60, you own and regularly use, at minimum, a cell phone, a music-playing device (like an iPod), a computer and some kind of tablet (like an iPad) or Kindle, or both. And that’s not including the other rechargeable devices most people own at least one of, like cameras, electronic watches (like an Apple Watch or Fitbit), electric toothbrushes, portable shavers, wireless headphones and portable speakers.

If that’s right, then Fountaine-Pajot has grossly underestimated how many AC and DC outlets a modern human needs to survive in this world.

Which is why we took the liberty of installing five additional AC outlets — one at the nav station, two in the galley, one in our medicine cabinet and one in our “media cupboard,” where we store all our camera equipment and batteries. I mean, the fact that there are no electrical outlets in any of the heads seems like an oversight, at the very least.

We also added two more DC outlets — one at the helm (with a waterproof cover) and one inside our nav station desk, where we plug in things like our hand-held VHF radio.

And you know what? It’s still not enough. We’d like to add a waterproof AC outlet in our cockpit because, after living on the boat for a year, it turns out the cockpit has become our favorite work space at anchor. Yet there’s nowhere to plug in, so it means we have to keep going inside to charge our laptops. First world problems, I know. But they’re problems nonetheless.

Onboard communications: 3 recommended devices

If you’re still awake and reading, I am immensely impressed with your stamina. Because I fell asleep at least 7 times while writing this. No, seriously. This post is so long it has taken me a week to write. So, there’s no doubt you deserve a bonus for sticking it out until the end.

Which is why I’m going to let you in on the secret to our onboard data and communications — you know, how we download weather while we’re at sea, how we access the Internet while in port and, basically, how we remain in touch with the outside world as we’re sailing across oceans.

Okay, so it’s not exactly a secret, but it is one of the most common questions we get about the boat — how do we communicate, post on social media and get weather updates when we’re sailing?

And I have the answers to those questions. In fact, I’d like to offer you a rare piece of insight into the wide and confusing world of communications options for boaters, based on months of our own research, which came about after we were given a quote for a comprehensive WiFi and onboard data system that would cost us $20,000.

TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! I mean, what?! Okay, look. We may be the kind of folks who don’t mind spending a little extra cash for fun accessories like blue lighting and an ice-maker. But we don’t just go throwing money overboard for the sheer hell of it. So unless that $20,000  included 10 years of unlimited data, I was always going to seek out an alternative option for getting online while sailing around the world.

Because here’s the thing: I know sailing is all about disconnecting, becoming one with nature and removing yourself from the pressing obligations of mainstream society. But let me just be honest: I am a writer with an online blog, a YouTube Channel, a dozen social media pages, a few different web sites and the occasional magazine deadline. In order to do what I love, I require quite a bit more time on the internet than the average person. And yet my access to the Internet is painfully minimal because I am constantly either at sea or trekking around a remote island, waving my iPhone around like a lunatic, trying to get a signal.

So here are the solutions we have settled on after extensive research, and after we worked out that the $20,000 proposed communications system was essentially just a bunch of cheap solutions installed simultaneously and then labeled as a “custom package” with a ridiculously high price tag. So we skipped the “expert” middle man and just bought and installed each component separately for a mere $2,500. I mean, seriously, with that kind of savings, we could buy and install an ice-maker in every cabin on the boat!

But let’s not get carried away. Here’s how we built a $20,000 system for a mere $2,500:

1. Badboy WiFi extender

On our last boat we had a Rogue Wave WiFi booster that served us pretty well for connecting to WiFi signals on land from the boat.

And the Badboy does essentially the same thing as the Rogue Wave, but we find it easier to use. It is connected to an antenna that runs up our mast, so we can connect to WiFi from a greater distance. The way it works is you log into Badboy’s IP address www.badboy.xtreme from any device and then you scan the list of available WiFi signals, which are either unlocked WiFi connections or connections for which you know the password, like nearby bars and restaurants you’ve visited. If the signal is strong, you can do work from the boat without having to sit in a bar spending money on food and drink to use their WiFi.

When this works, and the Internet is reasonable (after all, it’s never fast), you don’t have to worry about all the other solutions on this list because you’ve got unfettered free access to the Internet. Congratulations!

Note: This only works within about a one-mile range from land.

2. Pepwave Router

When the Badboy shows no available WiFi options, we move on to the next solution for accessing data, which is to use our router with a mobile data SIM card. We have the T-Mobile International Plan, which gives us unlimited 2G data anywhere in the world (almost — it didn’t work in Morocco), so we can pop our SIM card into the router and get slow but reasonable Internet data from local mobile phone towers.

Or, if you can track down a local pay-as-you-go SIM card, that’s even better because usually the Internet is faster and pretty affordable. We’ve found the going rate for data is $10/GB in most countries around the world.

Note: You can buy and use any normal router — it doesn’t have to be a Pepwave. This option also only works near land within range of a mobile phone tower.

3. Iridium Go! Satellite Phone

I can’t wait for the day when satellite data connections are so fast and affordable that we can stream Netflix via space while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That day has not yet come, but it is pretty amazing how accessible and affordable satellite technology has become in the last few years, so there’s hope yet.

When we bought our first satellite phone — the Iridium Xtreme, the best device Iridium offered at the time — we paid a lot of money both for the phone (about $3,000) and the data ($650 for 500 minutes which, annoyingly, had to be used in a 12-month period or they would expire). And then Ryan learned the hard way that the Iridium Xtreme wasn’t waterproof when he sunk his boat on a mad adventure sailing an ngalawa (local fishing boat) up the coast of Tanzania.

Ryan survived, as you may have guessed, but it meant we were down a satellite phone. So, when we bought Cheeky Monkey, we decided it was time to update our research and find out how much technology had improved since our last SatPhone purchase. And luckily for us, Iridium had just released a new and more affordable satellite “hotspot” called the Go!, which allows users to connect to Iridium satellites via an app on their smartphone or iPad.

So what can I do with my Iridium Go! at sea? I can’t stream Netflix, or even browse a website. But I can use my iPhone to download weather gribs and open them in our Weather 4D app (there are many weather apps you can choose from), I can send and receive emails and (small) photos, I can tweet, I can make phone calls at the rate of $1/minute anywhere in the world and I can transmit an SOS in an emergency. Plus, the best part about this little device is it only costs about $800, which is a big drop from $3,000, and unlike the inflexible data packages of the Iridium Xtreme, the Go! offers an unlimited data package for $135/month, which can be cancelled at any time.

I do have one rather specific piece of advice regarding cancelling the unlimited plans, however. When you buy the Iridium Go!, you should request as many SIM cards for the Go! as the company is happy to send you. The reason for this is that, yes, you can cancel your plan at any time without penalty, but to reinstate the same SIM card costs a silly amount of money (I can’t remember the exact amount), whereas if you throw the SIM away and activate a new one, it only costs $25 to activate a new card. With this method, you can activate your monthly plan just for the months when you are planning to be at sea, but cancel the plan for the months when you plan to stick close to land and have access to WiFi.

It’s because of these 3 devices — the Badboy, the Pepwave router and the Iridium Go! — that I manage to stay connected to the virtual world as well as anyone who lives at sea could possible hope to. And, thankfully, we didn’t have to spend $20,000 to acquire this system.

Plus, now you know how to build your own “custom” communications system on the cheap. See, aren’t you glad you kept reading?

Final thoughts

Though this rather extensive list covers most of the big stuff we ordered for Cheeky Monkey, it is by no means comprehensive. Beyond what you’ve read here, months of research went into products we didn’t end up buying, we made a million and one little tweaks that are too small to mention and we spent countless hours overseeing workmen to keep them from drilling holes in the wrong places, which they were wont to do.

In short, we found the process of outfitting our boat to be exhausting, incredibly time-consuming and almost as stressful as the full-time jobs we left in our wake. Which I have since learned could have been avoided, had we done more research on brokers before we started. But we liked our broker — he was a nice guy and we liked talking to him — so we assumed he had sold enough boats to know the pros and cons of the options offered by Fountaine-Pajot and that he could make recommendations based on our cruising plans, past customer reviews and his own research into the options he was selling.

But it turns out we made a few too many assumptions. What our broker didn’t know and couldn’t help us with was what ate up all of our time and energy as we pored over the purchases made by other FP owners who were kind enough to share with us what they’d learned.

Therein lies the problem: the broker you decide to work with can make or break your buying experience. And yet it can be difficult to know the good brokers from the bad brokers before you start working with them.

My advice? Get a recommendation from someone you trust or someone who has bought a similar boat to the one you’re looking to buy. Who did they use? What was their experience? Get some opinions before signing over your hard-earned cash and your dreams.

Also, I would go with experience. The high-volume yacht brokers out there often get a lot of business because they’re good at what they do. Plus, the advantage of going with a broker who sells dozens of the same boat make, year after year, is that he knows his stuff. All those questions we had about the pros and cons of DC and AC water-makers, the type of battery charger we needed and the type of anchor chain to buy? A good broker would know the answers because he’s already researched it for a dozen other customers and gotten feedback on whether or not they made the right choice.

That’s the key — a good broker doesn’t just place your order and then walk away with his commission, leaving you to fend for yourself. He saves you time and, hopefully, a lot of headaches by giving you well-researched recommendations, being responsive to your needs and handling your warranty issues when they come up.

Consider this: there is an overwhelming amount of stuff that you can’t even begin to ask your broker because you don’t know all the things you don’t know. All you know is the stuff you’ve thought to ask questions about, which may only be a fraction of the issues you actually need to address in order to get the complete boat of your dreams. It’s like that thing Donald Rumsfeld said about Iraq in 2002: “There are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

A good broker doesn’t just deal with the known unknowns, the questions you have thought to ask about what you need to know. A good broker can enlighten you on the “unknown unknowns,” the crucial stuff you may not have even considered because, like most buyers, you don’t know everything about the boat you’re buying or the lifestyle you’re about to plunge yourself into. A good broker has sold dozens of the same boat with dozens of different configurations designed for long-term cruising, weekend sailing, chartering, etc., and has taken into consideration what your plans are with the boat and anticipated what you might need to make it happen. A good broker pays attention to details and will tell you why you might want to opt for the 100 liter/hour water-maker over the 60 liter/hour water-maker if you’re planning to sail around the world. And you want that broker.

As you can tell, Ryan and I have learned a thing or two in the process of buying and outfitting our boat, which is why I didn’t want to waste all that hard-earned knowledge by keeping it locked inside my head.

My hope is that this list helps someone out there find the answers they’re looking for as they pore over marine catalogs trying to figure out how best to spend their money. I should also mention that through our inadvertent promotion of Fountaine-Pajot via this blog and our YouTube channel, Chase the Story, we’ve gotten to know a fair few catamaran brokers and we would be happy to give recommendations. Just drop me an email at tasha (at)turftosurf.com or leave a comment below.

Also, as I am the technological dunce of this sailing duo, I will volunteer Ryan’s expertise to anyone who has questions about battery chargers, water-makers, electricity, unicorns and other such things I have filed under “magic” in my brain. You’re welcome.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • Mark July 8, 2016, 2:25 pm

    So very well written Tasha, it’s always a pleasure to read your missive’s. x

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 11:13 pm

      Thanks, Mark! I appreciate that :-).

  • David H-J July 8, 2016, 4:12 pm

    Wow, thank you, thank you and BTW thank you. Great post and am researching at moment all things Helia pros and cons. You have saved me about 100 hrs and multiple frustrating drinking sessions looking at options. Follow all you guys do and easily most entertaining vids out there. Sorry Delos/Riley-Elayna etc. You have overtaken them all.

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 10:58 pm

      Ha! Well, now you can drink in peace…although you might want to prepare yourself for a few frustrations I’ve not even thought of yet! And thanks so much for the compliments on the videos 🙂


  • Danie Coetzer July 8, 2016, 4:48 pm

    Hi Tasha and Cheeky Monkey crew,

    Love your work! We look forward to watching every new video from “Chase the story”. Thanks for an excellent write up about choosing and outfitting a boat.

    Please forward us your recommendations for brokers.


    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:58 pm

      No problem, Danie, I will!


  • Ivan July 8, 2016, 5:22 pm

    Wow, an incredible amount of valuable information… and written so well, Thanks for the putting this together 🙂

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:52 pm

      You’re welcome, Ivan!

  • Petra July 8, 2016, 5:52 pm

    Good stuff…and yes it’s hard to ask a question, when you don’t know the question exists.

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:51 pm

      So hard. The number of times we smacked our foreheads later and said, “Why didn’t our broker tell us about that?”

  • Bastien Koert July 8, 2016, 6:01 pm

    Hi Tasha ( & Ryan),

    This post was freaking awesome. Funny and enjoyable ( just like the chase the story vids which I’ve been binge watching ) and insightful as well.

    You guys are killing it with the vids and the blog. So glad I stumbled across it.


    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:51 pm

      Thank you! So glad you found us, Bastien!

  • Cato July 8, 2016, 6:57 pm

    Wow. Great post. I realy enjoyd reading your post!! It was like a short story 😀 What would have been great, was to have a list of your equipment/gear. For instent: your electronics, sails and so on 😀 Whats FP and whats outfitted later.

    I realy liked what you wrote abot the 25k. Its horribel that they can charge that kind of amount, when you could fix it your self for 2.5k.

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:50 pm

      Hey Cato,
      Yeah, including every detail would have required a book. A broker can help you with the list of FP options but as for the electronics and sails, they are on this list. Garmin electronics, plus a Raymarine autopilot, and the genniker and Parasailor in addition to the standard sails that come with the Helia. I hope that helps.


  • Almog Koren July 8, 2016, 7:14 pm

    Great post, it was long but I think really worth it. I would say Iridium Go is still very expensive but I guess worth it

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:48 pm

      Thanks, Almog. Compared to installing an SSB transceiver, the cost of the Go! is peanuts. And it’s a lot easier to get weather information with the Iridium than it is with SSB which is important when doing long passages. Some people swear by their SSB, but we’ve never gotten one to actually work.

  • Rex Jennings July 8, 2016, 8:28 pm

    Thank you!
    …for the time it took to write this down and save others lots of headaches… but also for reminding us that it is the people who are important…not the boat details. We needed that.
    Rex Jennings recently posted…Outfitting a Boat to Sail Around the World: What We Bought, What We Learned & What We’d Do DifferentlyMy Profile

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:45 pm

      No problem! And, yes, the people involved with your boat are crucial.


  • Franklin rice July 8, 2016, 8:57 pm

    Yes can you get that boat in any other color but white. JUST KIDDING

  • Ben July 9, 2016, 12:03 am

    Thanks for this great post. You rock!

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:43 pm

      You’re very welcome, Ben!

  • elsa July 9, 2016, 2:20 am

    Hi Tasha
    Thank you so much for the info
    Great !!!
    We are from South Africa
    We have a 39 ft catamaran
    …Leia B…
    Our plan is to do the Cape to Rio in Dec 2016
    I realy would like to know more about the planning for meals and food for ocean crossings
    My husband Wynand Burger wil also send you an email
    Thank you !!!
    Happy sailing

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:41 pm

      How wonderful! We have a South African girl — Jemma — on board now. I am not the best resource for meals, as I am terrible at passage planning. But I can say what has saved my butt many a time — Carolyn Shearlock’s The Boat Galley Cookbook (great collection of easy recipes that use all the kinds of random canned things we have on boats), and a wonderful app called Paprika.

      Paprika allows you to browse recipes online when you have internet, and then you can “save” and download the recipes to be stored offline in Paprika. It organizes all the ingredients into a database according to the numbers so you can scale it up and scale it down and it does the serving calculations for you. You can also categorize the recipes and use the app to plan menus for passages. I hope that helps!


  • John Read July 9, 2016, 2:50 am

    Really great blog – how about safety / wearing lifejackets or harneses or not – kids at sea – falling off boat when short handed etc?
    Loving the vids!
    Best wishes,
    John Read
    Eastbourne UK

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:38 pm

      Hey John,
      There’s a whole other list of items that were not “installations” on the boat, and way too many to stay awake for! We have jacklines that we run along each hull from bow to stern and then a jackline we run across the foredeck. The rule is that no one goes forward of the cockpit without waking someone up first. Or if it’s an immediate emergency, they need to clip into the jacklines with a harness. Each person who is on nightwatch has a personal AIS clipped to them, so that if they go overboard they can pull the tab and the alarm will go off on our chart plotter.

      I’ve recently learned that Raymarine now makes a bracelet that connects with their chartplotter. So when the signal gets far enough from the chart plotter, an alarm sounds, which is a fantastic idea.

      Unfortunately, we have a Garmin chart plotter, so we’ll have to wait for Garmin to catch up.


      P.S. – My first paid English teaching job was in Eastbourne teaching French and Italian teenagers who came and stayed there for the summer. I was 23 and I can’t remember the name of the school but it was an acronym of letters, perhaps starting with L, and it was set in a large manor house converted into a boarding school. Sleepy town but I enjoyed the pub quizzes :-).

  • Susan Golden July 9, 2016, 2:54 am

    Outstanding post! Especially as we wait for our 44′ FP to arrive in Vancouver BC around August 7th. Outfitting will take place close to us in Seattle.

    We’ve got the blue lights too. Can’t wait!

    My husband Tom has researched and decided most of the things that bored me, same categories as what Ryan researched. This post reminds me I need to thank him for all that hard work and his brilliance.

    Great information, need to re-read and forward to my husband. So much valuable info to learn, and digest. Thanks Tasha! We appreciate all your guy’s posts and videos!

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:33 pm

      How exciting for you, Susan! I remember we chatted about your boat and its pending arrival. It’s very exciting to step into your very own new boat :-).

      And, yes, you owe a big thank you to Tom! I owe many thanks to Ryan for taking on the mammoth task of researching everything we installed. It was a lot more stressful than we ever anticipated.

      Fair winds!


      P.S. – I hope you didn’t get the ice-maker! (or I hope you have a good broker who can get it fixed if it doesn’t work!)

  • Steven July 9, 2016, 5:34 am

    What do you do when your watermaker is broken an unfixable and you’re in the middle of the ocean?

    do you use the water to drink or just to shower and stuff like that?

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:31 pm

      That’s a good question. We do not have a spare watermaker on board, though we have spare parts for the watermaker. When we’re at sea for long passages, we always plan on having a full enough tank to get us across with just drinking water while the watermaker is still working, in case something happens to it. So, for example, on the beginning of this Pacific crossing, for the first week, we never let the tank get below 75% full. That way, if the watermaker broke, we could stop showering and wash dishes with salt water and we’d have enough water to drink and cook with until we got across.

      Two weeks in, we made sure we never got below 50% full. And so on. Our water tank holds 750 liters so we can go a long way with a full tank if our watermaker breaks. At the moment, we’re having problems with the high pressure pump, so we’re going to have to nurse this thing through to Tahiti where we can hopefully service the watermaker.


  • Andre van Zyl July 9, 2016, 6:46 am

    Hi Tasha
    Before you bought you Helia, did you look at the Leopard and Lagoon options too or was your mind made up?

    South Africa

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:27 pm

      We were actually looking at buying a Lagoon 440 some years ago (back when we were just dreaming of the next boat) and we saw the Helia at a boat show and just fell in love. I’ve kind of explained the process of how we thought about all the different boats on the market with this post: http://turftosurf.com/choosing-the-right-boat-fountaine-pajot-helia-44/

      We definitely considered all the catamaran options out there, including the Gunboat and the Sun Reef. But every boat owner has different preferences and the Helia hit all the check marks for us.


  • J & L July 9, 2016, 12:27 pm

    Thanks Tasha !!!
    I love your Writing Style and I stayed awake from Start to finish !!! Very Very Informative. Thanks so much for sharing all the info especially on the wifi and keeping in touch part.
    I will definitely save this Blog…….Again Well Done

    Jon & Lori in the Florida Keys

    PS whats the fuel burn while running the geni with water maker running and the washer dryer going while your charging your Lap top ? HA Ha

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:25 pm

      Thanks for reading the whole thing, guys! I’m impressed! As for the fuel burn, the generator is surprisingly efficient — we load up all the plugs when we run it and it uses very little fuel. Generators are lifesavers for energy suckers like me!

  • Jon July 9, 2016, 2:50 pm

    Wow, what a great set of information for all us wannabe boat owners. Thanks

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:20 pm

      My pleasure 🙂

  • Dreaming O'Sailing July 10, 2016, 9:48 am

    Great post yet again. Thanks Tasha and Ryan. It really helps the next wave of cruisers learn from your experience (good, bad, and ice machines). I can’t believe people can’t see the benefit of the awesome blue lights: you’re ashore enjoying some cocktails, the bay has 20 other cats, you need to know where to point your ride home. Genius! And yes, it looks cool 🙂

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:23 pm

      The blue lights really ARE helpful in locating our boat in a sea of other cats at night. Just one more good reason I can add to the list of why we have them ;-).


  • Regina July 10, 2016, 10:27 am

    LOVE this article! We’re sailing on my father-in-law’s boat and getting ready for a circumnavigation.

    It’s just a one thing after another kind of project.

    Hopefully, between articles like this, and the experience of sailing around the world on someone else’s boat will help us be ready in 3-7 years when we’re hoping to build our next boat!
    Regina recently posted…Rio Dulce, GuatemalaMy Profile

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:17 pm

      How exciting, Regina! You would know, then, how many big and little things there are to think about! Good luck on all that boat work ahead and I hope you get out there sooner rather than later!

      • Regina July 15, 2016, 11:53 am

        Well, we’re out of here in November heading to Panama… So, yeah… lots to do!.
        Regina recently posted…Rio Dulce, GuatemalaMy Profile

  • Glen July 11, 2016, 11:51 am

    This is a great blog Tasha. It’s hard to get information from knowledgeable people that have a practical knowledge of what they are talking about. As you say this is a long blog but it’s full of interesting and very helpful information. Thanks for sharing so much of your travels with those of us not able to do the same ———- yet ———
    Fair winds

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:14 pm

      Hi Glen!
      So glad you were able to stay awake for the whole thing! You must have an above-average attention span ;-). There are just so many things involved in getting a boat!


  • Martin July 13, 2016, 4:43 pm

    Wow! A ton of information in this blog, which is extremely helpful. I expect to be in the market for a catamaran within the next year and wondered if you had any thoughts about the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Helia vs. Lagoon and/or Leopard?

    • Tasha July 13, 2016, 9:11 pm

      Hey Martin!
      I’m glad you found this helpful…yes, it is a lot of information. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg! How exciting that you’re thinking of buying a cat of your own. Every buyer is looking for different things in a boat, but this was a post I wrote about why we chose the Helia over the other boats, like the Lagoon or the Leopard.


      Let me know if that gives you any more insight into the process we went through.


  • Mike Chaplin July 14, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Awesome read, well thought out and even enlightened me about a few things I would never have though about…. fair winds

  • Dale July 14, 2016, 1:31 pm

    Love your writing…I’ve been following you since the beginning and hope to Chase you on the water some day soon! Thank you…

  • Donna Rohwer July 14, 2016, 2:11 pm

    “Technological dunce”, that phrase brought a smile to my face. I identify with that whole paragraph, I also must admit that I glazed over, and skipped through the descriptions of those types of devices. That’s why I too, rely on the expertise of the engineer in the party of two onboard “Denali Rose”. I also let him answer those questions, and to that end, leave him to put those answers on the blog, in the side panel we call, “Stuff we have and use”.

    I enjoy your blog, and I live vicariously through your exploits, as I don’t think I could enjoy them firsthand, being slightly chicken, well, okay more than slightly.

    Donna/Denali Rose

  • Jeff July 14, 2016, 9:25 pm

    Just found you on CF as i am preparing to go down a similar path. Great post and thanks for the effort you put into this.

    as an aside, over 60 and still have all those devices 🙂

    Cheers, jeff

  • Keith July 15, 2016, 1:32 am

    Hi Tasha, Thank you for the time you have taken that will many of us a lot of time. We bought a FP Lipari Evolution a year ago that we are planning on some long distance cruising in the next couple of years. We bought the boat with the bare essentials for coastal cruising and some charter and sail training work in Sydney. Then allowing us a couple of years to research the must haves for cruising such as water makers, solar panels, gen set, genniker/spinnaker etc, so your article has been excellent in helping us as the unknowns…
    Many thanks
    Keith and Lynda on ‘Too Up’

  • Tina July 15, 2016, 2:12 am

    Thank you for taking the time to share alp that with us! We are in the very early stages of looking and I’m going to read your blog about that next. I really enjoy your videos too!

  • Steve July 15, 2016, 11:46 am

    A really great article and I learnt a HUGE amount from it.
    Great wit and style and makes for a most enjoyable and informative read
    Thanks for the time of putting this together
    wishing you fair winds

  • Becca July 17, 2016, 12:52 pm

    Thanks Tasha! This was very helpful and a great way to remember that there is soooo much stuff the figure out! My husband and I have been watching Chase the Story for awhile and with this post are now blog readers too 🙂 I can totally relate to the thought that some of this stuff is magic- you should have heard our conversation when I asked the difference between amps and volts. I still don’t know if I get it, but I can provision like a boss, so that’s something. We all have our strengths 😉 Safe travels and maybe we’ll run into each other some day on one of our adventures.

  • Amy Torres July 22, 2016, 10:35 pm

    Very informative! Thanks for you candid remarks! Glad I stayed awake to read the whole blog. Lol 😊

  • AussieWayne July 23, 2016, 1:35 am

    Hi Tash and Ryan
    Wow a huge thank you for a very longgggggg blog packed with extremely interesting stuff. Nodded off a couple of times but I kept waking up for more. No just kidding I am being a little Cheeky as it was a riveting easy to read read and I have bookmarked it for future reference. Thank you for your personal effort to inform us all.
    Maybe I need to get out there myself and get some of that salty air in the lungs too but right now I am going home for my regular dose of Chase the Story. Fair Winds

  • Dave July 23, 2016, 10:01 am

    I’m so glad I found your blog, and this post. I’m in the process of selling my company and after much research I had decided that the Helia 44 was the right boat to sail around the world. It’s as much as I could single-hand if necessary and big enough that you’d never feel desperate to get off, so we can actually live on it.

    We’ll be checking the options list at the Southampton boat show in September so all this information is timely. This will be the first and last boat we’ll buy.. After sailing the world it will retire to a pleasant marina in the part of the world that we enjoy the most (with good health care, currently our favorite is Guadalupe) and we’ll winter there, so it’ll be a retirement apartment too – pretty inexpensive as far as real estate goes. It’s too much work fitting out a boat to do it more than once.

    I enjoyed your YouTube videos of Ibiza. Glad you made it back to Bennaras for the drumming on Sundays. It’s a great experience. We were there a couple Sundays ago. We were on a friend’s Swan 65 having sailed there from Sardinia.

    A couple questions:

    Can you reach the head of the mainsail to attach the halyard? My partner is 5’3″ and I worry she won’t be able to reach.

    Do you ever worry about the main being overpowered and not being able to reef it? I’d be interested to know your strategy for handling the mainsail.

    Finally, if you would like crew at short notice drop me a line. I’d love a chance to sail a Helia 44 on passage. I’m pretty flexible, I can fly to anywhere and back from anywhere else with any number of days in between with a couple days notice. I also have my RYA yachtmaster ticket.

  • Matt & Emily July 23, 2016, 11:36 pm

    Thanks again for the referral, Saba deposit complete!

    off line date may 2018

    Matt & Emily

    • Tasha July 27, 2016, 3:52 pm

      How exciting for you guys! I hope it goes smoothly for you — keep me posted in the meantime! Are you getting the blue lights? LOL.

  • Bill July 25, 2016, 6:53 pm

    Wow! Awesome! So helpful! Many thanks to your efforts. 😊😊😊 Now on to your other post of how you chose your 44. 😉⛵⛵

    All the best & fair winds!😊

  • Robi July 26, 2016, 10:06 am

    Hi Tasha and Ryan I bought a FP Lipari 41 and brows website and youtube films. I got to yours and its so precise fun and informative I keep watching daily waiting another 115 days until I am on the “road” myself. Many of the things incl. the blue light, my predecessor included. A few things you listed in “bought and learned” I put on my to do list. Foremost the outbord engine hoist and storage plate- just great.
    ..and as a RC Modelareoplane flyer I loved your first steps with the Phantom Multicopter – :-))

    • Tasha July 27, 2016, 3:56 pm

      Hey Robi!
      Thanks so much for the message and congrats on your Lipari and the plans to hit the high seas. It’s a great life, albeit a lot of work, even on a new boat (all boats are a lot of work, it seems. I wish I could get you to teach me how to control my drone better — I’m getting better, but mostly I’m really good at crashing it. LOL.

  • Gerry July 26, 2016, 9:48 pm

    A great read that serves as encouragement for me to follow my dream of sailing the western Atlantic-Carribean-Bahamas in my retirement which is coming soon. Keep up the great writing and fair winds!

  • Eric Fletcher July 30, 2016, 5:06 pm

    Great read! Having read it to the end I want to know what may bonus is! But really, your posting great information and I love watching your guys videos and I’m not really a boater! I’m a pilot!

    If you guys stop in SoCal give a heads up I’d love to tour the boat and look at the engine room!

  • Terysa August 9, 2016, 11:14 am

    That conversation with the couple who invited themselves onboard literally made me laugh out loud. I cannot tell you how much I despise those conversations. Well done for coming up with semi plausible answers even if you made them up- I barely know what a watt IS let alone how many watts our solar panels have. Sooo boring. Great blog though- well done for making this stuff sort of interesting to read about!
    Terysa recently posted…A Week In FlorenceMy Profile

  • Cyrille R August 18, 2016, 1:31 pm

    Hi Tasha,
    This is a fantastic post! Thanks for taking the time to do the summary.
    Impressive how you can make a boring (even if necessary) subject so much fun to read!
    I loved the zzzzz when it’s getting to geeky!
    Above all, the blue lights seem one of the most important item to include now. FP may need to include it as standard for the maestro option? You may have started something important with these lights (future sign for fun and cool cat owners…)
    Pacific seems to make videos upload more challenging. It’s hard to wait for your new story, but great to read the blog articles and Facebook update. Have fun in French Polynesia, it’s AWESOME (word used in purpose, as the English definition, not the American one 😉 hope you’ll agree !

    • Tasha August 30, 2016, 4:08 pm

      Hi Cathy,
      Thanks so much for the comment! The Pacific is incredibly challenging when it comes to uploading blogs, building websites and especially uploading videos. I am sitting here now watching a video upload and it’s taken 1 hour to get to 1%. I know being off the grid is a luxury…but having fast WiFi is a luxury, too! (I think the key is knowing when to take advantage of each, lol).

      We absolutely love French Polynesia so far and are in no hurry to get out of here. We’re currently in Fakarava planning to do some diving if and when I can get this video uploaded!


  • Tim August 24, 2016, 5:10 am

    Re your water maker.
    When you service it you could think of adding the second membrane tube. In most systems you can add a second tube and up the output. The second tube my not even have to be from the same maker, in side they all work the same. This guy may be able to offer advice on an upgrade http://www.cruiserowaterandpower.com.

    • Tasha August 30, 2016, 3:57 pm

      Hey Tim,
      Thanks for that link! We looked into adding a second membrane and the cost was more than we thought was worth it. But I’ll look at this research and see what’s possible. Thanks again!


  • steve winn August 24, 2016, 9:15 pm

    I left a comment on your latest vlog as you sailed through the Panama canal, asking you and your husbands opinion n Cat v Mono. Having just read this blog, I see that question has been very well answered.

    As a 40 something PTSD sufferer who is about to embark solo on his own sailing journey, when I do decide what to buy ;), I hope to see you both out there sometime and buy you both a beer.

    Finally, I love those blue lights, what is not to like!! and I’m a Geordie not a southern softie.

    Blue Skies!!


    • Tasha August 30, 2016, 3:56 pm

      Hey Steve! What an amazing adventure you’re taking on — and you are one of many PTSD sufferers who have written me and told me that sailing has really helped them, so I encourage you to keep going! If we do see you out there, we’ll certainly hit you up for that beer ;-). In the meantime, keep in touch about your sailing progress!


  • Victor August 28, 2016, 8:35 pm

    Tasha…(and of course Ryan)..This summer I just bought a 2014 41′ FP Lipari and found your YouTube videos and this blog… what a great story so far. Very entertaining, informative and enlightening. At times I LMAO with your experiences. You finally answered my questions about my drunk Garmin autopilot, the gennaker and parasail, washer/dryer and watermaker. Great post and it shows how much work you are putting into this. Keep them coming and hope I can meet you and Ryan one day. I live in the Annapolis, MD area and would love to host you at anytime if possible. Like your Helia 44, I too am loving the choice of my FP Lipari. Fairwinds and following seas as you cross the Pacific.

    • Tasha August 30, 2016, 3:54 pm

      HI Victor,
      So glad you found us! We were hoping to get home this fall and maybe hit the Annapolis boat show, but i’m not sure if that will happen now. But if we’re in town, I’ll certainly look you up!

      Enjoy the Lipari — great boat! (What’s the boat name, in case we ever spot you?)


  • Doug August 30, 2016, 12:13 am

    Tasha and Ryan, thank you so much for the post. I am looking at the New FP 47 for my adventure. Your blog and YouTube Channel have been the plethora of information. I’m researching so many options myself and coming to similar conclusions. Your insights and willingness to share are wonderful. Again, thank you!

  • azhar September 5, 2016, 3:59 am

    hi ryan n tasya,
    excelent write up. very interesting story and experience onboard cheeky monkey. keep the good work. hope fully to see you both.

    lumut, malaysia

  • Rob Bucklin September 7, 2016, 12:35 pm

    Tasha, Just getting caught up. For some reason I stopped getting ur updates so I re-registered. That was the write up I was looking for, and you are no “Dunce” about all that stuff! Loved the visiting John story, LOL. My eyes were rolling into the back of my head just reading it. OMG!

    So jealous of where you are right now! Want to go diving with sharks, hang in a hammock, climb some hills (oops, have to wait for bigger islands) and see the marine life. Eating fresh fish, enjoying the blue lights in a tropical paradise…. Ahhhhhhh

    Rob and Susan in NC

  • Allan Kirch September 11, 2016, 9:57 pm

    Very informative. More than that it is immensely entertaining. Your writing is a joy to read. Thanks for sharing.

  • Steve & Liana onley September 16, 2016, 9:37 am

    Tasha & Ryan
    We really enjoyed this your blog and your videos.
    Like you we are sailing around the world. The last 9 months have been shake down cruises off the east coast of the United States. We just spent 3 months on the hook testing out all of our systems before we leave in November. We decided on more solar we currently only have 385 watts not enough to keep up so we run our 8500 watt gen to often. I was looking at flexible solar panels on our hard top dodger you said you can walk on them? I thought that was a marketing gimmick! Are they holding up for you guys. Also you helped answer a big question for us about the iridium go. We have sail mail ” never used it” but feel sat comms would be best because we also are keeping a blog of our travels. We have the bigger water maker, and even the vertifrigo Ice maker. Ours works like a charm sorry yours sucks. We bought ours from a dealer in the US
    We are considering the wind gen option but it sounds like solar was the way to go, less noise.
    Also I will be replacing my primary anchor with a Rocna thanks for helping us with that decision!
    We currently have a 50kg Lewmar claw and a 60 lb CQR.
    Do you think the parasailor is a good option for a monohull? I see you have done some sailing on those too. Our last boat was a Catalina 34 also. We are sailing a 50′ Gulfstar custom and have a spinnaker already, are you seeing other monohull sailors using them.
    Are they hard to raise with just two people ?
    Thanks guys, safe travels….

  • Brad September 28, 2016, 2:51 pm

    You rock! We are in the mid-planning stages of buying a catamaran (likely a 38-44 range) to begin our own adventure across the seas and your blog nailed quite a few things that I have been reading about and wondering about and stressing about. Love how you put it into simple terms and hit on the stuff that matters – boat, sails, power, water, communications and remembering it’s all about ENJOYING THE RIDE! BAM! You guys are great. THANK YOU! Hey, you should think about writing a blog or start a YouTube channel…

  • Otangelo Grasso November 5, 2016, 6:35 pm

    Hi Tasha

    this is by far the best and most informative blog about catamarans and sailing i have come across.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Tasha November 28, 2016, 1:30 pm

      Aw, thanks so much Otangelo! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it!


  • Petar Maksimović November 21, 2016, 5:31 pm

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for sharing part of your life with us! Really enjoying it…

    As marine electronics tecnician in Malta, and Garmin specialist, I’m quite amazed with your drunken sailor pilot issue. There could be a few things to consider, but troubleshooting is rather straight forward, I might send you suggestions if you want.

    Last summer I was fixing wiggling pilot on brand new FP Lucia (my personal dream cat) arrived in the island for warranty fix up. Problem was in floppy commissioning by FP on take over. Sorted out with software update and bit of manual tune up.

    Anyhow, if you need any help with Garmin or other electronics gear, feel free to drop email.


    • Tasha November 28, 2016, 1:30 pm

      Hey Petar!
      Thanks so much for the offer of help with our Garmin. It’s funny because every Garmin technician so far has told us that the Garmin does waver and overcompensate the way we were describing it did — so I assumed there was nothing we could do about the “drunken sailor” driving of the autopilot.

      But if you think there are ways we can troubleshoot that, I would LOVE some tips!



  • Clive December 10, 2016, 5:20 pm


    Fabulous blog and channel – entertaining and educational all-in-one! Having just seen a news article about Elon Musk’s business now offering an upgraded Powerwall 2 system for home use, I wondered if you’d explored anything like that for marine use? [No idea if it’s realistic or safe] apparently it offers 14KWh for $5,500, but then it weighs 120kg… I guess the question is really one of figuring out what your panels can deliver – but maybe it’s good enough to remove the need to run the generator every day?

    Oh, and… can’t leave without adding that your music choices for your videos are sublime… have been hitting iTunes since I got hooked on your channel!

    Take Care


  • Rouchon December 29, 2016, 9:32 am

    My Hélia 44 evolution is in construction available for June 2017.
    Thank you for all these valuable indications.
    Happy New Year 2017.
    Philippe Rouchon
    Bordeaux France

  • Mark J January 9, 2017, 4:50 pm

    This was a very informative and entertaining description of your FP. She sounds like a wonderful choice. Would you share your feelings on your choosing a cat without daggerboards for blue water cruising? Thanks!

  • Carlo March 3, 2017, 3:45 am

    Great channel and fabulous blog. Thanks for sharing!

  • Martin March 24, 2017, 6:37 am

    Although you say you fell asleep seven times I need to admit I could not stop reading.
    You have a great and very lively writing style. Shows your passion to what you do and your attitude for life. Great stories!

    Cheers martin

  • Rush March 31, 2017, 2:30 am

    Very nice summary of what you like and don’t like and why – very helpful, Thanks

  • Rafal May 17, 2017, 1:49 pm


    you are making a great job with your youtube videos and this blog. Thx

  • John salbato June 1, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Your blog has been fantastic ,followed you from the beginning your blog and your YouTube channel,especially liked your sailing and fishing upside down real and all ,look forward to my own adventure very soon,great inspiration

  • Jens Hansen July 24, 2017, 11:42 am

    Thanks for very informative blog . Huge help for my own planning to sail around the world in my Motiva 39 ..I work as profesional Seaman in offshore .
    This blue light we often have near entrance doors on our accomodation because
    that blue light avoid moskito to enter inside . Moskitos dont like that blue light 🙂

  • Rich Thomas July 29, 2017, 9:00 pm

    Hey Tasha. Just to let you know that people over 60 (me) also have all those devices to keep charged!

  • Elliott Bennett-Guerrero August 26, 2017, 9:19 am

    What an amazing review!!! I am a fellow New Yorker (grew up in thr East Village) and cruise on a 42 ft monohull on LI Sound. I have 2 quick questions:
    1) If you had to do it over again do you have any suggestions on doing the davits differently (if possible) to get the inflattable up higher? For example, on the Leopard 44 their custom mechanism seems to get the dinghy up pretty high.
    2) You mentioned that you left the parasailor up for a week. Can I assume there were no squalls. Did you leave it up for some squalls? Seems like many folks worry about having big headsails up at night or if squally conditions so would appreciate your take on this since you are obviously very safety oriented.

  • Megan November 9, 2017, 12:34 pm

    This was awesome! My husband and I are dreaming of how quickly we can leave our jobs and sail the Caribbean. You have a wealth of information we are soaking in! Will be following ALL your posts!

  • Susan November 11, 2017, 12:36 am


    Having really enjoyed your blog in the past, it was with a bit of amazement when my husband and I are cycling (as the thing tourists do) along the Brisbane river and we see Cheeky Monkey.

    Flying back home to NZ tomorrow, but would like to say thanks for your very enjoyable stories.


  • Leo Tat January 8, 2018, 5:52 pm

    Haha, I can totally picture the strangers coming onto your boat with the same tour and conversations repeatedly. Your boat looks awesome and spacious, and I’d probably be one of those strangers too if I had the chance lol.
    Leo Tat recently posted…Best Turmeric Curcumin Extract Supplements Review & DosagesMy Profile

  • Davor January 25, 2018, 9:45 am

    Hi, have you ever been sailing in Croatia? It’s a beautiful country.

  • Amanda Harris June 13, 2018, 12:11 am

    Tasha, Thank You for this! It was really helpful 🙂

  • Royalty Yachts July 4, 2018, 9:37 am

    Thanks Tasha! Always nice to follow up on your adventures! Fair winds!

  • Chuck August 2, 2018, 12:09 am

    Great post, Tasha! Keep the information coming.

  • Nigel October 11, 2018, 5:15 am

    Brilliant. One of my bucket list items is to eventually sell up everything and sail around the world in a cat. This sort of account I imagine to be invaluable! Thanks. Just one question. You hear about pirates a lot these days – places to avoid?

  • Adrian December 31, 2018, 6:22 pm


    Love your blog, it always gives me ideas and inspiration. If you ever sail over to Bermuda make sure to look me up..


  • Ashley Hoober February 27, 2019, 5:30 am

    Love the little barbecue. Such a cool blog, inspires me to follow my dream of a cross country van road trip

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