Archive for January, 2014

Vertue Engine and Alternator Sizes

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

As there seem to be a few Vertue Owners logging in I thought it might be useful to describe Sumara’s engine and the charging arrangement and to open up some thoughts as to the ideal horse power for a Vertue. I seem to remember coming across one Vertue with a 20 hp engine and I believe some have 10 hp Yanmars. I suppose the engine size depends on what you propose to use the yacht for. If you moor at the head of a strongly tidal estuary and you mainly sail at weekends then perhaps 20 hp would be a good choice. If you like to venture further afield, then a smaller engine will allow for a larger fuel tank. I like the 12 hp size, it has a bit of grunt when needed (especially with the alternator turned off – I’m coming to that!) and yet it will gently push the yacht through hundreds of miles of flat sea when the calms set in. A worry with a large engine is the tendency for Vertues to squat. When Terry built Sumara he was well aware of this problem and sneaked in an extra couple of inches to the turn of the bilge under the cockpit. Even with this extra buoyancy she sits down when all the crew are snugged up aft. My feeling is that a larger and heavier engine would result in needing to add weight up forward with a negative effect on her ability to respond to large waves. Going smaller would be fine but it could be a struggle to get into harbours like Dover against a spring tide (even with 12 hp, Dover needs care if the timing is wrong).

Sumara has a 12 hp Kubota which Terry maranised. Transmission is via a Hurth gearbox. She is solidly mounted to heavy bearers and raw water cooled. As the engine is now 22 years old with a good few hours I am able to vouch for the installation and the raw water cooling. Being solidly mounted allows for the engine controls to all be via stainless rods rather than cables. This makes the controls pretty bullet proof. The raw water cooling simplifies the engine and results in far better belt grip on the alternator because the belt does not have to drive the heat exchanger pump and therefore has a 180° grip on the alternator pulley.

When I installed the Eberspacher heater for the first Arctic trip I had to give consideration to the battery capacity. I spent a year or two researching and, with the help of Merlin Power, came up with the following highly successful solution.

I installed a Balmar 75 Ah marine grade alternator. It is twice the size generally used on this size of engine. I also installed a Balmar controller which enables me to run the alternator at half power or turn it off entirely. So now I have and engine which, at the flick of a switch, turns into a generator to charge the batteries at anchor. On full power it takes about 3.5 hp off the engine. The extra load put on the engine while charging at anchor helps to prevent the cylinders from glazing (so they tell me!). I can also turn the alternator off when I need every bit of motive power I can get to round the harbour wall.

To make use of all this power I changed the batteries to Adanced Glass Matt batteries choosing a 105 Ah (or was it 120 Ah) general service battery and a small light punchy 45 Ah engine start battery. I actually saved weight on the old twin 75 Ah lead acid batteries while dramatically increasing the capacity. Furthermore there is no chance of leakage of acid into the bilge. The batteries charge faster too so in no time the little engine has topped everything up.

Sumara’s Maintenance

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

South Dock

19th January 2014

There were a few jobs that I wanted to get out of the way before Sumara is lifted into the yard. My poor Eberspacher had conked out after the Jan Mayen trip so I sent it off for servicing. Easier said than done because it is mounted in a totally inaccessible spot under the aft deck. This very small area also has the exhaust swan neck and various bilge pump pipes and sea cocks. Access is by wrapping your arm in through tiny locker hatches and everything is done by mirrors and taking snaps on the phone! Without my Festool work light I think I would have given up. In any case the newly serviced heater eventually went back in place using about 8,000 different tools and wearing Puggy gloves to stop the shards of razor sharp tubing slicing up my delicate mitts. I went below to start it up but nothing showed on the screen. I had a further mooch around checking the wires etc and when I was taking out the fuse I noticed the control panel lit up. I fiddled with it and cleaned up the fuse and it all worked well. I reckon it was probably the scruffy fuse that was the problem in the first place. Maybe I could have saved the £600.00 service fee but at least it should perform well during our Arctic trip this year. Also on my to do list was to service the cooker and move the pressure tank into Sumara’s forepeak. This will free up space under the cooker for pots and pans and keep all the paraffin tanks together. The tank is now mounted as is the new fuel filter. I’ve just got to service the cooker, polish it up and pipe it all in. Nice evening jobs for next week.

Newly Positioned Paraffin Tank in the Forepeak

Newly Positioned Paraffin Tank in the Forepeak

The Cramped Mass of Pipes in the Lazarette

The Cramped Mass of Pipes in the Lazarette

Vertue News

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

South Dock 19th January 2014

I went to the Boat Show out of habit really. My expectations were very low. Last year the day out was made worthwhile because the show was linked to the outdoor show. The combination worked well with good stands in the Outdoor Show selling binoculars, cameras, decent clothing and bikes. This year the other show was the Telegraph Cruise Show. Zero interest from me I’m afraid.

However the start of the show wasn’t too bad at all. Firstly the trip there was fun. We went by boat from Greenland Pier (next door!) and took the cable car across the river. A great trip but a bit pricey. Tarik from Rotamarine had kindly given us two free tickets so that was an excellent start. We entered the hall and turned right and enjoyed our stroll down the aisle chatting with various stand holders until we reached the Adventure Cruising Corner. This was the best bit of the show. We went to two talks. Tom Cunliffe was hysterical the way he was slagging off all the AWB’s. I’m surprised the organisers didn’t throw him out. Then came Will Sterling who gave three shorts talks about his trip to the magnetic North Pole, his amazing “new” boat yard in Plymouth, and his dinghy sailing trips out to lighthouses. These adventurous dinghy trips suited his desire for adventurous sailing yet without taking up too much precious time.

Will as sailed around Spitzbergen, right the way around it, which is quite a feat and we had a good chat. As it happens he is currently renovating Vertue V111 (Tom Thumb). This sounds like a fine all teak Vertue built to Lloyds A100 specification. His client is keen to have everything in top order without it brimming with technical gadgets. It sounds like the yacht will be going on some adventures once the work is all finished. Will came down to have a look at Sumara and we had a grand evening together chatting about Vertues. Tom Thumb has a deck stepped mast so the layout inside is quite different to Sumara but we swapped information about cockpit locker drains (I’m rather proud of mine!) and teak decks.

I heard from two other Vertues this week. A chap called Greg Currie dropped me an email to say he owned Vertue V162 in Australia and was keen to see Sumara when he visits London in February. I shall look forward to that.

I sent Adrian Morgan a copy of our theatre catalogue as I had read in Classic Boat that he is an avid fan of the Axminster Catalogue. I received a nice acknowledgment and an invitation to sail in company with Sally Vertue V2 the next time we are on the West Coast of Scotland. Well sadly that will be a few years away with the Russia Trip being next on the list.