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Gear and Preparation

Gear and Preparation

View From the Mast

Looking down at Aldabra from halfway up the mast

Looking down at Aldabra from halfway up the mast

This shot was taken as I was doing some work halfway up the mast. You can see several of Aldabra’s solar panels. There are also two more on the rails that are folded down at the moment. We’re pretty sure these panels will handle most of my electrical needs. You can also see on the deck the yellow jugs for extra diesel fuel (and one red for gasoline) that will be stored on the deck because there is never enough storage inside a boat.

Gear and Preparation

Almost ready to leave

After a few years of preparation, Aldabra (a 1997 Catalina 42 Mk II) is nearly ready to leave Santa Cruz and set sail for parts south. We recently did a test sail to the San Francisco Bay and back and everything worked. With a month to go, we’re finishing up some projects before I move all my gear onboard to set sail.

This has been no small undertaking and I’m forever in debt to Jim Foley and Chris Bryant. Jim has ingeniously done most of the refitting himself and coached me at every step. Chris has done major electrical work in cramped quarters for the solar and battery management as well pumps, fans and lights and switches. He’s also cleaned up a lot of the previous wiring. I also got great help from marine-industry professionals. Matthew Coale did the rerigging, installed new navigation lights and coached me on rebedding hatches and replacing the steering cable. Johnson Hicks installed the new navigation and communication electronics, Monterey Bay Canvas did the canvas and upholstery, SeaTech Systems configured the laptop with electronic charts and a host of useful software, Homer Lighthall did fiberglass repairs and John Poole installed the refrigeration system.

This doesn’t mean that all the projects have been completed. Here’s what will have been done and what will still be on the list for completion, perhaps in San Diego.


New Yanmar 56HP diesel engine, transmission, ventilation, fuel/water separation filter, diesel generator and fuel tank removed, seven solar panels and controller installed and connected to Ample Power system, new AGM batteries installed, new inflatable and outboard motor, with towing line and anchor.


New mainsail and jib, used 3 oz. genoa added to sail inventory, which includes spinnaker, second jib and drifter. Storm sails in new condition were already on the boat. We also have a sea anchor and drogue.


Standing rigging replaced, lifelines replaced, much of running rigging replaced, steering cable and chain replaced, winch mounted on mast, boom bails replaced, installed boom preventer.

Ground tackle

New Manson Supreme anchor with rode and snubber added to secondary bow anchor and stern anchor, new Maxwell windlass installed.


Fresh water system refurbished (hoses, fixtures, pumps and fittings), Spectra watermaker refurbished and reinstalled, hot water heater replaced.


Waste system refurbished (heads, hoses, pumps).


Navigation lights replaced with LEDs, new B&G system installed (autopilot, chartplotters, broadband radar, AIS, forward scanning sonar), back-up CPT autopilot installed, paper charts and cruising guides


New VHF radio, SSB radio with Pactor modem, Iridium satphone, WiFi booster, on-board PC with backup laptop


New cockpit cushions, bimini, dodger and sail covers, sun screens, nearly all hatches removed, refurbished and reinstalled.


New interior cushions and upholstery, all interior lights replaced with LEDs, cabin fans installed, screens for all hatches repaired


Freezer rebuilt, new Sea Frost refrigeration and freezer systems installed, galley floor replaced, new oven/stove


New Viking 6-person liferaft mounted on deck, jacklines and deck fittings installed, ditch bag assembled with EPIRB, VHF radio, portable watermaker, signaling gear, fishing gear, medical kit, food, etc., personal AIS/strobe devices for crew on watch, emergency bilge pump

Convenience gear added

Cordless electric winch handle, flopper stopper, rail-mounted step

Other gear onboard

Dive gear, reference books, cookware, photography equipment, emergency tiller, spare prop

Remaining on the list: mast steps mounted, interior storage systems installed throughout boat (fabric and netting), rainwater cache system, complete cleanup of electrical wiring, and of course fix everything that breaks along the way