Gear at the 1500

The Caribbean 1500 was a success in 2005. It seems like everyone had a great time, and for the most part, everyone was safe and happy. If you’ve been wondering how everyone else survived, here’s your chance. SAIL sent out a survey to participants after the cruise in order to get a feel for what type of equipment was used and whether or not it worked well. The results are in, and it looks like there are a few MVPs. Take a look to see if you’ve got the most reliable cruising equipment out there.

-watches were generally three to four hour shifts with six or nine hour breaks
-in bad weather, watches were shortened by an hour or so
-in one case, watches were done by two crew members for six hours at a time: the crew member with the day off cooked for the rest

Weather receiving software
-Ocens with WeatherNet was the most popular choice
-Maxsea and Globalstar were also recurrent
-email with CaribWX was a lifesaver on Daydream

-Raymarine chartplotters with Cmap chips were the mode for the cruise
-Windows XP was coupled with Maxsea and WeatherNet
-a Toshiba with a Raytech Navigator and a Cmap PC Planner

Radio transceiver
-the ICOM (710, 602, 706, 718) was widely used by sailors: tuning to the correct frequency was a little complex, and the mic was temperamental in bad weather
-the SEA32255B is another radio that performed well

Satellite telephone
-the Globalstar was used the most. Its performance was perfect when getting data, but the transmission of voices dropped out from time to time in inclement weather. The GSP
-1600 was convenient with its hands free feature and external antenna
-Qualcom worked well too

Instrument package
-Raymarine was the pick for the trip. The only glitch was the fact that the knotmeter fell out of calibration a couple of times
-B&G Hydra200 is another recommendation

GPS Units
-Everyone had at least one and up to three fixed GPS units (only one boat went without)
-Two, three, and four handhelds were aboard each boat except for a few that carried only one

Food Variety
-pre-cooked casseroles and lasagnas were the most popular for dinner
-snacks were fresh and dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, cookies, cheese and crackers, granola bars, peanut butter and crackers, etc.
-canned goods provided only misery for most boats
-an abundance of snacks is necessary: especially for the night watches
-the boat whose crew ate hot meals for a majority of the nights seemed the most satisfied all around

Alternative steering system
-pretty much every boat had an extra tiller
-rope drogues and autopilots were also taken aboard
-warps with chain boards were also popular (see Bill Springer article in Feb. ’06)

Electrical power generation
-120 and 140 amp alternators were used on board
-solar panels were used on almost all boats, but the engines had to be running two to three hours a day in order for them to function correctly

Mainsail track and car system
-Harken Batcars were the most popular choice
-in-mast furling (either Profurl, Selden, or Hood) proved to be lifesavers
-Monitor and Lewmar tracks and cars were also a good choice

-most crews and captains were very pleased to have a watermaker on board
-a few good brands are Spectra Catalina 300 (automatic) Little Wonder, PUR 80, Spectra 12V, and the Sea Recovery

Equipment failures
-most of the problems were small, like a clogged fuel filter, a bolt on an autopilot sheared off, and the helm electrics got damp. These were all fixed or tolerated
-one rudder was broken, which served to be a bigger problem

Best Equipment performances
-the autopilots had the best performance all around (Autohelm 6000 and 7000 especially)
-owners of the SAGA 43 and Hunter 426 were especially pleased with their boats’ performances
-rigging and lights proved to be dependable

Unnecessary gear
-extra anchors
-washer and dryer combo

-pick a talented and responsible crew
-an in-mast furler is essential
-make sure to have lots of spare parts and the tools that go with them

Have any suggestions that didn’t make it in? Email them to

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