Ellie’s arrival has been a marker. She’s been looking around the boat – and we’ve been filling her in. So, for better or worse, I feel a list coming on. I have mixed feelings about lists. Mostly that they’re boring – to read and write. But sometimes they’re handy too.
So, with no further ado, here’s a list of new equipment Quest has acquired since Ellie was last onboard in 2015. Questie’s flex I call it. Also known as the painful expense of being a cruiser.
- Cockpit canvas roof and side panels. Keeps both rain and sun out. How on Earth did we cope without them? Ellie can’t remember either.
- Solar panels. Strictly speaking, we had solar panels when Ellie was last here, but not the beefy ones we bought in the Caribbean. They changed our life. 610 watts. On sunny days the inverter goes on before lunch.
- Hydrovane autopilot. Best transom handhold we ever bought. The hydrovane has never worked well for us – at least not in a following sea. It’s twitchy on the beam too. Wonderful handhold – but we mostly leave the rest of the hydrovane in the cupboard. Sad but true.
- Water maker. This, on the other hand, is a miracle machine. 30 litres an hour run by our solar panels. I know the science of how it works – and it’s still a miracle to me.
- Copper coat. Quest’s reddish/green, copper-painted bottom. Now we don’t have to constantly scrape barnacles and other critters off Quest’s hull. No more beard on her bottom. Because who wants a beard growing on their bottom?
- Folding propellor – it’s a propellor… that folds. Not sure how exciting that is for Ellie. Hmmm. We do go faster though. This makes Horatio very happy. Cap’s happy, we’re happy.
- LED lights throughout Quest. Good for the long nights which arrive like a tropical light switch and stay for the whole 12 hours before dawn interrupts. No mains on Quest, so LEDs slow the burn.
- New plotter. To be honest, I’m still worried about using it. It’s touchscreen and well, scary to touch. I got worried when Dennis the electrician did a demo and showed us if you press the screen in a certain way, it creates a waypoint and the boat automatically turns in that direction. I have very mixed luck with technology. On the other hand, the old plotter had a great gossipy device where you could check every other boat out on AIS. Need to find this screen.
- New radar. Last weekend’s squally passage made us realise how wonderful radar is. Through our settings, it came on every five minutes and scanned the area. The screen lit up with red areas – rain coming our way. Green areas – rain leaving our way. Two coloured lights kept me awake all night without coffee. Fantastic.
- New instruments. Cool coloured wind panel and electronic scrolling panels – woohoo! Fidgety rubber covers designed to frustrate nail-biters though. Good thing Ellie’s here – I’ve noticed. Only person on Quest with nails.
- New sensors for George. Still can’t remember where these sensors are, but they’re awesome. George definitely moves less dramatically than before. He would also sometimes turn off completely – just to keep us on our toes. No one enjoyed this, George.
- New, more powerful AGM house batteries. You can’t see them – they are under the floor. They’re still there though.
- Evil Edna – the whole set-up. Dinghy, engine, all the bits which come with it. Dinghy chaps, small pretty anchor, just-try-and-rob-us chain. This is probably the most dramatic new experience for Ellie. When we picked her up from the dinghy dock, put her bag in the front and sped off after the marina, she laughed in surprise. Evil Edna likes to steal the show.