Sailing Back to the Virgin Islands. Is the Third Time Really the Charm?


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Landfall in the Virgin Islands
15 December 2021

Once we got the FlexOFold prop dialed in I finally managed some time to take the Far Reach out on a four days cruise. We motored down the ICW from the Neuse River to Beaufort NC–about 28 miles. The engine worked perfectly. Then we beat out the inlet 8 miles to the Bight at the Cape Lookout Seashore.

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Getting the FlexOFold Propeller Right

As part of the new engine installation and modification I installed a two blade FlexOFold propeller.

With the boat back in the water the most pressing issue was to get the propeller pitch right. Farron Peffer at Beta Marine was adamant that we should strive to get the max RPM at wide open throttle (WOT) within 50 RPMs of the designed 3,600 RPM. He explained that even though we might never operate at max RPM having the pitch and diameter of the propeller correct would insure the engine was operating in its sweet spot at any RPM and would not be working in an overloaded capacity which could shorten it’s life. The other thing Farron mentioned was you want to make sure you can achieve the full 25 HP if necessary and you can’t do that if you can’t attain max specified RPM when under load. Last, he said it is better to be slightly over max designed RPM than under.

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Finally, Relaunch and Underway


It was a long 22 month project. It was a great day to get the Far Reach back into her element.

Needless to say it was a great day to relaunch the Far Reach after nearly 22 months on the hard. It was long complex project and I am glad it is behind us. She went into the water easily. I checked the seacocks and stuffing box. No leaks. We pulled her out of the slings and secured her alongside the dock. I started the engine and let it run about ten minutes. We shifted into forward and reverse to make sure the linkages were connected correctly. I rechecked the stuffing box and had a few drips. That’s what we wanted but I had nothing to compare it too.

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Big Changes…Part IV: Installing the Engine

With the engine and all of its support systems installed including, the cabinetry that comprises the engine box, we are ready to relaunch the Far Reach.

This is part IV and the conclusion of the engine installation project.

This post covers installing the inboard engine, installing the fuel system, aligning the shaft, building and installing battery boxes and the batteries and cables, installing the engine throttle control head, starting and test running the engine, stripping and reapplying barrier coat and anti fouling paint, installing the two blade folding propeller and making final preparations for relaunching the Far Reach after 20 months on the hard.

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Big Changes…Part III

Building and Installing the 12v panel and Supporting Systems.

Before I started the project I made a sketch of what I envisioned for a new 12v DC

With the engine beds installed it was time to start work on the new larger electrical panel to replace the small one I used for the last five years. I decided to reuse the 8 breaker Blue Seas 12v panel. I only used four of the breakers before: 12v accessory plugs, LED lights (which I added for the second voyage to the West Indies), AIS, and compass light. I also decided to move the panel from its previously hidden location near the inboard side of the quarter berth to under the bridge-deck, where it would be more accessible, and combine it with the Beta Marine engine instrument cluster, battery monitor, and battery switch. The new panel will be hidden by sliding doors.

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Big Changes…Part II

The aluminum diesel fuel tank is 19.7 gallons. It contains a full vertical baffle in the center and a clean out port on each side of the baffle.

Installing an engine requires a number of supporting projects. In Part I, I described how I modified the rudder, installed a shaft log, and built and installed engine beds. In Part II, I will describe how I designed and installed the fuel tank; designed, fabricated, and installed brackets to secure the Luke 70 pound storm anchor; designed, fabricated, and installed a removable engine drip pan; and installed the engine intake flush through-hull and seacock, as well as a few other ongoing projects.

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Big Changes…. Part I

We had the Far Reach hauled out at Jarett Bay Boatyard
near Beaufort NC

I built the Far Reach to be simple—and she has served me very well that way. She has never failed me and in our time together she has safely carried me to a number of magical destinations. With her taller rig, longer bowsprit, and modified underbody she has proven to be surprisingly capable upwind as well as off the wind. She is fast. In fact, I have had to slow her down a number of times, especially singlehanding. She is as reliable as the day is long. She is comfortable. She is beautiful. As John Keats the poet observed, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

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Sculling an 18,000 lb Boat? Yes You Can.


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Sculling the FarReach out of her slip on 25 Nov 2018 at the beginning of my singlehanded voyage to the Virgin Islands.

During the six year rebuild of the Far Reach I decided to remove and sell the original Perkins 4-108 50 hp diesel engine (you can read more about the decision process to ditch the engine here). We initially relied on a sculling oar to propel and maneuver the boat for the first year after the launch which included 3,500nm of sailing and a voyage to the Virgin Islands and back to North Carolina.

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Sailing Home Singlehanded: Virgin Islands to North Carolina

I don’t feel lonely at sea. After many thousands of miles together the Far Reach and I are a team.

With a reasonable weather forecast I slipped the mooring in Elephant Bay at 0800 on 10 June and sailed the Far Reach through the mooring field past all my live-aboard friends. I let loose on the conch horn I was given by my friend Ali Baba with as long a wailing trumpet blast as I could manage. With the wind out of the east about 15-20 kts I ran west along the south coast of St Thomas. My phone was buzzing with texts from my friends I had made during my time in the VI wishing me a safe trip home. I had a lump in my throat. While ready to get home I already missed my friends and the wonderful time I had in the Virgin Islands. But I needed to get focused on the voyage that lay before me. Once clear of the west end of St Thomas I turned the Far Reach NW leaving Savannah Island to starboard and then headed out into the Atlantic. In short order I had the whisker pole up and the jib winged out and started what would be days of downwind sailing wing and wing.

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