The Log of Moira


Moira’s Project Photos




This is one of Larry’s pages.


Solar panels: three Kyocera 110's, produce 30-100Ah per day
    Panel mounted on hard dodger Plastic angles on corners prevent mainsheet from snagging on panel.
    Two panels on "RADAR" arch
    Two panels, view from starboard
    Details of mounting frame, from starboard Black box at forward end is electrical terminal attachment box.
    Details of mounting frame, from port  RADAR arch is clamped in a sandwich of three layers of 1-1/2" aluminum channel. Since tubing on arch is 1-1/4" O.D., clamping is achieved with a pad of 1/2" Neoprene in the slots beneath the arch tubes.
    Closeup of clamping arrangement of frame
    View of frame from side
    Junction box and regulator Junction box contains diodes and 30A fuse.
    The reward -- free electricity Showing 20 Amps silently flowing in to the batteries. This is the maximum observed rate, typical for a sunny day has been about 16 Amps.  

Wind-powered generator. When I put in the solar panels, my goal was that the panels should meet our needs for electrical energy nine days out of ten. For the first several years, they did so. Paradoxically, when we were near the Equator, they didn’t keep up, because where we were (the Peninsula Santa Elena region on the coast of Ecuador) is overcast most days (on rare sunny days, the solar panels still produce at the same rate as when new). Also, the “sunny Caribbean” is anything but—we’ve observed 50% cloud cover to be typical there in some seasons. So in preparation for our transit to the Caribbean, it became time to seek an additional alternative energy source.

I debated long over a towed generator, bu the miserable fact is that we spend 8 or 9 days out of 10 at anchor (or in a marina, which is equivalent if you don’t plug in, which we try not to for several reasons).


A wind-powered generator was the obvious choice, but where to put it? I looked at mounting the generator on the mast, or suspending it in the fore triangle, both of which introduced too many complications for me. Putting it on the arch—the conventional location—was out of the question because of the first constraint: do nothing to inhibit the effectiveness of the solar panels. For an aft mounting, the constraints were:


I located the base of the tower on the outside of the hull just below the toerail, which put the tower about 2’ aft of the arc of the end of the boom. For bracing, I ran a single tubular strut from the tower to span the two tubes of the arch. The strut provides excellent fore-and-aft bracing, and what I hope will be adequate lateral bracing: the two tubes of the arch resist lateral motion of the strut and tower because they resist being torqued or twisted relative to one another. Putting the tower further aft would have shortened the lever-arm through which the strut torques the arch, improving lateral bracing, at the cost of increasing the shadow upon the solar panels and interfering with the current location of the stern anchor. “It’s all about tradeoffs.” Only sea-time will tell whether the current bracing needs reinforcement. The key to adjustability was the “universal joint” (another view) which gave near-infinite adjustability in three dimensions.


I chose an Air-X Marine wind generator. I won’t claim that it’s the best. The primary characteristics that appealed to me were that it has just about the largest wingspan that I could fit in the available space (wind generator output is roughly proportional to the square of propeller diameter, so bigger is better), it’s very light (about 10 pounds), and it has a built-in regulator (which simplified the installation).


“Considerations,” or things that will bear watching:


State of Charge Calculator: Battery monitors can be misleading. All the units I know of work by tracking Amps In minus Amps Out minus some fudge factor which estimates how much of the Amps In gets turned into heat during the charging process. So long as you regularly (every couple of weeks) bring the batteries back up to "full" (there's another ill-defined term) then the fudge factor and the percent charged should get reset, so things shouldn't wander too far from fact.


For a second opinion, though, here's a spreadsheet that attempts to calculate the same figures from a different direction. It’s based upon a figure in Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual. It’s figure 1-23 in the 2nd edition. See the comments in the top few cells of the spreadsheet for how-to-use. I’d be interested in hearing how well or poorly it works for you.


Cockpit & Deck

RADAR display mount: swivels so it's visible either from the steering position or when seated under the dodger. Unlike most of the other projects on this page, this one was simply a bolt-on installation of existing technology.

    View from helmsman's position
    View from beneath dodger
    Overview, RADAR turned toward helmsman


Putting it here gives me a chance to sound off on two points:


Our “autopilot,” a cheap and cheerful solution to motoring through calms or motor sailing in very light conditions. On the face of it, woefully underpowered, but given the considerable mechanical advantage of wheel steering, it does a fine job. Motoring in calms, one never needs more than about “half a spoke” of steering each side of center, and the teak bracket on the wheel is positioned such that the “throw” of the ram of the Simrad TP10 gives that much rotation. Completely removable. Sets up in under five minutes. Cheap enough to carry a spare. The large bracket (nicknamed “Frankenstein”) is constructed so that the loads fall upon the face of the cockpit well and the inside face of the coaming box, and not upon the lid or hinge of the cockpit locker. Of course, we rely on the Monitor windvane when sailing.

     Overview, from above

     Attachment to wheel

     Bracket for mounting TP10 to coaming

The first edition of the “autopilot” (Frankenstein) was more than powerful enough, but achieved too limited a rotation of the wheel (about half a spoke on either side of center of our six-spoke wheel) to be effective for motorsailing or sailing. The TP10 is capable of generating about 150 pounds of force with about 10 inches of throw, more than enough force for our purposes, so the question was how to trade some of the force for more rotation. Sounds like a highschool physics problem in leverage, right? By attaching the ram of the TP10 to the “pendulum sheet lines” of the Monitor’s wheel adapter, we halved the amount of force (no problem), and doubled the amount of wheel rotation (more than one spoke on either side of center). Further, we can now use the adjustment capabilities of the wheel adapter of the Monitor to pre-compensate for prop walk or weather helm, allowing the ram of the TP10 to operate consistently in mid-throw. The new edition (formally “Son of Frankenstein,” affectionately called “Frank”) has been in use for several months, both under power and sail, and has exceeded expectations.

     Overview photo

     Movie demonstrating operation: MP4, WMV


Mushroom vent to ventilate engine room. Another bolt-on project, included in this page because it was a bit tricky to find a place for the vent where it wouldn’t be in the way.

     Mariner's Hardware chromed-bronze vent

Chocks for midships and forward cleats, to keep sheets from entanglement and toes from breakage


     Engaged, second view

     Disengaged, showing shock cord and attachment to cleat base

Flopper-stopper, to control rolling at anchor. This is just a sheet of stainless steel, reinforced to prevent buckling, with attachment points welded on for the bridle. We keep the bridle permanently attached to the flopper-stopper. The sheet measures 2’ x 3’, that being the largest size I could figure out how to stow (vertically, in one of the lazarette lockers). In use, we hang it from the end of the spinnaker pole, with fore and after guys. Technical points:


Dinghy Management

Dinghy launching, Mark I: using spinnaker pole and rolling "trolley"
    Trolley assembly
    Dinghy quarter holddown
    Dinghy bow holddown
    4-part tackle (preventer) attached to one side of dinghy harness
    Dinghy partially inverted
    Dinghy righted, from stern, showing internal harness
    Dinghy righted, from bow, showing internal harness
    Dinghy suspended from trolley
    Dinghy swung overside, ready to lower

Dinghy launching, Mark II: using spinnaker pole and outhaul

The Mark I design worked adequately, and would have worked better with a trolley roller that better conformed to the shape of the spinnaker pole. I tried to find a design that would reduce friction and the number of moving parts. The result doesn’t photograph as well as the old, but see sketch. In text, the components are:


One person can control both the outhaul and halyard, assuming the halyard is on a self-tailing winch. Some help with controlling the dink and the outboard end of the pole is desirable (“the helper” in the following description), but not absolutely essential. In a pinch, I have launched and retrieved the dinghy single-handed. The following description assumes that you have a line dedicated to the task of “the outhaul,” with a snatch block permanently secured to one end of the outhaul line with a bowline. The sequence of deployment is:


  1. Attach the pole topping lift to the pole-end fitting, lower the mast end of the pole down the mast track to about shoulder height, and tighten the topping lift to raise the pole to horizontal. Secure the outboard end of the pole temporarily to the staysail stay with a short length of line, on the same side of the stay as you have chosen to launch the dinghy. We usually use the starboard side, since I’m left-handed, so I want to crank the winch with my (stronger) left hand/arm while controlling the outhaul with my right hand. Right-handers may reverse that preference. Also, our boarding ladder is on the starboard side. We attach the topping lift directly to the cast pole-end fitting, not to the wire strop provided, for greater strength.
  2. Tie the pole-end snatch block to the pole-end fitting.
  3. Right the dinghy. My wife and I just lift it up and flip it over the old-fashioned “Armstrong Patent” way, though if we wished we could use the spinnaker halyard to assist, more or less as shown in the “Mark I” version, above, but with the spinnaker halyard and outhaul instead of the trolley. Attach the dinghy painter.
  4. Attach the spinnaker halyard shackle to the dinghy lifting bridle (on the same side of the pole as you will launch), and lead the other end of the halyard to a self-tailing winch on the mast, on the same side of the mast as you will launch the dinghy. We still use the same internal harness as shown in the “Mark I” method.
  5. Reeve the spinnaker halyard through the outhaul snatch block, just above the dinghy bridle.
  6. Reeve the outhaul line through the pole-end snatch block and back to the base of the mast.


Everything is now in readiness. To launch:


  1. Detach the outboard end of the pole from the staysail stay.
  2. The person at the mast takes up tension on the outhaul with one hand (in my case, my right hand), then cranks in the halyard on the winch with the other (my left) until the dinghy lifts off the deck to a height that will clear the stanchions.
  3. The helper swings the pole and the dinghy toward the side.
  4. Since the spinnaker halyard is looked after by the self-tailing winch, the person at the mast now has both hands available. Pull in on the outhaul, which pulls the dinghy outboard, toward the end of the spinnaker pole.
  5. The person at the mast holds tension on the outhaul with one hand (my right), and with the other hand (my left) frees the halyard from the self-tailer and, with assistance from friction around the winch drum, allows the halyard to play out. The halyard will reeve through the outhaul snatch block without binding.
  6. The dinghy is now in the water, roughly at the shrouds. Detach the spinnaker halyard from the outhaul snatch block, and pull the spinnaker pole forward to secure it again to the staysail stay. It is useful to have enough extra length in the spinnaker halyard that the dinghy, once in the water, can be pulled aft to the boarding ladder, where one can get down into the dinghy to detach the halyard.


All of this takes less than 8 minutes from a standing start, either to launch or to recover (unless we’re in a hurry, in which case it takes longer). The actual launch (dinghy “in flight,” as it were) takes under a minute. Assemble in the reverse order of disassembly. We’ve done this process several hundred times now without incident. Especially double-handed, it just works.


Dinghy landing. We have developed a technique for dinghy surf-landings which is based on principles borrowed from E. F. Knight’s classic book on seamanship. We call it the “panga pivot.”


Cabin & Galley

Chart table extension and laptop niche. I always wanted a stand up chart table…

    Everything stowed

    Extension leaf stowed against bulkhead

    Extension leaf deployed

    Extension leaf deployed, another view

    Laptop deployed for use

    Chart table opened showing construction and gas strut



    Bookshelf and wineglass holder The fiddles for both the books and the wineglasses are removable

    Small bookshelf


Galley rack

    From aft

    From forward


Securing the grill to the stove, and pots to the grill. An idea we stole from Raptor Dance, and I like to think, improved.

     Hook at rear, grill in use

     Grill raised for cleaning, drops and disengages from rear hook

     Front hook, wingnuts


     Clamp for pots, rear view

     Clamp for pots, front and bottom

     Clamp for pots, deployed


Refrigerator fan, to take cold air from the bottom of the freezer and circulate it to both the freezer and refrigerator compartments, resulting in more even cooling and more rapid cool-down when new contents are added. The only hard part of this project is isolating the fan from the structure of the cold-box, so that the minor vibration of the fan is not transmitted to and amplified by the walls of the cold-box.


     Port through divider to refrigerator side


Galley Hatch support. In the corner between the galley sink and the stove is an awkward volume that is accessible through a hatch in the Corian countertop. As built, the hatch rested, when closed, on a teak sill that was screwed into the underside of the Corian. But after the hatch had been dropped onto the sill a few hundred times, the screws began to strip out of the Corian and the hatch threatened to drop into the well below it. I re-engineered the support with a stainless steel frame that rested on the countertop. The forces became “in compression” rather than “in tension.” In effect, the idea was to make the impact of the dropped hatch try to drive the stainless frame into the top of the Corian (unlikely to succeed).

     Hatch closed

     Hatch open, view from side. Remnant of original teak sill is visible, in place to support the spring that keeps the hatch open

     Hatch open, view from opposite side




Suggestions for improvements in future Valiants, based on our experience with Moira. I have sent these suggestions to the Kris Worstell at the factory, and they may be of interest to other present or future owners.


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