The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Francesca is a 1979 44 ft. Marine Trader Classic (pleasure) Trawler. It has been our home for over three years now and we have found that it satsifies nearly all of our comfort needs. Francesca has twin Lehman 120 hp diesel engines and cruises in the range of 7.5 to 8.5 knots. With 500 gallons of fuel aboard we have a range of around 1400 miles.
There are two heads, salon with helmstation, stateroom, v-berth, full galley, flybridge and a sun deck. The beam of the boat is 14' 6". We have two - 2kW inverters on board each with its own battery bank and ac circuitry for full redundancy. The inverters supply 110 volt ac power to the boat while away from the dock. An 8 kW generator provides power for the electric stove, primary battery charging power and power for air conditioning when it is really needed. For further redundancy, the port engine has a 100 amp alternator installed to back up the motor generator set.
A 3/4 size refrigerator in the galley and a 5 cu. ft. freezer on the flybridge are ample for our refrigeration needs. Several pantry areas provide space for nearly half a ton of supplies including canned goods, dry goods, paper products, spirits, oils and etc. Normally, while cruising, Joan will have the boat stocked with food and supplies for a full year with the locations of the items on spreadsheets. We do this because outside of the US many foodstuffs and paper products are either not available or they are unreasonably expensive.
For communications and weather we have single sideband HF radio, weatherfax, two fixed VHF radios, two hand-held VHF radios a KVH Tracphone (satellite telephone) and satellite TV. Navigation aids include RADAR, a fixed GPS and a hand-held GPS. The full size computer in the salon has Cap'n navigation software and digital charts installed. The computer is tied into the GPS for data up/downloads and position location on the computer monitor. An old auto pilot marginally keeps chugging away (maybe next year a new one).
For ground tackle on the dual anchor pulpit there are a 55 lb Delta on all chain and a 40 lb Danforth on rode as primary anchors. A 35 lb delta and 22 lb Danforth are also squirelled away. A Maxwell electric anchor windlass was installed in 1998.
The 11' 6" Alliance dinghy has a 15 hp Yamaha four cycle engine and the whole works hangs on custom davits that pivot near the swim platform so that the dinghy clears the platform when lowered. The excellent fuel economy and moderate speed of the dinghy / outboard motor combination result in reduced need to store a large quantity of gasoline. When cruising the islands we often spend the day running about in the dinghy.
Other upgrades that have been done in previous years include full flybridge bimini enclosure and captain's chairs replaced the bench seats. Also on the flybridge we have permanently installed a sofa / queen size hide-a-bed. Window screens all around for the buggy areas. A watermaker was installed in the lazarette for the dry areas such as the southern Bahamas.
Upgrades accomplished this year include the addition of a real queen size bed in the stateroom, stateroom cabin extension, new cabinetry in the stateroom, new transmissions, improved and documented wiring, newly fabricated fiberglass lazarette hatch cover, second inverter, and of course lots of brightwork refinishing. Yet to be accomplished this fall is replacement of the genset and some minor bottom work.
The significant upgrades that have been done during the last three years is a list nearly four pages long. They have taken us well over a man-year to accomplish. Francesca is very sound and reliable as demonstrated by the 4500 mile trip last year where no mechanical failures were experienced. Our hard work in preparing the boat has paid us back with the comforting knowledge that Francesca would see us through the bad times with as much reliability as could be mustered. We hope that our upcoming much longer cruise will go as well, but of course we carry extensive spares for the certain eventuality of mechanical or electrical failures.
We spend a lot of time planning and preparing Francesca for her needs, our needs and for safety. But when we cruise, our time is devoted to the more pleasurable and exciting aspects of boating.