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Old 02-20-2016, 09:56 PM   #1
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Upgrades for Going Coastal - Beneteau Swift Trawler 44

Hi, passing along a couple of upgrades we have made on our Swift Trawler 44 thinking it might be helpful not only for other ST44 owners but also hopefully anyone “up-fitting” for offshore and coastal work. We purchased her in May of 2013 and have taken her on two California Coastal trips (SF- LA and SF to San Diego) also a number of shorter hops and overnight anchorages. We are planning a trip up the coast to the San Juan's this summer or next.

We love the boat, the ST 44 is well built for coastal work and regardless of the sea state and weather has always performed extremely well in a myriad of seas. Including an often not so kind SF Bay when Ebb tides oppose seas in “the slot”. Super happy with the build and the boat but we have made a number of alterations and additions during the time we’ve owned her.

Bilge Pumps/ Alarms
We felt the stock bilge pump (whale) in the engine room and the lack of any pumps in the bow or stern where there are thru hulls and obviously the bow where the possibility of holing is high was not the margin of safety that we desire. Additionally, there was a lack of any water intrusion alarms. The batteries sit low in the bow, engine room and stern thus we placed the alarm location as low as possible to provide early warning in the event off sea water intrusion which would quickly disable the batteries. We installed Three High Capacity Jabsco Pumps, low in each one of the locations controlled with switching and audible alarm at the main helm station. (pic below)

Handholds
We are firm believers in “One hand for you, one hand for the boat” Below decks the handholds are well designed and engineered throughout. However there was a lack of sufficient handholds on the flybridge (only one) which is where we prefer to control her from. As such, we had three fabricated and placed at the top of the stairs, on the mast and at the front of the flybridge storage area. This provides secure handholds from the stairway to the seats. Additionally, when offshore we have a jackline that can be run both above and below and be connected with a tether from our Mustang inflatable jackets.

Flir Night Vision
The best day to day, or ummm Night to Night addition was a Flir Night Vision camera. This is a critical piece of our nighttime safety equipment whether in the bay at night or night voyages. I originally felt it was awesome for detecting objects but on a night rounding of Pt Conception with fairly large, short period seas against a 25 -30 knot offshore wind it really earned it’s keep, as it allowed us to make adjustments to the course based on the ability of seeing the seas.

House Batteries
We learned on our first overnight anchorage (at 3AM) that the stock 2 house batteries were entirely insufficient for the amount of electrical drain from electronics. We added an additional 5 deep cycle batteries in the engine room and this has never been a problem again.

Charger/Inverter
The stock chargers were not up to the new storage capabilities and the stock inverter wasn't great. So we added a beefy Magnum Energy MM Series Modified Sine Wave Inverter Charger,1200 Watt Inverter, 70 Amp Charger.

MOB Alarm
Although I don’t believe they make it anymore, we installed a RayMarine Sea Talk Man overboard system with remote sensors on life jackets (or Dogs collars) which interfaces with the main RayMarine Nav system and alerts you if anyone falls overboard and you can navigate to them. We are also fans of the Midland Walkie talkies we use to stay in touch while underway and require anyone on the move to notify when safely below or above decks.

Fuel Filters
Not a fan of the main stock fuel filters as there was no sighting bowl to gauge the presence of water. The stock ST44 racors require the use of a hex nut to drain fuel into a container to look for the presence of water. We retrofitted them with Racor clear bowls and metal heat shields for the 500 series filters. (Pic)

Thru-hull Grounding
The stock thru-hulls did not come with any bonding to a ground and as such we tied all them to a ground.

Liferaft/Dan Buoys
ISO approved 4 Person Liferaft and 2 Dan Buoy SOS throwable. One Dan Buoy is mounted on the Stern and the other on the Fly Bridge so can be easily thrown if needed. A tip, if you use these DO NOT leave them out in the weather and take them inside when not underway. I learned this the hard way doing some work at the dock. The one on the flybridge inflated as the water detector “pill” had been exposed to enough water that it engaged the unit. I was below decks and it was a WTF sound

Door/Head locks
The Master Stateroom shower has a heavy teak seat that is raised to use the head and it did not have anyway of securing it when in the up position and was a pain in any kind of seaway so we retrofitted it with a bolt which has made all the difference in the world. All of the doors except the Main Head have magnets to secure them and we like to leave the door open when underway and when we’re not on the boat so we also had a latch installed on that door. The magnets have worked well except for a rounding on Conception where the sea was rough enough that the doors if not closed would swing.

Spares
We are constantly upgrading spares and among them carry extra fresh water, Bilge and Macerator pumps as that would be shitty if it went out.

Cooler Stuff:

We installed two underwater LED lights off the stern and LOVE them. We turn them on when at anchor. Awesome in Southern California with the clear water and sea life, they create quite a show at night. We made a number of new friends in Avalon with people coming over to witness the “living aquarium”. (Pic with Avalon in the background)

We have changed out all of the outside white LEDs with Blue ones as they are much easier on your eyes when underway at night and OK they look hella cool.

Wish List

Install fuel sighting tubes on the tanks. Crazy but there are none.

The missing 4th Windshield Wiper. For some reason there are two in front and one to far Port but the window giving you vision from 9 - 11 o clock doesn’t have one which is just odd.

Open Array Radar versus the radome. With a lot of Fog up and down the coast and often running at night I feel that the open array would provide a better solution for smaller targets.

Would LOVE dual screens especially for all nighters but there really isn’t enough room and while you can split the existing screen, the Night vision camera and radar really benefit from full screen view. I do often use my iPad for Navionics while relying on the full screen for the camera or radar.

A lot of words but hopefully useful.

CB
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Old 02-20-2016, 10:18 PM   #2
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I am in the process of updating my boat for coastal cruising as well. I've done quite a bit so far but have several more items ($$$) to install. I'll get back to the Forum when the list is completed. The first shake down is scheduled in April. (Only 150 miles round trip but it will include anchoring, refueling, fishing, etc.)
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Old 02-20-2016, 10:20 PM   #3
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I am in the process of updating my boat for coastal cruising as well. I've done quite a bit so far but have several more items ($$$) to install. I'll get back to the Forum when the list is completed. The first shake down is scheduled in April. (Only 150 miles round trip but it will include anchoring, refueling, fishing, etc.)
Any plans for visiting the San Francisco estuary (bays and delta)?
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Old 02-20-2016, 10:23 PM   #4
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Any plans for visiting the San Francisco estuary (bays and delta)?
Not at this time, Mark but the Channel Islands & Santa Barbara are on the back burner.
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Old 02-20-2016, 10:36 PM   #5
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Not at this time, Mark but the Channel Islands & Santa Barbara are on the back burner.
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Old 02-20-2016, 11:41 PM   #6
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Sounds like great upgrades no matter where you take her.
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:14 AM   #7
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Great post CeeBee, thanks so much. Seems like will be prepared for almost anything. You've given me some ideas how to spend more money, the admiral thanks you.
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:35 AM   #8
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Great post CeeBee, thanks so much. Seems like will be prepared for almost anything. You've given me some ideas how to spend more money, the admiral thanks you.
It was a great post and it's always nice to see someone who loves their boat but also recognizes improvements they feel are appropriate. Other than the cooler things, your improvements are all very nice safety features.
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Old 02-21-2016, 08:50 AM   #9
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Cee-Bee and others if you'd like to chime in.....the ST line had made my short list of boats I kept coming back to...but maybe I need to reconsider. My research is limited to the Internet at this point, since I'm at least 5yrs away from purchase.
But I'm a little taken aback by some of the things on the list of "upgrades" that would seem to be, or should be standard, or even necessary from a safety stand point.
Not enough bilge pumps?
Inadequate battery back up?
No visual ability to see water in fuel filters? (you gotta be kidding me on a deisel motor, in a boat, that you know goes in the water, for really long distances)
The thermal unit and lights are the only thing I'd consider to be an upgrade IMHO.
Is this to be expected after making a $500,000 to $1,000,000 purchase from most builders?
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Old 02-21-2016, 09:04 AM   #10
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Well done!
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Codger2 View Post
I am in the process of updating my boat for coastal cruising as well. I've done quite a bit so far but have several more items ($$$) to install. I'll get back to the Forum when the list is completed. The first shake down is scheduled in April. (Only 150 miles round trip but it will include anchoring, refueling, fishing, etc.)
There are some awesome places for a "shake down" cruise in your back yard. Thinking Channel Islands? We love the Southern California waters.
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:35 PM   #12
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Great post CeeBee, thanks so much. Seems like will be prepared for almost anything. You've given me some ideas how to spend more money, the admiral thanks you.
Thanks, always happy to contribute to spurring the US economy Maybe we'll see you one of these years "Up North".
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Cervelo View Post
Cee-Bee and others if you'd like to chime in.....the ST line had made my short list of boats I kept coming back to...but maybe I need to reconsider. My research is limited to the Internet at this point, since I'm at least 5yrs away from purchase.
But I'm a little taken aback by some of the things on the list of "upgrades" that would seem to be, or should be standard, or even necessary from a safety stand point.
Not enough bilge pumps?
Inadequate battery back up?
No visual ability to see water in fuel filters? (you gotta be kidding me on a deisel motor, in a boat, that you know goes in the water, for really long distances)
The thermal unit and lights are the only thing I'd consider to be an upgrade IMHO.
Is this to be expected after making a $500,000 to $1,000,000 purchase from most builders?
Hey Cervelo, You bring up great points and in 5 years you may be looking at a whole new generation of "fast Hybrids" I'm sure others will chime in but I think unless you get up in extremely pricey "custom" boats that every builder is playing to a "price point" and a finicky consumer market that in reality many buyers don't use their boats for coastal and offshore trips. They are happy hanging at the slip or day-use all of which make the "stock boat" fit into a window that is competitive.

I am surprised how few people in the SF bay have ever gone out the Gate or taken a short trip to Half Moon Bay and they a perfectly happy. Let alone how few people you actually see on their boats at the Marina it's usually the same 10 people. Beneteau, like most Manufacturers are playing to this Market.

I doubt that many feel the need to upgrade the "stock" anchor package to a 75 pound Manson Supreme all chain rode and two "stock" batteries are great for day outings when you plug back in to shore power when back at the dock. The benefits I found in Beneteau is they have deep pockets and invest significant amounts in R&D, the design, stock engines, Gen Set, Electronics and the way they are mounted is solid and felt we could build from there the way we want to use the boat. The interior accommodations are extremely comfortable for spending weeks on her. Beneteau also has an extensive network, lots of people familiar with working on them and I have no complaints with the Manufacturers response to "after sale" support.

I think that is the benefit for many of buying a previously owned vessel. If you get an owner that has used the boat a similar way you want to use it they have made many of the upgrades.

Just my 2 cents. We've been super happy with her and a lot of that is how she handles when we're offshore. Sea conditions permitting we can "go fast" with reasonable fuel burn or take it slow and easy. If we get into weather as we did on a recent uphill trip around Pt Conception there was no concern with the way she performed and handled the conditions.
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:30 PM   #14
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CeeBee,
Thx so much for your respone and original post....as others have said, and as a newbie, your post is exactly what I'm looking for from this forum.
That all makes sense about the price point, marketing perspective. My boat will hopefully be my last home, so I'm obviously struggling with the realities of the industry and how it functions.
Please keep postings all the upgrades your making and thank you for not viewing my points as any criticism of your decision, all the things you mention are why the ST made my short list in the first place.
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:54 PM   #15
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Is this to be expected after making a $500,000 to $1,000,000 purchase from most builders?
I'll take a stab at expected vs. not on Ceebee's list.

Bilge pumps and alarms I find alarming. However, I would say that a good percentage of production boats in that size range could use more. So not unexpected, even if I find it disappointing.

Handholds. Almost every boat there is could use additional handholds. That's just an owner's preference and I wouldn't criticize Beneteau on that.

Flir night vision. Not standard on any.

House batteries/inverter. The majority of ST users are doing shorter cruising and not spending long periods away from marinas, so not unexpected to me. Most boats that size could benefit from beefing up.

MOB alarm. That would always be an add on.

Fuel filters. Not a huge issue. I prefer the changes Ceebee made.

Thru-hull grounding. This is entirely unacceptable and a significant ST problem. There are too many people experiencing issues and complaining on their thru-hulls for it not to be considered an issue. Too much smoke to not believe the fire.

Life Raft, buoys. I would expect to have to add them on a boat that size not targeting offshore cruising.

Door/head locks. Not good, but not major. I would say having wet heads is decidedly unpopular in the US in a boat as large as a 44. Still there are compromises in terms of use of space. One hidden benefit of a wet head is you use less water.

Spares. No boat comes with enough.

Lights. Underwater lights are seldom standard, often an option.

Other than the bilge pumps, alarms and thru hulls, I wouldn't criticize the builder for any of the other items. It's a moderately priced boat and seems to do very well filling a market niche.

As to issues at delivery, many call them common. I refuse to give in. I think a boat should be ready to go when delivered. I could never tolerate the year one issues you have with some very top of the line boats, far more trips back to the shipyard than on a ST.

As to making post purchase changes, I don't like doing it. Yet, we have some very significant ones we're going to make to a boat that's on order now to convert it to our intended use, which is not it's normal use.
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Old 02-21-2016, 02:40 PM   #16
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B and B Great feedback and totally agree with you. The Beneteau thru-hulls that are used and the lack of bonding is defiantly a "hot potato" and in the scheme of the world not an expensive upgrade for them. In speaking with a surveyor he said that's the first thing checked when looking at a Beneteau.

Regarding the lack of Bilge pumps and alarms on larger boats couldn't agree more, this should be a non negotiable. Ironically I was talking to someone at the Marina about the upgrades that we made and he echoed the same sentiment. Saying he had crewed on a multi million dollar 70 foot catamaran on a trip down to SF from the Pacific Northwest and the stuffing box started to leak. It was at that point he learned the boat had 1 small bilge pump and they were relegated to using buckets while the repair was made.
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:06 PM   #17
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Kinda where I'm comin from as an outsider....the only comparision I can make is a new home.
Some of this stuff would be akin to lets say....
Oh you expected A/C vents in the second bedroom, nah you can put them in.
Outlet grounding ....nah whats the chance of that being an issue...but you can do that too.
It's not like these are backyard boat builders...or are they LOL?
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:40 PM   #18
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CeeBee,
Thx so much for your respone and original post....as others have said, and as a newbie, your post is exactly what I'm looking for from this forum.
That all makes sense about the price point, marketing perspective. My boat will hopefully be my last home, so I'm obviously struggling with the realities of the industry and how it functions.
Please keep postings all the upgrades your making and thank you for not viewing my points as any criticism of your decision, all the things you mention are why the ST made my short list in the first place.
Cervelo, awesome that the content was helpful that was the point of the post. I've gotten a lot of great feedback from TF members on a number of topics.

The marine industry is very cyclical with ups and downs and decisions are made on achieving a specific go to market price point that can be realistically competitive for the size/type while profitable for the business enterprise. Case in point, the current growth of the trawler and powerboat market which I believe has grown from 10% of Beneteau business to about 50% of their US biz today. The point will be driven home when you have your slip at the marina and see how few people actually use their boats once they buy them and how infrequently.

You are looking for a live aboard "home" with adventures in your future and I'm sure will find a great solution that is right for you and get a lot of great feedback and help from TF members. I do think you'll see some major shifts in power plants (hybrid, battery, solar) in the next 5 years which will probably provide you with a host of options that don't even exist today.
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Old 02-21-2016, 04:11 PM   #19
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Hi CeeBee, great post and feedback here. I'm learning a lot for repairs and upgrades to my boat. Do you mind telling us what kind of house bank batteries you used and are your underwater lights blue? How many? Did you just use blue LEDs in your stock deck light fittings? Looks like a very fun upgrade there. Thanks.

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Old 02-21-2016, 06:24 PM   #20
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CeeBee, did your surveyor check for brass thru-hulls in the ST?
I know the early ST through 2005 or so all had brass thru-hulls that crumbled within 10 years and Beneteau says it is the owner's maintenance problem, not bad design.
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