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Old 07-28-2021, 05:53 PM   #1
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34T to Key West and Maybe the Bahamas

Long story short. We just moved our 2006 34T from MB, SC to Key West, Florida. Took 2 weeks and my wife loved the trip. I liked it. So now she is thinking maybe the Bahamas next year (May-June). We are thinking a week up, 3 weeks while we are over and a week back. From our trip down and just thinking out loud here is what we want/need. Open to suggestions.

1) The MicroCommander has to go. Call me old fashioned but a good old cable control is going to replace it. Tired of having the alarm go off at least once a day and the morning it didn't want to start wasn't amusing.

2) We need a small watermaker. We like using freshwater and see no way to get around it. Suggestions are welcome.
3) Was very impressed with the fuel economy at 7 knots (2.5SM per gallon)so don't see that as being an issue.
4) I see us running the genset other than in a marina the entire 3 weeks. Can't see the rational to buy solar and more batteries for a probably one time trip.

5) Based on #4 we are going to get a small 110V freezer.
6) We need a dinghy and motor. Badly.



Any thoughts or recommendations are highly encouraged. And if the generator conks out we are coming home. ;-)


Don
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Old 07-28-2021, 06:45 PM   #2
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I bought a new 34T in 2006 just as the problems with the Microcommander were becoming evident. Mainship and ZF said the problem could be corrected by a different relay that controlled power to the unit. I never delved into it because it only tripped on me once. Others like you threw in the towel and converted to cable throttle and shift. Kobalt would be a good drop in replacement.

That boat would be entirely suitable for a trip to the Bahamas for a few weeks. Not sure about the need for a water maker. When we went twenty years ago on our sailboat we just stayed at a marina in Marsh Harbor every ten days or so to fill up the tanks, otherwise we anchored out. We were there from February to early April when it got too hot and we headed back to the states and worked our way north.

Good luck with your plans.

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Old 07-28-2021, 07:05 PM   #3
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hi,

we have a friend with a pilot with microcommandeer who had many problems. i finally convinced him to go cable he says it was best thing he ever did, and so does his wife.

we've been to bahamas 13 times, the first time for a month. if you have the time spend more time there. don't make the passage 50% of the adventure, especially if it's a one timer. after our first time we questioned if we would ever go back, go figure.

where in the bahamas?

agree 100% on genset. it's paid for and until you decide bahamas are a regular thing pay for the diesel.

i'd opt for a 110/12v fridge. you didn't mention inverter. if you go 110v only...

buy the biggest you can handle (approx 10'6") with 15hp. many places you'll want to go to will want a substantial dinghy.

have fun, we did
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:41 PM   #4
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Our 34 Mainship was older (82), also did Key West. My recommendation would be for an Engel 12/120 unit that can be fridge or freezer. Very efficient!
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:51 PM   #5
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I bought a new 34T in 2006 just as the problems with the Microcommander were becoming evident. Mainship and ZF said the problem could be corrected by a different relay that controlled power to the unit. I never delved into it because it only tripped on me once. Others like you threw in the towel and converted to cable throttle and shift. Kobalt would be a good drop in replacement.

That boat would be entirely suitable for a trip to the Bahamas for a few weeks. Not sure about the need for a water maker. When we went twenty years ago on our sailboat we just stayed at a marina in Marsh Harbor every ten days or so to fill up the tanks, otherwise we anchored out. We were there from February to early April when it got too hot and we headed back to the states and worked our way north.

Good luck with your plans.

David

David,
I could have probably lived with the MC issues had it not crapped out on us once going to the dock. That was sporting. On this trip is locked up in government cut in Miami just as a ferry was approaching. The last straw was the morning it wouldn't let the engine start. Ran a set of jumper cables to the start battery from the house and she fired up. Just not worth the bother when a simple set of Morse cables solves the issue. Julie has no idea about 10 days without refilling the water tank. ;-) After 3 days were were below 1/2. I think the watermaker is required.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:53 PM   #6
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hi,

we have a friend with a pilot with microcommandeer who had many problems. i finally convinced him to go cable he says it was best thing he ever did, and so does his wife.

we've been to bahamas 13 times, the first time for a month. if you have the time spend more time there. don't make the passage 50% of the adventure, especially if it's a one timer. after our first time we questioned if we would ever go back, go figure.

where in the bahamas?

agree 100% on genset. it's paid for and until you decide bahamas are a regular thing pay for the diesel.

i'd opt for a 110/12v fridge. you didn't mention inverter. if you go 110v only...

buy the biggest you can handle (approx 10'6") with 15hp. many places you'll want to go to will want a substantial dinghy.

have fun, we did
Long term I think the 12/110 option is smart. But if we only go once and run the genny a $200 freezer from Lowes seems the way to go. Realizing that if we lose the genset the trip is over.
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Old 07-28-2021, 09:19 PM   #7
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Glad you had a good trip.


I have the micro commanders and have had issues as well, but seem to have them ironed out now. Control Masters in St. Augustine is a wizard with Micro Commanders and Mainships. He can straighten you out, if you decide to keep them. I know how you are feeling, but I can tell you that now that ours are working we love them. I haven't had a failure in 2.5 years.


A humble suggestion on a water maker. Maybe consider a rainman portable unit. Ours fits easily in the laz on our 400 and makes almost 35 gallons an hour. We use it extensively in the Bahamas, then pickle it and bring it home where it is stored in a climate controlled garage when not in use. They are fairly economical as well. More trouble to use than a built in unit, but has some real advantages.
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:36 AM   #8
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The Bahamas is our favorite cruising destination.

You are going to be blown away by the water clarity and color.

Another thing will love is the Bahamian people. On the out islands, it's like going back in time. I have forgotten my wallet at a grocery store in Staniel Cay, and been told, don't worry, take the groceries, just pay us next time you come ashore.

I went to rent a car one time in Marsh Harbor, got there before it opened in a cab, and the guy washing the rental cars, gave me the keys to one of them, told me to go get breakfast and come back in an hour and the girl who rented the cars would be in and could do all the paperwork.

Another time, a local Bahamian who I was telling about my lack of fishing skills, took me out the next day in his skiff, to show me how to catch fish there. When I tried to pay him, I could tell I had offended him and I felt horrible. Because, in the US, you expect everyone to do what they do, for money.

I could go on and on with stories like that. It's like going back in time for me.
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:50 AM   #9
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Don’t waste money on a watemaker for a 3 week trip. You will be buying diesel so buy water at the same time. Even at 50cents a gallon, which it’s not, it will take a long time to pay for that water maker.
Spend the money on better biggest dingy and motor you can buy. Also stay in some marinas like treasure or boat harbor. See the sites. Also water is cheaper if your in the marina a few nights.
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:41 AM   #10
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I second the lack of need for a water maker for a three week trip. It's a lot cheaper to just buy it, even at .40 to .80 a gallon.
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Old 07-29-2021, 06:51 PM   #11
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Buying water is something to think about. Definitely not a price issue. I was thinking more for convenience as we like to anchor. We have another option although I haven't mentioned it. Out friends have a 50 foot GB and we use their compressor to fill out scuba tanks. Rigging a pump and hose to fill off their watermaker is an option. They make an obscene amount every day but I was trying not to be a pest. But I think the point of buying it makes a lot of sense. We can survive 3-4 days on the hook.


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Old 07-29-2021, 07:14 PM   #12
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water is an issue that is more dependent on where you are in the bahamas. we spent a lot of time in the abacos. there, water was never a problem, all marinas sold it and there were many. note this is pre-dorian. however, when we went to exumas, especially warderick wells area, our 80 gals plus 20 in water bags became an issue when we had to go 25 miles to refill.

i would still not worry about a water maker unless i was going to be spending extended time in exumas and south.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:47 AM   #13
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Instead of worrying about whether to make or buy water, I’d be trying to figure out how to stay in the Bahamas for more than three weeks. Believe me, after three weeks, you are not going to be ready to come home from there.
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Old 07-30-2021, 12:26 PM   #14
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Instead of worrying about whether to make or buy water, Iíd be trying to figure out how to stay in the Bahamas for more than three weeks. Believe me, after three weeks, you are not going to be ready to come home from there.
You have a great point. Hard to believe I haven't been over there in more then 25 years. It was quite an adventure the last time.



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Old 07-30-2021, 01:37 PM   #15
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I refused to take my trawler on a long run down to the Keys until I had the refrigeration issue sorted out, and a propane/110 VAC reefer (freezer if you wish) turned out to be the perfect answer. Yes, the propane storage locker has to meet certain safety codes, but the freedom from battery run-down overnight and reliability (even at a marina where power could drop out) was entirely liberating. Never had the issue of "propane won't work on a rolling boat" when I forgot to switch over to the inverter while underway. Since you would now have the propane for the reefer, you could install propane cooking and give the genny a rest now and again.

Dumping the Micro Commander was the very first thing I did before I got the boat underway a second time after bringing it home.

Solar is easy and not so expensive. I'd do it if I was cruising anymore.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:10 PM   #16
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You have a great point. Hard to believe I haven't been over there in more then 25 years. It was quite an adventure the last time.



Don
I know that feeling. I sailed over in my twenties in 1987 and sailed around the Berries for two weeks. I loved it, but didnít go back until 2002. But, I have made up for it since then!
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Old 07-30-2021, 07:04 PM   #17
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As others who have posted, we have cruised the Abacos and Central Exumas many times. The first time in our own boat was magical and we wish you that experience. One time only? Youíll likely get sand in your shoes if you wear any which will force you to return. Several thoughts:
1. Itís all about weather. So even in May, plan on time to wait for weather for your crossings and weather will dictate where and when you can anchor. Even a south wind is an issue with islands lying north/south.
2. Your thinking is spot one that a water maker gives you freedom to be at anchor longer. Maybe only a day or two, but depending on the weather, they may be the best days. We find that to be worth the water maker expense. BUT we only make water where we can see the bottom!
3. Concur with others on a good dinghy. We explore with our 10í AB with 20 hp outboard. It will plane with 4 people and take us a long way so that we donít have to move the big boat so often. Invest in a good davit system that will allow hoisting dinghy with motor attached.
4. With regard to gen set runs, until we got solar, we were running the gen set 2 hrs in the morning and two hours in the afternoon in warm ambient temperatures even though we had 6 each 6 v golf car batteries.
5. We just got back from the Abacos. Be wary of the Cruising Guides and what others may say based on pre-Dorian experience. Many of the islands have essentially recovered, but some have not. Think Active Captain may be a reasonable resource.
6. Lastly, please be mindful of others in the anchorage. It is not considered good form to run the gen set all night long. You will not be held in high regard!
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Old 07-31-2021, 05:54 PM   #18
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As always the forum has been helpful and as always seem to generate more questions for me which is OK.



So: With a touch of background about me I will then ask the big question. I am not a great DIY guy. Oil/filter changes,zincs, fan belt, impeller, (rudder packing once and NEVER again), etc. are about the extent of my knowledge. Electricity is forbidden by the wife. Long story but serious sparks were involved.



With that in mind and listening to what has been recommended here I am thinking about the following:


I know it isn't the best in the world but we currently have 3 8D SLA batteries and 2 SLA group 27s. All batteries are brand new. 3 chargers but no inverter and no solar.



So do I need to add additional batteries/inverter and maybe solar? Other than the AC it would be great to keep the 12/110 fridge, 110 Freezer and coffee maker in the AM going. Genset run is going to be limited to 4-6 hours per day. I forgot that in crowded anchorages genset use becomes an issue. We try and play well with others.


Having listened to others and thought about it hard the Micro Commander has to go. It scares me and I don't think fixing it is going to make it better for me simply because like a lot of things electrical it works fine until is doesn't.



Dinghy davit system mounted. (Once we select it and the dink/engine)



And a watermaker installed. JC180 made a good point about the weather. This is a Mainship 34 and I don't want to be forced to move the boat in crappy weather because we ran out of water. I'd rather stay as long as we want and move on our schedule and I think the expense of a watermaker is worth it to us.



I think I'm looking at 4 pretty serious jobs, plus the dink/engine and maybe an upgrade of the electronics. So the big question is who to do the work? I know Robbies in Stock Island is available. If it were your boat, money was no object (within reason) and you were willing to take the boat as far North as Stuart, FL who would you use? Long question but I've had pretty good luck over the years asking and listening to others. I'd love t find a one stop yard, get the work done and take a short shakedown cruise before we wait for a weather window next April.



Thanks,


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Old 07-31-2021, 09:05 PM   #19
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I have a 2004 Mainship 400 and had it in marathon 6+ months. Salt marine in marathon did new AGMs and new in invertor charger system. He brings in a pro that just does jobs for him. Great communications and I was very happy wit the job.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:14 AM   #20
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I have a 2004 Mainship 400 and had it in marathon 6+ months. Salt marine in marathon did new AGMs and new in invertor charger system. He brings in a pro that just does jobs for him. Great communications and I was very happy wit the job.
Thank you for the recommendation. Close to me as well.


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