Our Atlantic crossing was a proper shakedown. We experienced a wide range of conditions, and we were able to put our refit modifications to the test. Some of the improvements have exceeded our expectations. We are pleased overall, and we kept a list of notable benefits and drawbacks:
- Entry and exit with the new companionway is secure and easy. In splashy conditions, when the hatch is closed, we like being able to see outside.
- The galley upgrades have made it easier to use. The new bucket sink location allows better access. Using a small bucket (3 gallons) has been key, as the contents can get heavy if filled to the top. A small bucket is easier to pass outside when it is rough. When underway we empty the bucket frequently, maybe once every other day.
- Interior improvements have made Dawn Treader more comfortable. It feels cheerful inside our small cabin with the bright white paint and new upholstery.
- The outboard has been great for docking, Dawn Treader is more maneuverable at low speeds. Although, it is a bit awkward to steer from the engine tiller itself even with a handle extension. It has plenty of power; we rarely use more than 3/4 throttle. In retrospect, we would have considered a lighter, more stowable engine. On the transom, when conditions deteriorate, it does get some spray and harassment from cresting waves. So far, no damage has resulted, no water has worked its way into the outboard.
- The propeller aperture fill has noticeably improved our light wind performance. After days of calm, with our code zero and only tiny bits of wind, we began to make progress more easily than ever before. Without drag from a propeller, Dawn Treader also seems much quicker to reach 6 and 7 knots.
- Generally, the structural members we have added throughout the boat, have increased her sense of rigidity and strength. This is most noticeable in the cockpit. Previously, when pounding to the weather, the footwell would flex slightly, but now it is rigid and stiff.
- Increased ventilation for the cabin has made a huge difference. It is quite pleasant in almost any condition. Although the v-berth is still a bit musty when everything is buttoned up, it does not seem to affect the main cabin much.
- Increased v-berth storage has allowed us to store our anchors down low in the boat, bringing weight off the bow.
- Our new water tank has performed quite well. When it is over 95% full, it does make a sloshing noise with the rolling of the boat. We don’t find it a problem; the sound is gone after a couple of days after the tank level has been drawn down an inch or so. We also think the increased weight down low (with a full tank) causes Dawn Treader to heel noticeably less.
Increased safety and comfort were two of our main refit goals, another was low maintenance. Post refit, after sailing for a few months, we have remembered a vital key to cruising. No matter how small our boat, and how simple its systems, we have to take joy in maintenance. A good attitude for improvement projects and repairs also helps. Our boatyard and dockside refit did not perfect every detail, maybe they never do. We have to keep at it all the time. We always want to be well prepared for our next step. From the US to the Azores, we met many sailors finishing their journeys. Going home to Europe, they were finishing trips to the Caribbean or circumnavigations; probably the last thing these sailors were focused on was long term maintenance. On Dawn Treader, we are just getting started. So, new maintenance logs and to-do lists are in the works. New goals are taking shape, and we are excited for the future legs of our journey!