First hoist!

It was a light wind day, so trying out the new sails was good. We hoisted both the new jib and the new spinnaker. Alex’s main observation is that the boat is much more balanced under these new sails. I’ll say it is really nice to have sails that were cut for Changabang! I think it’ll take some trial and error to see if we need to make some adjustments to the current setup. I also would like to experiment with stronger winds when CaB is fully powered up. In ocean swell it’s not clear what sort of speed we should be able to achieve. And getting Sylvain aboard to help with trim would be good to. I think with the “new old” main sail we will have a much better arsenal.

I’ve also continued to remove stuff from the boat for our weighing event in March. I brought back home the gennaker, the 2 code O, the jib top, and 2 spinnakers. And there’s still plenty to bring back.

As we were sailing I noticed that the starboard D2 was a little slack when to leeward so I went up and gave it a full turn. I also gave the starboard D1 a turn. I took pictures and traced a line along the mast track as usual. I don’t think it looks worse than it did before. I do feel like there is still a slight bend to starboard.

Last, it looks like the engine is happy as I couldn’t see any leaks. Crossing my fingers that my handy work is holding up.

Zoom in to see the line to the left of the track

Fooling around

And it was yet another day of boat work, nothing fancy though. I changed the engine coolant and flushed the heat exchanger (the water was clear). So with that, the only thing left would be to change the sail drive oil.

I also hacked the life raft door seal back together and slapped the door back on the stern. That is not a perfect job and I do expect water ingress.

I also inspected the auto-pilot coffers and found oil in the port one. That is not news and I am not sure yet where it is coming from. To be honest there aren’t many options: it’s most likely the oil from the cylinder.

I hoisted the old jib to let it dry a bit, removed it from the headstay, and flaked it somewhat correctly. This is to make room for the new one. I also cleaned the deck to remove a fair amount of bird poop.

New sails!

All right we took delivery of two new sails. We both can’t wait to see how these affect CaB’s performance.


Area:43.8 m2
Leech and foot Line Included
Horizontal battens Included
Blue water finish Included
Soft Hanks Included
Tell Tail Window Included
Shape Stripes 3
Sail Bag Pro-Race Zip Bag

Solent measurements

A2 (A2.5)

Area:187 m2
Cloth contender SK 90/80
Blue Water finish Included
Dyneema luff rope Included
Tell Tails Included
Sail Number Included
Sail Bag Pro-Race Launcher

Spi measurements

And other small news

I replaced the engine’s air filter aka air cleaner aka inlet silencer.

I also sanded a bolt, washer, and spade terminal that connected the house batteries to the battery isolator.

I also noted that the battery’s resting voltage is 12.9V. And that in two days about 3 Amps had been drained. So at this rate, the batteries would reach 50% capacity in 100 days or so. I will continue to monitor.

Tomorrow looks like a day with no wind but Sunday may be our first opportunity to try the new sails. I am hoping to muster enough energy to go and replace the engine coolant tomorrow.

Media & battery news

Latitude 38 reached out a few months ago to help them write up an article about our preparation for the PacCup 2024. Here it is on the front page! Link to the article online. Link to a PDF version.

Front page for Cab!

Yesterday I spent time looking at the batteries in CaB. They are T82 Power-Tech Calcium-Lead batteries of 100 Ah capacity. They have a little indicator of “health” and all 3 show as green.

In French …

I looked at the charger and changed the charging profile to the saved profile for Calcium/Lead batteries, and let it run overnight. I also looked a bit closer at the battery monitor and changed the settings to better match what’s in place. This morning the charging current was down to 0.5 Amp with a floating voltage of 14.52 V, where I would have thought the charger would have dropped to 14.4V (as per settings). In any case, I’m hoping that I can now use the monitor to track amperage consumption and confirm how much capacity is left.

I also took a few pictures several weeks ago and identified that there is a battery isolator on the alternator charging path (Sure Power Model 1202; max alt amps = 120 Amd, CD Volt: 6-50, Grond Negative). I also identified the alternator to be a Mitsubishi A3TR0093AM (12V – 115A).

Another day

Today we made progress on several fronts. First, after having removed some of the equipment we won’t need for the race, I decided to organize our space and stow things somewhat neatly. As a result, the forepeak and two bunks are available now. Once I finish the engine maintenance, I’ll be able to do some more cleanup.

Next, we went out to practice crew overboard recovery maneuvers. We first tried under engine and learned a few things. The MOB button on the NKE electronics does a few things for us: of course, it records the position of the MOB (when the button was pressed), it displays a page with directions to the MOB, and finally, it turns the boat in the wind. For the race, we have to record a video of the maneuver. We next tried under main sail alone. We decided that we would not allow the boat to go into the wind. I gave it a go using the classic figure 8; after making my way back to the fender that we had thrown overboard, we just couldn’t find it.

As we were concerned that it was stuck on the keel or maybe the sail drive, we made our way back to the fuel dock under sail, which was a bit nerve-wracking. The wind was at a good angle for the entrance to the channel, so we managed ok. Alex jumped overboard and couldn’t find a thing under the hull. By then the tide was so low that I could not make it into the slip. 90 minutes later and I powered into the slip in reverse.

While I was waiting for the tide to rise, I tried to sort out the battery charging situation. The shore charger seems to be connected to the starter battery and the house bank using different outputs (on the charger). So disconnecting the house bank from the shore charger would be as straightforward as removing that connection (I think). The alternator is wired to a battery isolator, which may be a solution to prevent damage from the BMS disconnection causing damaging load dumps (need to verify this).

Battery isolator for alternator

I’m not much further ahead as the main problem remains unsolved: what to do when the BMS disconnects the house batteries. I had hoped that the Watt & Sea could possibly provide the necessary power to take over but it 100% requires a battery in the system. In fact, they are recommending a solution that requires the option to disconnect the generator from the converter.

Exploring Lithium batteries

The batteries in Changabang predate my ownership. At best, they must date from before the RdR 2018, probably 6 months before that. In other words, they are at least 6 years old. That’s pushing it for what they are I think:

  • House batteries: three 105 Amps flooded sealed lead acid batteries.
  • Starting battery: I don’t know for sure, but likely 70 Amps, which is what the old manual for the Volvo Penta D1-30 required 20 years ago. I think the chemistry is Calcium. I’d need to remove it to confirm.

The engine starts just fine on the battery, with no sputtering. I can’t find a similar battery for sale so I’m not sure what this is TBH. It also means that I have no idea if these require some sort of maintenance. That said, there are plenty of choices to replace it.

Starting battery

The battery monitoring system in place is not working correctly though so I am not sure how much capacity is left in the house bank. They have been used offshore for at least 2 months. It’s hard to say how much is left in them.

All the above to say that replacing the batteries has been on my mind. And that means that there may be an opportunity to change chemistry and explore LiFePO4 batteries. And this got me in a few rabbit holes, soul searching. Hence this post to help me organize my thoughts!

Before I dig in further, I’ll lead with a few words about charging capabilities on CaB.


On CaB we have the following sources of electricity:

  • The 115 Amps alternator: a Mitsubishi a3tr0093am. This requires the engine to run, which requires fuel. This charges both starting and house banks.
  • The shore power charger: a Cristec CPS3 12 V / 25 A. This requires … shore power! This charges both starting and house banks.
  • The Watt & Sea Cruising 300 hydrogenerators and their converters, which are only connected to the house batteries. This requires that the boat moves. At 5 kts we can get 9 Amps with the big prop. And when we move very slowly, the boat may be mostly flat and we may be able to get both working together to help in those situations.
  • A bunch of 100 W or so solar panels and a Victron BlueSolar charge controller MPPT 75 | 15, which is only connected to the house batteries. This requires … sun!

Use cases

Ok, so the first thing is to figure out what my use cases are for batteries.

Of course, there’s the engine starter battery. But there’s more to this because this battery may die, hence the house battery must be able to at least a few times start the engine. And, similarly, the house battery may die and the starter battery must be able to step in to drive all the boat’s systems.

Next is to define how I would use the house bank. This bank drives everything on the boat except the engine starter, so let’s clarify how I plan to use the boat:

  1. The boat is just sitting in port most of the time.
  2. I’m doing afternoon sails.
  3. I’m going offshore for an offshore race.
  4. I’m going offshore for a RTW attempt.

Sitting in port

All that matters here is that the batteries are kept charged up and not left to discharge for a long time. “A long time” means different things for different chemistry. For lead acid, if I was not to do anything with the boat for more than 6 weeks, I would want a charger to keep them floating or top them up regularly (which is what I do now with the shore power charger). For LiFePO4 my understanding is that the discharge rate is so low that it doesn’t matter (it is recommended to charge them before storing them for a long period, e.g. 3+ months). If we combine chemistries then we are facing two different charging profiles.

Afternoon sails

The starting battery is used twice (to leave the dock and return), maybe a few more times. I’m motoring likely 30 minutes in total, maybe more. The hope there is that the 115 Amps alternator will run enough to top up the starting battery.

Then we sail for something like 4-8 hours, drawing something like 5 Amps from the battery (a good guess), for a total of 40 Amps. Let’s round that up to 50 Amps, which is about 15% of the battery bank. Again the alternator will feed some back in but what I am also doing every so often is plugging the batteries on the shore charger to top them back up.

The bottom line is that these events do not require charging while at sea and the batteries can be topped up in port. If anything fails then it’s not a big deal because we can get back in port safely, even if that means finding a downwind slip/side-tie to sail in, should we not be able to start the engine. Worst case: one could call a tow boat.

Offshore race

Here we need to consider the return trip as well. Sailing to Hawaii is about 1.5 weeks and sailing back is about 2.5 weeks. The key assumption is how we can approach redundancy. In other words, I feel like we only need one backup plan, not 3 or 4 as would be needed when sailing non-stop RTW.

In a race, the engine should not be used, except on an exception basis:

  1. An MOB recovery or anything else that requires the engine.
  2. All charging options fail and that leaves us with the engine to charge the house batteries. In fact, the backup charging plan is probably the engine (and a solar panel maybe).

Also, we should be in movement all the time, so the hydrogenerators can be used to top up the batteries.


Here we do want multiple solutions to charge the batteries and we need multiple solutions should the starting bank or the house bank fail. This is a more serious conversation but one that can easily be solved with a spare house battery, a spare starting battery (or a jump starter), and three charging solutions already onboard (engine, solar, HG). So I won’t consider this use case too much for now.

LiFePO4 issues

Considering an upgrade to LiFePO4 here are the issues I see:

  • Considering cost it’s best to not use a LiFePO4 battery for the starting bank. This means that we will have two different battery chemistries, each with its own charging profile. This in turn likely means that charging devices can only be allocated to one type of battery, not both as some are currently. This needs to be explored to confirm that’s possible without too much change to the electrical system on CaB.
  • To address the need for a backup to the starting bank to start the engine, a house bank must be able to start the engine several times without suffering serious damage that would affect its ability to serve as a house bank. Many LiFePO4 manufacturers explicitly state to not use their battery to start engines. Some support starting gasoline engines. An alternative solution to explore is a jump starter.
  • Charging from the alternator is a problem with LiFePO4, as the alternator can suffer serious damage under certain circumstances.

A proposed solution

Here’s a proposal that I think would work:

  • Keep the starting battery.
  • Find a solution to connect the alternator and the shore power charger to only the starting battery. This may not be as easy as it seems as I think that everything is going to be a bus bar today.
  • Replace the three house batteries with one LiFePO4 battery of 100 Ah or more, with an integrated BlueTooth BMS.

And here’s how things would go for each use case above:

  1. In port and afternoon sails: as I do now, keep the starting battery topped up by using the shore power every so often. Use a solar panel to slowly charge up the LiFePO4 battery when not in use. Alternatively, use a simple charger to top up the battery while putting the boat away or preparing it before leaving.
  2. Offshore racing: as I do now, use the hydrogenerators to charge the house battery. Every week, start the engine and charge the starting battery using the alternator. If the starting battery fails then have a jump starter to start the engine. If the house battery fails then swap in the starting battery. For this reason, it may be best to replace the current one with a larger dual-purpose one, assuming it can be fitted in the small space.
  3. RTW sailing: same as above but replacing the 100 Ah battery with a larger one and with the addition of a spare LiFePO4 battery and a spare starting battery (in addition to the jump starter).

The weaknesses in the above are:

  1. I don’t have a battery monitor on the starting battery. This could be partially solved with a voltmeter indicator.
  2. I can’t use the alternator to charge the LiFePO4 battery (well I could but then I could run into problems). This can be partially solved with a DC-DC charger in between the starting battery and the LiFePO4 battery.
  3. There’s only one house battery and if it shuts down for some reason (BMS intervention for example) then the boat would be without electricity. An option could be to use multiple LiFePO4 batteries.


Essentially the bare minimum approach here only requires purchasing a LiFePO4 battery. The prices vary wildly; with budget ones in the $250 range (LiTime), mid-range in the $400 range (SOK marine grade 100 Ah), and premium going all the way beyond $1000. Improvements include a diesel engine jump starter ($100?), a DC-DC charger ($300), and an additional LiFePO4 battery.

What’s next?

Validate the current wiring and see what’s possible. My guess is that there is a bus bar for charging to which both systems are connected. If that is then it would be a matter of creating a separate bus bar to charge the house bank. The alternator and shore charger would remain in place. The hydrogenerators and solar panels would go to the new bus bar. And possibly a DC-DC charger would be setup in between both bus bars.

PacCup inspection

Today we met with David H. our PacCup inspector. He did a thorough job at checking that we met the race requirements, and we passed! The past 4 months of work have paid off. This is a major milestone on our get ready list. There are a few more, not the least being two videos: one of a crew overboard recovery, and the other of us steering with a drogue.

A 72 inch Para-Tech delta drogue

I think I had taken the storm sails out of their bag a while ago but I just couldn’t exactly remember how they looked. There is the trysail, a large storm jib, and a smaller one. For the PacCup we’ll only take the large storm jib with us.

The large storm jib
The small storm jib

The new sails will soon be ready too. So things are progressing nicely.

Mast bend recovery

After a few adjustments, I think we’re now very close to having a straight mast! Next weekend I’ll ease the port V1 a half turn again and I think we’ll be spot on then.

A straight mast?

Last Saturday we also looked into the anchoring situation to ensure that we meet the requirements for the PacCup race. Surprisingly, I would have to say that the French and the Americans may disagree on this topic. I’m assuming that Changabang came equipped with the proper anchoring equipment as required by the Class40 rules. And that doesn’t work for the PacCup.

Chain and rode

There are two anchors on CaB, of the same type, one heavy and one light, which should work in sand or mud bottoms. We have 4 links of chain (we forgot to measure its proof/coil size though): 14 ft 2 in, 18.5 ft, 36 ft, 51 ft. This should be plenty to meet the requirements but we were short on 3-strand nylon rope, of which I purchased 200 ft (and a thimble, which I’ll have to splice in).

I also had to purchase a floating lamp for the life sling. I think that’s it for this weekend! Plenty more to do on the engine front …

Small jobs, cont’ed

We learned that a picture helps better determine if the mast is straight, and we discovered it wasn’t as straight as we thought. In an attempt to restore straightness, we eased the starboard D2, which helped, but it’s not perfect yet. So there will be more attempts: easing the starboard D1, taking on the port V1. And if that doesn’t do it then we’ll start from zero.

See the tiny straight line to the left of the track? Zoom in!

In the business of small jobs, we also mounted a holder for the Dan Buoy. I serviced the mainsheet and spinnaker sheet port cam cleats (all others had been taken care of already). The spring action wasn’t perfect. I also replaced the D shackle of the mainsail halyard block, which was showing signs of chafe (stainless steel chafing!). I’ve received most of what I need to continue the engine maintenance, so it’s a matter of finding the courage to go through that now. Last weekend we topped up the fuel tank and added a few additives (biocide, injector cleaner)

In addition to being our navigator, Alex is now also our Safety Officer, preparing us for our first round of inspection on 2/3/2024 with David H.

I sold the old standalone GPS for $100 on eBay so that was taken out of Changabang.

And …. more engine work!

Pfew, on Double Espresso, with the old outboard, there was no maintenance that I did. But Changabang’s diesel engine is more demanding. It’s also essential as without it I can’t imagine myself getting out of and into my slip (as I could with Double Espresso). So today I took a day off work to make more progress and:

  • Clean the seawater strainer.
  • Replace the seawater pump impeller. When inspected the old one had a couple of small cracks.
Seawater pump, impeller cavity

After I placed orders for oil and coolant: next are the oil change on the sail drive and the coolant flush.

I also replaced one of the two fire extinguishers. The show must go on … The thing that most preoccupies me with the PacCup race is getting to the start line and not being 100% ready. I don’t mean from a sailing skills perspective )as that can always be improved) but from a boat systems perspective.

I explored a couple of other items too:

  1. The purchase system to pull down the hydrogenerators: I flipped it and now I can reuse an existing cam cleat instead of installing another one. I also extended one of the lines, which was too short and always a mess to hook to the purchase/tackle. I put anti-chafe tape where the line may be chafing.
  2. I explored a new solution to lead the backstay control line to the cabin top winch. It’s pretty straightforward with a line from a toe rail pad eye with a low friction ring deflecting the backstay control line to the winch. I don’t think that winch can take a lot of load but it’s certainly a start.

Moving on …

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