A new motor for Artemis

Those of you who follow our adventures may have noticed that, even though we own a sailing boat, our engine is a recurring theme. (repairs, a working engine, a hole in the water) We really try hard not to use the engine and are quite successful in keeping down the engine hours but when you need the engine you need it now. We have bad memories of drifting off Mallaig or Rhum with a none functioning engine and don’t want to try that again off a coral reef.

Since Gran Canaria the engine has been overheating after exhaust gases push the coolant out. Two guys in Tenerife looked at it but didn’t really have much idea so disconnected the fresh water heater.

In Martinique we went straight to Mecanique Plaisance because every one says they are “the people”. The technician came out to us at anchor and ran a few tests before declaring the heat exchanger (salt water to fresh water) dead. It was leaking internally so exhaust gases were pressurizing the fresh water coolant.

The engine is a three cylinder Yanmar (3HM35F) and as old as the boat (1992) which means spares are about as plentiful as rocking horse droppings, something else will be going wrong soon and it leaks a bit of everything all the time. We accepted the technicians opinion that a new engine made more sense.

They had a suitable engine with gearbox (3YM30AE) in the shop and Christoph (the technician) had time on Thursday and Friday so we agreed to be on the dock at 08:30 on Thursday for him to start.

Obviously every one was working on shipyard time so “08:30” was late morning, “an hour” was half a day and “finished on Friday” meant Saturday but whatever. The work looks professional and the motor works. And we don’t actually have any appointments the next few years.

The new motor is also a Yanmar. It is tiny compared to the old one, feels a bit more powerful and looks much much less rusty. It also has a three year manufacturers warranty and spare parts available worldwide. Sounds like fun.


Obviously on a sailing boat you don’t have a connection to the grid. Almost as obvious is that you have devices that use electricity. The result is that you have to generate your own power and use less than you produce.

The diesel motor needs electricity to turn the starter and also generates electricity when it is running. It first charges its own battery (B2 in the diagram) and then uses anything left over to charge the services battery bank (B1). This means that the service batteries rarely get a good charge from the motor especially as we try to avoid running it and prefer to be a sail boat. Most sailing days we mange less than an hour of “motor boating” and at anchor it is always off.

Electricity generation
Electricity generation

We have a wind generator mounted on the stern and two 80 Watt solar panels mounted one on each side of the cockpit. All this produces a long term average of 2A day and night – so 48Ah a day. The solar produces more than the wind but the wind often blows when there is less sunlight.

So on the incoming side of the batterys we have 2A. And on the outgoing side we have:

  • Fridge (uses 6A)
  • Heating (about 5A)
  • Navigation equipment (2.5A but loads more with radar on)
  • VHF radio (0.5A)
  • PC, 2 tablets and 2 phones
  • Power tools
  • Lighting
  • Various pumps.

The trick is to minimize the use of any and all devices and charge them when there is power available.

The fridge cools best at night (when the ambient temperature is lower) so we cool that for about 6 hours a night and use up about ¾ of what we produce. The heating has been off since Scotland. The navigation equipment only gets switched on when absolutely necessary and the radio is on when we are at sea. The PC is rarely unpacked.

Tablets, phones and tools are charged up (as far as possible) when the system is fully charged. We have USB and power tool power packs to “save” extra power.

The tablets are the real “workhorses”. They have our charts on them, navigation software installed and the anchor watch (to check if we are drifting at anchor). Together with Google, we use them to blog, organise our photos, read books and communicate. They do all this while using next to no electricity. The phones are our “communication centers” and just as energy efficient.

All the lights are LED and the pumps very rarely run.

Right now the system is working and we don’t miss the electricity bill.


Our two foresails can be rolled in or out depending on the strength of the wind. More wind needs less sail so as the wind increases we can roll more foresail away and thus keep everything under control.

The mainsail needs to be lowered to reduce its size. This is called reefing and initially appears a little more complicated. Basically you have reefing lines that you use to pull a part of the sail down and then to keep them tightened down. The methodic is:

  • turn up wind to take the air out of the sail,
  • take up the weight of the sail and boom on the topping lift – line specially for this,
  • release the downhaul – line that pulls the main sail down,
  • pull in reefing line while gently releasing main halyard – the line that pulls the mainsail up,
  • release the topping lift,
  • re-tension the downhaul,
  • turn back downwind.

It sounds like a lot to do but we can now have a reef in a few minutes after deciding we need one. This is however definitely a case of “practice makes perfect” and we have now have plenty of practice.

reefing lines and the downhaul
reefing lines and the downhaul

While crossing the Bay of Biscay we broke the first reefing line. It was already damaged and Heidi is really strong 🙂 In La Coruna we bought a new line and yesterday we replaced it. Our first reef is a “one line reef” which means you only pull on one line and it cleverly pulls down on both ends of the sail at once. That sounds simple but makes the actual mechanics much more complicated. The line runs backwards and forwards and round pulley after pulley. Trying to get the new line in without losing the ends or breaking anything was a real challenge and Neill needed a piece of chocolate to recover once it was done.

But today, when the wind got up, everything worked perfectly.


Registering Artemis

When we bought Artemis we were told that she had been deregistered from the British Registry. That fitted well with our plan of registering her in Gibraltar. Little did we know that this was the start of a tragi-comedy that would take months to run its course.

Gibraltar Registry

Our first information was that the Gibraltar Registry “only” needed originals of the bill of sale, the builders certificate and (of course) some money.

The bill of sale wasn’t a problem but we had never seen a builders certificate. The broker and the previous owner also did not have it and we received information that “back then” there wasn’t always a builders certificate. We contacted the first owner and he had a photocopy of the certificate but wasn’t sure if he had ever seen the original. We now knew that it had once existed but it could no longer be found.

Back to the registry.

Registering Artemis
Registering Artemis. Death by paperwork.

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Ship radio license and EPIRB registration

After months spent trying to register Artemis, I approached the task of obtaining a radio license and registering the EPIRB with trepidation. I was already stressing about pages of forms and days of work. It turned out to be extremely easy and less than an hours work from beginning to end. Continue reading “Ship radio license and EPIRB registration”

Marine Insurance

This is a subject I approached with great respect. My research in Internet forums led me to believe that the insurance market is peopled by evil, money grabbing scrooges who hide behind small print and set unreasonable conditions before they will even agree to consider taking a huge chunk out of your boating money.


This turned out not to be true.

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History of Artemis of Lleyn

In 1991 the original owner paid the deposit to Orion Marine in Falmouth for a Rustler 36 that was to become hull number 56, “Artemis of Lleyn”. In 1992 she was displayed at the Southampton Boat Show. Her first season of use was 1993.

Artemis in 1993 being sailed by Mr John Hodges (photo: Martin Turtle)
Artemis in 1993 being sailed by Mr John Hodges (photo: Martin Turtle)

During 1995 she did a circuit of the Atlantic and cruised in the Caribbean. After that she was in the Baltic for three years and cruised as far as the Russian border in Finland to the East and the Aaland islands in the North.

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Buying Artemis of Lleyn

I knew that I wanted to sail; that was the easy bit. The hard bit was knowing what I wanted to sail.

Two weeks on a brand new Dufour 350 with self tacking jib showed me exactly what I didn’t want. A roll threw me on to the chart table and it broke. The locker fittings broke as you opened them and we found some screws on deck at the bottom of the mast. And the noise of the flat bottom at the bow slapping the waves was awful. Four weeks on a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37 were fun and most of the time I could actually reverse in to a marina, but deep down I knew I was looking for something else.

Dufour 350 in Croatia
AWB – exactly what I didn’t want

After 18 months I had read all the arguments in the Internet about sail area/displacement ratio, stability index and the angle of vanishing stability and was thoroughly confused. The only useful result of all my reading was that I was slowly getting a feel for what I should be expecting to pay for the boat of my dreams.

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