About Goosebumps

The Basic Boat As Delivered

LOA = 33'6"
LWL = 31'9"
Beam = 14'
Draft = 18" (boards & rudders up)/5'6"(boards down)
Prop draft = 24" (Sonic drive leg down)
Main = 310 sq ft, full battens
Genoa = 375 sq ft (not sure if I'm right about this area)
Disp = 9,000# empty

Goosebumps is a Gemini 105 Mc sailing catamaran built by Performance Cruising Inc. in Annapolis, MD. We took delivery of Goosebumps, hull #729, on 11 April 2001 at the PCI dock.

When we bought our boat, Tony & Sue Smith, only built one boat and they did it remarkably well. The Gemini 105 Mc is a 33' 6" cat with a relatively narrow (for a cat)14' beam. The hulls have twin asymmetrical centerboards and kick up rudders. It has a 39' Selden mast which steps on deck. With all the usual goodies at the masthead like VHF antenna, WSI and masthead light, Goosebumps requires 46' of overhead clearance. The boat included 2 Dave Bierig sails (and a sail cover): main and roller furling genoa (Dave has been building sails for PCI for 28 years). The furler is a Schaefer 1100.

Auxiliary power is a 27 hp Westerbeke 30B-3 connected to a Sillette Sonic catamaran drive leg. The drive leg is something like an I/O drive but substantially longer since it has to reach a foot from the bridge deck to the water. The drive leg is connected to the rudders through light weight ropes when it's down. Having the drive leg turn with the rudders increases maneuverability under power enormously. The standard 50 amp alternator delivered with the Westerbeke has a built-in regulator (making it unusable with an external regulator without a mod).

The interior accommodation includes a dinette, a galley down to starboard, master cabin forward amidships with queen size mattress. To port there is a navigation station (which has become something of a library and parts storage), a head compartment with shower. The boat has 2 aft cabins port & starboard whose 48" mattresses are laughably called double berths. Any thought of the aft cabins being saved for guests evaporated as the reality of storage needs for food (starboard aft cabin) and spares (port aft cabin) won out. Well, there's still the dinette which can be converted in an emergency.

We ordered the boat with a small heater connected to the engine to heat the cabin when the engine is running. Not a liveaboard heating solution, but it was great for the ICW where we powered most of the time. Our boat came with 3 low power Hella fans for ventilation 3 fans just weren't enough so we added 2 more with at least 3 more to come.

The head and galley are supplied with pressure hot & cold water. The electric heating element on our Attwood water heater died before we ever left the PCI dock. The way the water heater is installed on our boat allows a bubble to form around the heating element if a water tank runs dry and the pump pushes air into the lines. With no water surrounding it, the element overheats and dies. We still have hot water when the engine is running and that has worked out OK.

The galley is equipped with a 3 cubic foot Dometic refrigerator which uses either 115 VAC or propane to operate. This unit uses ammonia as the coolant and has so far worked very well. When away from the dock we get about 16-18 days on a 20# tank of propane for both cooking and refrigeration. That includes baking bread a couple times per tank. We'd like to see a little more insulation in the door of the refrigerator, but the rest of the inside is fine. The unit will only work on a boat that sails upright as a catamaran does and would be inappropriate on a monohull. The technology for the refrigerator has been around a long, long time. I remember relatives on farms in the Central Valley of California as recent as the mid-1940s that had no electrical power service and used the old Servel refrigerator. The Servel was a predecessor to the modern day Dometic.

Btw, did you know that the new OPD (overfill protection device) that recently became required on all LPG tanks reduces the filled volume by about 15%. Nice, huh?! That means that a 20# tank is really a 17# tank.

PCI included a decent start on electronics with a set of Raymarine (ex-Raytheon, ex-Autohelm) instruments: ST-60 tri-data (speed, depth, log & temperature... so why is it tri-data?!); ST-60 apparent/true wind speed & direction; and an Autohelm 4000+ autopilot. All the Raymarine instruments are integrated through the Raymarine proprietary SeaTalk bus, so the wind instruments allow the autopilot to steer either off its own flux gate compass or off relative wind (ala self steering). The wind instrument includes alarms that can be set to sound when the relative wind speed hits the speed where you should reef. Pretty cool. All the instruments work very well. And the autopilot is indispensable!

PCI also included a Uniden President 25 watt VHF radio, CO detectors by Xintex in each hull and a Sony automotive AM/FM/CD stereo radio with a pair of decent speakers.

The 105 Mc model marked the first of Tony's "convertible cockpit" Geminis. At the Annapolis Boat Show his demo had a hard-panel enclosure, but the practicality of canvas enclosures won out and as far as I know, no further boats were equipped with the hard enclosure. Out own boat was delivered with no enclosure, but we eventually changed that!

It's difficult to say enough nice things about your own boat when you're as happy as we are. As Tony Smith says, the Gemini is a boat built to a price, so yes, there are examples from other builders with finer finish or bigger/better something or other. But frankly I can't imagine a cruising boat delivering more bang for the buck than we enjoy with Goosebumps! It sails very well, staying balanced and manageable in all wind conditions we've experienced. Our boat is pretty heavy with cruising gear and we still feel pretty good about its speed. But the really significant difference between the Gemini and most other cruising catamarans are the centerboards and kick-up rudders.

PCI has a wonderful site with lots of details about the Gemini. If you're interested in the Gemini, including a history of the marque back through the early Telstar trimarans, you'll want to check it out. Tony Smith has greatly influenced the current multihull market offerings. Recently Tony developed the design of a new trimaran, similar to the Telstar he designed in England before moving to the US. As I write this in December 2002 I don't know if it has made it into production.

Adding The Cruising Goodies

Well you can't really buy a new boat and not want to throw money away on a few toys now can you? I think it's the law, isn't it? :-) Here's what we thought was "necessary" to make our cruising more comfortable. Well... mostly necessary!

When we ordered the boat we weren't sure if we really needed many of the things that PCI offered as factory installed extras. We didn't realize what a saving it was to buy these things from PCI for delivery with the boat: davits, canvas enclosures, solar panels and air conditioning are the main ones that we should have gotten. Live and learn! In general, PCI is unwilling to do special modifications. Plus they aren't too interested in adding on any but a few accessories. But I would encourage an interested buyer to discuss what you have in mind because they will install a few things they don't admit to on their options list, e.g. a Heart Interface Freedom inverter.

Electrical:

The biggest and most elemental modifications we made were to the electrical system. If you don't get this right, you'll be tripping over it for as long as you own the boat. That's not to say that what we did is necessarily the best way to do things, but close attention to detail is necessary for the long term safe operation of the boat and we did things the best we knew how.

We replaced the 3 Group 24 batteries that PCI installs on the boat with four GC-2 6-volt absorbed glass mat batteries (2 banks of 2 series-connected 6 volt batteries each) from MK Battery (a subsidiary of East Penn Co.). These AGM batteries are rated at 200 AHrs each giving us 200 AHrs in each of 2 banks, a total of 400 AHrs.

Deep cycle batteries don't like to be run down to zero AHrs before they're recharged, so the usable capacity is quite a bit less. We limit discharge to 50%. Recharging while cruising (using the engine alternator) gets the batteries quickly back to 85% of capacity or even 95% if you can run the engine longer. So the reality is that you get something over 35% of 400 AHr (85% - 50% = 35%) usable capacity once you're away from the dock. That's about 140-180 AHr out of 400 AHr.

We bought our batteries through BatteryStuff.com in Oregon because we thought they had pretty good prices. We might have gotten Lifeline, which are rated at 220 AHrs, but they were pretty pricey. We chose AGM technology over gel cell because AGMs are spec'ed at twice the cycle life.

We originally installed flooded cell batteries from Deka (also a subsidiary of East Penn). Flooded cell battereis offer the most bang for the buck, and the Dekas we bought performed just fine, maintaining their original capacity since we installed them. Unfortunately the physical space available for accessing the batteries on the Gemini makes watering them a big deal. Friend Fran Tschida worked out a method for doing it using a volt meter and a squeeze-bulb pump, but a couple acid burns convinced me that I could have picked a better battery type for such a confined space.

The truth is we find we are pretty extravagant with energy use. A couple times we used the SSB radio for e-Mail for extended periods then watched TV for a few hours. By the time we got up in the morning we saw we'd gone through 80-90 AHrs. Not good! With a little effort at conserving, though, we can still use all the toys and keep the evening usage down to 40 AHrs.

Along with the batteries we also added a Freedom 15-12 inverter/charger from Heart Interface (a subsidiary of Xantrex Technology Inc), a 75 amp BalMar alternator, and a Link 2000R monitor and regulator. I'd used an earlier version of the Link 2000R called the Quad Cycle Regulator built at the time by Cruising Equipment in Seattle, WA (also eaten up by Xantrex). This newer version has lots of bells and whistles for monitoring the electrical system plus it is fully integrated with both the Freedom 15 inverter/charger and the alternator regulator. In addition to all this engine and dockside power management we also added a pair of 80 Watt solar panels from Kyocera. Together with a Hamilton Ferris Multi-source Regulator, the solar panels go a long way toward minimizing engine usage for battery charging only. We have to fess up, though, that we use so much power that the panels can't keep up do it all. All those electrical toys really make a dent in the power budget!

[ I'm redoing this electrical section as a separate page. It's not done yet, but you can see an early cut here. ]

I guess this is where to mention the watermaker. We bought a Village Marine Little Wonder with 200 gpd output. We were actually looking for the 150 gpd unit which would have fit nicely under the starboard aft bunk, but VM no longer makes the small unit. I did manage to get the boost pump and the filters under the bunk, but both the high pressure pump and the membrane assembly intrude into the starboard aft bunk (now storage) space. A watermaker is a big power user, so there was a lot of blue language while all the wires were gotten into place. That aside, we've been very happy with the unit and feel pretty good about it's future utility. Fred Scheibl on Windwalker helped with a lot of info when I was first looking into these things (if you use Internet Explorer, check their Windwalker site; Windwalker is cruising again and they're great writers that really bring it to life!).

The Family Car:

Well... not really a car. I'm talking about the inflatable dinghy. We bought an 8' 8" Achilles plus a 4 HP Yamaha 4-stroke engine before we left San Francisco. It's not very fast (we can't get it to plane with both of us aboard), but it gets us there. And the engine has been fine. Truth be known, though, I wish we'd bought the engine on the east coast where we could have gotten an 8 HP 2-stroke that weighs about the same as our 4 HP 4-stroke. Weight is a big issue for us.

Along with the dinghy we also added a set of KATO Marine davits to hang the inflatable above the water when not in use. Like so many other things, we should have ordered these from PCI instead of adding them later. We bought the optional 4:1 tackle to make lifting the dinghy a little easier.

We were concerned about the weight of the outboard engine while attached to the boat and hanging in the davits. So for open water passages we added a Fulton outboard engine bracket. It can be lowered and raised and for all the world it looks like backup power, but sadly it doesn't reach the water from where it's mounted. We would need a very long shaft on the Yamaha to use it for powering I'm afraid.

Cockpit Enclosure:

We bought both enclosures that ALMO makes for the Gemini: the clear plastic and the bug screen. Unfortunately we didn't buy them with the boat and had to go directly to ALMO in Millersville, MD. The individual panels for both enclosures are the same size so the panels can be mixed and matched, i.e. screens and plastic can be zipped together. Fall, winter and early spring with the plastic enclosure was wonderful. It was like adding a sun room. We haven't found the screen enclosure as helpful, but it would have been a life saver during the Great Bug War of Shaw Bay!

Awnings and Window Covers:

The first hot spell on the Chesapeake showed us first hand that we needed something to keep the sun off. First Celia made window covers for the stateroom window and saloon window (the "windshield") using white Sunbrella. These helped some, but we didn't really get any relief until she made a set of awnings for the forward- and mid-deck areas.

The awnings are made from something called Odysey which has a waterproof coating on the under side. This turned out to be not a great choice since the water gets trapped between the fabric and the coating and turns to mildew with no way to clean it. The 4 Forespar collapsable awning poles are 6 feet long when collapsed which presents something of a stowage problem. They've had many different homes when not in use and we haven't settled on anything that we're really happy about. Surprisingly, West Marine had the best price on these things.

When we had the cockpit enclosure installed, we also asked for one of the visors that Tony designed to keep some of the heat out of the cabin. This works really well! We asked for Pacific Blue Sunbrella instead of the standard white sailcloth.

The most recent creation from Celia's sewing machine is side window covers made from something called Phifertex... a reinforced plastic screen material. It keeps some of the direct sunlight out and allows us to see with minimal interference. Like the other window covers, I installed the snaps outside the window rather than risk damaging the seal of the window by replacing the window hold-down screws. Celia also made hatch covers that slip onto the hatch lense with no snaps and allow us to open any hatch without removing a deck-snapped cover. Very nice addition.

These photos show the side window covers, the visor, a couple of the hatch covers, the saloon window cover and the stateroom window cover. You can also see the awnings, furled for the down pour we just had. Notice the tent over the portable A/C? Our Bowmar hatches have no lower lip, so when it rains outside, it also rains inside. The plastic tarp steers the rain away, keeping the Admiral from flogging the Captain yet again for allowing water to drip onto her seat of authority! :-)

 

Electronics:

To complement the 25 Watt Uniden VHF radio Tony supplies, we added a hand held VHF from Garmin. The Uniden has worked well, though it's location inside the saloon isn't as useful as I'd like. The Garmin handheld has been OK, but I think I'd like to play with an Icom, Raymarine or Standard sometime to see how they compare. It's only "OK" because it picks up electrical noise from the RayMar instruments. This disables the squelch and causes the handheld to receive intermittently with no signal present. Stepping back a foot or 2 allows it to work properly.

We installed an Icom 710RT SSB radio which has been absolutely wonderful! We bought the Icom AT-130 auto tuner for it plus an SCS (a German mfr) PTC-IIpro modem PACTOR modem. The modem allows us to collect weather fax's plus we can also send and receive e-Mail. Our only regret has been that we bought the RT (remote panel) version. We should have gotten the fixed panel since our installation above the refrigerator lends itself to convenient operation from the settee. Now the panel is located at a place that is a long reach from the settee. Seemed like a good idea at the time!

More recently we bought the firmware upgrade for the SCS PTC-IIpro modem to allow us to use the new PACTOR-III transmission format. It has proven to be great investment for $150US. We now get anywhere from 3 to 10 times faster downloads on those stations that support PACTOR-III.

We subscribe to SailMail which is a commercial HF radio mail cooperative (we recommend it). Plus Celia and I both have our general class amateur radio licenses so we can use the amateur radio Winlink 2000 system which takes care of all the non-business radio mail traffic. Most significantly, Winlink 2000 provides excellent weather information for cruisers in compressed files which are easy to download. Winlink is an incredible resource for a cruiser! Both of these systems support PACTOR-III, though SailMail isn't permitted to enable it on their US stations until sometime in early 2003 when their license is revised to allow the greater bandwidth.

I've never used a radar before, but recommendations from friends sounded like it would be a good idea. We chose the Furuno 1712 based on its reputation for reliability. What an introduction to radar we had. The first day of our cruise south saw us out of Herrington Harbour too late in the day. We ended up feeling our way into Solomons Island in the dark (not a smart thing to do your first time there!). I was an immediate convert. I couldn't believe what an incredible tool radar can be.

The radar antenna is mounted on the mast using KATO's radar mount (everything that KATO Marine builds is beautifully done!). We didn't think to ask if they could build the same thing in aluminum and should have inquired because this thing is pretty heavy.

Navigation goodies consist of a couple GPS's: a Garmin 162 primary and a Garmin III+ for backup. We also use Nobeltec's Visual Navigation Suite navigation software with their Passport vector charts. We use the software and charts on our Sony laptop with 15" screen (we have a Sony 16" for backup). Collectively this has been an excellent combination. Yes, we carry paper charts as a backup, but have had nearly no need to refer to them. Truthfully, we don't need a fancy GPS when using software navigation: as long as the GPS and the computer each have a serial output, the navigation s/w does all the work. However, if both computers die, having internal chart display and routes in the GPS will be a big help.

On the entertainment side, the boat comes with a nice Sony AM/FM/CD radio + a couple of decent speakers. We brought my old 10" TV/VCR for the occasional program and to play video rentals. Turns out that reception has been poor and getting worse as we head further south. When we got delayed in Ft. Myers for a couple months, we opted for a satellite TV (we signed up with DirecTV through Radio Shack) plus the FollowMeTV tracking system to point the antenna at anchor. Not a perfect combination, but it works well enough that I'm glad we have it. The real prize of all this is that we should expect coverage through much of the Bahamas and that means we can see the Weather Channel with all their updated satellite photos and Caribbean weather reports. Cool!

Sails:

We still are using the 2 original sails, plus we've just taken delivery of our new cruising spinnaker from Dave Bierig. After seeing Sea Ya (a 1988 Gemini) sailing with their spinnaker nearly match our time as we motored, we decided there had to be one in our future! We ordered a spinnaker snuffer called a Chute Scoop from Dave. The spinnaker tacks to an adjustable bridle so that it can be set to port or to starboard depending on the wind & course.

Safety Equipment...

We have most of the usual stuff: inflatable life vests (which will inflate not only if you fall in the drink but with enough rain on them you'll get a real surprise!), West Marine's Life Sling, a Delta Drogue from Para-Tech Engineering and a 12' sea anchor also from Para-Tech. Less usual are a pair of immersion suits and a MOM-9 auto-inflating light pylon & floatation platform.

We also bought and registered a Pains-Wessex Precision 406 GPS EPIRB. It's actually built by McMurdo in England. We bought the fixed mount (vs. auto release) with the intention of taking it in the abandon ship bag. We learned that the mount has a device to disable the EPIRB so that it can't be inadvertently activated. When it goes in the bag without the mount, excess moisture can activate it. Something to be guarded against.

Ground Tackle...

The Gemini is delivered with a standard 20# Danforth style anchor with 6' of 5/16" proof coil chain and 100' of 1/2" 3-strand nylon rode. We brought with us an old H-20 Danforth... one of the old Hi-Tensile hooks that made Danforth famous. Sadly this later just doesn't set as well as the new one Tony supplied with the boat. It's not even worth keeping around as a backup, but the one that Tony supplied will definitely stay until it can be replaced with a Fortress aluminum anchor.

Before we left San Francisco we bought a 27# Bulwagga anchor with 35' of 5/16" HT chain and 500' of 11/16" double-braid nylon rode cut into 4 lengths with eyes spliced in. It's been a great anchor and has set instantly in mud, sand, weed or rock. It usually resets with a tidal current change if the current doesn't cause the boat to hover as happened to us in St. Augustine. The drawback is that it's a bugger to stow the Bulwagga on the Gemini. The earlier 105s had the bow roller set forward of the headstay on top of the bowsprit. The 105Mc has the roller set in an opening through the bowsprit which makes it impossible to seat the Bulwagga properly without the anchor looking like a broken battering ram on a Roman galley. I've been wrestling it aboard and stowing it in the chain locker each time I retrieve it.

So we bought a 15# alloy SPADE which so far has done OK. We had a problem at Ft. Myers Beach in a soft bottom on a tidal current change where it didn't reset (naturally this always happens in the middle of the night!), though it did set without fuss initially. Subsequently we've had no problem. We use 75' of 5/16" HT chain + 250' 5/8" 3-strand nylon spliced directly to the chain so that it will run over the chain gypsy of the windlass. It fits nicely on the roller. In fact, I think the 19.5# alloy SPADE would fit equally well though I haven't seen one in place.

Our most recent buy was a vertical shaft manual windlass from Simpson-Lawrence which they call the Anchorman. It's not installed yet, so I can't comment on it but I have to believe it'll beat hand-over-hand with the rode! We chose the Anchorman in part because they have an electric version with the same foot print.

Galley Equipment...

The stove supplied with our boat is made in England and has been something of a nice surprise. Only a 2-burner top will fit in the shallow space of the Gemini, but it has a grill and an oven. We make sure we have a pot or pan on the top burners before lighting the stove because it looks like the foam-back vinyl liner could easily get too hot if heat from an un-covered burner were to hit it for very long.

We brought a pressure cooker with us, but experiments showed that steaming veggies used less total time (heating to pressure + cooking + cool down). Now we use a sauce pan with a folding steamer tray. In the current hot climate, minimizing the time a burner is lighted is important.

MIKI G found a griddle that fit atop the fiddle rails of the stove. We liked the looks of it and eventually found one for the Goose... It was a big improvement over our earlier griddle that sat directly on the burner.

Galley stores are in the starboard aft cabin. We copied the shallow wire shelving that we saw on RIKI, attached to the inboard wall. Works very well for spices and small items.

We origianlly used open crates for food storage because they nest, their open sides allow good ventilation and they keep things from sliding around. The fact is that they are a bugger to handle because, stacked 2 layers deep, you have to pick them up constantly to get to what's in the lower level. Easy in the forward row but very difficult as you crawl further aft. We needed a better method and had seen solutions on SEA YA (removable, modular compartment system) and TAJ MUHA (open metal shelving from Lowe's or ???) that are both appealing. Solutions would be a lot easier if the watermaker weren't in the way! What Celia ended up doing was to lay the crates on their side, tie them together with tie-wraps and then add bungy cords across the front to retain the contents. Works very well!

Engine Related...

There's very little to do here in the way of mods, but we did add an electric oil change pump to make oil changes quicker and easier. We haven't done it yet, but we will add a SpeedSeal (?) to make raw water pump impeller inspection and replacement easier. As mentioned above, we replaced the standard alternator with a 75 amp small-frame BalMar alternator with dual-foot mount. Btw, you have to get a version from BalMar that handles a 5/16" mounting bolt; apparently 3/8" is standard.

Fuel Tankage...

The stock boat has 2-18 gal US diesel tanks which are fine for weekend or vacation cruising. Of course, you can't really get 36 gal into these tanks because of the fit of the filler on the top of the tank. We think we can get only 15 or 16 gal into each tank. For longer distances, more tankage is helpful and the easiest way to do it is with jerry jugs. Unfortunately, deck storage of the jugs has a few problems: they're in the way, even sub-tropical sun kills the plastic in no time and the heat kills the fuel. Each lazarette can accommodate about 4 of the 5-gal size jugs. You can almost double the available tankage with 5-5 gal jerry jugs stored in one or divided between both of the lazarettes.

We have a Baja filter, one of the small ones, for filtering fuel from the jerry jugs plus a syphon hose with a little mechanical starting pump (about $10 at West Marine). We also treat all the fuel with Bio-Gard, though I don't know if this is the best choice of treatment.

Things Left To Do

This list is getting pretty short, but there are a few things we're thinking about or have in the works:

You can tell from the list that, other than the A/C and wind generator, we're down to less expensive but very useful mods. Many of these ought to have been done already, but so far we haven't seen a solution we'll really be happy with.

We also got some new ideas from Hans Muller of BOOMERANG. Check out his ideas. Hans is really clever and thinks things through very well.

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