Much thought went into choosing the equipment on Malua. I discussed my decisions with experienced boat owners who would know, rather than rely on vendors who obviously only want to push their products. The equipment was purchased with ease from all over the world. The principle was to keep it simple but use the most up-to-date equipment 2004 and most advanced technology. The idea that old is good is not always the way to go.  Use the best available but ensure that it is the best.  It has proved to be the right decision.

A great deal of thought went into choosing the following equipment and systems:

Steering System

After the second hour, the fun of steering a yacht loses its appeal, so turn it over to a system that in most cases does a better job than you are able.  It has to be appropriate for the conditions and the mode of operation at the time.  If you are sailing well then why not use the wind in the form of a wind vane.  If you are motoring use the power of the battery and use an autopilot.  Top of Page

Wind Vane

I chose the Australian-made Flemingwhich is made of stainless steel and has a continuous adjustment for the wind sensor.  The current model purchased is now in its third or fourth generation and has matured and improved with every release.  The boat has a large sugar scoop stern so the challenge was how to install the wind vane and not totally restrict the good features of the stern.  A tripod has been constructed onto which the wind vane is attached.  The swim ladder slides out between the legs of the tripod and one can still easily dive off or climb on to the sugar scoop while the wind vane is in place.  There is an added advantage in that wind vane can be removed by just undoing three bolts and storing the system in the cockpit locker. Experience with downwind sailing is that the windvane is not good.  Great into the wind and in a storm. Top of Page


The electrical autopilot is based on the Robertson autopilot from Simrad connected to a Whitlock 1/4Hp drive unit.  This system is robust and uses a clever clutch system to disengage the motor when it is not in use.  The Whitlock pedestal is connected via a draglink to the rudder and then, on the same unit, the autopilot is connected.  It has very little resistance and works as smooth as silk even when controlled by the Fleming wind vane.  The clutch does use some extra electricity but there again I will be using the autopilot when the main engine is driving the boat so there will hopefully be excess amps in the system. Picture: Whitlock autopilot drive unit and feed back ready to be installed.

The current primary autopilot is a hydrolic ram connected to the Simrad autopilot head.  I can connect this ram and the electronics or reconnect the Whitlock.  Both work well. Top of Page

Navigation Systems

The Simrad C42 GPS/chart plotter and radar is the best piece of equipment on the vessel.  It is tightly integrated with the autopilot.  The display can show the charts alongside the radar and many other important sailing variables.  The display system is at the chart table along with one multi-display IS15 wind instrument.  The other four, wind, compass and depth/speed instruments, are set above the companionway hatch.  There is a repeater of the C42 at the instrument pod at the wheel along with the second autopilot control.  This gives full functionality and control from the wheel.  I have found these essential pieces of equipment with any coastal cruising especially being able to look at the C-Map charts and the graphical depth sounder on the one screen while steering the yacht.

The autopilot shows the waypoints, their distance and bearing and can also steer the vessel along a set route.  A further advantage I have found is the ability to tack the vessel while I am sailing single-handed. I only have to look after the sheets and not think about the heading. Top of Page


The mast head rig has a sloop/cutter sail configurationThe inner forestay is removable with a Profurl sail furling system. It is on a high field lever so it can be removed and stowed against the mast if you are doing some close tacking but while cruising it is left in its normal position.  While hanked on storm staysail has all the traditional benefits, a correct setup and well managed staysail is very reliable.  It gives extra flexibility and safety.  The mast was made by Allyacht Spars - Australia.  They produce a beautiful piece of equipment.  The majority of the components are cut on their laser cutter and fabricated in-house.  This gives greater flexibility and the ability to be creative with component construction.  The whole component is then anodized as a single piece.  The turning blocks for the halyards at the base of the mast are a good example of this feature.  They have included good lengths of halyards and placed the exits from the mast via the turning blocks in a very logical position.  The whole experience of purchasing this mast was a delight.  It has beautiful workmanship. The people added value through their experience and the final product was excellent value for money.  A recommended product. Top of Page


My approach is to do everything from the cockpit, including furling the genoa and other sails.  All the halyards and lines come aft to the cockpit through turning blocks at the base of the mast on to jammers and an electric winch.  The main sheet has also been led aft so the helmsman can control it from behind the wheel.  This is not always easy but essential.  I have include two electric winches for the main and the spinnaker sheets.  They also double as a windlass for the stern anchor.

All lines are Donaghys double braid polyester.  A poor product because the cover slips.  In places it will stretch such as the spinnaker guys, but in a cruising boat, a little stretch in a gust can help save the sail if you fail to take it down in time. Top of Page


The sails come from the North Sails loft in Sydney.  This, like the mast, was a delight to purchase and great value for money.  The MD measured the sails, made some suggestions and added his big boat experience.  They complete the sail on time and they fitted perfectly first time.  A highly recommended company. 

The main is loose footed with four sets of full length battens on Antil “teflon” bearing cars.  The headboard runs on a similar system.  The reefing is single line which is operated through the boom back to the cockpit. There are three reefing points.

The staysail is the sail of last resort however it add great value going into the wind on Malua because it balances the large mainsail.  It has been cut as a blade sail so it stays off the mast and spreaders.  It does not have much power by directs the flow of wind past the main.

If the wind is forward of the beam I always fly the staysail.  Depending on wind strength I fly the genoa.  It is a 150% so it is a large sail.  I have it unfurled up to 18 knots then progressively furl it up to 25 knots.  The foresails are balanced with the main which is reefed sooner than later because it is a very powerful sail with a big roach.  Having single line reefing led back to the cockpit means that it is easy to pull a reef in and to let one out

Off the wind there is a massive spinnaker which can be flown from either the port or starboard mast head.  The reacher is also available.  A North snuffer is available to both sails so a single person can douse these sails if the wind comes up.

Update I purchased a new set of sails from North Sails in 2018.  I called the loft and asked for a quote to build a set of sails exactly the same as my previous set which they did with a few extra bits.  The batten pockets now have a new and improved mechanism to keep them in.  The seams ate tripple stitched.  They are beautiful piece of art Top of Page

Diesel Engine

One very rarely hears that someone is not happy with the engine on their yacht.  In my opinion they do not compare theirs with others.  I have a Yanmar 4JH2E which is 50HP because I understand it was built for the marine environment.  The important thing about an engine is that it is correctly installed.  It should have good sound-proof engine mounts with the correct water exhaust system and a flexible connection to the propeller shaft.  This reduces the vibration. Yanmar on mounts prior to being enclosed. Top of Page

Propeller  Autoprop

UPDATE This unit was the worst mistake I made in building Malua.  The propeller is not fit for purpose on any yacht.

The story is long and horrible costing me lots of money.  In short these Autoprops drop one of their three blades for no reason at all.  It bent my 1 1/2 inch drive shaft on the first occasion and almost came through the hull on the second occasion.  The service and excuses from the manufacturer is part of a litiny of non-responsibility so I like many others have removed the propeller.

While a yacht has sails, one uses the engine far more than you think.  This is particularly true in the Mediterranean where the wind seems to blow or not, so you motor from one gale to the next.  I chose  a feathering propeller from Autoprop because the write-up from people who fitted them was always good.  I unfortunately had to deal with the local Australian agent who in retrospect has given me poor advice ever since I started the negotiation with him.  At one point I all most cancelled the order and sourced it unit from New Zealand.  I wish I had.

The unit has good thrust and can stop the vessel quickly as well as going astern with power and speed.  Unfortunately I have had balancing problems from the start.  I am not able to achieve 3600rpm from the motor because of the vibration.  I have repeatedly had people on board who have assisted with the engine alignment but to no avail.  The consequence of this situation is that the skeg shaft bearing has worn much faster than expected.  After only a few hundred hours I had to replace the bearing.  Now after only 250 hours it has started to wear again.  The local agent's recommendation is to add a second bearing on a 900mm long shaft with a diameter of 1 1/2 inch thickness.  Not only impractical but should not be necessary.  The manufacturers have a different explanation but no solution.  I will give it one more season and replace the original prop to see if it is not the Autoprop.  Top of Page


All the systems are based around a good 12 volt DC battery bank.  I chose the best and biggest I could afford, not only in terms of money but space and weight.  I started six Sonnenschein 6 volt 200Ah connected in parallel and series.  There is also a 12 volt 85Ah Sonnenschein starter battery.  They are both gel construction which will work underwater and require no distilled water or maintenance.  Not worrying about maintaining water levels, or acid spilling in the battery locker, as with regular lead acid batteries, is the greatest.  These were truly zero maintenance batteries and give me 600 amp hours, plus the 85 amp hour engine starter source.  The NSW survey requires that the navigation lights and the VHF have an additional battery source which is located above the cockpit level externally.  I have a 70amp hour gel battery directly connected to these two units.  Rather overkill and hopefully never required. Picture: a single six volt unit.

After the cruise in the Pacific I decided to add an additional battery bank to separate the electronics from the motor driven equipment (autopilot) because after 18 hour of running the autopilot it draws too great a current which leads to the chart plotter cutting out because of low voltage.  I added four 6 volt 200Ah Sonnenschein, similar to the original type.  These were located under the aft cabin berth in a unused space.  While giving me additional power I had to rewire the main switch and change some of the other equipment take-off.  Having undertaken the original wiring it was easy to understand the schematics and to design the new setup. Having done that the actual running of the new cables went very easily.  I now have a very robust system with redundancy and isolating electronics from motors (winches, autopilot and windlass).


Having implemented the new system I found that using the two house batteries for starting the engine was not the best solution.  Not only did it draw the incorrect current (high quick but also had an impact on the running electronic equipment.  It therefore made sence to bring the redundant engine battery back into service.  Now that was quite easy because I had left the battery cables in the main switch box, just disconnected the terminale.  It was easy to connect them up but the house and engine have two different charging regeimes so I had to isolate the engine from the house battery.  Not a problem just add a third 1, 2 both switch.  Unfortunatly there is no space so the switch had to be fitted into the switch compartment.  Having acommplished that all I do is when I want to start the engine turn the switch to 1 and press the starter.  The engine starts from the engine battery and the alternator charges the engine battery.  After a few minutes switch to both and then to 2 and the house battery system gets the energy.  I can the deceide if house battey 1 or 2 gets charged first... simple.  On all accounts I have separate amp and volt readout for each battery.


Eight new Sonnerschein batteries are to be installed in May 2022.  The life I have got out of the original set and the updated set is the best I have known so why would you not replace them.

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Most yachts have a good alternator on their main engine, but then have to run it every day to keep the batteries charged.  This is done, usually not under load, but at an idle speed, which glazes the cylinders and uses lots of fuel.  Not a good use of their second most important asset.  I have installed an auxiliary motor used for battery charging, water making and filling diving tanks, etc.  It is a 13HP Kubota diesel motor that has a directly connected 150Amp Leese Neville alternator.  This puts out lots of power and is controlled by a smart regulator. Picture: Generator in situ under the cockpit floor astern of the main engine. Top of Page

Solar Panels

I have two 75 watt Siemens solar panels mounted on a stern arch connected via their own smart regulator to the batteries.  These help keep the amp hours up when the Kubota is not running.  On an average day the two panels pump 10 amp.  It is just great and it is free and environmentally safe.  The solar panels will also charge the batteries when there is no-one on board. Top of Page


A Sharplift industrial desalinator. The high pressure water pump is connected via an electric clutch to the Kubota.  This produces in excess of 80 litres per hour while the batteries are being charged.  It has none of the fancy saline measuring meters only a few valves that you switch on when the water tastes sweet.  Simple and easy to maintain. Top of Page

Dive Compressor

Also available on the Kubota is a place for a small compressor to charge diving tanks. Top of Page


The inverter is a Mastervolt 1000 watt charger inverter controlled by the Heart management system.  It has very poor radio suppression.  So bad in fact that the email will not work if connected to the 240 volt driven computer.  It does do a good job for the microwave oven and the charging of smaller batteries. The 800 watt toaster only just works if the batteries are full or the engine is on!  The Invertor supplies AC power through all the AC plugs on the boat - galley, saloon, navigation station, and workshop. Top of Page

Voltage Regulator

There is an Ample Power 3 step regulator for the Leese Neville. A Trace regulator controls the solar panels.  Both seem to work well. Top of Page


With any refrigeration system, good insulation is crucial.  When I built the boat I made sure there was sufficient insulation.  In most places there is between 6 to 7 inches of insulation with an aluminium foil layer on the outer layer to reflect the radiant energy.  The compressor is water cooled because in the tropics the air can get as hot as the cooling coils.  I also run a fan over the coils just to keep them cool.  This is a small 12 volt computer fan.  The Isotherm ASU Magnum has dual compressors which come into play when there is extra charging capacity.  When the compressor is running normally only one compressor is working.  This draws about 3 amps, but when the engine is running, the second compressor kicks in and it draws 9 amps.

The fridge/freezer is divided into four spaces.  The bottom of both the fridge and freezer stores the infrequently used items, such as packages of meat.  The fridge section is then used for the day-to-day items.  The two are interconnected so the cold air flows between the two.  I believe that 12 volt DC refrigeration is superior to an engine driven cold plate system. Cruising boats with cold plate systems generally run their engines 1.5 hours per day, which may be OK if you are moving on a daily basis, but generally just to run the main engine is a waste and not good for the cylinders.  I have a 13 HP auxiliary engine to charge the batteries so this gives the extra charge to bring the freezer down if it has been opened frequently or extra food has been added.  Normally the solar panels supply more than enough to keep it going.  We left the boat for ten days to do an overland trip and left all the systems operating.  When we returned the freezer was at –10C and the fridge was at zero.  It worked wonderfully even during the overcast periods. Top of Page


This is the key to a good night's sleep.  The anchor is only one component of anchoring.  I have a 45lb high blade SQR.  It is attached to 100 meters (yes 100 meters) of 10mm tested chain.  Well, I have never used all the chain but have used 70 meters for three days when the wind blew 25 knots all the time.  The chain is attached to 70 meters of 18mm nylon rode which may also be used in a big blow in deep water.  I use a 18mm nylon snubber.  The length depends on the strength of the wind.  It is usually only 5 to 10 meters long but is could go out to 30 meters.  I have a back up Bruce 45 lb which has been used in soft mud.  A further backup not only for mud but as a stern anchor is the 12 pound Fortress.  Being light, it is easy to take out in the dinghy.  It always set rapidly and hold in mud.  As the final backup and for use in rocks is a 40lb fisherman or navy pattern anchor always secured to the pulpit in case of emergencies.  Hopefully it will never be needed. Top of Page


This is part of the anchoring system and should, like the anchor and chain, be over specified.  I have a 1200watt Muir Atlantic chain and rope windlass with extra capstan on top.  It is either operated from the cockpit (yet again) or from two electric foot switches on the bow.  This is a very powerful Italian motor which has more than once got me out of trouble.  The chain feeds directly into the chain locker below the windlass.  I have put the windlass motor in a plastic box to keep the salt water off the works.  The Muir is not good for rust so this was my solution which appears to be working. Top of Page

Roller Furling

In my opinion there is only one cruising roller furling system and that is Profurl.  They are simple and well made.  They have one weak spot and that is the use of stainless steel grubber screws to join the aluminum tube sections.  If not put in correctly they do come out and do corrode.  But there again, when do you want to take the sections apart?  Certainly not at sea.  The stay sail has a highfield lever at the deck end, built by Allyacht Spars, which permits me to disconnect the staysail from the deck and move it aft, out of the way of the genoa, for harbour sailing and tacking duals!  Not required while cruising.  It just stays in place. Top of Page


This is an added bonus which will pay for itself on those cold dark nights when you can't just determine what that moving object actually is.  In my case it did just that  coming in to Recherché bay in Tasmania one afternoon when a thick fog came down on us from nowhere.  I had plotted a series of way points through the islands and reefs to the north of the bay so I was prepared but had not expected not to be able to see the islands.  The fog/mist was so thick we could not see more than 20 meters.  I turned the boat over to the autopilot to follow the predetermined track and just sat there watching the Simrad radar and chart plotter to verify that the electronics were doing their job.  At each waypoint the Simrad would ask if it should turn towards the next way point and if approved it would turn the vessel and off we would go between the islands and reefs.  That day the repeater unit at the wheel and the integrated system paid for itself many times over. Top of Page

Some boats can mount the radar screen in a position that can be seen from both the navigation station and the cockpit.   I have done this but the repeater unit at the wheel means that two people can follow the boat.  One at the wheel and the other behind the dodger. Top of Page


There are two radios at the chart table.  The HF high frequency SSB unit is ICOM M710 with international bands making it a fully tuneable ham radio.  I have the very basic ham licence just to meet the requirements.  There is a PTC II Pro PACTOR 2 Sailmail Modem PK 232 for weatherfax and other ham projects.  It works well for sailmail e-mails.  The second radio is a VHF ICOM M502 with a second commander control unit at the wheel.  This gives complete send and receive control at the wheel where you need it in an emergency. Top of Page

Radar Reflector

There is so much said about radar reflectors that you just have to pay your money and get what you get.  I believe the only place to put a reflector is well up your mast and to have one that is quite a good size.  I spent the extra money for a Firdell Blipper radar reflector, including the mast bracket.  The Blippers's smooth veneer and sturdy mount keep it hassle free.  This was included in the mast package from Allyacht Spars and as always it was superbly done. Top of Page

Bed Mattresses

Every bunk on the vessel has a purpos built inner spring mattress.  I took patterns to the local Kakin Mattress makers and asked them to cut their top of the range inner spring mattress to fit. They did this then I sprayed the springs with anti-rust paint.  This was the basis for the mattress.  The put the normal comfort layers and quilting cover on one side with the best European foam layer beneath this quilt.  The underside has only a single cloth layer for the matress to breath. Top of Page

Inflatable Dinghy

On long passages our RIB is deflated and stored over the life raft under the boom.  This is not the best place because it stops the life raft from self-inflating.  On short trips, we kept it inflated and hoisted on the davits on the stern of the boat.  It works very well and permits us to leave an anchorage at short notice.  It also secures the RIB at night in case the wind gets up.  It does add extra weight at the ends.  Davits don’t work while the wind vane is in place so that has to be removed and stored to use the davits with the RIB. Top of Page

NEW While in the Pacific I caught a huge fish with the rod trawling a lure over the stern.  The fish ran out taking all the line.  What I did not notice was that the line was running over the pontoon of the RIB and made two long cuts right through the material.  I was able to patch the area but I estimated it would not last so I purchased a 8ft Aquapro RIB.  A great tender but not able to plain with two people on board which the 10ft RIB was able to do. Top of Page

Outboard Motor

The current outboard is a Yamaha 8HP which is stored on the RIB if on the davits but on ocean crossings it is stored in the cockpit locker on a special engine mounting.  Too frequently yachts have small tenders with low powered outboards.  This restricts their ability to explore and travel any distance with comfort such as on dive trips.  We found this essential in the Pacific. Top of Page

Boom Brake

I purchased an ARCO Boom Brake.  It works well in controlling gibes but not well as a preventer.  A rope preventer works well in light air and in lumpy sea conditions it stops the sails from slapping. Top of Page

Water System

The boat has two large water storage tanks integrated above the keel.  There is a third tank of stainless steel for the very sweetest drinking water sent directly from the Gods.  This is captured from the deck or from a canvas bimini over the cabin top.  The desalinator can be directed to this tank in the event of no rain.  The heart of the water system is controlled from a locker under the settee.  It is designed on a star network distributed from one point.  The locker houses the four Johnson water pumps (fresh, drinking, salt and salt wash down).  The water uptake can be directed via three valves to any of the three tanks.  The pipes all include accumulator tanks to reduce the on/off of the pumps.  Foot pumps were included but removed because they were never used.  The galley's drinking water is fitted with 10 and 1 micron water filters to eliminated any foreign matter that may get in.  It can include a carbon filter. Top of Page

Hot water

For hot water the two engine's cooling water has been diverted to a 50l hot water tank made by Woody in Queensland.  This provides hot showers and hot water in the sink.  The pipes are run directly via the shortest route to each tap to reduce the water wastage waiting for hot water to arrive.  The water cistern also has a 240volt 800 watt element which can be used when one is connected to the power grid. Top of Page


There are two heads on the boat. The forward head can be used with salt water and pumped over the side.  It is a standard manual flush.  If fresh water is used it is pumped into the holding tank.  Two Y valves direct the correct flow in and out!  The main head is based on Sealand vacuum pump which is supposed to use less fresh water and keeps the micro-organisms in sea water out of the pipes and holding tanks.  If the breather is good it should be able to create a perfect sewage farm in the holding tanks.  A suck-out line is fitted if this is available and a large piston pump is connected for the discharge of the goodies from the holding tank if one is far enough out to sea.  The maintenance kit costs an arm and a leg so hopefully it will not break. Top of Page


The Magma BBQ is connected to the granny seat located under the bimini.  It has a very nice addition for the hose adapter that connects directly via a tap to the LPG tank regulator. Top of Page

LPG Tanks

There are two stainless steel 6 kg tanks secured in a self draining lazerette locker.  Each is secured and independently connected. Top of Page

Bilge Alarm

There is good logic in having a good bilge alarm but they all work off the same electrical system as the pump.  I use a high volume alarm to the main bilge pump but as a backup I have a Dick Smith kit alarm run off a 9 volt battery. Nothing could have been easier to build but I do think it will corrode over time. Top of Page

Life Raft

The vessel requires a 6 person RFD Seasava life raft packed in a hard case.  It is secured to the cabin top with a hydrostatic release.  It is fitted with a 121 EPIRB and all the coastal supplies. Top of Page


The vessel has a McMurdo Pain Wessex Precision 406 EPIRB located just inside the companionway.  It is registered with the authorities and should help find the boat if anything went wrong.  Each crew member has a personal EPIRB in their wet weather gear. Top of Page

Jack Lines

The jack lines running fore and aft along the deck.  They are climbing tapes which should be strong enough to hold two people over the side.  They have some stretch and lie flat on the deck. Top of Page


The dodger was designed to stand with little aft facing canvas work which would intrude into the cockpit.  As a result of this it is not easy to lie flat if one has to but it is secure and provides a good handhold.  The canvas work was done at Batemans Bay and is very poor.  The bimini is attached to the aft arch.  Here the canvas work is good.  It has sun shade sides which may be added to keep the sun out in the tropics -a great idea especially at anchor. Top of Page

NEW  After a particularly wet summer in the Pacific where it rained as if a fire hose had been turned on, the canvas on the bimini could not cope.  I decided to build a hard dodger for Malua.  At the time a fellow in Newcastle NSW was completing a similar vessel so I agreed to make a mould for both of us to my design.  In the end he did not like the design and cut it to pieces and built his own using some of the components from the mould.  I don't think either of us got what we wanted.  I am happy with mine but may rebuild it in a few years to look more integrated.Have a look at the following pages to see how it was built and fitted. Top of Page

Weather Cloths

The weather cloths extend from the cockpit start aft to the Bimini stanchion.  The greatest idea is to have a clear see-through section along the top panel.  This permits you to see out while sitting in the cockpit.  When the seas are up, it is great to have them although they affect the working of the wind vane. Top of Page

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