Onboard Pelagic, keeping it real

Pelagic nav station2 cPanbo lr

Having crossed paths with some circumnavigating Panbo readers in a foreign port, I had to get aboard, and what a pleasure it was to meet Iris Schepelmann and Graeme Arnall and tour their steel catamaran Pelagic. This is not your go-fast multihull, but rather one designed to survive a collision with a container (so far untested!), and to carry everything the couple need to live afloat. In the starboard bow, for instance, there’s a several-hundred-book library/office and in the port one a workshop, both behind crash bulkheads and collapsible steel water tanks. You can see the boat’s details on Iris and Graeme’s Web site, though it’s not up-to-date on their travels, which now include the Red Sea, the Med, an excursion up to Norway and Scotland, and now a leisurely downhill tour of the Caribbean chain.

  Nav and communications gear on Pelagic is a motley collection of inexpensive, sometimes second hand, electronics plus several software packages running on a built-in desktop PC. Thus that Navman plotter is also feeding GPS to MaxSea 10x and C-Map C93 charts (ahem), or to SeaClear when they want to plot AIS targets coming from their NASA receiver (since they don’t have the MaxSea AIS module). Plus there’s a PDA with Memory Map, though they still haven’t found the right serial cable/drivers to hook up a mouse GPS. There are also a couple of fishfinders and autopilots, a SSB and a Ham set (they don’t do much with HF but, like so many cruisers, love SailMail…and have a high dB WiFi antenna rigged). All this, like their home style fridge and freezer, is powered by a system of 12v batteries, inverters, solar panels, wind generators, and a funky single cylinder “generator” turning a truck-size 12v alternator. Pelagic sounds complicated but I was impressed by how much redundancy is built in and how many expensive or dangerous weak points have been eliminated. The head and macerator, for instance, are above the waterline, and the little twin Kubota diesels have keel pipe cooling and dry exhausts (exiting into the tunnel). Iris and Graeme ran a big charter boat before heading off on their long cruise, and it shows. Now, by the way, they’re headed up the East Coast and looking for a friendly yard where they can change those diesels—which were second hand when the boat was launched almost 20 years ago. Obviously this couple know what they’re doing, and I’d guess they’d be enjoyable visitors at any yard which allows cruisers to live aboard and do their own work. Any suggestions?

Pelagic helm cPanbo lr

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

2 Responses

  1. Graeme should contact us at support@memory-map.com, and we’ll figure out a cable or GPS solution for his PDA. Always glad to help another multihuller and Panbo reader!

  2. Bob M says:

    They might consider hauling out at Green Cove Springs Marina on the St Johns River about 20 miles south of Jacksonville, FL. It’s a DIY place and has a great atmosphere.

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