Making Moorea Seaworthy By Captain Kelly

“Would you like to leave sooner or later?” was the question I posed to my wife.

A larger, newer sail boat would delay our departure for a circumnavigation by many years.  A smaller, older sailboat would allow us to leave in approximately 2 years.

We chose sooner.

Captain Kelly


We came up with four criteria while searching for a boat. Besides being priced around 40K, we wanted a keel stepped mast, skeg hung rudder, pullman and pilot berth.

Our search led us to a 1974 Dufour 35.  She met all of the criteria and had enough space for our limited worldly possessions.  We ended up “Selling the farm” to live aboard, while keeping our jobs to make “Moorea” (she is our little island) cruise ready.  Two and a half years went by and we were finally able to cut the dock lines.  The following is what the boat had come with, what was changed before departure and items added during our cruise.

S/V Moorea
S/V Moorea

Built in 1974, our boat has a very thick fiberglass hull, so much so that she is quite heavy, scaling in at 11 tons.  Not the fastest boat, but we feel very safe in her and always end up in the same anchorages as everyone else, albeit a little later..

The boat came with the following items. A 1998 Yanmar, 3 cylinder diesel, easy on the fuel budget and runs great.  The instruments in the cockpit included a knot meter, wind speed/direction, depth sounder, an Autohelm auto pilot and GPS.   Also on board was a Raytheon radar, an inverter, battery monitor and VHF.  On deck there is a manual windlass, we haven’t had a single issue with it.  She had full set of sails, spinnaker, life vests, and fire extinguishers.

The items we have added. For anchoring we replaced the old system with 300ft of 3/8ths inch chain and a 45 lb CQR, needless to say we sleep very soundly.

I wanted the anchoring to be simple and easy.  The boat came with one bow roller (from a trailer) that was bolted to the side of the stem fitting. I knew we had to change this system, since crossing the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the anchor fell off.

Anchoring System Before
Anchoring System Before

So with our rigger, we came up with a great solution.  Two, off the shelf, channel rollers that we welded, to two pieces of stainless that fit the shape of the bow.  This was bolted through the original stem fitting and the deck. This created super strong double bow rollers, one for the anchor chain and the other for the snubber.  It has worked great and also has the benefit of a pin that captures our anchor, and after sailing the oceans of the world it has never come loose.

Anchoring System After
Anchoring System After

To improve sailing performance, I installed a feathering Max prop propeller and would recommend one.  Since the shaft was scored from the old stuffing box, we replaced the shaft and purchased a PYI dripless shaft seal and haven’t had any problems.  As far as safety we ran jacklines and purchased tethers, harnesses, a life raft and an EPIRB.

Another addition was a used Monitor wind vane, no amps and is always voted MVP while on passage.  To help keep the batteries topped up 2 -125 watt solar panels and an 85 amp Balmar alternator were added.  For the tropics, 5 Hello fans (.2 amps) were installed along with a forward cowl for more ventilation.


Monitor Wind Vane
Monitor Wind Vane

On deck we have 3-5 gallon jerry jugs for water and 3-5 gallon jerry’s for diesel.  Having 15 gallons of each is handy when it comes time to top off the fuel or water in places around the world without docks.

As a side note, one item that did not fit into our budget was a water maker.  Everywhere that we have been in the world, water was available.  In Mexico and Indonesia we purchased 5 gallon water cooler containers.  From a tap in the Tuamotus and Tonga we ferried it back and forth in our dinghy.  While in Thailand we purchase water from a motor vessel.  At the Maldives it was from a faucet in front of a mosque and in Sudan it came from the Nile River.  Lugging has been more laborious but far less expensive than a desalinator. Our boat is pretty simple but we also spend less time and money to keep her going.

Mast Removal

Because the boat also came with a spinnaker we decided to lead the lines aft to the cockpit for control over the halyard, pole lift, down haul, and boom vang.  These lines lead back to a few blocks at the mast base, and then back to the turning blocks under the dodger to three rope clutches and one winch.  This makes adjusting the spinnaker pole easy from the cockpit and also has the benefit of being able to release the halyard completely from there, in case the chute got away from us.  We have used the kite more than we thought and would not hesitate to bring one again.  In fact while sailing from the Maldives toYemen(22 day passage) we flew it for 4 ½ days straight.  Normally with just my wife and I onboard we would take it down at sunset, but the wind was so light and steady, we decided to keep it up which kept the boat moving.

Mastless Moorea


The items added while on route. Moorea was not completely ready when we left but has evolved with our needs.  Making bug screens for our hatches in Mexico(mosquitoes and no no’s), added solar panels inSan Diego(finally had sun), Bimini in NewZealand(hole in ozone) are just a few of the “as needed” additions.


While cruising we have had many things that required repairing or replacing, so don’t be afraid to leave without absolutely everything.  Because we all end up at the various chandleries around the world, purchasing or repairing what is broken, so once you have a sound boat and safety gear, get out here you’ll love it!

Captain Kelly Waterhouse

s/v Moorea