Meet Tarka

Specifications

Make: Albin
Model: Vega
Manufactured: 1973
Length: 27 feet
Beam: 8 feet
Displacement: 5070 lbs
Ballast: 2017 lbs
Water capacity: 60 gallons internal tanks + 20 in jerry jugs
Fuel capacity: 11 gallons internal + 20 in jerry jugs
Engine: Beta Marine 14hp diesel

Tarka is one of about 3,500 Albin Vegas produced between 1965 and 1979 in Sweeden. With hull number 1639, she falls right in the middle of the pack. Her design was conceived by Per Brohall and built by Larsson Marine.

Tarka is a relatively skinny boat, and her lines resemble that of a traditional Scandinavian Folkboat. She was built in the early days of fiberglass construction, where hulls were generally laid thicker than necessary. Vegas have a number of notable passages, including circumnavigations, trips to the Arctic and Antarctic, and Matt Rutherford’s 2012 non-stop trip around the Americas.

Tarka, or rather “Tarka the Otter” in the Society Islands during her Pacific crossing in the 80s.

Tarka herself has circumnavigated back in the 80s when she was still named “Tarka the Otter”. Whether owning a boat that has already circumnavigated is a good thing or a bad thing is debatable, but I think it gives her a proven quality, and gives me faith that she’ll be able to do it again.

Endurance

Fuel: 11 gallons (40L) in main tank
Water: 60 gallons (230L) in 3 tanks
Jerry Cans: 17 gallons diesel (65L) / 15 gallons water (60L)

Tarka’s interior layout along with the positions of her 3 main water tanks, each has a capacity of 20 gallons.

Interior

Tarka’s narrow beam doesn’t make for a roomy interior, but she could accommodate 4 adults in a pinch. Her two saloon berths are over 6 feet long, and when fitted with lee-cloths, make for good sea berths. Her galley is situated right at the companion way and sports a two-burner alcohol stove, sink with salt water and freshwater taps, and a suitably sized fridge.

Electrical system

Solar: 240W (100W + 50W + 50W)
Batteries: 390AH (230AH + 160AH)
Radio: GX 2200 with AIS receiver
Sattellite: Inmarsat iSatPhone Pro, SPOT tracker
Navigation: Navionics on 2 tablets, 1 phone
Independent GPS systems onboard: 8

Two 50W panels I added in Grenada.

Many of the improvements I made to Tarka after I bought her were in regards to her systems. Though she has circumnavigated, more recently she has been employed for seasonal cruising in the Caribbean. With more serious passages in mind, I decided to upgrade a few things, including the an AIS-capable radio, more solar power, a bigger battery bank, and redundant navigation.

Sails, Rig and Steering

Sails: 150%, 130%, 100% and storm jib, mainsail with 3 reefs, and gennaker
Self-steering: Navik Windvane
Autopilot: Raymarine ST2000 and ST1000 tiller pilots
Rig: Masthead sloop, 6mm cable, split backstay

Tarka has brand new sails, as this was high on my list of things that I didn’t want to have to worry about while at sea. We carry the old 150% genoa around, but will be parting with our old mainsail.

The rigging was next on my list, and I replaced all the shrouds at anchor while in Grenada. The good folks over at Sta-Lok very kindly donated the end-terminals for this job, which made it a piece-of-cake and allows me to freely inspect their insides, if needed.

In terms of self-steering, we mostly let the Navik steer the boat for us, but sometimes for shorter passages, and for times when we haven’t got the sails balanced nicely, we use our tiller pilots instead, which have done a great job even in big seas.

Our ST2000 doing its thing.

Safety

PFDs/Harness: 2 x self-inflating PFDs/Harnesses
EPIRB: 2 x ACR Personal Locator Beacons worn at all times on deck
Liferaft: 4 person Ocean Safety
Ditchbag: Water and food for 48 hours, sat phone, cell phone, strobe, laser, handheld VHF, fishing kit, basic first aid

Tarka in the Tobago Cays

Tarka is often the smallest boat in the anchorage, but will probably never be the prettiest boat. She’s sturdy, practical, and affordable. In fact, Albin Vegas are in the top tier of affordable bluewater cruisers — which is why I chose her.