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Thought Exercise - Gearing a 30ft racer/cruiser for long range cruising


freewheelin

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We recently lost our truly beloved dog. My wife and I always said he it the one thing holding us back from casting off, when the reality is it is everything else in life (though he was one thing we wanted to stay for). So in discussions that are more cathartic than realistic, we have been talking about taking the sabbatical we have always talked about. The discussions started with selling everything, buying a bigger boat, etc. But we like our life, and we love our boat. So my wife asked if it would be possible to do a short (maybe 4 month) sabbatical down to the islands next winter on our current boat. I said, definitely possible. She asked what would it take.

Please note: this is hypothetical, and just a fun distraction game we are playing. The likelihood we do this, with work, mortgage, etc. is very small.

So I thought I would ask for help. What would it take. If you were in our place, what would you focus on? We are mid-30s and fairly fit. We have a 1987 Bene First 305 that is in solid shape. My initial thoughts are:

  1. Bimini/dodger
  2. Battery bank and charging
  3. refrigeration (maybe?)
  4. Nav & comms

Keeping things as simple and cheap as possible, help us think this through. Fire away!

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Offshore safety and equipment regs are a good place to start. You'll want to look at Cat 1 for monohulls.

https://www.sailing.org/specialregs

Also, check out this book: https://www.amazon.com/Singlehanded-Sailing-Thoughts-Techniques-Tactics-ebook/dp/B00N9ICA12

Don't overdo it with electronics. They all fail eventually. You can get around the world with a handheld GPS and a box of AA batteries if you have to.

I consider my autopilot absolutely necessary.

Comms are important. Follow the Cat 1 standard and you'll be good. On my boat we carry two fixed VHFs, a portable VHF, a sat phone, a SSB, a PLB, and an EPIRB. Some people think that's overkill. I don't.

Your priorities should be: first, make the boat is safe and seaworthy. Second, make sure you can communicate with the world when you need to. Almost everything else is a matter of comfort or convenience.

You're in your 30s. Just go. Security is an illusion. If you were my kids I'd make sure the boat was safe and then shove you off myself.

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Yes, easily for a short 4 month trip.

1. Dodger - as a minimum. For 4 months you can probably get by without a dedicated bimini and maybe attach a small sailing awning to trailing edge of the dodger. Depends on where your mainsheet is located and I am too lazy to look up your boat layout.

2. Battery bank and charging. If you don't have a fridge, then solar is absolutely the way to go. Best Watts/$$ ratio. Panels are cheap now. We cruised on a 30' sailboat for 3.5 years with a single 50W panel and did OK but did have a wind vane self steering vane for most passages, and the electric autopilot. But you'll likely be doing short passages and can run the engine sometimes to charge the battery. Not the most efficient but makes up for solar deficiencies. Battery bank depends on refrigeration/electric autopilot usage. If fridge, your power needs really go up. These days I'd get 200 W solar as a minimum and bolt them to the side of a pulpit as a cheap solution for a short voyage. No need for the big s.s. arch. Maybe a few smaller ones on a dodger too to prevent shading affecting

3. Refrigeration - do you like to backpack/camp? Some people need cold drinks and lots of ice and refrigeration is a requirement. But adding refrigeration to a poorly insulated box is an exercise in pain. With a small boat it might make sense to just buy an Engel small compressor freezer/fridge box. They are well insulated and don't take much power. Refrigeration allows you to stock up on fresh food when available cheaper. Contributes highly to quality of life

4. Nav/comms - I'd keep it simple. Depth sounder / VHF with AIS receiver min (or separate AIS transmitter / receiver since they are getting cheaper).

Charts on an Android tablet with GPS built in, with phone backup. A few paper charts that cover large areas. Maybe a handheld GPS with a 12V connection to the boat.

Do you really need offshore comms other than an EPIRB? For short hops down the coast of 2-3 days you can get a decent forecast and go. Handheld VHF is a nice to have and good to take to a liferaft with  you.

5. Anchoring gear - at 30' you don't need a windlass due to your age. A good friend of mine got really buff pulling up the anchor. But you do need a bulletproof anchoring system. Think ~35# new generation concave anchor (Spade/Rocna/Mason) if you don't have one. Also due to coral I'd suggest a minimum of 100' of chain + rope rode.

6. Self steering system that is reliable. For a short journey I'd see if I could pick up a used electric autopilot (tiller or wheel?). If tiller no question, get a Pelagic. Best $ value. For wheel, eh, below decks pilots work, cockpit pilots have short unhappy lives when you really need them

7. Reliable dinghy. 

8. Maybe a liferaft

 

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decent dingy with an outboard you can get an impellor and  prop shear pins for where you are going

+1 on the best ground tackle you can afford, sleeping at night knowing your going to be in the same place in the morning is important

learn to live without a fridge, its not that hard, it was done for thousands of years 

SHADE! dodger and bimini or a boom tent or something, you need to be able to hide.

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26 minutes ago, bugger said:

How is your water / fuel / sewage tankage?

And bon voyage   :)

  • Fuel - 9 gal (18 HP Volvo Penta)
  • Water - 25 gal
  • Hoilding - 9 gal

we figure jerry cans for extra fuel. Maybe water too? Maybe a rainmaker - though that would change power requirements. 

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29 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Yes, easily for a short 4 month trip.

1. Dodger - as a minimum. For 4 months you can probably get by without a dedicated bimini and maybe attach a small sailing awning to trailing edge of the dodger. Depends on where your mainsheet is located and I am too lazy to look up your boat layout.

2. Battery bank and charging. If you don't have a fridge, then solar is absolutely the way to go. Best Watts/$$ ratio. Panels are cheap now. We cruised on a 30' sailboat for 3.5 years with a single 50W panel and did OK but did have a wind vane self steering vane for most passages, and the electric autopilot. But you'll likely be doing short passages and can run the engine sometimes to charge the battery. Not the most efficient but makes up for solar deficiencies. Battery bank depends on refrigeration/electric autopilot usage. If fridge, your power needs really go up. These days I'd get 200 W solar as a minimum and bolt them to the side of a pulpit as a cheap solution for a short voyage. No need for the big s.s. arch. Maybe a few smaller ones on a dodger too to prevent shading affecting

3. Refrigeration - do you like to backpack/camp? Some people need cold drinks and lots of ice and refrigeration is a requirement. But adding refrigeration to a poorly insulated box is an exercise in pain. With a small boat it might make sense to just buy an Engel small compressor freezer/fridge box. They are well insulated and don't take much power. Refrigeration allows you to stock up on fresh food when available cheaper. Contributes highly to quality of life

4. Nav/comms - I'd keep it simple. Depth sounder / VHF with AIS receiver min (or separate AIS transmitter / receiver since they are getting cheaper).

Charts on an Android tablet with GPS built in, with phone backup. A few paper charts that cover large areas. Maybe a handheld GPS with a 12V connection to the boat.

Do you really need offshore comms other than an EPIRB? For short hops down the coast of 2-3 days you can get a decent forecast and go. Handheld VHF is a nice to have and good to take to a liferaft with  you.

5. Anchoring gear - at 30' you don't need a windlass due to your age. A good friend of mine got really buff pulling up the anchor. But you do need a bulletproof anchoring system. Think ~35# new generation concave anchor (Spade/Rocna/Mason) if you don't have one. Also due to coral I'd suggest a minimum of 100' of chain + rope rode.

6. Self steering system that is reliable. For a short journey I'd see if I could pick up a used electric autopilot (tiller or wheel?). If tiller no question, get a Pelagic. Best $ value. For wheel, eh, below decks pilots work, cockpit pilots have short unhappy lives when you really need them

7. Reliable dinghy. 

8. Maybe a liferaft

 

Thanks! I should have added dinghy. what do you think the smallest we could get away with would be? Also a liferaft may add peace of mind - and I heard they can be rented which may be a good option.

We are a tiller boat. we have an auto-tiller that I have not dusted off since we bought the boat. Would need to check that out, but good suggestion.

Anchor: we have a 35# CQR that a friend gave us. Would need to buy the chain for it if that would suffice.

 

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Lots more fuel if you are thinking offshore hops. Even island fuel prices are a lot higher than US. Yes, jerry cans for extra fuel. Think carefully how/where you store them. Seriously think about some inside in the saloon to keep CG low. Even 2 x 5 gallons lashed to saloon table leg. On our 30' monohull we had 23 gallons in tank + 15 gallons in jerries. 21 HP diesel with a range of roughly 400 n.m. Stern lazarette might fit a bunch of smaller 2.5-3 gallon tanks. 

Water - it's a lot cheaper to fit a bigger water tank than a watermaker, especially for a short triper. Bladder tanks, more jerries jetc.

Way too many people lash a 2x6 between 2 stanchions, tie jerry jugs to them and call it good. This is not good because first big sea will put a lot of pressure on the jugs and bend / break stanchions.

Sewage tank - yeah size fine for US waters. Not a lot of places to pump out in Eastern Carib.

About a 2.8m / 9' dinghy is a bare minimum to avoid getting soaked every time you go ashore. Roll up floor inflatable lashed to foredeck is probably your best bet if you don't own one, and a small outboard (3 HP) means you can carry the dinghy and motor up the beach while the folks with the 3.1m RIB + 15 HP like me need expensive dinghy wheels and davits to stow it.

Sigh. CQR anchors suck. They hold OK until it gets windy. Really think about upgrading.

 

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14 minutes ago, crankcall said:

decent dingy with an outboard you can get an impellor and  prop shear pins for where you are going

+1 on the best ground tackle you can afford, sleeping at night knowing your going to be in the same place in the morning is important

learn to live without a fridge, its not that hard, it was done for thousands of years 

SHADE! dodger and bimini or a boom tent or something, you need to be able to hide.

thanks. I agree, shade is the key. We would go for as much as possible.

Thanks for the ground tackle tip, think i'll take it.

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4 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Sigh. CQR anchors suck. They hold OK until it gets windy. Really think about upgrading.

Honestly, for the cost, a good Rocna anchor seems worth the spend to keep the boat where it is supposed to be (and us sound asleep)

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13 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Lots more fuel if you are thinking offshore hops. Even island fuel prices are a lot higher than US. Yes, jerry cans for extra fuel. Think carefully how/where you store them. Seriously think about some inside in the saloon to keep CG low. Even 2 x 5 gallons lashed to saloon table leg. On our 30' monohull we had 23 gallons in tank + 15 gallons in jerries. 21 HP diesel with a range of roughly 400 n.m. Stern lazarette might fit a bunch of smaller 2.5-3 gallon tanks. 

great tip here. I have always been leery of all those cans on the rail. Maybe it doesn't matter on a heavy displacement cruiser, but weight position has a big impact on my boat (at 8600 lbs).

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Yes, way too many cruisers lash a 2x6/2x8 between 2 stanchions, load them up with 5 or 6 jerry jugs and then wonder why they bend stanchions as a wave hits them.

Not to mention the weight up high, extra windage etc.

 

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1 hour ago, freewheelin said:

We recently lost our truly beloved dog. My wife and I always said he it the one thing holding us back from casting off, when the reality is it is everything else in life (though he was one thing we wanted to stay for). So in discussions that are more cathartic than realistic, we have been talking about taking the sabbatical we have always talked about. The discussions started with selling everything, buying a bigger boat, etc. But we like our life, and we love our boat. So my wife asked if it would be possible to do a short (maybe 4 month) sabbatical down to the islands next winter on our current boat. I said, definitely possible. She asked what would it take.

Please note: this is hypothetical, and just a fun distraction game we are playing. The likelihood we do this, with work, mortgage, etc. is very small.

So I thought I would ask for help. What would it take. If you were in our place, what would you focus on? We are mid-30s and fairly fit. We have a 1987 Bene First 305 that is in solid shape. My initial thoughts are:

  1. Bimini/dodger
  2. Battery bank and charging
  3. refrigeration (maybe?)
  4. Nav & comms

Keeping things as simple and cheap as possible, help us think this through. Fire away!

 

We did a similar thing in a 28' boat when I was in my 30's, but we took the dog. 

Going in the boat we had, not selling our house, was probably one of our best moves in our lives we've made. We went for nearly a year and only got as far as the Exumas. Your schedule seems a little tight to me but do it anyway, you'll figure the timing out then. Just do it, you'll never regret it. 

 

On the stuff: We bought a dodger along the way, that should have been a must (mostly lake sailors, we didn't know this). Next most important piece of gear was the tiller pilot.

 

That was about it for gear added for the trip. We went without refrigeration and got along fine with no pressing charging needs. We went with charts and loran and I found myself several times, not where I thought I was, but we managed.

 

Today I'd be sure to have several electronic charting devices. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Zonker said:

About a 2.8m / 9' dinghy is a bare minimum to avoid getting soaked every time you go ashore. Roll up floor inflatable lashed to foredeck is probably your best bet if you don't own one, and a small outboard (3 HP) means you can carry the dinghy and motor up the beach while the folks with the 3.1m RIB + 15 HP like me need expensive dinghy wheels and davits to stow it.

muscled around a 15 hp and 3.1m on our last charter. It was tough for two people. What is the difference between roll-up and slat roll up? Seems the latter can be had for less than half the price.

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Roll up High Pressure inflatables do puncture but are a bit more compact to store. Better performance, but with a small outboard you'd never notice the difference. Only useful if you want the boat to go fast and plane (8 HP min for 2 people that are about 175 lbs each). Slat floors are of course more damage tolerant and cheaper to buy. Little more flexy in use.

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35 minutes ago, freewheelin said:

muscled around a 15 hp and 3.1m on our last charter. It was tough for two people. What is the difference between roll-up and slat roll up? Seems the latter can be had for less than half the price.

What do you use for a dinghy now? 

 

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In the digny business, unless your buying a 'zodiac' or similar all the import (china) seem to be similar quality. We went this summer with another couple, they and we both bought new 8'6" 3 person inflatibles.

He bought an evirude 3.5hp, i bought a suzuki 2.3hp, 4 stroke they both had the same top speed (slow as fuck) but the suzuki got better economy and started to the second pull every time.

and bug screens for the hatches, i dont now where flies come from 3 miles from shore, but there they are

The first time you tie the digny down on the foredeck check every running line , twice , tacking the digny sucks. 

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Sailrite dodger kit over the winter. You can manage with a decent old school home sewing machine. Just an old Singer with metal (not plastic) gears. You don't need a fancy walking foot like the type Sailrite sells.

Unlikely that anybody will want to sell you a dodger. When you remove it, there are all the screw holes from the frame fittings that would be rather unsightly.

Sailmakers/marine canvas workers are in their low season right now, so get some quotes and recommendations right now if you don't want to DIY it.

For the Bimini - buy some big umbrellas. Fine at anchor and 1 will shade the person on watch Ok. A few big straw hats. Get a big white or blue tarp as a sun awning/boom tent to keep the sun off the cabin at anchor. Then decide if you really need a Bimini.

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I went back and forth over the Sailrite kit this summer - still dodgerless.  A. It's square and ugly.  B. Still a big chunk of change.  However, we are getting to the time of year when the spray coming over the bow is so refreshing, that I sometimes wish I had pulled the trigger.

I suppose one could try to bend - or find somebody to bend - a more attractive bow shape.  

At one time, I convinced myself that I could glue & stitch a glass over ply dodger for a fraction of the cost.  But... the preliminary hatch turtle didn't come out so well as envisioned.  Oh, it works but... fugly.  

BTW: Found this pic of a sailrite dodger on my model of boat. Amateur stitching painfully on display. IDK why they stuck a bimini over the dodger...

6254234L.jpg?2

 

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25 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Sailrite dodger kit over the winter. You can manage with a decent old school home sewing machine. Just an old Singer with metal (not plastic) gears. You don't need a fancy walking foot like the type Sailrite sells.

Yeah, agree. I have a Singer I bought for $70, made in 1954. Beautifully made machine, straight stitch only, but can sew through 6 layers of Top Gun synthetic canvas without dramas.

I also have a Sailrite LSZ1 which is a *lot* heavier, more robust, zig-zag which we used to sew all my junk rig sails. The Singer might have been able to do it, dunno, but I just added the cost of the Sailrite to the sail cost and basically wrote it off on that one job. Now I have a 'free' machine based on the savings from not trying to get a sailmaker to make anything they didn't understand (and the computer couldn't spit out cut files for).

The Singer is a really nice machine to use, I used in preference when it came to sewing up all my cushion covers for the berths, settees etc etc.

FKT

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Just go and decide what you need as you go. Thousands of years and millions of miles without most. Want ice without refrigeration? Get some stainless nuts. They sound just like ice in a cup. 
 

go enjoy!

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Planning the same thing when my 14 year old lab mix passes, only I am a lot, lot older, missed the chance in youth.  Got the boat (older, beat up Dehler 34), got a lot of plans and equipment for upgrades, got the plan for a year cruise, then this little 6 month old mutt shows up out of the woods near death.  I couldn't watch her die and figured I could get her healthy and find her a home.  That was 2 years ago.  Anyone want a great, 50lb, happy as all get out mutt?

Looking for some friends, family that might take care of her for a year, good paying job for their kids.  The little dog has sure improved the quality of life for my old one though!

You all get out there as soon as you can or life happens and then you are wondering if you can physically handle it.  Bookmarked this thread for all the great ideas coming through.  Thanks

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From a design point of view, a couple of big differences between a coastal cruiser are 1) storage and 2) the ability to cope with a serious storm at sea.

Not many boats get rolled on LIS, and with today's weather forecasting, you can range wider in a coastal cruiser than ever before, but the further you get from shore, the greater the risk.

On a different web site, I read a discussion between some sailors with offshore experience about how things go flying in a knockdown or worse. On my Hunter 28, many things depend on gravity to keep them in place including the tool box and the floorboards. There is no latch on the icebox or the cockpit locker. 

Well, I was never going to cross an ocean in it anyway.

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Zonker's list is a good one.  Only thing I'd change about it is to put a really good anchor and a reliable tiller pilot at the top.  These are safety items, most of the others comfort items. I think it is not possible to overemphasize how important an anchor and autopilot are.

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1 hour ago, SemiSalt said:

Well, I was never going to cross an ocean in it anyway.

Yeah, we are not considering crossing oceans either. Haven't thought too much about routing, but remember researching some time ago that there are some relatively comfortable ways to get down to say the leeward islands without jumping off shore too long. The longest hop for us would probably be from somewhere on the east coast (maybe Wilmington or Charleston) down to The Bahamas (to avoid having to go all the way down through Florida. I think one of the rallies goes that route, though we would be too small to be allowed to participate. Seems you can do that fairly safely in a reliable weather window, but I am no expert and would need to research.

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1 hour ago, monsoon said:

Zonker's list is a good one.  Only thing I'd change about it is to put a really good anchor and a reliable tiller pilot at the top.  These are safety items, most of the others comfort items. I think it is not possible to overemphasize how important an anchor and autopilot are.

Thanks. Makes sense on the anchor. We have a tiller pilot that worked well last time we used it (at survey), but would probably pick up a spare arm for the "just in case". Lots of testing to do this spring!

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18 hours ago, Zonker said:

Unlikely that anybody will want to sell you a dodger. When you remove it, there are all the screw holes from the frame fittings that would be rather unsightly.

I hate these, and am dreading installing them on our boat - which will spend its time 99% dodger free after returning.

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18 hours ago, toddster said:

I went back and forth over the Sailrite kit this summer - still dodgerless.  A. It's square and ugly.  B. Still a big chunk of change.  However, we are getting to the time of year when the spray coming over the bow is so refreshing, that I sometimes wish I had pulled the trigger.

I suppose one could try to bend - or find somebody to bend - a more attractive bow shape.  

At one time, I convinced myself that I could glue & stitch a glass over ply dodger for a fraction of the cost.  But... the preliminary hatch turtle didn't come out so well as envisioned.  Oh, it works but... fugly.  

BTW: Found this pic of a sailrite dodger on my model of boat. Amateur stitching painfully on display. IDK why they stuck a bimini over the dodger...

6254234L.jpg?2

 

Not my work - a boat whose hard dodger I admired.  Owner (an architect...) sent me pics.  A “one day” project....... 

Sorry, OP for the thread hijack!  Not intended as one - certainly you shouldn’t delay your planned trip for lack of a cloth or hard dodger! Just wanted to share share this with Todd, who I know is outfitting his boat.

 

5FEE7E1F-310B-465E-9C0E-2F66AE13155E.png

DBA5DB2F-AFE5-4366-9AE5-0B13DCCDCCFE.png

B6EF6FAA-AB39-49DB-BB15-486E473C1713.png

A5E18B98-3D1C-46FD-A5D3-C112AB20AB7D.jpeg

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On our 30' monohull we realised we NEVER took the dodger down but liked the shade on sunny days. So when it was time to sew a new one I made a fibreglass curved hard top with fabric/clear vinyl sides and front. If it was a nice day we would remove the fabric panels which were affixed to awning bolt rope track on the underside of the hard top. So we had good airflow through the cockpit and good shade.

Building it was easier than an all tube/fabric dodger. The hard top sitting on its frame tubing was a simple foundation to take paper patterns for the fabric panels. Just 3 zippers joined the panel edges together.

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Yeah... each of the items on Zonker's list should and does have its own thread(s) somewhere.  Sorry for diverting.

Projects take time - without quitting work, can you really get more than one or two projects done before next fall?

Some of these things have learning curves (e.g. HF comms)  which also takes time. (Even off-the-shelf electronics aren't exactly plug & play, especially if any sort of networking is involved.) 

Cash spent on gear is cash that could alternatively be used to enjoy your sabbatical.  

So there is some rationale for "just go with what you have."  On the other hand, "prepping" can become a hobby in and of itself, but half-finished projects can also interfere with actually sailing your boat!

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Yep. Lots if people take forever to "get it perfect" but never really leave because it is scary to do so.  KISS. The items I listed were not in order of importance and anchoring gear and reliable self steering gear are at the top of the list.

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2 hours ago, toddster said:

So there is some rationale for "just go with what you have."  On the other hand, "prepping" can become a hobby in and of itself, but half-finished projects can also interfere with actually sailing your boat!

to be honest, where we are time is more important than a fair money spend. That takes a DIY dodger out of play realistically. But having one made is not too much of a skin off our back if it will significantly improve the experience. Especially considering how much we should save doing it all in our existent smaller boat. The key, if we are to do this, would be simple small improvements that we could accomplish without much time commitment - and not taking anything on that would hold us back. Just the necessary or the "would be really really nice".

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1 hour ago, Caca Cabeza said:

EPIRB, Liferaft, Go. Enjoy. Do it.

Yes.  I literally remember an old guy on the dock when I bought my boat —stomach full of butterflies, “what in the absolute fuck have I just done with my life savings,” I was thinking to myself?!— who said to me, “I wish I’d done that when I was young.  Don’t want regrets like that.

 

On 11/22/2019 at 9:33 AM, freewheelin said:

Please note: this is hypothetical, and just a fun distraction game we are playing. The likelihood we do this, with work, mortgage, etc. is very small.

You have no kids?  What are you waiting for!  I quit my job that I was tired of; my wife took a leave of absence.  Rented out our condo via a website (sabbaticalsublet.com, or something like - still around?) to a fantastic young doctor couple from South Africa who came to Canada to do a 5-month post-doc training program the same time we hoped to be away - they rented our place and laid mortgage.  What timing!  Time to go - screw it!  We managed to get up to Alaska and back over 5 incredible months when we were mid-30s with our five year old daughter.  Wish we’d done it earlier, wish we’d gone longer, wish we’d stayed in Alaska for the winter and then continued on down to Mexico the following spring (what I wanted to do, my wife wisely counseling otherwise: a good thing!).  But it’s all good - we ended up returning to buy a house on an amazing island and make new friends and adventures there, which is enabling us to plan bigger adventures offshore in the near future (kid now almost done high school...WTF!  And house will be paid off soon).  I see know how that voyage was absolutely necessary to create what we have now, which will in turn allow us to step off the grid farther and longer in a while. 

No regrets.  Prepare the basics/safety stuff as best you can, then jump!  Time will not wait for you...

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7 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Yes.  I literally remember an old guy on the dock when I bought my boat —stomach full of butterflies, “what in the absolute fuck have I just done with my life savings,” I was thinking to myself?!— who said to me, “I wish I’d done that when I was young.  Don’t want regrets like that.

 

You have no kids?  What are you waiting for!  I quit my job that I was tired of; my wife took a leave of absence.  Rented out our condo via a website (sabbaticalsublet.com, or something like - still around?) to a fantastic young doctor couple from South Africa who came to Canada to do a 5-month post-doc training program the same time we hoped to be away - they rented our place and laid mortgage.  What timing!  Time to go - screw it!  We managed to get up to Alaska and back over 5 incredible months when we were mid-30s with our five year old daughter.  Wish we’d done it earlier, wish we’d gone longer, wish we’d stayed in Alaska for the winter and then continued on down to Mexico the following spring (what I wanted to do, my wife wisely counseling otherwise: a good thing!).  But it’s all good - we ended up returning to buy a house on an amazing island and make new friends and adventures there, which is enabling us to plan bigger adventures offshore in the near future (kid now almost done high school...WTF!  And house will be paid off soon).  I see know how that voyage was absolutely necessary to create what we have now, which will in turn allow us to step off the grid farther and longer in a while. 

No regrets.  Prepare the basics/safety stuff as best you can, then jump!  Time will not wait for you...

Spot on. This stuff about the boat is usually superflous to actually going, but fun to add your 2 cents to this common thread about the 'dream'. 

Truth is, as the OP said, mortgage, jobs make this a long shot. Those are the important issues, the real hurdles.

As Jud recalls, the real task and the actual start to going was getting the house ready to rent (that's already too big a job for most people that entertain the idea), putting the funds aside, and in the end saying 'screw it' - it's time to go! 

If you're like most people, you won't have done everything you thought you needed to go, and that includes the boat. 

In the end, our experience was similar to Juds. We returned renewed, life seemed to pick up speed (in fact we were having a baby upon return) and go in a more positive direction. Our 'cruise' continued along with our land based lives which have taken a different path than we ever expected, much for the better. 

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I'll add to the 'just go' refrain.  We went later in life with our kids (10 and 7 at the time).  Once we committed to doing the trip, NE to Caribbean and back, it took several years planning and preparation. Finances weren't as big a concern for us as just finding the time. But we did find it, saving vacation and taking some unpaid leave. Absolutely worth it - best experience of my life. And I've been many places and done a lot of things that very, very few people get to do.

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On 11/22/2019 at 1:35 PM, freewheelin said:

Thanks! I should have added dinghy. what do you think the smallest we could get away with would be? Also a liferaft may add peace of mind - and I heard they can be rented which may be a good option.

We are a tiller boat. we have an auto-tiller that I have not dusted off since we bought the boat. Would need to check that out, but good suggestion.

Anchor: we have a 35# CQR that a friend gave us. Would need to buy the chain for it if that would suffice.

 

you can get away with an 8ft. RIB with a 6hp. outboard...It take two of us wherever we want to go (not at lightning speed in a seaway or with a gale but in normal conditions no prob. We can carry  800-1000 lbs in it so food, groceries, water, fuel is no problem. 6hp is light ewnough to lift up onto the stern rail and the dinghy is light enough to hoist on a halyard up to the foredeck  while under way.

 

For my summer cruises in my 30 ft racer/cruiser, I bought a dometic 12v cooler/fridge...and a small yeti cooler for the dinghy/going to the beach.  

 

I am sorry about your dog.   I know how they are part of our families.....

 

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On 11/23/2019 at 4:33 AM, freewheelin said:

Please note: this is hypothetical, and just a fun distraction game we are playing. The likelihood we do this, with work, mortgage, etc. is very small.

Sorry Bud. You think this is hypothetical, but actually you are committed already.

If you don't go, you will spend the rest of your life looking back and wishing you had. If there is even a hint of a window of opportunity, take it.

I'd put a second sailor at the top of the must have list. When we left (same sort of trip, but in Aus), the second most experienced sailor on board had just turned 10. So make sure you can BOTH sail the boat. (A couple of times I really wished for another sailor to help sort stuff out, and to let me sleep off watch)

I didn't care much for the autopilot when we left, but would just about have married it after a month. 

Dodger is really nice on a cold night - becomes a safety item so you can stay warm and alert to manage your watch. Good anchoring gear lets you sleep - how much would you pay for a good nights sleep when wet and tired? We had 150 feet of chain and a Rocnor anchor and considered them money really well spent. Anchored inside a circular coral lagoon with 35 knot winds at high tide, you're pretty dependant on that gear.

Check your fuel system - and polish the fuel in advance. Take lots of spare filters. We had 120 litres of fuel, which was enough. Mostly you can sail, but when you want / need the engine, it's good to be able to trust it.

We just had VHF (one fitted, one hand held) and a Garmin Inreach for long distance coms (plus could get some weather). I wouldn't bother with HF radio at all. Paper charts plus Open CPN. If you get lost, head west until it starts getting shallow...

Rest of the stuff is for comfort. We had a fridge, but no freezer. We took a 3m HP floor dinghy which would plane with the 10hp 2 stroke motor. (Easy with me and the kids, needed a bit of wind / wave assistance with 4 of us). Gave us the ability to explore further from the sailboat. 400 watts of solar on an arch gave shade, plus powered the fridge and TV / toys. We budgeted on 25 litres of water per day for 4 people, plus 20 litres emergency (2 days worth of drinking water) - and it was water capacity that dictated how long we could spend away from a port. A 6 pack of cold beer pays for a lot of favours from other sailors...

A First 30 is heaps big enough, and heaps seaworthy enough for 2 for this trip. Go twice.

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16 hours ago, Se7en said:

Sorry Bud. You think this is hypothetical, but actually you are committed already.

If you don't go, you will spend the rest of your life looking back and wishing you had. If there is even a hint of a window of opportunity, take it.

it is quickly shifting this way in our minds. my biggest hold-back is work. I like my job, and know that is rare. it is also in a niche industry not very transferable work. my wife will have no trouble finding work. I am working up the nerve to ask for a sabbatical. 

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If it's any help my (now) wife and I decided years ago that we wanted to go backpacking for a while (year or two overlanding through Latin America, New Zealand, Aus then home through Asia ) but there were a number of things that were stopping us.. jobs, flat, cars etc 

 We spent an evening over a pizza making a list of all the reasons we couldn't go, then started working our way through it, crossing them off.

 When we ran out of reasons not to go, we left.  Scariest part of the whole thing was handing in my resignation. 

 No regrets.

Cheers,

               W.

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20 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

If it's any help my (now) wife and I decided years ago that we wanted to go backpacking for a while (year or two overlanding through Latin America, New Zealand, Aus then home through Asia ) but there were a number of things that were stopping us.. jobs, flat, cars etc 

sounds like an awesome trip. I am glad you guys did it!

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11 minutes ago, freewheelin said:

sounds like an awesome trip. I am glad you guys did it!

It was. These are probably of limited use for sailors but... 

My top 5 things to see in South America:

  1. The Salar de Uyuni
  2. The "Inca Trail" trek to Machu Picchu
  3. Torres del Paine National Park
  4. Iguazu falls
  5. The Falkland Islands

There are lots of trips/places that you do/visit on the way that are, in themselves, stunning but not top-5: La Paz (not now, wait till it chills a bit), the Chilean Fjords, Tierra del Fuego, Lake Titicaca, the Pantanal, travelling to/from Manaus overland, Perito Moreno Glacier... railway journeys, the Atacama...

 It was a long time ago so much has probably changed but I imagine the geography is much the same (except Perito Moreno). We travelled through Central America and a bit around the southern States before moving on through Hawaii to New Zealand, Oz etc. Those top-5 really stand out, even after diving in the Caribbean, NZ & the Barrier reef, travelling through Fjordland, NZ, the Western Desert in Oz and the Himalayas. We've been to the Grand Canyon, Great Lakes, Nova Scotia, Niagara and a couple of little corners of Southern Africa (Okavango & Namibia) but if someone were to ask me what they should see before they die, I would start with that list.

 Regrets? Not made it to Tasmania (sorry, FKT) or the NW of Oz, not made it to Antarctica and not been to Iceland.

Yet.

Cheers,

             W.

 

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If plans include long passages, or even just overnight passages, autopilot (or reliable self-steering) is a Must Have for me. Sailing 2 up, the difference between having to hand steer all the time, or being able to keep watch only, while the autopilot does the steering is the difference between and / happy and unsafe / exhausted

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20 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

 Regrets? Not made it to Tasmania (sorry, FKT) or the NW of Oz, not made it to Antarctica and not been to Iceland.

 

I'll do you a house swap in Tas for Scotland. :-) In August of course, when FKT has run away.

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22 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

Regrets? Not made it to Tasmania (sorry, FKT) or the NW of Oz, not made it to Antarctica and not been to Iceland.

Yet.

Cheers,

             W.

 

Antarctica.  Yeah, on my list for sure.  And S. Georgia (Tim and Pauline Carr’s excellent book, purchased years ago, entranced me - amazing pics!).

But I’ve a feeling I’d get all the way to the bottom of S. America and chicken out.  That could be a scary crossing...and then you land in a place of eternal ice, snow and fog...!  But, yeah, I can see being anywhere near and regretting not going there, if you’re prepared.  What kind of boat were you sailing?

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9 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Antarctica.  Yeah, on my list for sure.  And S. Georgia (Tim and Pauline Carr’s excellent book, purchased years ago, entranced me - amazing pics!).

But I’ve a feeling I’d get all the way to the bottom of S. America and chicken out.  That could be a scary crossing...and then you land in a place of eternal ice, snow and fog...!  But, yeah, I can see being anywhere near and regretting not going there, if you’re prepared.  What kind of boat were you sailing?

Not sailing, I'm afraid, we were overlanding. We could probably have got a late-booking slot on a cruise from Ushuaia but it would have blown our budget and we'd only have got a flying visit to the peninsula. Our research indicated that the Falklands was a better place to see most Antarctic wildlife, and it was very interesting to visit those islands for other reasons, too: lots of maritime history (we have a large, attractive, framed map of the shipwrecks around the islands on the wall by our front door). We visited Stanley, New Island and Sea Lion Island and also went to the king penguin colony at Volunteer Point. Fascinating place, especially if you know a little about the 1982 conflict and enjoy visiting the wrinkly bits at the edge of the world. TBH (and off message on this board), I would probably want to go with one of the icebreaker ships with Zodiacs that can get further down to the ice-sheets instead of the peninsula. My feeling is that it would take very substantial investments to prepare a suitable yacht for the area and that the opportunities to benefit from them on other voyages would be quite limited.

Cheers,

               W.

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4 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

My feeling is that it would take very substantial investments to prepare a suitable yacht for the area and that the opportunities to benefit from them on other voyages would be quite limited.

Cheers,

               W.

I’m not sure what you mean.  We’re steel, with diesel heat.  I’d think, other than the boat generally being in “good nick”, that having good crew and a serious complement of key spares, very good ground tackle, and extra shore lines, the upper Antarctic peninsula is more or less within reach/do-able.  For crossing Drake Passage, good weather info and timing would be absolutely key, of course, and plenty of prior experience...and some luck. Seem like just getting to S. Georgia might be “good enough” without the extra risk - it’s a spectacular place. Then again, though, it’s not the same place either.  :-)

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2 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I’m not sure what you mean.  We’re steel, with diesel heat.  I’d think, other than the boat generally being in “good nick”, that having good crew and a serious complement of key spares, very good ground tackle, and extra shore lines, the upper Antarctic peninsula is more or less within reach/do-able.  For crossing Drake Passage, good weather info and timing would be absolutely key, of course, and plenty of prior experience...and some luck. Seem like just getting to S. Georgia might be “good enough” without the extra risk - it’s a spectacular place. Then again, though, it’s not the same place either.  :-)

I mean that I don't have enough money to afford a decent boat, let alone the additional gear needed for a southern ocean passage... and from that perspective the cost of making ready for such a trip could only be conceived if we were to need such a boat and the gear for a lot of other trips.

 I'm sure it would be great but it's beyond my reach. If it's within yours then go for it..! Let me know if you need crew.    :-)

Cheers,

               W.

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I think there are serious restrictions now on private yachts visiting Antarctica. Big paper chase, red tape etc.

I wouldn't go even in a cruise ship. I'm just waiting for a bad incident (fire/sinking) of a cruise ship in those waters and NOBODY around to save survivors. It's a very remote part of the ocean

Then again I keep warning friends to keep off 3rd World Ferries. Too aware of marine disasters and risks of poorly regulated ships.

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12 minutes ago, WGWarburton said:

I mean that I don't have enough money to afford a decent boat, let alone the additional gear needed for a southern ocean passage... and from that perspective the cost of making ready for such a trip could only be conceived if we were to need such a boat and the gear for a lot of other trips.

 I'm sure it would be great but it's beyond my reach. If it's within yours then go for it..! Let me know if you need crew.    :-)

Cheers,

               W.

We’ve slowly, over the years, time and money permitting, been upgrading rebuilding stuff aboard - for eventually taking off for a few years, once funds are in place for more extended living without work.  I never wanted to deal with the expense and complication of getting another boat, so I started with something big enough (33’), as big as I’d ever want, and sturdy enough to be comfortable in high latitudes.  Most likely eastern Canada/Greenland at first, being closer, and much less committing, but I can see heading south eventually...at this point, it’s all about the pension coming in eventually... :-) )

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4 minutes ago, Zonker said:

I think there are serious restrictions now on private yachts visiting Antarctica. Big paper chase, red tape etc.

I wouldn't go even in a cruise ship. I'm just waiting for a bad incident (fire/sinking) of a cruise ship in those waters and NOBODY around to save survivors. It's a very remote part of the ocean

Yeah, I can imagine there are bureaucratic rules for that now - which makes sense from the standpoint of ecological preservation (never mind all the national scientific bases there, especially the large ones like the US, Russia, etc., that burn endless diesel, etc etc etc.).  I recall reading various accounts of private yachts sailing there years ago, but I can well imagine it’s gotten tighter.  (I recall some crazy young Norwegian dudes who went down there some years back, on a boat called [appropriately], “Berserk”...ran into trouble, can’t recall what happened - I seem remember they went there without authorization?)

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12 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

We’ve slowly, over the years, time and money permitting, been upgrading rebuilding stuff aboard - for eventually taking off for a few years, once funds are in place for more extended living without work.  I never wanted to deal with the expense and complication of getting another boat, so I started with something big enough (33’), as big as I’d ever want, and sturdy enough to be comfortable in high latitudes.  Most likely eastern Canada/Greenland at first, being closer, and much less committing, but I can see heading south eventually...at this point, it’s all about the pension coming in eventually... :-) )

Fair enough.  Maybe if we'd spent the time and money on boats instead of travelling we'd be there too but at this point we're a long way behind you and the clock isn't standing still.  

Though having said that, I haven't ruled out Iceland completely, yet: maybe after I've done the research to know what's involved I will! Current thinking is that if it can be done in a Wayfarer then a half-tonner ought to be capable :-)

Cheers,

              W.

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3 minutes ago, WGWarburton said:

Fair enough.  Maybe if we'd spent the time and money on boats instead of travelling we'd be there too but at this point we're a long way behind you and the clock isn't standing still.  

Though having said that, I haven't ruled out Iceland completely, yet: maybe after I've done the research to know what's involved I will! Current thinking is that if it can be done in a Wayfarer then a half-tonner ought to be capable :-)

Cheers,

              W.

Yeah, who was the guy who did it in a Wayfarer...Frank something or other?  Yikes!  But some pretty astonishing voyages have been made in very small, craft of course.  I’ve been to Iceland via air - amazing place in so many ways.  Where else can you rent a bathing suit (and towel) to sit in one of the numerous municipal geyser-fed hot springs, for only a few dollars?  :-)

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Just now, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Yeah, who was the guy who did it in a Wayfarer...Frank something or other?  Yikes!  But some pretty astonishing voyages have been made in very small, craft of course.  I’ve been to Iceland via air - amazing place in so many ways.  Where else can you rent a bathing suit (and towel) to sit in one of the numerous municipal geyser-fed hot springs, for only a few dollars?  :-)

Frank Dye. Legend. His boat, "Wanderer", is displayed at the Maritime museum in Falmouth, along with Ben Ainslie's Laser from Sydney 2000 and some other interesting stuff. Worth a visit, if you're there, though maybe not if it's a big diversion. 

 See you in Reykjavik, summer 2023!

Cheers,

             W.

 

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5 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Yeah, who was the guy who did it in a Wayfarer...Frank something or other?  Yikes!  But some pretty astonishing voyages have been made in very small, craft of course.  I’ve been to Iceland via air - amazing place in so many ways.  Where else can you rent a bathing suit (and towel) to sit in one of the numerous municipal geyser-fed hot springs, for only a few dollars?  :-)

Frank (and Margaret) Dye. I used to own a Wayfarer, it was very weatherly but I wouldn't have taken it to Iceland.

More Wayfarer cruising...

 

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On 11/27/2019 at 3:58 AM, WGWarburton said:

 Regrets? Not made it to Tasmania (sorry, FKT) or the NW of Oz, not made it to Antarctica and not been to Iceland.

Yet.

Obviously been to Tasmania, also the Kimberley coast (got paid) and Antarctica many times (got paid to go there, too). But not Iceland.

Lotta places I haven't been that you have, though. I've not figured out a way to make someone else pay me to go.

WRT taking a small private boat to Antarctica, it can be done. The Argentineans and Chileans don't like it much because it's their SAR that picks up the pieces for the Palmer Peninsula area I believe, but technically they can't *stop* you because all territorial claims are in abeyance under the Treaty until 2050 I think. I think they refuse to give you a zarpe if you state that's your next destination but I don't know for sure.

But I'd think very carefully about trying it. You've no margin for error or even bad luck. A quick visit to the northern peninsula in a warm year with little ice, do-able. I wouldn't do it myself even in a 20m steel vessel. Certainly not in my little 12m steel sailboat. But I'm an avowed coward and I've spent a lot of time inside the pack ice.

FKT

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43 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

No stanchions and lifelines on old Curlew :-). And no furler on the jib...nor a dodger.  Comms?  I don’t know but I don’t think so.  (No engine, naturally.)  

If you read the article in the second link, you’ll see they had no jobs tying them down when they left England for the Caribbean.  Smart people!! :-)

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Top priority: dump the fridge  The rest is detail.

There are obvious direct benefits from losing it: reduced need for batteries and power generation, which cuts out a lot of headcahes.  Without fridge, you can keep your power draw quite low.  If you balance the boat well and don't press her too hard, even the tiller pilot can be reduced to a modest draw.  

But even better than that, dumping the fridge forces you out of the supermarket+fridge mentality of modern suburban life which goes heavy on meat and dairy and prepared foods. You can eat well (i.e tasty and nutritious food) off beans and pulses and brown rice, esp if you learn recipes which use spices creatively.  Fresh veg keeps a lot longer than meat, and if you want a bit of meat in your diet, use dry sausage (salami, chorizo etc) and tinned meats sparingly.  If you want milk, use UHT. That way you won't need a fridge.

If that's a long way fro how you eat now, then start making the change now.  Learn how to cook this way, and how build up your repertoire of recipes that work for you and which can be easily replicated in a small galley.

This may sound like a small issue, but it's actually critical to simplifying your life so that you enjoy the experience of cruising rather than spending your time worrying about how to manage the food.

Obviously, you need the safety gear too, and the dinghy.  But the main thing is KISS: keep it simple.  

And above all, as other have said: just do it.  Even if you screw it all up and wreck your boat and lose all your money, you'll have done something you will never forget or regret.  You only get one time around the hamster wheel, so seize the moment. 

I am v sorry to hear of the loss of your dog.   Dogs are the most extraordinary people, full of love and forgiveness and above all with an unerring instinct to seize the moment and find happiness.  I have learnt more from the dogs in my life than from the two-legged people, and one of the most valuable lessons is dogs' quest of happiness. So listen to all that your dog taught you

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1 hour ago, TwoLegged said:

Top priority: dump the fridge  The rest is detail.

There are obvious direct benefits from losing it: reduced need for batteries and power generation, which cuts out a lot of headcahes.  Without fridge, you can keep your power draw quite low.  If you balance the boat well and don't press her too hard, even the tiller pilot can be reduced to a modest draw.  

But even better than that, dumping the fridge forces you out of the supermarket+fridge mentality of modern suburban life which goes heavy on meat and dairy and prepared foods. You can eat well (i.e tasty and nutritious food) off beans and pulses and brown rice, esp if you learn recipes which use spices creatively.  Fresh veg keeps a lot longer than meat, and if you want a bit of meat in your diet, use dry sausage (salami, chorizo etc) and tinned meats sparingly.  If you want milk, use UHT. That way you won't need a fridge.

If that's a long way fro how you eat now, then start making the change now.  Learn how to cook this way, and how build up your repertoire of recipes that work for you and which can be easily replicated in a small galley.

This may sound like a small issue, but it's actually critical to simplifying your life so that you enjoy the experience of cruising rather than spending your time worrying about how to manage the food.

Obviously, you need the safety gear too, and the dinghy.  But the main thing is KISS: keep it simple.  

And above all, as other have said: just do it.  Even if you screw it all up and wreck your boat and lose all your money, you'll have done something you will never forget or regret.  You only get one time around the hamster wheel, so seize the moment. 

I am v sorry to hear of the loss of your dog.   Dogs are the most extraordinary people, full of love and forgiveness and above all with an unerring instinct to seize the moment and find happiness.  I have learnt more from the dogs in my life than from the two-legged people, and one of the most valuable lessons is dogs' quest of happiness. So listen to all that your dog taught you

Yeah, you can cruise without a fridge, just like you can sail without a diesel, but why would you want to? Units like the Engle portable fridge are inexpensive (less than one boat unit) and solar charging can easily handle the power requirements. And you will also use the power to run your nav gear, power tools, and computer. A cold beer and a BBQed steak in a perfect anchorage at the end of a sailing day...you don't need it but it sure makes life sweet. And if you prefer pulses and brown rice, having a side salad and cold juice is a plus too. Or you can live like the Pardeys did...some sailors prefer to wear the hair shirt.

 

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On 11/27/2019 at 3:11 PM, Fah Kiew Tu said:

Obviously been to Tasmania, also the Kimberley coast (got paid) and Antarctica many times (got paid to go there, too). But not Iceland.

Lotta places I haven't been that you have, though. I've not figured out a way to make someone else pay me to go.

WRT taking a small private boat to Antarctica, it can be done. The Argentineans and Chileans don't like it much because it's their SAR that picks up the pieces for the Palmer Peninsula area I believe, but technically they can't *stop* you because all territorial claims are in abeyance under the Treaty until 2050 I think. I think they refuse to give you a zarpe if you state that's your next destination but I don't know for sure.

But I'd think very carefully about trying it. You've no margin for error or even bad luck. A quick visit to the northern peninsula in a warm year with little ice, do-able. I wouldn't do it myself even in a 20m steel vessel. Certainly not in my little 12m steel sailboat. But I'm an avowed coward and I've spent a lot of time inside the pack ice.

FKT

Josh Tucker, a local Tas/ Enzed kid did the trip with his Brother and Father a few years ago

This family is part of a legend, the five boys all grew up on a Mobjack cruising the Pacific...

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This thread makes me think, the OP - for a shortish cruise like this - might consider jumping past the engine generation upgrade can of worms, (bigger alternator, matching serpentine belt and pulleys, engine running time, huge battery banks.

 

Just add a generous adjustable, semi portable, solar array. Go with the icebox you've got and mid sized battery bank

 

This could consist of a flexible panel and regulator the size of which might find a spot on deck that could be used underway(but removable). Then perhaps another panel that can be placed when at anchor or in calm weather, both of which we know will happen. Add a couple larger batteries, you could truly have freedom for engine time. 

 

Sort of adjustable refrigeration that you could supplement with ice at times. Not perfect but less expensive to make going cruising, more realistic. 

 

Whenever anybody makes the switch from a coastal cruiser with no refrigeration to full on support system via engine, they rarely realize what a slog this is in time and $$$ to truly achieve a good working arrangement. The reefer is just the beginning and often a small part of a good refrigeration upgrade. For 6 months, is this worth it? 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, olaf hart said:

Josh Tucker, a local Tas/ Enzed kid did the trip with his Brother and Father a few years ago

This family is part of a legend, the five boys all grew up on a Mobjack cruising the Pacific...

Yeah I know, I've chatted to Ben down at the marina a couple of times.

The fact that they did it and got away with it in no way invalidates my opinion as to its wisdom. IIRC they had the aid of the French at one point.

FKT

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7 hours ago, Jim in Halifax said:

Yeah, you can cruise without a fridge, just like you can sail without a diesel, but why would you want to? Units like the Engle portable fridge are inexpensive (less than one boat unit) and solar charging can easily handle the power requirements. And you will also use the power to run your nav gear, power tools, and computer. A cold beer and a BBQed steak in a perfect anchorage at the end of a sailing day...you don't need it but it sure makes life sweet. And if you prefer pulses and brown rice, having a side salad and cold juice is a plus too. Or you can live like the Pardeys did...some sailors prefer to wear the hair shirt.

Jim, my thinking comes from experience of living off-grid on land.   I found that a lot of the hassle and expense comes from trying to do things in the same way as you would do them on-grid.

To get the cold beer, you only need a fridge for a few hours beforehand.  But have that steak, you need a fridge continuously since whenever you left port, which means enough battery capacity to keep up all the times the solar isn't generating.  And getting decent solar output on a small sailing monohull means some combination of solar on a custom stainless frame at the back, plus probably an extra panel or two for the less sunny days, which you need to find some way of mounting in a secure-but-easily-removable fashion, plus some way of storing it in a boat with little storage space.

OTOH, if you are just running LED lights and a modest dose of nav gear, you need a lot less power, which means less battery bank, less solar.  How important is that cold beer?

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I'm wondering if the better panels, better controllers and better fridge systems like the Engels or Isotherm Smart Energy Controller with plates to better utilize then times when you are generating more voltage have changed the calculus on fridges? I see boats without engines now running fridges - just on solar. 

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My small Isotherm uses about 15 amp hours a day in 100 degree weather with the stock insulation on the 5 cf icebox.  Less in moderate conditions.  It’s less than the nav instruments.  I just left it turned on all summer without even thinking about it. 

But new refrigeration, new (LiFePO4) batteries, new panels -  all projects and pretty spendy ones.  But I had to work instead of sail this spring, so I splurged invested a bit.  

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17 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

Yeah I know, I've chatted to Ben down at the marina a couple of times.

The fact that they did it and got away with it in no way invalidates my opinion as to its wisdom. IIRC they had the aid of the French at one point.

FKT

This actually raises an interesting question.  The old have probably been cautioning against the impetuous impulses  of youth since the beginning of civilization. :-) 

Reading through the details of their prep (on Snow Petrel’s site/blog), it looks like they were pretty extensive.  (I know about his site having come across it once while a-scouring the web for hard dodger designs/info: his is very well thought out.)

I’m sure there are those here and elsewhere who would question the wisdom of the OP taking a racer/cruiser 1987 Bene First 305 anywhere near offshore.  (And I’ll bet there are even those here who’d swear that going without a fridge is akin to suicide...and it may well be, for them :-) :-) )

I know, I know:  going to Antarctica is a whole different kettle of cod, there are a lot more objective hazards —but still.  

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1 hour ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

This actually raises an interesting question.  The old have probably been cautioning against the impetuous impulses  of youth since the beginning of civilization. :-) 

Reading through the details of their prep (on Snow Petrel’s site/blog), it looks like they were pretty extensive.  (I know about his site having come across it once while a-scouring the web for hard dodger designs/info: his is very well thought out.)

I’m sure there are those here and elsewhere who would question the wisdom of the OP taking a racer/cruiser 1987 Bene First 305 anywhere near offshore.  (And I’ll bet there are even those here who’d swear that going without a fridge is akin to suicide...and it may well be, for them :-) :-) )

I know, I know:  going to Antarctica is a whole different kettle of cod, there are a lot more objective hazards —but still.  

Between Ben, his brother and his father there are probably 100 continuous years of cruising experience.

I couldn’t imagine a more experienced crew.

 

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15 hours ago, Elegua said:

I'm wondering if the better panels, better controllers and better fridge systems like the Engels or Isotherm Smart Energy Controller with plates to better utilize then times when you are generating more voltage have changed the calculus on fridges? I see boats without engines now running fridges - just on solar. 

Worked for us. 250W of flexible panels on the bimini were sufficient to run the 12V fridge and keep the batteries topped up. Once anchored we hardly used any electrons except to keep the fridge and iPad happy.

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On 12/1/2019 at 7:49 AM, TwoLegged said:

Top priority: dump the fridge  The rest is detail.

There are obvious direct benefits from losing it: reduced need for batteries and power generation, which cuts out a lot of headcahes.  Without fridge, you can keep your power draw quite low.  If you balance the boat well and don't press her too hard, even the tiller pilot can be reduced to a modest draw.  

But even better than that, dumping the fridge forces you out of the supermarket+fridge mentality of modern suburban life which goes heavy on meat and dairy and prepared foods. You can eat well (i.e tasty and nutritious food) off beans and pulses and brown rice, esp if you learn recipes which use spices creatively.  Fresh veg keeps a lot longer than meat, and if you want a bit of meat in your diet, use dry sausage (salami, chorizo etc) and tinned meats sparingly.  If you want milk, use UHT. That way you won't need a fridge.

If that's a long way fro how you eat now, then start making the change now.  Learn how to cook this way, and how build up your repertoire of recipes that work for you and which can be easily replicated in a small galley.

This may sound like a small issue, but it's actually critical to simplifying your life so that you enjoy the experience of cruising rather than spending your time worrying about how to manage the food.

Obviously, you need the safety gear too, and the dinghy.  But the main thing is KISS: keep it simple.  

And above all, as other have said: just do it.  Even if you screw it all up and wreck your boat and lose all your money, you'll have done something you will never forget or regret.  You only get one time around the hamster wheel, so seize the moment. 

I am v sorry to hear of the loss of your dog.   Dogs are the most extraordinary people, full of love and forgiveness and above all with an unerring instinct to seize the moment and find happiness.  I have learnt more from the dogs in my life than from the two-legged people, and one of the most valuable lessons is dogs' quest of happiness. So listen to all that your dog taught you

thanks for this message. I really like the idea of practicing and making changes in cooking now. It makes sense not to think you are going to change your diet overnight. And having decent tasting meals we know how to cook and plan for will be a comfort once shoving off.

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Right now we are focusing expenses on things we would want on the boat even if we don't go, or will still want on the boat after we return. So that means for now refrigeration is out, unless we decide after some trial we can't live without.

Dinghy, however, is in. I have been looking around a bit. I was thinking to wait for the defender sale or something similar, but right now this roll up floor seems like a fair price (with the rebate) that would probably fit our needs. any thoughts?  

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5 hours ago, olaf hart said:

Between Ben, his brother and his father there are probably 100 continuous years of cruising experience.

I couldn’t imagine a more experienced crew.

 

Which wouldn't have helped them one iota if the pack had pinched their boat.

FKT

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2 minutes ago, freewheelin said:

Right now we are focusing expenses on things we would want on the boat even if we don't go, or will still want on the boat after we return. So that means for now refrigeration is out, unless we decide after some trial we can't live without.

Dinghy, however, is in. I have been looking around a bit. I was thinking to wait for the defender sale or something similar, but right now this roll up floor seems like a fair price (with the rebate) that would probably fit our needs. any thoughts?  

I vote yes.  Keep it cheap and simple for now.  We cruised the rocky beach-strewn BC and Alaska coasts with a $400 Craigslist PVC roll up.  Worked just fine.

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1 hour ago, freewheelin said:

Right now we are focusing expenses on things we would want on the boat even if we don't go, or will still want on the boat after we return. So that means for now refrigeration is out, unless we decide after some trial we can't live without.

Dinghy, however, is in. I have been looking around a bit. I was thinking to wait for the defender sale or something similar, but right now this roll up floor seems like a fair price (with the rebate) that would probably fit our needs. any thoughts?  

That's pretty much the same one we had before we went to a high-pressure air floor Zodiac. It only lasted 23 years or so. I did have to glue the floor back in, but when we sold it (for $100) there were still no patches on the tubes and it went the whole season without needing more air.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, we bought the dinghy as a joint christmas present. Good thing too, because now the day after the stock seems to be out. They only have newer models at $500 more. Now what to power it with? It's a 9' slat floor roll up Zodiac. 2.5 or 3.5 HP?

I guess this might be phase one.

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You won't plane with 3.5hp, so pick the lightest engine.  In Tohatsu I think the 2.5/3.5 weigh the same, so you might as well get the power.  

I think the Suzuki is the small engine to get these days, but it's been a while since I've thought about it (I switched to a hard dinghy and row since I dislike the noise of small engines).

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I'll put in a plug for the Suzuki 2.5. I've had one for 6 years and it's been bulletproof. I just give it ethanol-free gas, new oil every year, and run the carb empty at the end of every season and it just works. It does like a firm pull of the cord. 

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On 11/22/2019 at 12:33 PM, freewheelin said:

SNIP

So my wife asked if it would be possible to do a short (maybe 4 month) sabbatical down to the islands next winter on our current boat. I said, definitely possible. She asked what would it take.

SNIP

 

The answer is no, it is not realistically possible.

You should consider something like sailing to Florida, probably down the ICW.  I would suggest going to the Florida Keys and staying at BKH for the season.  Plenty of time to check out how well founded your boat is while trying out living on a mooring ball which is sorta like living at anchor with less worry about ground tackle.  Easy to get to the Mule Keys which can be close to what you call down island but you will have cell service and SeaTow or BoatUS.  If you feel brave you can head to the Marquesas or even Dry Tortugas.  If you do that you can see how well your ground tackle functions, what it is like to go for more than a day or two with no access to grocery stores, Home Depot, or bars or resturants.  Even going to the Marquesas may take you out of sight of land and going to DT definitely will; again all in the good old USA waters and all that means.  One thing about BKH is that you will meet plenty of real cruisers, and plenty of posers as well, and many of them will be happy to help you get up to speed.

If you really wanna get a feel for cruising you can take a side trip to the Bahamas.  Go up to Jewfish Creek/Anglefish Creek and then hop to Bimini, or even Great Harbor or Morgan's Bluff if you want to test a passage that requires an over night sail.  While not as safe as in the US you should not have an issue if you watch the weather windows.  Many folks spend years cruising the Bahamas and never come close to seeing it all.

The reason I suggest this is you original plan is on way to tight a schedule.  Even getting to Georgetown, which is often considered the jumping off point to getting down island will realistically take a month unless you ignore weather windows and rush past many interesting places to stop.  Not to mention likely not testing all the new improvements to your boat.  Where do you think you will be testing your new ground tackle, how easy it is to provision your boat from the new dinghy, how reliable the motor is on both the boat and dinghy, how easy it is to get the dinghy on the foredeck, how you will inflate and deflate the dinghy, where you will store the outboard on the dinghy (not to mention how you will get the outboard on and off the dinghy).  The more times you do all these things the better chance you will come up with ideas on how to improve doing it.  And don't underestimate the advantage of doing it in the good old USA where you can go to the nearest West Marine or use your smart phone to order something of Amazon and have it delivered to the marina.

If you are dead set on going down island get one of the nav software programs and plan out your route.  The good ones will have a function where you put in your boat speed; with a 30 foot sailboat even something like 5kn may be overly optimistic.  See how long it will take to get from the East Coast to down island.  Then come up with some idea of what you intend to do down island and plan that route to get some idea of what you will be able to do there and how long it will take.  Also put in some down time, along with weather delays.  Next figure out how long it will take you to get back home.  This should give you an idea of what type of schedule you will need to do everything in four months.

Compare the down island schedule with going to the Keys, staying at BKH for a couple of weeks and then cruising the Mule Keys or maybe a month or so in the Bahamas with plenty of down time to dive, fish, or just stop and smell the sea weed.  Even with a much bigger boat going down island on I65 is no easy task and probably at least a two week trip.  In a boat as small as yours with a crew of two it is a tall order for experienced sailors.  Not to mention the possibility of something happening that damages the boat.  Not talking about sinking or anything like that, maybe a ripped head sail, or a bent rudder pin on a hard passage.  On the other hand an easy trip down the ICW to the Keys should not be nearly as risky in terms of wear and tear on the boat.  Certainly it will be easy to get accurate timely weather reports.

Not trying to talk you out of cruising, just saying if you really wanna go down island four months is not enough time to go there, have fun, and get back.

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Point taken on the timing, though we have been kicking around the idea of pushing to 5 or 6 months. I suppose I was also considering the Bahamas as part of "the islands". The keys are beautiful too, but I'd prefer to jump offshore earlier and get out of the ICW if possible. The timing and routing are still fungible, so thanks for the thoughts.

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  • 1 month later...

Today I discussed a sabbatical with my company, which was approved. Oct-Feb. Then, another much smaller break come spring to bring the boat back up north. Nothing more firm than that, but certainly the biggest step for us so far. 

Things have gone from theoretical, to not so theoretical it seems. Thanks for all the advice so far, much more will be needed in the coming months.

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thanks, Zonk. My wife and I hit the workforce around the 2008 crash here in the states. We were fortunate but saw plenty who weren't - that stays with you. It is easy to forget how you hold more influence than you think when it comes to work. I appreciate the advice and glad I just asked.

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