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

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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!

 

kevinjones16

Member
71
28
Seattle
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.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
8,890
4,803
Canada
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

 

crankcall

Super Anarchist
1,621
182
Toronto
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.

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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. 

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
8,890
4,803
Canada
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.

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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.

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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).

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
8,890
4,803
Canada
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.

 

Kris Cringle

Super Anarchist
2,737
2,175
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. 

 

Bugsy

Super Anarchist
2,386
667
Canada
I think the last step is to do some short coastal cruising to find out how it all works out and adjust as necessary. 

Then go!

 

freewheelin

Anarchist
606
120
WLIS
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.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
8,890
4,803
Canada
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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