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Old 09-02-2010, 15:16   #1
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Challenge: How to Be Autonomous While Cruising

How do you become self sufficiant or autonomous while cruising? Following this What Would Be Your Choices, and Why? thread, I decided to start a new one on this particular subject.

It's something that I have given countless hours of thought. My conclusion is that it can't be done unless you revert to wooden boats use materials that can only be found in nature, aquire all the becessary skills to do EVERYTHING yourself and break several laws.

So. Being realistic. How does one go about becoming as self sufficiant AS POSSIBLE?

My thoughts again:
  1. Small vessel
  2. Parts that are subject to a lot of wear and usually needs replacing should be made out of a friendly material, like wood, that can easily be found and made to fit with basic hand tools. Or they should be virtually maintenance free.
  3. Solar panels or windgenerator or both depending on cruising grounds.
  4. Heating and cooking should be taken care of by using a solid fuel stove.
  5. Water should be collected or distilled.
  6. Electrical engine would eliminate much of the need for service and all the need for diesel.
  7. Boat should be beachable
  8. Food will always be an issue
Simplicity! What isn't there, can't break.

I'd like to hear more ideas, in general or in detail doesn't matter.

This is ofcourse hypothetical. I, at least, wouldn't want to screen myself from what is commonly known as "civilisation", but being as self sufficiant as possible within said civilisation would be nice.

/Hampus
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Old 09-02-2010, 15:22   #2
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To be future proofed, a non reliance on anything derived from fossil fuel has to be top of the list.
Petrol, diesel, gas and plastics.

Back to good old wood with as few manufactured chemicals as possible
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Old 09-02-2010, 15:53   #3
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Following on from my "Dollar a Day" thread I've also put some thought into this - just done b#gger all about it in practice

Whilst I think that cruising at the cost of a Dollar a Day is 99.99% impossible, my conclusion is that quite possible to do so making a profit of a Dollar a Day ...........the Secret (if you don't have an everlasting kitty) is........working. For money .......trying to go too cashless / too DIY by knitting yer own sails etc is just too much like hard work, hard work more productively spent earning money to then fund yourself to DIY far more effeciently - and occassionaly maybe even others . Downside is that the tropical island paradise is probably already sorted for Cocunut Farm hands and has not yet discovered a need for the job that bought your boat..........the irony

How you place yourself along the line between hairshirt and decadence will dictate how much you need to work.........

I would also say "Systems Management" is also important. My aircon will never break and requires zero maintanence. Same as my Watermaker. I am also planning on not installing an electric galley pump for ease of fitting and maintanence............
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Old 09-02-2010, 16:31   #4
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Even Lin and Larry Pardey take on work like delivering boats, or repairing rigging, sails, etc. for others. Self-sufficient is being able to handle the issues on your own, or by engaging others as necessary. Unless you are a big lottery winner or have earned your millions already, you are going to need to do something to protect the revenue that will allow you to move forward.

Minimizing those costs does not necessarily mean going without or choosing "second best." It does mean paying particular attention to how much something costs in resources. For example, most boat owners would not consider going to sea without a motor. Pardey's have been at it for 45 years. In one of their books they make the argument that most of us need a motor to make it back to the office on Monday.

While they have built their two boats, the recently answered the "what would you buy today..." An Interesting and Affordable Cruising Boat Choice @ Lin & Larry Pardey

I do however agree with your list (and they may as well).
A smaller wooden boat is easy to handle and less costly to maintain.
Brass is fairly easy to find compared to other alloys.
Solid fuel (wood) is problematic as it requires space to store but that may be resolved by frequent(?) stops.
Oil lamps for lights have worked for centuries and still do.

I also agree you may want to give up on a pressurized/electric water system. Manual pumps are easier to maintain and less prone to failure. Hot water could be solar or even a cheater to your cooking source.

Solar is probably a better option, lower return but less to fail. Electric motor? Hard to fix yourself. In this regard the Pardeys may be right - go engine-less. More room - no fixing. But, you may find that limits where you can go. They didn't but everyone is different with regards to how much we will tolerate to get 5 miles.

Food will always be a problem. As will a belief that you never have a catastrophic failure (someone runs you over), or major injury (someone runs you over). Either will drain the kitty.
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Old 09-02-2010, 16:41   #5
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"Electrical engine would eliminate much of the need for service and all the need for diesel. "


How will you collect & store electricity for this electric engine?
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Old 09-02-2010, 17:09   #6
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Well,

My take on 'autonomous':

1. Small vessel

Why? Small vessel means not being able to take much supplies, so it in fact limits autonomy. Small vessel will mean more stress from bad weather, which means more repair, which means less autonomy, and so on and so forth.

2. Parts that are subject to a lot of wear and usually needs replacing should be made out of a friendly material, like wood, that can easily be found and made to fit with basic hand tools. Or they should be virtually maintenance free.

Parts which are subject to wear should be re-designed so that they wear less. E.g. if your genoa sheets need replacement after every passage, change the way they are led. Rather than go for wearable and replaceable, go for indestructible - polyester in place of nylon, plastic in place of wood, etc..

3. Solar panels or windgenerator or both depending on cruising grounds.

Or go 'without' energy - use LEDs, give up on fridge, etc.. And since the alternator is already there, use it.

4. Heating and cooking should be taken care of by using a solid fuel stove.

Or change a diet and eat raw. But I would stick with LPG - below 1 USD per liter in many places of the world.

5. Water should be collected or distilled.

Why? water is free in vast majority of places I have been. It is very easy to carry almost any amount of water onboard. I believe collecting water is good emergency but I always found the rain water quality far from acceptable for everyday use.

6. Electrical engine would eliminate much of the need for service and all the need for diesel.

So, how do you make the electricity to run this engine?

7. Boat should be beachable

Why?

8. Food will always be an issue

At sea ??? Why not catch something to eat?

So, my take would be:

1. A good condition, good size (say 3t+ for a single, 5t+ for a couple, etc.) plastic, steel or alu boat,
2. With very simple systems,
3. With ample water tankage,
4. Good condition diesel engine with alternator and quality marine regulator,
5. LPG galley.

We sailed a 26' boat, two crew, 72 days non-stop from Panama, then we were in Gambiers like for 20 days and then we sailed 20 days to Tahiti, where we spent 10 days in a remote anchorage before going to Papeete (= over 3 months autonomy). Pretty autonomous I would say. Probably with a good 32-36 footer I could be away from people and services for at least 6 months.

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Old 10-02-2010, 00:42   #7
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Nice Answers!

"Cruising by boat is a lifestyle that involves living for extended time on a boat while traveling from place to place for pleasure. Cruising generally refers to trips of a few days or more, and can extend to round-the-world voyages." Cruising (maritime) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I should have defined cruising. Ofcourse, the chiode of vessel, fuel for cooking etc depends on the cruising grounds. You could cruise Scandinavia, Alaska or Canada without ever making a passage longer than 5 hours and still not see a living person for 6 months. In this case solid fuel would be plentyful, rain would be too etc.

Power for the electric motor would be generated by solar panels or a wind generator. When sailing, the prop is spinning and the electrical engine (inboard) works as a generator, recharging the battery bank.

The Pardys did it without an engine altogether and I know people who did two atlantic passages and cruised the caribbean in a 24-footer without an engine. An electrical engine would be a middle way. More necessary when cruising the aforementioned waters than for long passages.

I do agree with Barnakiel and others. The trick is to extend the time you can be away, rather than trying to be away indefinately. In most cases I think that the best way to go is a well thought through and possibly modified boat that fits the exact needs depending on crew, cruising ground and time.

/Hampus
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:22   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
8. Food will always be an issue

At sea ??? Why not catch something to eat?

b.
still need that Vitamin C- Remember Scurvy?
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:22   #9
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Whats wrong with alcohol as a fuel...you can brew/distill on board...methane for cooking or distilling water/other
Combination of water preheated via solar then toped off with heat from the afore mentioned fuels to operate a sterling engine.
Wave/boat action to compress air...or other.
Harnessing the energy we must have from the incredible convection that would be found in the mast.....how much air could that pull through the boat.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:45   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hampus View Post
How do you become self sufficiant or autonomous while cruising?
I think the proper question should be "for how long you can be self sufficient while cruising?" The problem is that those items that you cannot make out of wood will have certain life span that will limit your autonomy. Batteries come to mind, for example. Many sailing boats can be outfitted to be self sufficient for a year or so, but it get complicated for longer time requirements.
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Old 10-02-2010, 19:06   #11
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I think water/food/diesel are NOT the big thing. Consider these:

Anti-foul paint?

Toilet paper?

b.
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Old 11-02-2010, 00:04   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post

Anti-foul paint?

.
Which is why I wanted the boat to be beachable

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post

Toilet paper?

.
This is a trick I learned during my military career, it works best with illustrations, but I'll give it a go: Take a regular piece of paper, 3 by 3 inches works best. Fold it twice to form a new square. Rip the lower corner off (that would be the centre of the unfolded paper). Save the little piece of paper, very important. Now, take the middle finger on your hand of choice and put it through the hole in the middle of the now unfolded paper (the one with a hole in the middle). Use said finger to wipe your tusch. When you're done, pull the paper off your finger in the form of a siphon and make sure ALL the... stuff... comes along, throw away the paper. Now we're almost done. Remember that little piece of the folded corner that you saved? Good! Now bring it out and use it to thuroughly rinse under your nail. Done!

I bet I could store a year's supply of 3" by 3" of paper aboard a small boat

/Hampus
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:01   #13
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"Cruising by boat is a lifestyle that involves living for extended time on a boat while traveling from place to place for pleasure. Cruising generally refers to trips of a few days or more, and can extend to round-the-world voyages." Cruising (maritime) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I have heard it from more than one frustrated boat owner that this definition should read. "Cruising by boat is a lifestyle that involves going from one exotic port to another, and fixing sh*t.

We have kept it pretty darn simple on our boat, and find myself over on someone else's boat trying to help them fix something. Simple pays big dividends. I enjoy the challenge.....
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Old 19-02-2010, 19:26   #14
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for me autonomy comes from preparation and faith that i cannot anticipate every challenge. I also have to admit that much of my life has been spent trying to defy the laws of physics. Thus keeping things simple seems to work. On land or at sea
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Old 20-02-2010, 03:41   #15
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NASA has looked at ways of using aero/hydro/bioponics to grow veggies in space for those pesky Mars missions the boss keeps referring to. Several lightweight, inflatable options have been developed and if you Google it you'd be amazed at how easily certain greens can grow in a properly designed, lightweight space saving structure, using very little water.

Black camping bladders absorbs a lot of heat for water, enough that you don't have to apply any more energy, unless it's the obvious cloudy day or you're stuck in Greenland.

Solar ovens, takes a while but very effective.LPG for backup, oil lamps/LED's. Battery banks for the rest with the usual solar panel/wing generator array.

Everything manual, I still have to look at it but considering combining a manual watermaker with some form of exercise machine, which can be geared for intensity so you don't have to do it everyday. I like to stay fit and since you can't always run this might be an option.
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