It's a very small boat for ocean crossings, and you will not be very comfortable, but other than the trip across Biscay to La Coruna it should be an easy downhill run with little risk of bad weather
, if you pick the season right.
The boat should be very carefully and thoroughly prepared and you should be absolutely certain that it is in perfect condition, particularly rig, rigging
, steering gear
equipment, through-hulls, and other mission-critical items.
You should make a written plan of what needs to be inspected and/or replaced or added, and execute this plan systematically. Once the boat is in the condition you think it needs to be to be ready to go, take the boat out for a week or two in rough conditions to test everything -- a proper shakedown cruise
Concerning equipment, I would say the following, which is by no means a complete list:
1. Spares for all of the sails
. If the existing sails are in good condition, buy new ones and keep the old ones as spares. A spare shroud
the length of your longest piece of standing rigging
, and StaLok or other terminals needed to use it. Spare ropes of all kinds. Sail repair kit. A bolt cutter
for cutting standing rigging in case you get rolled over and dismasted.
2. Special downwind sails of some kind. From the Canaries to the Caribbean
is often downwind the whole time, and regular Bermuda
rigged yachts don't sail very efficiently downwind. On a boat that size, a regular spinnaker
shouldn't be too difficult to use. You can also try twin headsails, like a twizzle rig.
3. Plenty of food and water. You cannot predict how long it will take you, so you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario in terms of length of passage
. In a boat that size, it will take a LONG time. Don't rely on a single
water tank -- it can get tainted or get drained accidentally. You'll have to be careful not to overload a boat that size, though, so you will have to strike a careful balance. A hand operated watermaker
, if you can afford it, like a Pur Survivor, which you have put into use and are certain you are able to operate, can justify somewhat smaller water reserves.
4. Some kind of self-steering device. A windvane
with its own rudder
is ideal, since it requires no power and provides you with a spare rudder
5. Redundant navigation
devices. A couple of handheld GPS's will do, with plenty of lithium batteries for them. This plus a good set of paper charts
is really all you need if you know how to navigate -- I would not consider a fixed chart plotter or radar
really necessary, personally.
6. Navigation lights with plenty of spare bulbs, and a reliable electrical
power system. You'll be sailing half the time at night, after all. I don't know what kind of electrical
equipment you have on board but it must be pretty basic on a boat that size. You will want to have reliable and probably redundant ways to keep it charged. Wind
reflector on the mast
8. In-date flares.
9. An EPIRB
or PLB. This is expensive but an absolute must IMHO.
10. A fixed VHF radio
with spare antenna
in case you get dismasted.
11. Life raft. A pain in the a** to carry on a boat that size, but I wouldn't leave home without it, personally, on a trip like that.
12. Grab bag with the usual list of things to take into the life raft with you (Google it), including hand held VHF
with lots of lithium batteries.
13. First aid and trauma kit designed for cases where you may be weeks away from a hospital. Google
it. Plenty of spare medicines for anyone who is on any kind of regular medication.
14. Redundant bilge
pumps of large capacity, and means of plugging holes in the boat.
15. Means of catching fish
. This will be an important supplement to your diet. I doubt you will have much if any refrigeration
on board a boat that size.
according to your needs and budget
. You could rent a satellite phone
to use in case of emergencies. You probably don't want to go to the expense and trouble of installing an SSB radio
, but -- I would want one on board myself, making a trip like that. A SPOT transmitter can give you a way to broadcast cheaply your position regularly to your family
17. Storm sails and a drogue
of some kind -- best of all, a Jordan series drogue
, with strong fixing points on your boat.
18. Lots of books
and other things to read. You will be out there a LONG time.
I didn't write anything about your propulsion gear
, and I'm not sure you even have any. Propulsion
gear is not very important for a passage like that -- you will use it mostly just for getting into and out of port. But if you have any propulsion gear, you would of course want to have it serviced, and have spares on board, tools, impellers, oil
, filters, spare fuel
, etc., just as a matter of course, not because it is really mission critical.
One more suggestion: Make friends with Boatman61. He has made a few trips like that on small boats, and is very generous with his vast knowledge.