Firstly, congrats on your "new" baby and your cruising plans. You've picked a reputedly well-built design that properly fitted out, ought to be easy to solo.
I'm by no means a Carib "vet" (yet), though I've been down the fixer-upper road (still on that road, in fact), so I may have some useful perspectives. Not to burst your bubble, but I too thought I was getting a helluva bargain: I essentially paid off the previous owners' yard lien and got a free boat. Five years and $120K later she's finally starting to look like a boat again (Reality Check, you are soooo right). Hopefully you don't have half the nightmares I had, but I'd advise that you assess the basic gut-level structural integrity of your Islander before you spend your first cent on gear
. Sure, Florida/Bahamas is a pretty small geographical area, but Mother Nature can get awfully testy in this part of the world, and the skinnier the water the testier she can be and the quicker she can get there. I echo some others' sage advice above about thoroughly checking out things like hull-to-deck joint, chainplates, keel bolts
, standing rigging
. A long day's work from a guy with a surveyor's shingle will be money
Assuming the good doctor says the patient is fit to travel, I have a couple observations about your wish lists:
13 hp Volvo diesel
: I had an MD7A on a Cape Dory
30 years ago; about the strongest current
you can make any headway against is 5 knots. I concur with a comment above about the possible hassles in getting across the Gulf Stream
Four foot draft:
You're definitely in better shape than I am with six, but you'll still have to pay close attention to the color of the water ahead in the Bahamas. Even cats drawing 18" can't go anywhere they please.
New Bimini and dodger, aluminum frames, do it myself:
Good luck with that, I've been told that one's first homemade dodger
is quite the learning
experience; also, I'd rather have stainless frames than aluminum
22 lb. delta which I consider an adequate primary, and I will add an oversized fortress (37, I believe)
: I agree with those above that think your Delta
a bit small; Since that Fortress
37 should be about the same weight as the Delta, I'd at least use that as your primary, and shop for the biggest/heaviest Testy Mom Nature anchor
your wallet and locker can handle. Also, yes, go all chain. Your Delta and mixed rode
will make a fine lunch hook.
three reefs, so I don't have to carry a storm trysail
: I'd still seek a good used one out; try Bacon's in Annapolis
. Reefing sucks when its already blowing stink.
Add storm jib. Currently there's a good headsail (130 or so) on a good furler. Should I look for a small jib that goes on the furler, or one of those "gale sails" that is attached over the furled headsail?:
If you've got some serious weather
coming, I'd drop the furled heads'l entirely; the windage from a rolled-up jib
can be fearsome. So, yes, I'd look for a storm jib
to hank on in place of the roller.
Origo alcohol two-burner:
I endured an alcohol stove for eight years. Even after you learn their ways, they're a royal pain in the tuckus, underpowered, and sometimes downright scary. A used two-burner propane
will cook a lot more like the stove at home, and shouldn't be too spendy. Propane tanks
, particularly the old steel
ones, are plentiful in the islands, as is the infrastructure to fill them.
Decide how high to triage the hassle of hauling ice (and in the tropics in summer, you keep about 2/3 of the ice you left the store with). It's a manageable situation if other things take precedence. Short of a complete fridge rebuild
and the installation
of new mechanicals, think about a self-contained unit, like that made by Engel. Very efficient and reliable, and it can live anywhere on the boat.
No matter how big your tanks
, they're a way of life in the islands; you'll develop some decent biceps and back muscles, and you'll quickly become an ardent conservationist.
Replace bad depthsounder and knotmeter:
By all means, but you'll still want to steer by color in reef areas; by the time the sounder tells you you're aground, you'll be yelling, "No sh*t, Sherlock!" at it.
handheld Garmin GPS as backup:
Kudos on your intentions of using paper charts
and guides; Get 2-3 cheap
handheld GPSs to confirm your triangulation. They're practically giving them away in cereal boxes anymore. Salt
air will eat everything electronic over time.
Add solar panels:
A fine idea, and in my mind better than the noise
gennies, but tough to find a place to mount them that won't be in the way and don't make the boat look like Sputnik. With shadowing by spars, clouds, etc, count on getting about half of the daily amp-hours as the panels
are rated for.
Add DC driven fans below:
Yup, plus add more dorade vents if you can; no such thing as too much ventilation (well, okay, an open boat has too much).
Nice to have stuff:
solar showers should be adequate for just me
: Unless you're lucky enough to find a real salty girl someday, you're right, they should call solar
showers Bachelor Baths.
Add windvane to supplement tillerpilot:
I'm not sure you'll need a vane until you're looking at some serious time offshore
Upgrade primary winches to self tailing. The current two speeds have those blue rubber attachments that seem to work fine
.: If you're soloing, you're going to want true self-tailers. The rubber dinguses (at least the ones I've met) work just "okay".
higher output alternator
: As said above, I'm not sure how many amps the Volvo
13 can drive.
Yes, get one. A great multi-tasker, and your best source of real-time weather
Add a small hatch in head:
Oh yes. Bump this one up to the must-do category.
Very unlikely to do:
A stronger engine, if I can find a way to do it for cheap:
Yeah, it's boat-shopping time first, methinks.
Nice to have, perhaps not necessary for Bahamas/Florida only.
If you go with all chain, yeah, you'll want one.
Upgrade some current fixed ports to opening:
Again, more air is better; but don't go cheap here, spend larger coin and get hefty ports
; doesn't take much of a breaking wave to break the cheaper ones.
My favorite used gear
source happens to be in your town, Sailorman. See Dave Zutler in the Used Dept., and tell him I sent you.
Sailorman New & Used Marine: The World's Largest and Most Unique New & Used Marine Emporium
I've also heard good things about this place (in Miami
, I think) for new gear:
Boat equipment- sailboats, fishing, electronics, electrical, rigging, navigation
Also, IMHO, an essential bible for the owner of a fixer-upper is Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
Hope I haven't spent too much more than the .02 you asked for. Good luck!