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Old 15-06-2010, 19:26   #1
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Which Equipment Do You Feel Is Quite Important to Sail the Bahamas ?

My wife and I have completed the first three ASA courses and are now practicing, practicing and more practicing. We've been to Cape Lookout, NC, up and down the Neuse River, and over-nighted in many of the little hidey-holes along her shores, and are now planning expeditions into the Pamlico Sound for the Summer and Fall. The game plan...gain as much experience as we possibly can with the desirable goal of sailing outside to the Grand Bahamas for 60 to 90 days...by December 2010. (If we don't feel ready, we will delay. Our first big cruise must be safe and fun )

However, since we're sailing a ten year old boat, all her equipment has some wear and much of the electronics is ancient by today's standards. I am currently building an inventory of spare parts for the engine and refrigerator and have purchased the Explorer Chart books. But it's the big ticket items I'm asking about. Like most of you, I live within a budget requiring a prioritization of what equipment is really important for a safe and enjoyable cruise to the Bahamas.

Here is a list of equipment that has been proposed as "important" to have. What's your opinion and most importantly...why?

1. Buy new sails, and keep existing as spares
2. 10" or larger Chart Plotter with digital Explorer Charts included
3. Radar unit
4. Watermaker
5. Single side band radio
6. Wind generator
7. Two solar panels
8. New VHF with AIS
9 Auto pilot - (existing unit works well)

As always...Thank you for your consideration.

Bill and Judy
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Old 15-06-2010, 20:26   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bchaps View Post

However, since we're sailing a ten year old boat, all her equipment has some wear and much of the electronics is ancient by today's standards. I live within a budget requiring a prioritization of what equipment is really important for a safe and enjoyable cruise to the Bahamas.

Here is a list of equipment that has been proposed as "important" to have. What's your opinion and most importantly...why?

1. Buy new sails, and keep existing as spares
2. 10" or larger Chart Plotter with digital Explorer Charts included
3. Radar unit
4. Watermaker
5. Single side band radio
6. Wind generator
7. Two solar panels
8. New VHF with AIS
9 Auto pilot - (existing unit works well)

Bill and Judy
First thing is separate your list into vital and non vital.
If the Bahamas is your only destination and since Florida is only some 70nm west if your boat averages only 4 knots :-
Vital -
Buy new sails, and keep existing main and one head as spares on the boat.
Autopilot since you have it already.
Charts and charts of local Bahamas waters.
A good GPS
EPIRB with GPIRB facility
New VHF with AIS
A 3 meter RIB with 9.9 O/B
--
Non Vital
solar panels & wind generator
10" or larger Chart Plotter with digital Explorer Charts included
Radar unit
Watermaker
Single side band radio
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Old 15-06-2010, 20:46   #3
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Everybody has different ideas -

1) Polarized sunglasses - more bang for the buck than anything else you will use in the Bahamas.
2) Sails - If they are in decent shape don't worry.
3) Chart plotter - whether you prefer electrons or dead trees the Explorer charts are mandatory. We prefer paper. Also get Steve Pavilidis' guide books. You will want a GPS.
4) Radar - you probably won't use it in the Bahamas, unless you move at night, which is not recommended for a novice. Getting there is another story.
5) Watermaker - if it's in the budget, sure. But 1/4 the price of a watermaker will buy an awful lot of H2O for jerry jugs.
6)SSB We love it, but all you need is an all-band receiver to get the weather.
7)Wind generator - Love ours, but did the Bahamas for years without.
8) Solar panels - see #7.
9) VHF is a necessity. As for AIS, see comments on radar.
10) Autopilot - Very handy, but ours died on us down in Acklins one year and we managed to get back to the States in one piece.
11) Good ground tackle. I'm not starting another anchor debate, there's lots of that already posted.
12) Shade - as in awnings, bimini, etc.

Think about what you really need, as opposed to stuff which "might be nice". If you don't have it you won't have to fix it.

You mention going to Grand Bahama. Try getting to some of the less citified islands, like the Berrys, Abacos, or Exumas. Going to Grand Bahama to see the Bahamas is rather like going to Raleigh to see North Carolina. It is, but it ain't.

Have a great time.

P.S. As Laidback mentioned, a planing rib is a Godsend in the Bahamas when you're anchored.
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Old 15-06-2010, 20:54   #4
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Forgot to add :- forward looking Depth Sounder and tide tables - there are plenty of places where you may have to get out and push (remember to leave someone on the boat!?
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Old 15-06-2010, 21:01   #5
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Hi Bill and Judy,

Added my comments below. Hope this is helpful.

Skip

Quote:
Originally Posted by bchaps View Post
1. Buy new sails, and keep existing as spares

YES! if the old sails are worn out. How bad are they? Stitching starting to go, seams separating? If little used and stored out of the sun they may be fine.

2. 10" or larger Chart Plotter with digital Explorer Charts included

Low on my priority list due to the high cost. Convenient but you can safely navigate the Bahamas with charts and a GPS unit. If you have money left over, sure, why not? What about a handheld unit like the Garmin 76CSX? Doesn't have the big screen but West has the 76CS (same as CSX but without compass and altimiter) on sale for $200.

3. Radar unit

Will you be sailing at night? Sailing to New England? No fog in the Bahamas and in the daytime you can do without.

4. Watermaker

Nice to have but expensive and power hungry. Unless you already have good power sources this will add additional expenses to get the electricity to feed it. Water or good water can be sometimes hard to find in the out islands. Also consider your tank size and how careful you are with water use.

5. Single side band radio

Maybe. Handy and entertaining. Good way to stay in touch with other boaters and home. If you are a long way from civilization and need serious help it could be invaluable.

6. Wind generator
7. Two solar panels

This and/or solar panels will give you a lot more charging without running the engine every day. Depends on your power usage. Autopilot and refrigeration usually draw the most power. If you have a refer or will be sailing a lot I would recommend these

8. New VHF with AIS

Again sailing at night or often in high traffic areas? If you have the money in the budget yes but would not put AIS at the top of my list.

9 Auto pilot - (existing unit works well)

Maybe get spares and manuals for the existing AP if it is a good unit and working well.
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Old 15-06-2010, 21:06   #6
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Just saw Mike's post. Third the recommendation for a good RIB if you can carry the size and weight. If not get the largest, high pressure keel, hard floor you can carry.

Sunshade!!! Not only for the cockpit but get a large cover that will go from the mast forward to shade the fore-peak. Will keep the whole boat a lot cooler.
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Old 15-06-2010, 21:20   #7
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We have just got back from our first cruise to the Bahamas,
best piece of equipment was our Standard Horizon GPS/Chart plotter, made things a lot less stressful generally but in particular when entering harbors or bays.

We have a wind generator and solar panels on our list, but we have installed an electromaax high amp alternator 120. We found ourselves motor sailing a lot of the time so this device charged up the batteries even on the small trips. We also invested in AGM batteries to allow the highest acceptance rate and have a battery bank of 420 amp hrs.

We used the Explorer charts and found them excellent.

If you have very small water tanks, ours hold 150 gals; you may need a water maker. We found water, although expensive in some areas of the Bahamas, was readily available.

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Old 16-06-2010, 06:03   #8
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The polarized glasses, and SHADE would be top on the list as well as ground tackle. I use 10-1 so when I leave the boat, and a squall comes through. The boat will be where I left her, and not on the rocks. I just had a great example of this in Cartegena. All the people on short scope found themselves someplace else in the morning. One actually hitting me.......i2f
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Old 16-06-2010, 09:40   #9
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Things I am very glad to have for Bahamas cruising:

Bimini
depthsounder
gps mapping
autopilot
Ssb receiver for weather
Bahamas cell phone
VHF

What I wish I had:

Shallower draft
power beyond alternator
more tankage (water)

What I don't have and don't wish for:
(though maybe if finds were unlimited)

radar
epirb
life raft

ssb 2- way
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