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Old 02-04-2009, 10:20   #1
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Sensible Cruising

"...concerning the Chinese and Sandwich Islanders"

There is a book by Don Casey entitled “Sensible Cruising, the Thoreau Approach”. I had already owned my boat for several years and developed my own ideas about cruising by the time I first read it. I don’t agree entirely with everything Casey has to say; today, I would expand his minimum requirements to include things like a handheld GPS unit for example because two such units are less costly and far more accurate than a cheap sextant and the necessary tables, and let’s face it: How many people nowadays have the math skills to perform the calculations without electronic help? But Casey and co-author Lew Hackler make some good points about when to stop buying and installing new gear and dreaming about a bigger and better boat and get going.

By way of disclaimer I acknowledge that my thinking has been strongly influenced by H.D.T. if not Casey (One of my favorite authors BTW). It is my opinion that too much stuff just gets in the way of the basic enjoyment of life. How many people do you know that are slaves to their possessions and don’t even know it? It is a sad thing that so many people never fulfill their dream of cruising because they never quite have enough stuff or a big enough boat to hold it all.

So let us discuss on this thread the minimum requirements for successful cruising, short term and long term. I am not talking about sailing around the world in a peapod. Physical comfort and adequate supplies are, in my opinion, among the necessities, but I can state categorically that the right 26 or 27 footer is perfectly adequate, and in some cases ideal, for a couple to live and cruise in long-term. Also, let's not limit the discussion to gear, things you can buy. Consider skills, mindset, attitudes and other intangibles.

What would you consider the minimum requirements and where is the tipping point between sufficient and too much?
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Old 02-04-2009, 11:01   #2
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Vega, I think you bring up some good points. Over the years, the standards for what people have felt they needed to have in a boat and gear has gone up. Most magazines and other media tells the consumer a bigger boat is always better and more gear is nearly essential.

However, I feel that in many ways, almost the opposite is true due to technology. As you said one, can get a lot done with an inexpensive hand held GPS.

I think what one needs really can vary greatly depending on their comfort level, cruising grounds, expected conditions and length of cruises.

I started out with a very basically equipped 26-foot pocket cruiser. Over 8 years I had many fun cruises ranging from 3 weeks to 3 months in the Great Lakes, Keys and Bahamas. It was about as minimially equippped as I'd want to go:

Solid 26-foot monohull, 3 foot draft, standing headroom, purchased for 10K

Powerplant: Inboard diesel replaced with 10HP outboard which sufficed for many Bahamas Cruises. 15 amp alternator privided basic power. For two weeks, I sailed engineless and it was not a big burden, but I prefer to always have a powerplant.

2 solar cells to add to limited engine output.

Icebox no fridge (though it's something I want now)

VHF and handheld

Electric system: 2 batteies, swtich, circuit board, basic cabin lights, nav lights, VHF, Stereo. plug for GPS.

Autopilot is what used most power.

Hand held GPS, ships compass, hand bearing compass, orienteering compass., maps, cruising guide

depthsounder

30 gal, water tank">fresh water tank, plumbed onlyto galley sink with foot pump.

sunshower used on back of boat.

5 X 5 gallon spigot water tanks for drinking water. Shelf to hold one at a time.

Single burner propane camp stove used about 1, 1-lb cylynder per week.

Head with holding tank.

Inflatable dingy with oars. Ourboard came was added years later.

Main sail with slab reefing. Jib also with slab reefing. No roller furling. Reefing jib is an altenative many do not think of. Sail cover for main.

Basic safety gear- flares, jacklines, harnesses, pfds, fire extinguishers, noisemaker, etc.

2 Anchors and rode

Bimini


Hand bilge and electric bilge pumps.

I had no roller furling, no cell phone, no computer, no chartplotter, no radar, no fridge, no windlass, no dingy outboard.

A boat could be simpler. I could have had a porti-potti, but a head was well worth it to me. Being sensative to heat and sun, I can't imagine not having a bimini. The Autopilot was the one more modern convenience I just can't imagine gettting buy without since I did a lot of solo cruising. I could have had more 5-gallon jugs above the sink istead of a plumbed water tank. However, i don't think much more could have been cut.

What I really liked about small and simple, is there wasn't much to go wrong and what could go wrong could easily be fixed. The circuit board had enough wire, I could pull the whole thing out and lay it down. All wires were marked and traceable. Plumbing also very simple and easy to fix.

It may be difficult to find a full time liveaboard or blue water cruiser without spending more, but It think one can still have a solid, safe basically equipped boat for 2-3 months of coastal or Bahamas cruising for 15K.
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Old 02-04-2009, 11:17   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vega1860 View Post
".... Consider skills, mindset, attitudes and other intangibles.

What would you consider the minimum requirements and where is the tipping point between sufficient and too much?
You've hit some good points here. Filling your boat with equipment for many years before a cruise without also getting the skills down makes little sense. Skills and exposure to offshore conditions help focus you on what is really required. I don't think that asking for what is the minimum is really all that practical a question. Many of the today's 'extras' are what enable the aging baby boomers to handle their boats. What you can do at 25 just ain't the same as at 55 or 60. Like or not. Since most boats are run by Mom & Pop crews, the minimum practical equipment is larger than if only one person was on board. If one crew needs a shower every other day and the other crew wants to stay off the foredeck at night, then larger water tanks and roller furling make up part of the required equip for that boat. I'm more than willing to put stuff on the boat that is important to my partner and she is more than willing to go places that will be uncomfortable for her.

Everything on a cruising boat is a trade-off. Evans has a good article about what they left off of Hawk:
http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/Leftoff.pdf

Paul L
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Old 02-04-2009, 16:03   #4
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Cameras. You will need one or more

We bought 2 good ones. A Cannon SLR 40D 9.5 frames per second is just wonderful!

Olympus Style 1030 SW for underwater to 10 meters.
But when we were looking at it the waterproof door looked too flimsy. Yes, it got a fault yeasterday. Nic turned it on underwater and the screen said the door was not closed properly. Now it wont reset.
Good money down the drain
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Old 02-04-2009, 17:03   #5
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Just spent a three-day weekend out on the hook and spending time fixing a few more things than I liked, adding to the list of "improvements" and thinking about some of the gear yet to get installed after buying it a year or two back during local yacht club "discount night" at the chandlery.
Point is, while daydreaming at the office all week, it's easy to want or feel the need for more stuff. But when actually using the stuff (when it eventually gets installed) often doesn't improve the "quality" of the cruise that much. The "dream" includes lots of stuff; the reality dosen't need it - and the glossy magazines bolster the "dream", not the reality.
My 2-cents :-)
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Old 02-04-2009, 17:41   #6
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Anyone who has been around the sailing community for while knows of a couple who has bought the boat, geared up and set off on the dreamed of world tour only to pack it in and head back ashore after the first passage, sometimes barely on speaking terms. People ask us often what it is like, and we always recommend that you should go to sea, out of sight of land for at least a week on a boat under the command of an experienced mariner, even if only on a cruise ship, to see what it is like out there before selling the house.

Sailing schools are all well and good but there is a world of difference between tying up at the marina and heading for the pub after a day of sailing and handing over the watch and heading below for four hours while the boat continues on her course out of sight of land.

Some people, like Laura and I, love it. For us, time spent moored is only an interlude; a destination only an excuse to go to sea. For others it is terrifying and the dream turns into a nightmare as soon as the land drops beneath the horizon or the wind rises above 25 knots. Better to learn that before making the expensive mistake.

I think that an affinity for solitude and the satisfaction that comes from self reliance are essential qualities for successful cruisers. You have to enjoy the midnight watch while your mate sleeps trustingly below and trust equally while they are on watch. I can't describe the feeling.

One thing is for certain though: cruising will either make or break your relationship. We don't know any cruising couples, those that have actually been out there, who are not very close, and we know quite a few.

So I would say that a positive attitude, confidence and trust are essential elements. Skills alone won't cut it.
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Old 02-04-2009, 18:22   #7
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I think the more seasoned sailors really understand what is needed, student pilots carry a lot more stuff on their cases than airline pilots...get the point?

I am planning to do an 8 day passage from the BVI o Cartagena with just the basic stuff: handheld GPS, no autopilot, no radar, no chartplotter, no watermaker, no AIS, no expensive gadgets...of course the safety equipment will be there available including a Spot satellite locator and a cheap but efficient ham radio. MarkJ and Nic are having a blast without the need of all the whistles magazines try to sell us.
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Old 02-04-2009, 18:58   #8
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Let's see , I lived aboard , with my girlfriend, from 1980 to 1987 (40,000 miles), 32 ft mono, we carried a compass, a sextant and a leadline and never felt we were missing out on anything. Plus did a lot more sailing/cruising than most others
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Old 02-04-2009, 19:00   #9
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Dana-tenacity confirmed it...less is best...
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Old 02-04-2009, 19:18   #10
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TY Soft Air, and I'm jealous as hell, Cartagena was one of our favourite stops.
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Old 02-04-2009, 19:34   #11
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I can't wait to get there the BVI is possibly one of the best sailing water on earth but nothing compares to Cartagena and the warmth of its people, it will be my home for about half a year before going to San Blas but always sailing back to Cartagena

Feel free to visit again, a local like me can always introduce you to the hidden spots
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Old 02-04-2009, 21:11   #12
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While refrigeration is not strictly a necessity, it is really nice to have a cold drink on a hot day, and for extended cruising, I think it really adds to the quality of life aboard. I also like fresh meat, but I haven't figured out where to put the pig, cow and chickens.
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Old 02-04-2009, 21:17   #13
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Put all that live stock in your dink, tow it and use the pig, cow and chicken at your convenience. Make sure they don't see your grill on the stern otherwise they will try to swim away...

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Old 03-04-2009, 05:25   #14
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JC,

Think about posting your SPOT Messenger tracking page URL here, so we can follow your progress from Tortola to Cartagena.
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:58   #15
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Morning Hud, u are definitely an early bird haha

I will surely post the SPOT tracking URL here, it should be a 7 day passage straight to Cartagena and I thank you for your interest in following the progress of Softair and her crew
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