Originally Posted by cruiserbill
Just me and my wife. No kids
, no animals
(except me if you ask her). I am not too interested in High lats except I would like to cruise Alaska
once. Yes, Caribbean
, but also south and north America. Perhaps Australia
, NZ, PNG and the sorts.
I am currently in Europe
, but in a couple years I will retire and I want to sail. I am looking into taking sailing lessons
while I am in Europe
. Now and then I get to take a short cruise
on the ocean with my job. Kind of nice.
That clarifies things a fair bit.
Outfitting the boat for offshore
is going to take a significant fraction of the purchase price
of the boat, 33-50%. Assuming your $40k budget
is buy and outfit then you want to spend $25-30k for the boat and hold back the rest for outfitting. If the $40k is just to buy, then you know how much more to expect to spend.
Let's start with the basics of the boat, you want at least 1 good sea-berth in the main cabin
for each off-watch person plus a place to sit for the on-watch that won't disturb sleepers. Best would be a main cabin
berth for everyone since in a bouncy anchorage you don't need to maintain the same watch as underway. Pilot berths are the best are the best (they are near the center of pitching so the motion is easiest for sleeping), quarter berths are very good, settees (longitudinal benches) you have to convert every night are decent, a dinette (transverse benches) would probably be mediocre given the amount of conversion required but depends on the particular boat. The V-berth will be unusable offshore. Aft cabin berths would be good (too much motion to be very good) but you are not likely to find these in the size boat you can afford. If the boat was intended for just a live-aboard with limited cruising the answer would be different.
Size of boat is the next question. There are two contradictory drives in deciding on boat size:
You want bigger for the living room and ability to carry stores.
You want smaller to make handling, underway or at anchor
, more manageable in bad weather
. By the time you get to 40’ everything has to be finessed, nothing can be man-handled, the loads are just too big to do otherwise.
In one of their books
discuss the Xmas 1982 debacle in Cabo San Lucas where more than half the sailing fleet (28 of 45 boats) at anchor
was driven ashore in an unseasonable gale. One owner commented that a couple really couldn’t handle things on a boat over 37’, and the Pardey’s analysis seemed to confirm this, other things being equal larger boats with more crew did OK, as did smaller boats with a couple aboard.
For a couple I would suggest 32-36’ as a good compromise size, also you should be able to buy older boats this size in good shape and with plenty of equipment
If you are going offshore you really want side decks wide enough to crawl forward on in heavyweather, 20”, maybe 18” as a minimum. Keep in mind that shrouds that land in the middle of the side deck
will have to be negotiated. For a coastal boat this is less critical.
Tiller vs Wheel
A tiller has a lot less that can go wrong with it and is much easier to maintain. It is easier and cheaper to hook a windvane
up to a tiller. A tiller leaves a more room available in the cockpit
when anchored. A boat with a tiller is going to cost less than the same boat with a wheel
. A tiller allows you immediately know what the rudder
The wheel stand (binnacle) is a convenient place to place instruments and to support a cockpit
table. A wheel is easier for non-sailing guests to use. A wheel offers much more mechanical advantage.
On the other hand the instruments will last longer under the dodger
. Guests will only be aboard 1-10% of the time, and for you both the tiller will be second nature after several months of use. For boats over 45-50’ you really do need the mechanical advantage of the wheel in most cases. Below 30’ it strikes me as an affectation. In the 30-40’ range if you need the mechanical advantage of a wheel the boat probably has balance problem needs to be fixed and doing so would let the boat sail faster.
My preferences are pretty apparent here. For me the simplicity of the tiller and its lower costs in several areas are the main reasons.
Does the boat have enough sail area to keep going in light air when loaded down with cruising gear
? The Sail area to Displacement
ratio (SA/D = Sail Area / [displacement/64]^0.666, SA is the area of the main and the fore triangle) is a convenient way to estimate this and the relative amounts of sail on boats of different lengths/weights. To me, for a cruising boat, values of 15 or 16 would be decent, 17 would be good, 18 would be very good and 19 and up would be excellent. Published displacements and SA/D is almost certainly for the light-ship condition, loaded for cruising the ratio is going to drop, more so for smaller boats.
mostly isn’t an issue when cruising except in particular places. Certain places on the east coast
and in the Bahamas
is nice, and if you want to motor
the canals of Europe there are strict limits on draft. If you want to pass through the Bahamas
with only a moderate amount of exploration but will spend most of your cruising elsewhere, a draft under 6’6” should be fine, you will be limited some places in the Bahamas but that is only a small part of the cruise.
You will need 3 anchors:
A) main should be a plow/CQR/Delta or claw/Bruce on 100-150' of chain & 200-300' of nylon 3-strand rope
. Main should be 2 sizes up from what is recommended for your size boat.
B) Secondary is a 15-18# Danforth/Fortress type anchor on 30' chain and 250-350' of rope
. Secondary should be one size up from recommended unless you get a Fortress
, then get the biggest you think you can handle by hand.
C) Stern/kedge anchor should a plow, claw
or Danforth on 15' of chain and 150-200' rope. Anchor one size down from what would be recommended for your boat.
D) If you are feeling flush get a fisherman/Herreschoff/Luke with same rode
as B) for difficult rock and kelp situations. This anchor sized as recommended.
E) If you are feeling really flush and have the storage
space get a backup for the main sized as recommended or one size up. If the main is a plow/CQR/Delta then get a claw/Bruce or visa versa. Sometimes one will work with a specific bottom and the other won’t.
Chain and rope should be sized as recommended for your boat. The unknown conditions of the bottom, the inability to see how well the anchor has set and the potential for unexpected bad weather
together make the anchor itself the weakest link in the anchoring
system. Normal recommendations for anchor sizing are for protected or coastal sailing. If you are going offshore with less access to good forecasting and a greater likelihood of being in a mediocre anchorage when bad weather hits means you should always anchor as if you are expecting a storm. Swapping anchors or rowing out another anchor after bad weather starts is not the smart way to go. If you are concerned about the extra weight of an oversized anchor on the boat consider using high test (G40 or G43) chain. Generally the prices are comparable or a bit low than BBB chain one size larger and of similar strength. Switching to High Test and going down a size will benefit bow weight by almost 100lb, much more than the 10-20lb weight penalty of the oversized anchor.
The chain and rope for the kedge should be downsized with the anchor, it is intended for ease of use and retrieval.
Put 2 or 3 oversized cleats
on the bow, and 1 on each corner of the stern.
Install bow rollers for main and backup and a chain pawl for the main anchor. The chain pawl take the anchoring
load off the windlass
which are really only designed for retrieval loads and it allows you to hand retrieve the anchor without a windlass
if you chose to do without one or it breaks.
If you chose to go with a windlass then you have to consider manual or electric
. There are a limited selection of manual windlasses being manufactured currently and all are single
speed from what I can tell. Gearing tends to be a compromise which means that for a light anchor they will be a bit slow to retrieve and for a heavy anchor they will be a bit under-powered, though a longer handle may alleviate that. If you can find a used Seatiger 555 2-speed that would be wonderful, there is a site in the UK, Homepage | Simpson Lawrence Yacht Parts & Spares
, that sells spare parts
If you decide to go with an electric
windlass then you need to keep in mind that the windlass will have secondary costs beyond the purchase price
. It will require a dedicated circuit from the battery
and very heavy cabling to handle the power draw. It may require and extra battery
and the charging
resources that entails. Make sure the model you get has the option of manual operation. Convenience aside, the one advantage I see to electric windlasses is that they make it more likely you will pull an anchor up and reset it if you think the original set is questionable, human factors issue, it makes doing the right thing easier.
In general the horizontal axis windlass is a better buy. For manual operation you really have to sit down to crank a vertical axis windlass and you can’t conveniently use a much longer cranking handle.
A lot of the anchor stuff you might be able to pick up at swap meets if you attend early and stay late. This will save a lot. Some of the new anchors are getting better reps than the Bruce or CQR
but have not hit the 2nd hand market much yet and are seem expensive by comparison when they do.
You will need a small dinghy
is the current
general answer but it will cost you, even second hand and has durability issues. A hard dinghy
with oars would be the more durable and economical answer if you have a place to build one yourself. There are various plans available for nesting dinghy's that take up a lot less deck
Hand-steering for days on end is not realistic, not with just a couple aboard.
There are several alternatives: Autopilot
The initial cost of an autopilot
may seem a lot lower than a windvane but they are electronic devices that live in the cockpit exposed to sun, saltwater and electricity (basic recipe for corrosion) and consume a lot of electricity. If you only use an autopilot, take a backup, add batteries and add another solar
The next alternative is to buy a used windvane or build one yourself. Used Aries
windvane come on the market regularly. Some ingenuity will be required to fit it to the stern of your particular boat but people do it regularly.
If you want to build one check out these sites: In Memoriam Walt Murray
Bill Belcher and John Lecher wrote books
on home built windvane self-steering.
Lastly acquire and/or make the stuff needed for sheet to tiller steering
Lee Woas wrote a great book called “Self-Steering Without a Windvane” which details a large number of alternative sheet to tiller steering
arrangements, if one won’t work on your boat, try a different method.
Sheet to tiller steering will be the cheapest, but will require more attention as the boat sails
My personal personal philosophy is get a windvane for general use, have a small autopilot for use in very light winds or when motoring and to have the stuff for sheet to tiller and figure out which methods work on my boat.
You may want to seal some of the storage
compartments in the boat using waterproof hatches for access. This will provide floatation in the case of holing. This is discussed at: Atom Voyages - Articles
Consider adding a removable inner forestay for a staysail. It gives more sail area reaching in light conditions, better balance in heavy conditions since staysail is not as far foreward as jib
, the extra rigging
involved gives the whole mast
better and redundant support.
Make sure you have a drifter and a pole to wing it out, being able to continue sailing in light air really saves on fuel
. If the main is in good shape all that it should need is a 3rd reef. With more people on board a regular spinnaker
would be nice if it came with the boat. It is not practical for a couple, if the wind
pipes up suddenly it is difficult to douse even with more crew and at night you would need to wake the sleeping person if you needed to douse it. A moderately sized asymmetrical chute with a sock/sleeve or a CodeZero with a roller furler
are much better alternatives to a spinnaker
, but are also significantly more expensive than a drifter.
can be had from used sail dealers.
Get an engine
manual for whatever motor
the boat has, gas, diesel
. If a boat you are looking at has a gas inboard that is not a reason for significant worry, consider that while they aren't as safe as diesel
, they are not dangerous per se. If anyone wants to dispute this, ask them if they have propane
on board for their stove. Using the bilge
blower and sniffing prior to starting should alleviate potential issues. On the plus side the Atomic 4 will help bring your purchase price down significantly compared to a diesel, and gas engines don't mind running at lower RPM's as much, and slower motoring is way better for fuel
economy. Motoring at 4-4.5kt will about double your fuel mileage compared to motoring at hull speed
You will need a solar
panel or 2, preferably on a good mount, see above Atomvoyages for one idea. 2 or 3 new group 27 flooded batteries or a pair or 2 of new 6v golf cart batteries from a 2nd tier supplier would probably be adequate if usage is limited. Evans Starzinger has interesting things to say about batteries at Systems
. Over even a medium term time frame solar is cheaper than running the engine regularly to recharge the batteries. Solar panels
will require a charge controller. A MPPT
controller at about $500-700 will maximize the amount of power from your panels
that goes into your batteries but is a newer less mature technology. A PWM controller at about $200-250 will maximize the life of your batteries and is a mature technology. If you have a lot of power draw or if you are planning for the long term the MPPT
is the way to go. Short term or with small demand then the PWM is the way to go.
To conserve battery power you want fluorescent or LED light fixtures in the cabin, 1 or 2 in main cabin & 1 in v-berth. Incandescents can remain in head
and berths where they won’t be used as much. You will want a single
bulb Tricolor fixture at the masthead for sailing, there is not yet a cheap
LED tricolor that I have found. Bebi Electronics
, Bebi Electronics-Home of the Finest Marine LED Lighting Products on Sea (or Earth)!
, has a description about converting an AquaSignal fixture but I do not have any feedback on how effective this is. At anchor an LED fixture should go with the anchor ball. Bebi Electronics
- Owl is one that I have heard decent things about. When motoring there will be surplus power so the existing incandescent bulbs in the bow and stern lights are fine, even an outboard
is likely to have an alternator
that could meet that demand.
Limiting the amount of electronics on the boat will help with battery conservation, deptho (make a backup lead line), speedo/log, simple mounted GPS
(no chart plotter with color screen
needing be backlit all the time), VHF
, shortwave, and maybe a stereo/CD player are about all you need. You will want a fan or 2 and if you locate them right they can do double duty blowing both over berths and thru the social areas of the main cabin. If you really need a computer, get one of the netbooks, they are optimized for low power
draw to stretch their batteries as far as possible.
Consider adding built-in water tanks
, more storage for the volume occupied and in the event of a holing thru the hull
into the tank, the boat doesn't try to sink, the tank already had water
in it, you just can't drink it now. See Atomvoyages link above.
Convert the Icebox
to shelves or drawers for storage. Same with any hanging locker. Convert the space used for a sink in the head
In no particular order of preference I have found these books to be very good:
John Vigor's - The Seaworthy
Don Casey's - This Old Boat and Boat Maintenance
Manual (has a section on how to do your own pre-survey so you can eliminate obvious and no so obvious duds before paying a surveyor)
Lin & Larry Pardey
Books - SelfSufficient Sailor, CapableCruiser and CostConsciousCruiser.
Annie Hill's - Voyaging on a Small income
Beth Leonard's - Voyager's Handbook
Nigel Calder’s - Cruising Handbook.
Specific boats to consider are:
This site, Sailboatdata.com is the worlds largest sailboat database.
, is a good source of info about boats.