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Old 12-03-2014, 18:51   #1
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Ideal cruising setup

One thing I have learned from buying a boat is that very few boats are set up for offshore cruising, so I am either looking at upgrading my current boat or buying another set up appropriately.

This of course begs the question as to what is appropriate.

Firstly, I need to qualify "offshore cruising". By this I mean not only offshore but also away from all amenities for weeks or months.

Secondly, I need to qualify that this is from the point of view of reasonable comfort and safety as determined by an average person, not a hard core sailor, as in a normal couple will live on the boat for a long period and you want to do so in a comfortable and safe fashion. I am quite aware that people have rowed kayaks over large oceans, and that many others have travelled similarly in minimalistic circumstances. I therefore refer to couples who wish to travel in reasonable comfort and safety.

Thirdly, I need to qualify that the budget is reasonable both for the boat and for the running of the boat. In this regard we are talking about a well equipped late model 40-50 foot cat. I have no wish to start another monohull vs cat debate. I have a mono which is great for day sailing. I do not wish to cruise on it however, so let us assume for the sake of argument, especially given this is the multihull thread that a multi is assumed.

Fourthly, there is the issue of weight and subsequent performance. The list of "comfort" options are endless and one could weight the boat down with many tons of gear but at the end of the day there has to be a balance.

Fifthly, one has to allow for travelling in the tropics allowing for temperatures of 30C+ and 100% humidity +. Also one allows for the normal human condition that such extremes can and do effect normal human function. I fully appreciate that some have such a hardy constitution that they are not affected by these conditions, but again we are talking here about the average person.

I will not get into the helm position nor the galley up or down debates. These seem to be a subjective issue.

In consideration of this in my view the spec would go as follows.

Reasonable Saloon with good visibility forward and sideways
Flat entry between saloon and cockpit
Reasonable sun and weather protection over bimini
Reasonable sun coverage over cockpit (preferably glass)
Reasonable galley and cooking facilities (most seem OK)
Plenty of storage preferably with shelving and cupboards
A workshop area
At least one queen size and two double beds (allowing for crew)

At least 70l dedicated freezer space (preferable more)
At least 120l fridge space.
At least 4Kva low weight Generator (100Kg max)
At least 2.5KVa Inverter
At least 500W Solar or similar wind generator
At least 800Kw gel batteries or 400Kw LifePO4 (100 Kg max)
At least 60l ph watermaker (25 Kg max)
At least 16K BTU air con directable to saloon or master (25 Kg)
At least 2.5Kg Washing Machine (20Kg max)

As many bathrooms as you need - I prefer 2.
Heads to run on fresh water but switchable to salt

Fresh and salt deckwash

Inner spring mattress

Internal / External helm with
Autopilot / Radar / AIS / Vhf / Satphone
Your choice of nav equipment

Wireless antenna equipped

Hot standby Autopilot

All sailing and engine controls at helm
Triple reefing from helm

All sheeting blocks reinforced

Main / Jib / Code 0 / Spinnaker

Two good anchors with at least 100m of chain and rope.

Appropriate sized engines
Folding props

Satellite tracking device

Spares, spares and more spares.

Full suite of safety and medical gear, and grab bag.

It goes without saying that when speccing a new boat or upgrading an old this can run into considerable costs and/or weight.

I am therefore interested in what others believe is an appropriate specification given the conditions I have outlined. What have I not included?

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Old 13-03-2014, 00:55   #2
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Re: Ideal cruising setup


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Old 13-03-2014, 00:55   #3
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Hi cwj,

Excellent post! Agree with your priorities and already pretty complete list. I'll be very interested in seeing the responses from experienced cruisers on the different systems since I am in pretty much the same situation thinking through how to spec the boat, I'll start things off with just some quick points that I have considered after talking with several tropical cruiser couples.

First thing to mind is boat spec'd for ISAF Cat 1 re safety first priority- that ranges from proper height stanchions strongly fixed (backing plates ?) to type of medical kit and training. And boat set up for quick stop MOB procedure with throwable Danbouy in cockpit. There are AIS personal locators that can be used on lifevests, I believe. FYI, Pantaenius insurance require Cat 1 spec and all deck hardware to be sized 30% stronger than equivalent length monohull.

Tropical cruising = need great ventilation. If steep sloping saloon windows, need shadecloth covers. Need opening windows & even when raining, so do windows have overhang for shade and rain? How is boat ventilated when closed up and you leave it for a few days? Mould grows incredibly quickly without any air circulation. Have several low amp fans strategically placed.

You have a drogue for slowing down downwind, but how about a parachute anchor on bridle for when it gets too hairy out there so you can take a break and get some rest?

What is the provision for redundant/emergency steering?

Can you beach the boat for maintenance/bottom cleaning?

Liferaft? This is in Cat 1 specs. Also fire extinguishers fore and aft so you never need to use the expensive liferaft!

Thought about lightning mitigation?

Consider using PredictWind app with Iridium transponder for tracking, emails, weather & GRIBB and great routing that uses the best global weather modelling data from 2 best sources.

I hope we hear lots of ideas here.
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Old 13-03-2014, 02:04   #4
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Re: Ideal cruising setup


Yes all on my list esp predict wind beacon which is expensive but worth it IMO.

As to steering I am at an impasse. I cannot think of a way to backup steering other than hot standby a/p with hydraulics on cross link so independent of steering link. The backup manual steer on my boat is unworkable.
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Old 13-03-2014, 02:08   #5
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

We've cruised the tropics for the past few years, and never felt the need for air conditioning while at anchor. If you plan on staying in marinas, it would be very desirable, but I don't think it's needed when anchored.
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Old 13-03-2014, 02:16   #6
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

In regard to budget as I said reasonable for the boat concerned. Obviously a 40 ft will be cheaper than a 50ft and a 2 year old boat is cheaper than a new boat. Based on a great number of boats I have looked at new and second hand upgrading from base spec (not the actual boat in used case) is about 40% more than the base spec for cruising mode.
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Old 13-03-2014, 02:26   #7
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

In regard to air con I took middle ground. Most builders want around $25k for "full air con" but a single 16k cruiseair fitted is only 6k and lots lighter than 3 units.
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Old 13-03-2014, 03:04   #8
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Quite a list. Not all of it is/was necessary for us when purchasing and we are not super hardy, but this is your boat not mine! Here are a couple of comments/suggestions after a couple of years of full time cruising (Atlantic, Caribbean and Med, but not South Pacific). Our boat is an older Catana 48, so you will see my biases based on that:

- I don't think it is "solar or wind". From my experience I would go with solar and then add wind if you really wanted to. When thinking about wind look very carefully at the location of the wind generator and what can swing in to it, e.g. topping lift and reefing lines when you drop the main quickly in to the sailbag/lazy jacks.

- Access to the water/dinghy is important. If you are like us, you'll be in and out of the water or dinghy a lot, and you want it to be easy.

- Dinghy is important. It is your everyday transport. You want it easy to launch and stow (davits), and you want to be able to carry one that it is big enough to let you explore. You'll probably want somewhere to store the outboard off the dinghy/davits for passages.

- If you are coming to the Mediterranean, some thought of how you will mount a passerelle.

- You can get redundancy in steering if you have a catamaran with two helms. Each ends up being a separate steering system connected by a tie-rod that you can disconnect. However, even with the recent abandonment of a cat in the Atlantic with steering problems, I think steering problems are sufficiently uncommon on cats, that I wouldn't let this stop me from getting a boat that otherwise met my needs.

- You don't say much about sails. To carry all the gear you have listed, you'll have a fairly large boat with a correspondingly large rig if it is going to sail well. You want to think very carefully about how that is set up to be easily and safely managed by a couple. I'm personally a big fan of simplicity so we have a big main with lazy jacks/sail bag and traditional reefing so there is not much to go wrong. A traveler that is the full width of the boat behind the cockpit gives us good control of it, but it is still a very large sail so care is needed with it even in light winds. We have an electric halyard winch to take care of raising it. To go with that we have a relatively small jib on a roller furler. I'm not a big fan of in-mast or in-boom furling because of the additional moving parts, but I think the systems have matured enough that they are actually quite viable solutions.

- Light wind sails - I am a big fan of being able to sail in light winds 7 to 10 knots rather than motoring as a lot of boats have to. Having it rigged well is important - the layout and ease of use of the bowsprit, sheet leads, appropriate turning blocks and winches is important - it shouldn't just be an afterthought. And if you are really keen, add an asymmetric spinnaker, but I would go with the "code 0" first. (We did it in the other order, and are finding we are not using the asymmetric very much now we have the code 0)

- "Hot standby autopilot" - I would think twice about that. I had that and when we got a minor lightning strike that wiped out our electronics, it of course wiped out the standby. I now have the electronics for the standby wrapped in foil in their boxes, with the spare ram installed. As I have done all the installs myself, it would only be a matter of half an hour to swap out the bad electronics for the standby ones. You could also have it installed but not connected. It seems all lightning strikes are different, but in our case, everything with electronics that was connected, even if switched off, got fried. I assume we got a significant induced current through the grounds.

- "Folding Props" - I would definitely suggest feathering not folding props. Folding props have slightly less drag and less tendency to catch lines when folded, but typically have much poorer performance motoring in close quarters, particularly in reverse. Maneuvering around a marina or anchoring, with good forward and reverse power you can put the boat exactly where you want it with no drama. If reverse doesn't work well, you lose some of the advantage of having two engines 20' apart that you can use independently.

- "Workshop" - I' would have liked to have one, but our cockpit and cockpit table with a cover on top, have actually worked well for me. I have installed a quick mount for a bench vise in the cockpit to hold things while I'm working on them.

- You don't mention cleats etc for docking, but the location and size of the cleats can make a big difference. Make sure they are well thought out with good leads.

- Anchoring setup - look at the anchoring setup and imagine using it at night in rough conditions. I'm not a big fan of anchors that lead back under the trampoline because of challenges with access if things go wrong, but it does let you get the weight of the anchor off the bow. Make sure rigging a bridle is easy - you'll use it everytime you anchor. It doesn't need to be complicated - it can just cleat on the bow cleats.

Good luck with your search.

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Old 13-03-2014, 16:01   #9
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Re: Ideal cruising setup


All good points.

Re dingy I agree. I currently have manual winch and will upgrade to electric.

Re Sail rigging I agree - I currently have the same as you. I have a furling code 0, but this is frustrating beyond 150 so as I said a spinnaker is warranted.

Re autopilot this is really interesting. If I understand it you have a hydraulic piston and pump at each rudder (my piston is currently connected to the tie-link). One piston is on the active a/p and you keep a a/p computer and head and possibly small plotter setup on a board or some such all in a Faraday cage. If you have a lightning strike and the electronics is fried out comes the standby board, connect to the standby pump and off you go. Sounds pretty good to me.

Good advice on the feathering props. What do you recommend?

Workshop in cockpit - do not think that would be approved by Admiral. I thing the refitting of third bedroom will be more satisfactory.

Agree on cleats.

Agree on anchoring. Our current setup is as you say. I am however, yet to work out a satisfactory method for dropping the second anchor.

Thanks for your feedback
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Old 13-03-2014, 17:23   #10
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Originally Posted by cwjohm View Post
One thing I have learned from buying a boat is that very few boats are set up for offshore cruising, so I am either looking at upgrading my current boat or buying another set up appropriately.

No boat is ever set up properly. By the time you pay brokers and legals its probably easier to make the changes to your own boat, assuming its 'ocean' worthy. But everything is a compromise on every boat.
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Old 13-03-2014, 17:37   #11
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Well, it is certainly cheaper to buy a base boat and set it up. Although I am not sure whether that is a false saving given the number of hours you have to put in.
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Old 13-03-2014, 17:38   #12
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

You seem to have it fairly well covered.

Just a couple of points.

At least 4Kva low weight Generator (100Kg max. This means you would be looking at a high reving diesel and these are not a reliable and durable as the heavier 1500rpm diesels. With a 45ft vessel you will have to wear the extra weight if you are going to have a genset.

I would be looking for 750/1kw soar rather than 500w. Most of the French manufacturers haven't yet got that message.

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Old 13-03-2014, 17:40   #13
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
No boat is ever set up properly. By the time you pay brokers and legals its probably easier to make the changes to your own boat, assuming its 'ocean' worthy. But everything is a compromise on every boat.
Right. So you're current boat is an Orana 44? I'd say you can't do much better than that for globe girdling. All boats need outfitting for crossing oceans.
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Old 13-03-2014, 17:43   #14
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

Yes its a Fischer Panda 4000s and yes it is high revving single speed. The advantage is not only low weight but also it accommodates high start currents for aircon. They seem quite reliable, but you need to run the exhaust with salt water muffling. A 1500rpm 8Kva diesel will involve significantly extra weight.
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Old 13-03-2014, 18:13   #15
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Re: Ideal cruising setup

I did last yea Marmais-BVI-Marmais, 13.000 nm in 6 months with my Orana.
I agree with mopst of the points that Mark made. Just a few notes;

-forget the wind generator, solars is the way to go
-min 700-800 Ah of sevice batteries
-upgrade yr citical lişnes with dynema. I know it costs a lot but will be wothed. (main and genoa hallyard, outhaul, genoa furler)
-a spare genoa that you can also rig as a twin gib sailing dead wind + a assymetrical spinneaker with a sock that you can deploy/take down singlehanded. Mine was 150 sqm with a runner cut, worked perfect.
-a strong main. Factory supplied Dacron mains may fail..
-the cleats of Orana ae extremely weak. You should definately strenghten them with a stainless plate underneath.
-I didn't carry a sea parachute and I don't think is a good idea for cats. The Orana is extremely stable in surfing down the waves; I did up to 20 kts on autopilote with spinneaker..At worst, you can run with bare poles trolling any kind of drag device.
-As I was shorthanded, I installed a totally idependent second autopilote. Unless you ae sure that it won't break or you can repair it, I believe it's a good investment.
-I had a Fisher Panda 8 KVA genset (96 kg), 12 V 45 lt water maker.
-I didn't have it but next time I would definately take a 2 KVA inverter + washing machine/dryer.
-Orana s have 30 HP engines standard o 40 HP upgraded. With 40's, folding props would be OK. If you are on 30, consider rather feathering props.
The pay load of Orana is much better than many similar size catamaran. But again the weight is crucial. Some tips to keep the weight at reasonable; levels:
-you don't need 20 HP outboard, 6-8 would do the job and will be much easier to handle the dingy on the davids, thus, you won't need an electrical winch there either..
-never take any spare parts that you cannot change yrself in the middle of the sea.
-some people are carrying 4 anchors and 100 m of 10 mm chain. I had 25 kg Bugel + 20 kg of Admiral with 60 m of chain, never ever dragged anywhere..
-instead of carrying heavy books, you can put everything on yr I pad.
-I never filled up my water tanks unless for ocean crossing. (drinking water should be carryed apart anyway)
Lighter cat is not only faster but also safer..


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