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Old 11-08-2010, 10:15   #1
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Question for Long-Term Cruisers: What Are Your 'Top Five' . . . ?

Hey everyone!

My husband and I are taking off on our extended cruise in a month and I wanted to hear some wisdom from those of you who have been there, done that, and have the tee-shirt to prove it!

My question is two parts:

Part one: What are the top 5 things/systems you had/wish you had on your boat and why?

Part two: What are 3 things you WISH you would have known before you left and why?

Any other advice is welcom as well. We are really looking foward to learning from you - and to see if we are on the right track or completely dropping the ball over here! HA!

Thanks,
Brittany & Scott
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:14   #2
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What are the top 5 things/systems you had/wish you had on your boat and why?

Good sails so it's not frustrating to travel, windlass for the obvious reason, watermaker to avoid the endless hunt for water in dry climates, getting rid of the paper charts, and the best system was leaving all the dubious cruiser junk behind so the boat is light and low maintenance.

What are 3 things you WISH you would have known before you left and why?

I wish I'd known it was so easy. I would have prepared much less and left much earlier.

That other countries are so much more civilized and livable than I had expected from living in the USA bubble.

That other cruisers along the way are so helpful with tasks and information.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:16   #3
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windtraveler,

Top 5 components to have on a cruising boat:
1) watermaker - I always know what quality water is going into our tanks. Secondarily, many places in the Caribbean charge for water, if it is even available. Being able to make our own allows us to go to the far away uninhabited places.

2) Single Side Band radio - necessary for getting weather information. Enables keeping in contact with other cruisers on cruising nets

3) Bimini - an open cockpit would be unbearable in most places (our 2003 boat actually came without one)

4) RIB dinghy - we have a 15 hp outboard but I would like another smaller one for routine short trips ashore or around the anchorage. Need dinghy wheels if cruising the Pacific Coast.

5) Chartplotter - navigation without one is a real chore. The safety factor of knowing precisely where you are and being able to see the effects of current in near real time are invaluable.


Three things I wish I had known:
1) How weather dependent cruising is. We were 4 years into our cruise before I realized that waiting a week for weather suitable for moving on to the next anchorage was not uncommon in the Caribbean. We were a little spoiled by our first few years along the Pacific Coast by being able to go someplace new almost whenever we wanted.

2) Things break even on a new boat. If I am not fixing something, I don't know what to do.

3) Keeping in touch with the family is important to the wife.

Most of these items are discussed at great length elswhere on CF. If someone else doesn't provide links, you can find them easily through the forum search tool.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:24   #4
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This is a great thread for a rookie like me. Hopefully more seasoned sailors will chime in! I am definitely bookmarking this thread.
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:26   #5
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I'll take a shot at this, but I may not have solid answers for you. We are "long term" cruisers, but not what you would call long distance. We usually cruise on the East Coast from Maine to the Bahamas; however, that evolved slowly after our first thirty years of just cruising Florida and the Bahamas. That said,- top five:

1. Power- We have a diesel generator + solar panel + wind generator + 5 deep cycle batteries
2. Refer/fridge- We lived aboard for our first 20 years without and and we are very pleased wih having the ability to cool and freeze. Of course, this requires #1
3. Radar- We only added this with are travels to New England and systems are related to where you cruise. Radar expands our opportunity and safety.
4. Depthsounding Sonar- Many might say this is a "given" and not worth listing, but we did spend decades without it and sounding with a lead line.
5. GPS- Maybe this is also thought of as a "no brainer", but it's still new majic to us since we spent most of our cruising years with RDF and dead-reckoning.

I can't come up with anything here. I certainly didn't know much when we started living aboard and cruising back in '71, but we were well-suited for the learning by doing method. We did, however, not jump off into an immediate offshore long passage. We have always been conservatively plodding toward our goals.

Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:11   #6
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My three would be:

Good large anchor and rode
Integrated chart plotter and radar
An oversized solid autopilot

I wish I would have had a better appreciation for waiting on the weather windows. Learned that a schedule and sticking to it will get you killed or at least have a bad time. Sail to the weather not to the guests desires.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:26   #7
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watermaker.
i donot use a rib--i found them to be too awkward and too heavy to conveniently handle. i use a roll up , a walker bay and a kayak. roll up does fine with a 3 1/2 hp engine for provisiing--i donot NEED to zoom or plane.
bimini
dodger
canvas cover for over coach house in sun.
decent ground tackle.
depth goes without saying--without depth sounding ability you run aground in strange places and that can get costly.
remember, sun is not always shining and batteries donot always charge in clouds--wind generator and a 2k honda for backup.
decent stove with oven.
crew. adequate numbers of folks able to stand watch or many places to duck into when tired.
FISHING GEAR
bbq
gps and paper charts for backup--we found the gps shuts self off in some areas...usually for short times--seconds--but could be wrong second, as the thing takes some few minuets to restart after this occurs. we had this happen 3 times in gulf.

in line filter for water under sink of tap to be used for drinking water.
extra drinking water
distilled water for batteries\
radar is nice but not a necessary item--i didnt have in gulf of mexico , but i have on my own boat herein sin diego--boat came with it. there is only one really specific time radar would have come in handy--we had a shrimper telling us he was a tug and tow--radar would have set me straight about his size. was 0300 and i could not see his tow--turned out he didnt have one as he was a shrimper.
most of the learning is a trial and error method of what works for you--not everyone's ideas suit your particular kind of lifestyle--we are similar yet most definitely different in our needs and supply habits.
you would also be surprised at the number of sailors out there with limited weather predicting ability. need to know how tpo check a weather window. noaa lies.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:39   #8
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... gps and paper charts for backup--we found the gps shuts self off in some areas...usually for short times--seconds--but could be wrong second, as the thing takes some few minuets to restart after this occurs. we had this happen 3 times in gulf...
In over 30 years of sailing, including some very challenging conditions (/w primitive equipment); I cannot recall any occasion where the loss of GPS for a few minutes (or an hour) would have been more than a very minor inconvenience.
Of course, my GPS was only used (when I finally got one) for confirming my DR position on paper charts.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:41   #9
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gord--didnt make a difference but it woke my eyes and brain to the fact we were out there with navigation under military control and the privilege if using their satellite system is that--a privilege we may not always be able to count on...
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Old 11-08-2010, 13:02   #10
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Excellent thread - just what is needed by so many people, experienced and new.


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Part one: What are the top 5 things/systems you had/wish you had on your boat and why?
1. The biggest and best anchor and system possible. Good anchoring means good sleeping. When you're out for a weekend, you can put up with a bad night. When you're out for most of the year, you need to be able to rely on your anchor system. When people start pointing at your bow and laughing at the size of your anchor, you're getting close to the size you need.

2. A quality, reliable dinghy and engine. A dinghy becomes the family car. Problems with it cause problems with every aspect of cruising unless you stay at marinas every night.

3. Watermaker. It's too much of a hassle carrying water. Having one provides the ultimate in flexibility. It's the one thing we don't have on our boat that I wish we did have.

4. An autopilot you can rely on. If you're doing long-term cruising, you'll most probably end up offshore for stretches. There's nothing that beats an autopilot that you can trust in those situations.

5. Wireless headsets for communications. These are marriage savers. Our boat is rather large and we can't hear each other in docking and anchoring situations without yelling. Wireless headsets remove any need for yelling and keep everything nice and calm. Even when there is no emergency, the act of yelling to be heard raises the tension and makes for discomfort.


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Part two: What are 3 things you WISH you would have known before you left and why?
1. It is all much easier than I thought it would be.

2. You never have to leave. It is much better to stay and wait for great weather. Our favorite saying is that we'd rather be at anchor wishing we were at sea than at sea wishing we were at anchor.

3. Other cruisers you meet are the most kind and generous people on the earth. The actions of others makes you act that way too. Cruising is the way life should be.
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Old 11-08-2010, 13:28   #11
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You never have to leave. It is much better to stay and wait for great weather. Our favorite saying is that we'd rather be at anchor wishing we were at sea than at sea wishing we were at anchor.
Amen.
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Old 11-08-2010, 13:31   #12
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...
1. The biggest and best anchor and system possible. Good anchoring means good sleeping. When you're out for a weekend, you can put up with a bad night. When you're out for most of the year, you need to be able to rely on your anchor system. When people start pointing at your bow and laughing at the size of your anchor, you're getting close to the size you need...
In most cases, folk seem to laugh at good (robust) anchor systems, being unaccustomed to them.
Experienced cruisers, on the other hand, will point & nod gravely, quietly acknowledging you as one of "us".
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Old 11-08-2010, 13:41   #13
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In most cases, folk seem to laugh at good (robust) anchor systems, being unaccustomed to them.
Experienced cruisers, on the other hand, will point & nod gravely, quietly acknowledging you as one of "us".

I just got that this weekend!! The new anchor looks like a hood ornament and all the chain lowered the waterline on the pointy end by about an inch!!
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Old 11-08-2010, 14:01   #14
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Wow - thanks for all this great info folks!!

I love this:
Quote:
You never have to leave. It is much better to stay and wait for great weather. Our favorite saying is that we'd rather be at anchor wishing we were at sea than at sea wishing we were at anchor.
- we are fully prepared to do just this!

Interesting that so many have mentioned a water maker - as in so many books it's an unnessesary item...I would LOVE one...but our budget and our boat don't allow for one (yet).

Anyway - thanks to all for this - please keep it coming!

Best
Brittany
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Old 11-08-2010, 14:04   #15
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Interesting that so many have mentioned a water maker - as in so many books it's an unnessesary item...I would LOVE one...but our budget and our boat don't allow for one (yet).
i had the same thought - we don't have one either...

i've bookmarked your blog and am interested to keep tabs on what you guys are up to - definitely keep us updated on how the water situation plays out for you two.
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