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Old 14-04-2013, 03:01   #1
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Starting from Scratch

let me apologize first - am sure a post like this comes up weekly.

long story short, in a few months, I'll be living on my 31' Grampian Classic... even though I've never lived aboard. and - aside from a 3-4 month stint in the English Channel with a little 24' sloop - know very little about sailing.

but making the decision to do it - even though I've not even met the Grampian - was the easiest one I've ever made.

the past hour has been spent combing through old archives of the experienced guiding the newbies, which is what I'm asking for now.

long story short - what do you wish you would have known when you first started cruising?

I would very much appreciate any and all advice you might have. from the big to the minute.

thanks a million..
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Old 14-04-2013, 04:42   #2
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Re: starting from scratch

Starting from Scratch...the humourus side...
A husband asked his wife that it would be nice if from time to time if she could make him a meal from scratch. (He got tired eating from cans and wanted to taste a meal from scratch.) The wife promised him that she'll do her best.
The next day, the wife goes to the supermarket at 8:00 AM, as soon as it opened. She started to browse every shelf in every isle. By 3:00 PM, the store manager stopped by her and asked her if he could help her find what she was looking for. In total dismay and exhaustion, she asked the store manager: "Could you please help me find a can of scratch?" Mauritz
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Old 14-04-2013, 04:50   #3
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I wish I'd known how easy living aboard and cruising is. Should have done it sooner.
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Old 14-04-2013, 05:21   #4
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Re: starting from scratch

Welcome!! As you've anticipated, it's an awfully big question. But I think the perception of "hard" is because sailing is easy to learn the basics, but there are always subtleties and improvements you can make (that's what keeps it interesting!)

If I could offer my one favorite piece of advice for new liveaboards, it would be this: know yourself well enough to know what makes you feel like you're "camping out" instead of living, and make arrangements to accommodate whatever that is. For me, that was walking back from the marina shower at 6 AM in January with wet hair growing icicles as I made my way down the dock. So, having hot water shower onboard was my solution. For you, the one thing might be reliable internet, hot coffee, refrigeration, a kickass stereo system ... whatever it is, know how to make yourself comfortable or you won't be living aboard for long.

On the sailing side: don't be afraid to go a bit slower and reef earlier. When your boat is more vertical, it's more comfortable and less scary, less strain on the rig, and most liveaboard boats aren't meant to sail on their sides, though some heel is fine. Buy the biggest, heaviest anchor + chain you can handle so you sleep soundly and don't drag at night in those beautiful secluded anchorages you are dreaming of.

At the risk of pushing my own site, here's a link to a blog, that in turn has links to lots of other blogs written by folks in the transition to living aboard: The Monkey's Fist: Collecting Cruisers' Perspectives: Moving Aboard: Transitions
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Old 14-04-2013, 05:41   #5
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Re: starting from scratch

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, theodyssey.
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Old 14-04-2013, 10:03   #6
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Re: starting from scratch

great stuff so far - thank you.

for attempts at a much simpler life, it certainly can be daunting at first - everything one needs to learn.

wingNwing - such good advice. I think it'll be wifi for me [short hair and, from what I hear, a fridge would be a lot of work/power]... but yes. am currently camping while I bike around Europe for a year, so the furthest thing away from that will be needed!

any literature I should be reading right now? Bible's - so to speak - to absorb?

am also fighting the urge to buy everything I can, but have also seen what happens to GearHeads [see: stuck in the marina wondering which of their 100 wires has a short].

anything I should spend my money on, and shouldn't? a massive anchor, as mentioned, but solar vs. wind powered charging? an autopilot or [insert name of the old school wind auto pilot things]?

help mold me now, before I turn into one of those 30-somethings who sail for a weekend and come back knowing everything. wink.
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Old 14-04-2013, 14:45   #7
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Re: starting from scratch

Um, where are you and what are you intending to do? Solar, for example, wouldn't help if you're in a cool, cloudy location like northern Europe or Pacific NW. Autopilot won't help if you're planning to mostly live at a dock.

In general, don't buy anything until you have been living aboard/traveling for a while and just can't stand the idea of doing without it one day longer. That'll mean you know how you're using your boat and what you need.
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Old 14-04-2013, 15:59   #8
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Re: starting from scratch

There is a short list of stuff you can hardly live without even for the first week:


1- appropriate anchor style weighing at least as many pounds as your boat measures in length, with preferably all chain rode- in your case a 35 pound Manson might fit the bill.
2- two good deep cycle batteries and the two largest solar panels you can fit on your boat along with a cheap charge regulator. About $600.
3- a dinghy with oars that won't tip over as soon as you sit in it. $400 used.
4- a fresh impeller.
5- towing insurance if you opt to skip item 4.
6- portable VHF so you can deploy item 5.
7- personal safety gear: PFD, whistle, etc.

You can figure the rest out as you go, read DOJ's list of cruising essentials. I can certainly relate to the "icicle showers," but the problem sorted itself out recently when my landlubber girlfriend bought a $180,000 slip at a gorgeous yacht club (she got it on a short sale for much less) for my 1968 cheap boat so she wouldn't have to go to the gym to get a hot shower. True story, which proves you never know what's going to happen next as a liveaboard.

New view from boat slip:
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Old 14-04-2013, 16:20   #9
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Re: starting from scratch

some great advice so far. just to add my two cents...

keep your boat afloat and in one place. that's where most cruising boats spend most of their time.

1. make sure your boat won't sink. all through hulls and other underwater devices should be gone over thoroughly and maintained/replaced. a big automatic bilge pump connected to some big deep cycle batteries - always with the switch in the 'auto' position. all hoses and clamps too.

2. never hook up to dockside water; always fill your own tanks and use them. reason? there's more water in the city reservoir system than your bilge pump can handle.

3. buy the biggest baddest anchor and chain you can handle. the 35lb manson mentioned above is GREAT!!! best anchor i've ever owned in nearly 40 years of sailing. get all chain for your main anchor. for your boat, at least 5/16".

now that you're floating and in one place, here's my last piece of advice (for now). don't put anything on the boat that you don't truly need. it's incredible how quickly you can fill it up with crap.

when i hauled out last time i took EVERYTHING off the boat. at least half of it is not going back on when i launch next month....
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Old 14-04-2013, 16:30   #10
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Re: Starting from Scratch

Quote:
Originally Posted by theodyssey View Post
................ what do you wish you would have known when you first started cruising? ........
When we started on our first cruise back to Florida on our liveaboard that we bought in Maryland, I wish I had known that my wife always holds a chart with north up, while I always read it with course up. We never changed, but we did learn to pass the chart with a flip of the wrist!
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Old 14-04-2013, 16:50   #11
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Re: Starting from Scratch

There's lots of "stuff" you can fit on a 30-something foot sailboat if you are by yourself, but if you put the marginal/seasonal stuff in a 5x5 foot storage unit (mine was $35/mo) when you get where you are going, the boat can be uncluttered. I have a complete list of "stuff" you can fit on a 34 foot boat which I inventoried when I emptied the boat to paint it if you are interested.
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Old 14-04-2013, 17:00   #12
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Re: Starting from Scratch

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There's lots of "stuff" ...........
We were lucky enough to move aboard before we aquired "stuff". We moved aboard when we were fresh out of college and the "stuff" we had would fit in our Karmann Ghia. We are still without "stuff" and own nothing that is not on board. We even have some empty lockers! There is a great freedom in non-ownership!
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Old 14-04-2013, 17:26   #13
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Re: Starting from Scratch

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We were lucky enough to move aboard before we aquired "stuff". We moved aboard when we were fresh out of college and the "stuff" we had would fit in our Karmann Ghia. We are still without "stuff" and own nothing that is not on board. We even have some empty lockers! There is a great freedom in non-ownership!
The statement about non-ownership is true, it is very liberating. Before moving aboard, it would be good for anyone to go on a backpacking expedition for a week to see exactly what you can live without. OTOH, it is nice to be able to have a circular saw, jig saw, complete set of hand tools, extra sails, cockpit cushions and other handy but non essentials in storage and out of the salty air for when you need them. If you are cruising and have extra empty storage compartments and no bulky stuff sitting on the quarterberths you have probably achieved a minimalist lifestyle.

I lived without a refrigerator for 9 months. Then I got a 1.8 cubic foot Dometic essentially for free and can't figure out how I lived without it. A solar powered refrigerator is just... cool, and highly recommended. Also it allowed me to put the 48 quart Igloo into the storage unit.

Two of my friends have Morgan OI 41's, one is in the slip next to me. They seem like the Queen Mary compared to my 34 foot boat, and they hardly ever leave the dock. Well, Dan did once four years ago but got stuck on a shoal. He has more stuff sitting in his cockpit than I have in my entire boat, including a gihugic antique radar unit.
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Old 14-04-2013, 17:39   #14
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Re: Starting from Scratch

We lived without refrigeration for about twenty years, but we enjoy our little low amp usage freezer/refrig. now! I find that I can rent a special large tool on those rare times when I need one for less cost than keeping a storage bin. In addition, we cruise and you can't easily relocate a storage bin.
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Old 16-04-2013, 08:54   #15
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Re: Starting from Scratch

guys - can't thank you enough for everything so far. as a newbie, am not sure which questions get placed elsewhere, so if I go off in a direction I shouldn't, don't hesitate.

wingNwing - plan to start by headed down to the Caribbean. then have wild aspirations of going around-the-world. was thinking a wind generator over a solar panel, only because there seems to be more wind than sun in some spots. per the autopilot [don't want that, but the old school equivalent], would that be mainly for big crossings? I guess my question is 'when do you buy one?'.

Azul - great list. a few questions:

1. that Manson looks like the way to go. I could only afford the galvanized steel version though, will that matter?
2. would you advise solar panels vs. wind generator?
3. glad you brought this up - am considering a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak... thoughts?
4. impeller is on the list.
5. per insurance - am, as a lot are, I can assume, scared about damaging/sinking the boat. what insurance should I be looking at, and what would simply be a waste?
6. and 7. - on it.

onestepcsy37 - great advice all around. and stuff I wouldn't have thought of [especially filling your own tanks].

CaptForce - funny. and worth taking note of!

Azul + CaptForce [again] - had no idea such things even existed, but it was a worry of mine [mainly because a bottle of nice cool wine always seemed to go so well with a sunset off of a bow] - any in particular you'd suggest [IE: Dometic?].

... and again, thanks to all. you're not only alleviating a lot of initial stress I had, but also getting me more excited about it all.

am - as stated - currently on a bike w/ a tent, camping around Europe/North Africa, so am getting the best education as to what I need, and what I can live without.
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