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Old 04-11-2013, 13:03   #1
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New Sailor, some Questions for you

Hello!

I have recently purchased a 37' foot Rafiki Cutter sailboat for use as a live aboard. I will be moving onto my boat in January, I don't have any previous experience, but I am looking forward to jumping into the world of sailing.

I have a nice slip at a very good Marina in Hawaii, and very happy.

A few questions that I could use some help with:

1) What equipment does one require for solo sailing. I know I will need a wind vane and perhaps auto steering. Anything else? (I have GPS, Radio, plus all standard electronics in the boat) Know of a good priced wind vane?

2) What is a good satellite internet service/dish I can get?

3) I hope to cast off and spend most weekends off shore. I see a lot of boats off the coast 'parked' in what looks like water too deep for an anchor. Is one able to just pull in the sails and 'park' in such a manner? I would imagine even in calm water current drags you. Are these boats still on autopilot? Or does someone have to be up at all times?

4) If one does drop anchor, how reliable are the anchors? I have horrible thoughts of dropping anchor to go ashore and explore and coming back to find the boat drifted off. Or while sleeping the anchor comes loose and runs aground.

5) I am also worried about going overboard, especially if I do sail solo one day. Is there a safe way to secure myself to the boat at all times on deck?

Your input is appreciated, I am sure I will have more questions for you.

Simon
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Old 04-11-2013, 13:21   #2
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Simon,

Congratulations on your new boat and welcome aboard.

I'd suggest you seriously explore all the fora here, there's been a lot lately about singlehanding; there are many anchor threads; (incidentally, your GPS may have an anchor alarm that will wake you if you drag; not much good if you're off the boat, though); no, you do not go out and "park"; yes, a windvane is a good idea--ours steered us tens of thousands of miles--and an electronic autopilot with a remote control is very useful for a singlehander.

Forgive me if this is too basic, but I've no idea what your experience so far is... I suggest you dive the boat and make sure the prop is clean, then take the boat out of the marina on a nice day, with some helpers for fending off when you return, and set some temporary marks (wine bladder, string, and a big rock will do), and practice parking the boat. AS a boat owner, you will be required sometimes to move the boat, to and from the slip, not only for sailing, but for fuel and maintenance. Your boat has a full keel, and she will not be nimble at turning. Learn the feel of her.

Consider taking some courses if you don't already know how to sail. Otherwise read up on it first, but you really need to be clear about right of way before you leave the dock. Automobile rules do not apply.

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Old 04-11-2013, 13:26   #3
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

what ann said.
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Old 04-11-2013, 16:49   #4
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Please look at what I said to another who was going out solo. Its a lot like riding your bike on the freeway, and that is assuming you know how to ride well.
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Old 04-11-2013, 18:02   #5
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Aloha!

Enjoy living on your boat, and learn to sail on something smaller than your 37 footer.

You should worry about wind vanes after you are an accomplished sailor. By then, you will know a lot about anchoring and harnesses.
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Old 04-11-2013, 18:25   #6
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Have the halyards and downhalls run to the cockpit so you can hoist/douse sails from there.
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Old 04-11-2013, 18:30   #7
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

You cant anchor in 10,000 feet of water,

Get your self a good chest harness, with a quick release catch on the front with big beads to make it easier to release.
Have a rope from front to back of your boat, That the harness travels on,

Make sure it is short enough, That if your unconcious, you cant go over the side,

Learn your boat first, Every thing you will need, will stand out for you, It takes time,
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Old 04-11-2013, 19:08   #8
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Hello Simon, as a fellow Rafiki-37 owner I want to congratulate you on a fine boat. If you have any questions about the boats, I know a little something, and have copies of the actual build blueprints, so would be happy to try and help.

That said, from your questions I gather this whole sailing thing is very new to you. There is a lot to learn. I'd recommend doing some reading, then getting to know some fellow sailors. Go out with them. Learn a few things. Bring one or two on board with you and go for some short sails. At the very least, make sure the boat is sound, then do as Ann suggests. Get to know the boat. Learn how she performs underway, and eventually how she sails. She does not manoeuvre well, so tight marinas are the my bane of existence. That said, there are lots of skills you can develop to compensate (use of spring lines, prop walk, etc.). Where this boat excels is in the wide blue yonder. She dances in the open seas, and sails like a dream.

Windvane - yes. We have an Aries. Electric auto is good too. Easier to use for new sailors. Problem is you can't get one that is speced for our boats. Get the biggest electric you can find, and only use it gentle conditions. Neither are needed for the first little while. You won't be going very far for a while -- at least I don't recommend it.

Basic equipment. Does the boat have a depth sounder? Compass? Get a GPS -- handheld is fine. VHF radio. You need running lights. For that matter, how's the electrical system on the boat? Engine?

What is your anchor system (anchor & rode)? Does the windlass work? Our boat came with a manual bronze plath-style windlass. I carry 250' of 3/8" chain and a 55# Rocna as my main anchor. Learn To Anchor Properly. This cannot be over-emphasized! It's a skill, like everything else. Read, talk to people. Practice.

If you're soloing, always use jacklines (google it, or search on CF), and always wear a harness that you can clip to the lines.

You have a good boat. Do some reading. Get friendly with people who know what their doing. Take baby steps, go slow, and enjoy yourself.
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Old 04-11-2013, 20:41   #9
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Welcome to the forum. I lived on the Big Island for 7 years. Which harbor are you in?
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Old 10-11-2013, 13:14   #10
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Thanks to everyone for their responses, very helpful! Please excuse my slow response.

All sounds like very good advice. I am a bit relieved I won't need to worry about a wind vane for the time being, as my budget is really exhausted after purchasing the boat.

Mike OReilly, great to hear someone has the same type of boat! What year is yours? Mine was built in 1977. (same age as myself) I knew the boat was for me as soon as I saw it.

Quote:
Basic equipment. Does the boat have a depth sounder? Compass? Get a GPS -- handheld is fine. VHF radio. You need running lights. For that matter, how's the electrical system on the boat? Engine?
Dominantly, I have purchased a boat with all the equipment. It has a depth sounder, compass, gps system (handheld and a fancy garmin navigation terminal) VHF radio & handheld VHF.

Running lights....do you mean the red/green lights on sides of boat?

Quote:
For that matter, how's the electrical system on the boat? Engine?
The electrical system was totally redone in 2006 before I purchased it. Professionally done too! All the old wires were ripped out and it was rewired properly. Breaker box is labeled, which makes it that much easier to deal with.

The engine is a four cycle, 3 cylinder, Volvo diesel and appears to be model MD17 series, raw water cooled, rated at 36 horsepower at 3000 RPM.

It is in decent condition for its age, but I would describe it as temperamental. Going to take some tinkering to see if I can make it more reliable. I am hoping to replace the engine with an electric one, and run the ship off solar and wind power at some point. I hope I can keep the diesel running for a couple years first though.


Quote:
What is your anchor system (anchor & rode)? Does the windlass work?
It is a CQR style, 45 lbs., located on bow roller with 75’ of chain and 400’ of 3 strand nylon line in chain locker. I have a manual windlass which works....if I am going to be doing a lot of anchoring I might want to look at a power one. ha.

I am going to start taking courses straight away. Will practice maneuvering, dropping anchor and docking.

I am living on board, so I expect I will be able to get out a lot more than most people can. I am looking forward to getting enough confidence to start sailing inter-island. Hopefully after the first year...I hope that is a realistic goal.
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Old 10-11-2013, 15:41   #11
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseSpace View Post
Mike OReilly, great to hear someone has the same type of boat! What year is yours? Mine was built in 1977. (same age as myself) I knew the boat was for me as soon as I saw it.
Mine is also a 1977. Hull #14. They are very fine, solid, cruising boats. Nice the electrical was completely redone in 2006. Sounds like you've got all the basics covered. Yes, those red, green and white lights are known as running lights. Only needed at night though, so you probably won't use them for a while. All except your anchor light (an all-round white).

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseSpace View Post
The engine is a four cycle, 3 cylinder, Volvo diesel and appears to be model MD17 series, raw water cooled, rated at 36 horsepower at 3000 RPM. ... I am hoping to replace the engine with an electric one, and run the ship off solar and wind power at some point.
Does it have an hour meter on it? I think the original engines were volvos. We have a Perkins 4108 (~40 hp). Moves our boat well enough. Not sure if electrics are really up to the task yet, but I'm sure you're doing all the necessary research.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseSpace View Post
It is a CQR style, 45 lbs., located on bow roller with 75 of chain and 400 of 3 strand nylon line in chain locker. I have a manual windlass which works....if I am going to be doing a lot of anchoring I might want to look at a power one. ha.
We replaced a 45# CQR with a 55# new-style (rocna) anchor. That CQR is marginal for your boat. I'd look at upgrading to one of the newer ones (rocna, manson, spade, etc.). We also run with all 3/8" chain. Talk to the locals about what works best in your anchoring area. You might be fine, but you can never go wrong with all-chain.

We also have a manual windlass. Personally, I prefer it to an electric. But it is slower, and I might think differently if I soloed (I'm lucky enough to have a partner).

Enjoy your new (old) boat. She's a classic sea boat. She loves to sail, and to out there.
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Old 10-11-2013, 17:46   #12
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Definitely hold off on the wind vane, for the time being. As you have discovered, they are expensive and they requires that you are well versed in sail trim and piloting your boat to get them to work effectively. If you are doing day sail single-handed they are not a necessity (although they do give you a break from manning the helm). If you're contemplating any longer voyages, like overnight (which you should not until you have more experience) single-handed, then they are virtually mandatory. Hold off until you know your boat better, and when it's time to pull the trigger, find out what other Rafiki owners are using. Some wind vanes install/function better on some boats than others.

The usefulness of an autopilot is directly related to your energy store, to a degree. They use a fair amount of amperage and you need to be cognizant of their draw and energy usage when underway. You don't want to sail all day only to find your house bank depleted when you reach your destination. I generally only use my autopilot when under power or for limited spells when under sail in steady wind conditions.
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Old 10-11-2013, 23:34   #13
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Quote:
Mine is also a 1977. Hull #14. They are very fine, solid, cruising boats.
Fantastic! I think I have hull #20, if I am interpreting the HID properly? *Production #'37020')


Quote:
Does it have an hour meter on it? I think the original engines were volvos. We have a Perkins 4108 (~40 hp). Moves our boat well enough. Not sure if electrics are really up to the task yet, but I'm sure you're doing all the necessary research.
There is an hour meter on it, but it is not the original hour meter. Currently has 1545 hours on it which is the number of hours since the last engine rebuild.

Quote:
We replaced a 45# CQR with a 55# new-style (rocna) anchor. That CQR is marginal for your boat. I'd look at upgrading to one of the newer ones (rocna, manson, spade, etc.).
Thanks, I'll look into this. Do you have a windvane? If so what kind?
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Old 11-11-2013, 06:40   #14
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

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Fantastic! I think I have hull #20, if I am interpreting the HID properly? *Production #'37020')
Yup ... #20. I've read the builder, Western Pacific Yachts, only made about 50 of the boats over a span of three years.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseSpace View Post
There is an hour meter on it, but it is not the original hour meter. Currently has 1545 hours on it which is the number of hours since the last engine rebuild.
That's should be good. 1545 hours on a rebuilt engine should mean you're good for a while ... assuming the rebuild was done well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaseSpace View Post
Thanks, I'll look into this. Do you have a windvane? If so what kind?
Yes, we have an Aries. Came with the boat. We use it all the time, even for short hops, but it's definitely not needed right away. New ones are pricey (~$5000), although you can find used vanes. Personally, I'd focus on other aspects of the boat first.
  • How's your standing rigging? When was it last replaced?
  • What about your sails? Are they usable?
  • How are the teak decks? We have a few leaks which we've been dealing with. Nothing serious, but all old teak-deck boats will have issues around leaks.
  • What kind of fuel tanks do you have? The original diesel tanks were iron. They can rust if not treated carefully. Our two tanks are still original, so we had them pressure-tested. The forward one failed so we've decommissioned it. Luckily it's the small one. Anyway, we will probably have to do something with the tanks eventually ... it's a huge job since they are built into the bilge.
Rafiki's were built incredibly strong and solid. They are excellent cruising boats for a small crew. Take your time. Learn to sail and to manoeuvre your boat. Make friends with fellow sailors. They will be your greatest resource. Most of all, enjoy your boat. She's a good one!
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Old 12-11-2013, 23:55   #15
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Re: New Sailor, some Questions for you

Quote:
How's your standing rigging? When was it last replaced?
I had the boat inspected prior to sale. They said I got to replace in two years.

Quote:
What about your sails? Are they usable?
All the sails are in good to excellent condition.

Quote:
How are the teak decks? We have a few leaks which we've been dealing with. Nothing serious, but all old teak-deck boats will have issues around leaks.
The teak on this boat is in amazing condition top to bottom. The teak deck was resurfaced with that black stuff in-between the boards in 2006.

Quote:
What kind of fuel tanks do you have? The original diesel tanks were iron. They can rust if not treated carefully.
They are the original tanks. The forward tank was never used by the previous owner nor the owner before that. I plan on having a closer look at it when I move in.

I'm considering building a steering wind-vane myself....would save a lot of money.
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