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Old 07-11-2006, 07:57   #1
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Question Caribbean Equipment

I am planning on spending some time sailing in the Caribbean next year, and am looking for the appropriate boat for the sort of cruising I will be doing. I have ofcourse made a massive spreadsheet comparing all the boats I can find for my $ range. I think I have it narrowed down to a handfull of boats at this time.

Part of the equation is the need for various electonics and other equipment. I want to be sure to buy the appropriate boat, and oufit it in the appropriate way. Two of my biggest questions have to do with completely seperate pieces of equipment.

Is radar necessary for this part of the world? I have been in the Pacific NW for the last few years... where I would say it is necessary, as fog banks can come in from nowhere, and can put the kybosh down on any movement without one. I am not sure if they are as necessary in the Caribbean, or if they are a luxury. I would much rather save the $, or spend it on rum.

Refrigeration is another issue, but I understand will be much more personal... and depends on how I and the crew are going to function. But, general opinions would be handy. I do plan on adding solar power to any boat I buy, seems like a much better option than running engines for a few hours.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 07-11-2006, 08:25   #2
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Radar can be nice, I don't rate it as a necessity for the Caribbean. Typically, there is no need to be out in very inclimate weather. I have been caught in 2 rain showers/squals. Both times I could see it was coming. Once, I just continued. I was not close to any obstructions, the second time I just dropped the hook until it blew over. If you plan on doing a lot of night sailing, it can definately be a comfort. If you plan on making port at night (PLEASE, don't) it is more of a necessity. Other than that?

Refrigeration is REAL nice, especially when it doesn't give you any troubles. It is a complex system, so I suspect trouble is more the norm. We loved being able to stock up on our favorite meats and such. We loved being able to make ice at will. Simple means less hassle, generally. Complex means more potiential ammenities and $$$.

Good luck

fair winds,

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Old 07-11-2006, 08:35   #3
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I would say a refer is a great idea in the carib if you are living aboard.

Radar is very usual but not as key as it is where you have lots of fog, squals, and traffic.

Most sails can be planned for daylight landfall, and many of the anchorages (thogh not all) are easy to enter at night time... such as Rodney Bay, Philipsberg, St Maarten, or St Kitts or Nevis which are anchoring in the lee of the island as opposed to inside a harbor.

Full moons give a fair amount of visibility in the carib with it's clear skies.

Having said that, if you can afford a radar, it provides another level of safety and can be used to set a guard zone around your boat or for making a landfall.

Since the weather is pretty reliable and if you are not time constrained so that you can sail with optimal conditions, the radar becomes less critical.

Hope this helps.

sv Shiva
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:47   #4
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Thanks for your help with this. I figured it was along these lines, if I could afford it, then ofcourse, it would be awesome. Since I may be doing some passages single handed, it may become more necessary, mostly for the watch alarm. I would like to not have to go into a harbor at night, but that can't be something to necessarily count on, so I need to have skills and equipment to deal with that.

I see radar similar to a vehicle with 4WD... you don't need it, but when you do need it, you are the happy you bought it.

Now, for refridgeration. All the boats I am looking at have an icebox. I am planning on replacing, or adding insulation to these, and if I have enough $, converting to a fridge. Any suggestions on which conversion kit I should look at? I know there are several, but as it is something which can break, I am sure some manufacturers are better represented through the Caribbean. Also, I don't want to run my engine to do tasks not associate with propelling the boat.

What about water makers... I am not in need of showers constantly, and can use seawater to wash dishes, and rinse in fresh... but the idea of making water still seems smart (and I will have a hand opperated one in a ditch bag... not to be used for common water needs). More general opinions? The boats I am looking at all have 60g tanks, which I think should be enough for 2 to 4 people not going totally blue-water.
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:09   #5
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Re: water tanks, IMHO, 60 gals is not a lot of water for 2-4 persons. I spent many years the the Eastern Caribbean. We carry 160 gals of water in two tanks. With 4 persons aboard, that's doable for many cruises because there are lots of places to fill up. Also, we don't drink the water from the tanks. Rather, we fill up with bottled water and use that, and beer/soft drinks, for rehydrating. The water from the tanks is used for showers and dishes, hand washing, and cooking.

Re: watermakers, if you're talking about the Eastern Caribbean, a watermaker is a luxury -- nice to have, but not required since there are lots of places to fill your tanks. In the Bahamas, however, the distances are much greater and the good watering spots are few and far between; a watermaker would, therefore, be a good thing to have.

Radar is totally unnecessary. I've sailed the Eastern Caribbean since 1969 without radar, day and night. Hone your piloting and navigation skills, and use the best one of all: your eyeballs, with assist from a good set of binoculars. Save the $2-4K for radar, and buy a good set of binocs for $600 (the Fujinon Polaris model is absolute top-rated and is tops in my book). The remaining $$$$ is very useful for rum, and at Caribbean prices that's a LOT of Mt. Gay (and who'd drink anything else?)

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Old 07-11-2006, 11:38   #6
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Shiva has engine drive frig and not very large tankage 60 gals perhaps... I have made do nicely with two on board and for one it can last quite a long time.

I like daily HOT showers too and what I decieded to do was design my systems around using the engine daily. This gave the batts a nice lift (high output alt and 3 stage smart reg)... made lots of hot water... (took a shower whilst the engine ran)... did the interior clean up and vacuuming (after shower) and of course ran the frig (engine drive compressor).

I would anchor up (electric windlass) and motor to the dock and back to the anchorage as often as necessary to top of the water tanks... and on these little jaunts I would of course run the frig.

I have a couple of 55 watt solar panels which help with the batt recharging.

The Grunnert frig works very well for the little time the engine runs... it's been working for more than 15 yrs!

Watermakers in the harbor? I dunno.. they are better for offshore in clean water.

That's my take. If you don't use engine drive refer... you need more batt power and a means to recharge them...

Go figure.

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Old 07-11-2006, 17:59   #7
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The remaining $$$$ is very useful for rum, and at Caribbean prices that's a LOT of Mt. Gay (and who'd drink anything else?)
An Admiral Rodney would be my first choice.

Refrigeration is the tough key to power management. Not much uses more power and in the end you really could do without it, but would you want to? This is where the line is drawn. We can all do a lot of things if we had to. I would drink a Mt. Gay rum any time it was offered and like it too.

What you need and what you want is a critical question we all need to deal with at some point. Finding the level you can like is the tough part.
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Old 07-11-2006, 18:23   #8
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We just returned from almost 3 years in the souther caribe and SA.

I love my radar. We have sailed around many squalls with it and made many landfalls with it. A nice to have.

Loved our water maker. Though water can be had in the Eastern Caribe, many islands it is cistern water and not always the best and rarley free. With the WM, we always had clean clothes and sheets (we have a dawoe semi auto washer $130US). Laundry in some of the islands is $10US a normal load. That alone can run up the bill.

Because we stayed out of the tourist belt we didn't have regualer access to water and making it allowed us to stay where we wanted for as long as we wanted. It also made passages great as we took short fresh water showers on off shifts.

SSB radio-at least a reciver, but we found for safty the 2 way long distance communication is worth the money. Many cruisers use ham rigs which cost under 700 new and work very well(though I recommend a HAM license as well, but not necessary, very useful). Mostly we used the Marine SSB and Ham for weather. We were able to pick several different sources to get daily weather. It also allowed us to download weather fax to our computer. Excellent during huricane season.

Admittedly we didn't travel with the camping style. This was our home and we wanted to enjoy where we were at rather than trying to scrimp. Espically with the wife, if the admiral isn't happy.....we saw many boats in the Bahamas, recently divorced must sell.

Most of the cruisers we met travelled in great comfort and many had been out contiously for years and years. If you don't like the hardships day in day out you may end up hating the lifestyle.

Santa Taresa 1796 is my choice of rum.......
Captain Bil formerly of sv Makai -- KI4TMM
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Old 07-11-2006, 20:40   #9
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Gotta have ice to go with that rum. Our new cat is basically designed around the refrigeration and the dinghy.

Can't drink that store bought stuff anymore though, gives me a shocking hangover. We make our own spirit and my rum is a Jamaican/Navy blend.
Saves heaps for the cruising kitty, and always have a bottle on hand to barter for a couple of kilo's of prawns or crab's etc when cruising.

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Old 08-11-2006, 08:08   #10
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Thanks all for your inputs... much appreciated. I have decided that I will not search out a radar, but if I happen to get a boat with one, then that would be awesome. Instead, I will put that money towards a water maker, and maybe a new computer for gps purposes... and rum/beer/whiskey.

I am going to get a handpump water maker for my ditch bag... and not use that for daily use. I am not totally sold yet on a water maker... I don't shower much when the ocean is as warm as caribbean... been diving there for years, and just a quick rinse is usually enough. Most showers are cold too, because it is so warm, so hotwater is not as needed.

Thanks again for all your help. Now, I just need to start one of those infamous "which boat is better" topics....

Edit: Oh ya... and I am going to try to get a refer... but I need more research into those.
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Old 22-11-2006, 05:26   #11
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Simpler Way

My fiance just got back from a 2 year Caribbean trip.
It was Fantastic! We left Detroit on a 1988 Cal 33 and made our way to Trinidad. I had planned to install Solar Panels on top of my Bimini frame. However we met a couple who have been out for 10 years and they convinced me to go with block ice. It saved me so much time and money. We probably spent $1000 on ice over the 2 years we were out. Throughout our trip we met countless boats who spent their entire time worrying about amps on the boat just to keep their fridge going.
Also quite a few of them were replacing their battery banks because of overcharging. We carried 525 amps aboard and could spend a week
at anchor without starting our engine. On the other side of things we had 2 Laptops aboard for our Electronic Charts ( the best thing I did ) and for email,movies etc. To keep up with the requirements of a Fridge it is a $9000 or more investment in Solar and Wind and you'll still have to run your engine. The resale value of that equipment is nil. I think that a honda generator is probably a good thought because after your trip
you can always part with it or kep it for other uses. We carried 60 gallons of water aboard and found water available everwhere we went.
Normally we caught quite a bit of rain water. We just damed up the area on deck behind our water tank inlet. Nothing elaborate a towel will do.
Used a SSB receiver to pick up the weather and only wore our life jackets twice the entire time and I think that was in the USA ,once while crossing Lake Erie. Our expenses were $500 a month once we made it to the Caribbean. Again what a Fun time!
All the way to Trinidad can be done with 4-5 night sails. It was so easy. Sadly our boat " Fairwinds" is here now in North Carolina and up for sale.
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