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Old 22-08-2009, 09:11   #1
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Equipment for Offshore

Hello All,

I'm a fairly new owner/new sailor of a 1991 Fraser 41 yacht. About a year... I purchased the boat last summer after a few months of searching and I now live aboard in Squamish, BC. I took a CYA 1 week sailing course last spring and fell in love with sailing. I've been able to take the boat on many small cruises, Victoria, Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Savary Island. Single handed, because my friends usually just enjoy the view while I do the sailing. (help from autopilot)

I really want to head offshore! But my boat has a very sparse outfit. No radar, no ssb, nofixed vhf (only have handheld), no chartplotter, no watermaker etc. The list of don't haves could go on forever... I need help with prioritizing my needs. I want to head to Mexico at the end of summer 2010, and I'd like to have some money in my pocket. Do I really need ssb and 3 gps? Could someone recommend a good book for preparing for offshore sailing?

Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks in advance,

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Old 22-08-2009, 09:28   #2
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Hi cirrus, to head offshore you need some safety equipment like a Liferaft, not a coastal one, buy one with a offshore category, a EPIRB, the last one come with gps interface , some kind off device for rescue a man overboard, a vhf , some kind off device to read weather forescast , a SSB maybe but with a IRIDIUM satellite phone and a laptop pc you have the option to download weather grib files, a AUTOPILOT is very important and necesary and i recommend one strong enough to take bad weather with out problems and a 2 one just in case , sounds to much but in my experience after a pacific journey is that a 2 autopilot is a must, RADAR is up to you, very nice for spot squalls and traficc, im just thinking in safety equipment , sails and other equipment is the owner choice, 3 gps sound waste money with one and a spare is enough, Happy trip to Mexico.
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Old 22-08-2009, 09:31   #3
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You will get a lot of opinions on this forum, but that is not bad. On a reasonable budget, I would personally prioritize the following: Radar, (you will head south in the foggy season on the west coast, it's invaluable tracking squalls or getting into a harbor if you arrive late, great for watching for tankers when offshore), a Decent fixed GPS (you dont have to pay an arm and a leg, just something reliable), Fixed VHF (these are cheap), In Mexico you will be glad you got a water maker, otherwise you are ferrying Jugs ashore. One backup GPS would be good unless you are an excellent navigator. SSB is nice but not necessary. If you want to listen to the nets only, there are cheap alternatives. Excellent reefing system for the mainsail, it doesnt have to be comlicated, just work well and you be able to do it with your "eyes closed". You should have an EPIRB, especially if you dont have a life raft. Paper charts, Charlies CHarts of Mexico. Dont need many paper charts of mexico if you have CHarlies.I would advise spending several weeks rounding Van Isl, that will hone your nav skills and might give you a blue water challenge on the outside! PS: I have a cc of Charlies Mexico and West Coast USA, older ones, cheap if you want them.
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Old 22-08-2009, 10:42   #4
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series drogue
decent sails, storm sail
light weather sails
water collection or making system (unless tanks are big enough and crew small enough to manage with some additional water jugs

grab bag

HF receiver and weatherfax (as a minimum)

spares for engine, electricity power sails etc

more than one way of making electricity

some method of providing shade in the cockpit

If you really want minimalist, start reading the books by the Pardey's.
"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
Robert A Heinlein
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Old 22-08-2009, 11:24   #5
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For the cost conscious:

Minumum requirements
1. Epirb--$800
2. Spare GPS-$50 (usb GPS with laptop- free Seaclear program and charts)
3. AIS receiver-$200
4. SSB reciever (hook to laptop for weatherfax) -$150
5. Fixed VHF--$200 with antenna

Next level--less bang for the buck

5. offshore autopilot--$4000 (arguably in first category, depending on existing autopilot)
6. radar--$1500
7. liferaft--$2000
8. Honda generator-$1000
9. Dodger-$3000
10. New Batteries--$1000

Next level--nice but higher budget

10. SSB--$3000
11. Bimini--$1500
12. Watermaker--$3000
13. Solar panels--$1-2000

If you pay someone to install these things, estimate double the price. Other things to spend money on would be an upgraded anchor system and sails, depending on what you have now.
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Old 22-08-2009, 11:29   #6
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Originally Posted by Cirruscloud View Post
Hello All,
Could someone recommend a good book for preparing for offshore sailing?
Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert. Very practical and no nonsense.
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Old 22-08-2009, 13:20   #7
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This is excellent! Thanks for all the information. There seems to be a lot of information at this forum and it's nice to hear different opinions.

I do have some of the things I need, 2000w honda generator, new batteries, rudder quadrant autopilot, main with 3 reef points, Mac enc charting program with all charts to Panama....

10 ton boat with skeg hung rudder...
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Old 22-08-2009, 13:55   #8

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I also single hand, currently in Brazil. Things onboard I value most are...

Reliable autopilot. Essential. i have aries windvane, doesnīt drink coffee or use power and steers better tha I can

Radar with alarm . Loud alarm!!

Stand alone AIS, I have nasa unit, only uses 100mA and you can instantly see the relative course of ships.

Good ground tackle, would love electric windlass but canīt afford.

Handheld VHF for entering ports.

Laptop with wifi and chart prog linked to VHF.

SSB reciever and weatherfax software. I have nasa but am going to try a degen 1103.


Good dingy and outboard.

Bright LED masthean lights. Am going to splash out on a lopolight soon, tricolour, anchor and strobe.

Honda genny for charging and anchor and running power tools.

Ipod with days of podcasts to listen to at sea and cockpit speakers.

Heavy duty fishing gear.

Thats the ones that come to mind anyway, hope this helps. Enjoy offshore, I much prefer it to coastal, less stressful.
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Old 22-08-2009, 15:57   #9
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all you really NEED to sail is a compass, hard charts and a navigation tool, if you plan to go way offshore--if coastal cruising, stay about 10 mi from the coast to avoid the pitfalls there---like rocks, shoals, stuff to run into---have a compass, a fixed vhf--those are cheeeep, water jugs, fuel jugs, hard charts, binocs, food, clothing, life vests, maybe a roll up inflatable--keep it on deck and keep pump next to it or inside it for use so you donot have to search for it.....stove to cook foods and coffee or whatever hot stuff you drink, sails, balls, flares and gloves. maybe a fire extinguisher for when you have a fire on the stove. if you donot have an auto pilot--make sure you have a good rope line with which to tie off the helm for pee breaks and cooking times....have a sleeping bag in cockpit for napping so you donot have to leave the helm. have a bright light to light up your sails should something come at you at night- also for seing what is in the water , if necessary. a noisemaking device for warning those not seeing you that you are there, indeed.. all the other stuff is not NECESSARY but is desirable...people have come a long way from really sailing without electronic stuffies for their alleged are just toys. most break when you most need them. if you are able to navigate using a sextant more the better. if you plan on going out into the big bold sea away from sight of land, then there are other things that are a good idea....navigation aids, safety items and such. oh--donot tow your dink behind you--it will be found by someone else ----keep it on the deck....
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Old 22-08-2009, 16:15   #10
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Damn, managed to sail 10s of thousands of miles without a radar, vhf, epirb, gps, water maker, AIS. Most of these things will make your life difficult and are not really needed.

Things needed for cruising.
1. Self steering vane. You can't go anywhere without good self steering unless your going to take a largish number of people. I consider largish, more than two people. Cruising just isn't fun if you are a slave to the helm. If you are going to rely on an autopilot, buy a second one and install it. Use the parts from the original as spares. You also need a back up for the electrical generating capacity that these thirsty buggers need.
2. Epirb
3. Accurate knotmeter/log or taff rail log. You can't do DR navigation without accurate measure of your distance covered through the water. This is stoneage navigation but you have to be able to revert to DR if those little electrons go awry.
4. Depth sounder. Especially in Continental shelf areas, you can navigate with the depth sounder. In the least, it tells you how much scope you'll need for the anchor.
5. GPS with at least one back up and preferably two back ups. I bought a Garmin 3006 for $800, a 478 for $300 and a 76 for $75
6. Paper Charts, chart kits, cruising guides, traced/copied charts . Buying the chips to cover a large cruising area can get real expensive quickly. With charts, all you need is lat/long to locate your positions.
7. good dinghy with a spare set of oars. A motor may be nice to have but requires fuel and they have to be kept running to be worth the space. It can double as a liferaft but wont work well, if at all, in rough conditions.
8. Life Raft. Make sure it has a double bottom. Without insulation from the water, a raft is virutally worthless even in the tropics.
9. Get your ham license. You can get a Ham hf radio up and running for under a $1,000. The radio can be set up to cover the marine HF bands so you can call on that in an emergency. The ham radio will give you world wide contact ability and the many marine nets. A ham radio shouldn't be used on the Marine bands because they do not have as tight frequency control requirements. May be able to add crystal control to the ham radio to give them acceptable Marine band performance. Even then, it's still not legal, except in an emergency, to use it on the marine bands.
10. A watermaker is a nice to have item in Mexico or other dry areas. We never had to schlep water in SoPac, however.
11. That brings me to having an awning for the whole boat. The sun is an enemy in the tropics. That's a hard thing for the PNW people to appreciate. Nothing makes a boat cooler than an awning keeping all that solar energy off your decks. It's also a great tool to collect water when it rains.
11. Haven't had any experience with AIS but if it's only $200, knowing that ship is out there and where it's headed can't hurt. The shipping lanes into major ports and the Canal can get real crowded. One of those big guys can ruin your day.
12. If you have any money left, radar may be worth a look.

Toys seems to make more people miserable than anything else on a cruise. People don't seem to be able to ignore a non functioning piece of equipment. The hoops and contortions we saw cruisers go through to fix busted but extraneous gear was amazing.
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Old 22-08-2009, 16:37   #11
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fixed vhf,

All nice to have but not top of my personal list. SSB not really, if really pressed I would go for an Iridium. And an AIS is a very good complement to the radar. EPIRB, liferaft - depends, but they should not come before what actually makes a boat safe.

However, I would put other things first:
- sextant and knowledge of how to use it, 2 good waterproof watches, an astro almanac,
- charts,
- compass and a bearing compass,
- barometer and other instruments,
- light weather sails,
- foul weather sails,
- foul weather clothing,
- good, multiple watertanks (minimum 1.5 liter per person per day, the more the better),
- quality windvane (Monitor, Windpilot, etc..),
- quality gas galley, 2 or better 3 burner and an oven a must,
- reliable motor,
- huge bower, big 2 second ancors and a kedge + HQ chain + warp, pleny,
- dodger, bimini with side shades, dink+oars,
- good batteries, good regulator on your alternator, a windmill and a big solar panel,
- polarized sunglasses, hat, sunblock.

Say this is 10% of what you might like to take. But there are no hard and fast rules - except perhaps for the windvane, water and charts.

Good luck,
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Old 22-08-2009, 17:48   #12
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Originally Posted by Cirruscloud View Post

I want to head to Mexico at the end of summer 2010,
Hi Brennan,

Go cruising but with NONE of the things you are thinking of. OK, take a chart plotter & EPIRB!

Then after you have been cruising for a few months SLOWLY buy the stuff you really really really need.

An excellent place to buy chandelry is St Martin in the Carabbean as its a duty free port and Budget Marine there gives you an extra 10% off their prices... also you are close enough to home to buy stuff in the USA and have it flowen to you.

We bought a totally basic boat and have been going for 1 1/2 years and know now what we need and are heading to Thailand to get it and have it installed. But we have done the first 16,000NMs with very little.

However if you are rich please disregard this post and go bezerk at WestMarine
Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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Old 22-08-2009, 18:21   #13

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post

12. If you have any money left, radar may be worth a look.
Have to disagree with that, solo offshore radar with loud alarm is one thing I wouldnīt want to be without. But agree not having too many toys, canīt be fun sitting in a port for weeks waiting for a spare for something you donīt need anyway while everyone else has left .
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Old 22-08-2009, 20:13   #14
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1. Make the boat safe for ocean sailing. Rigging, balance suit of sails, internal plumbing systems, strong portholes and cockpit washboards and scuppers. Jacklines and reefing systems. Locking system on all lockers, cabinets and floor boards. Restraint systems for all open shelving in the boat.
2. Navigation. Sturdy autopilot when there is no wind and windvane when there is. Navigation knowledge from DR to chart reading to E-Nav. High power binoculars. Good foul weather gear. I would put radar as the top of the list after gps and nav systems.
Radar tells you where you "really" are, not where your charting system thinks you are. And uncharted things like reefs, floating major obstacles like shipping show up on radar along with fishing boats, panga's and other small boats that do not have any electrical systems.
After gps and nav systems and radar comes all the goodies like SSB transceivers, and other more exotic navigation assistance items.
3. Comfort gear like bimini's, awnings, food preparation and storage. Quality dinghy, motor and lots of different kinds of anchors, chain and nylon rodes. Windlass, boom brakes, etc., etc. Under comfort comes all the stuff that makes life at your destination pleasant rather than like camping out.
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Old 22-08-2009, 20:58   #15
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Nice Dink
Ham Radio
Hottie to cuddle with

Everything else falls into the bonus category...
I'm On point, On task, On message, and Off drugs. A Streetwise Smart Bomb, Out of rehab and In denial. Over the Top, On the edge, Under the Radar, and In Control. Behind the 8 ball, Ahead of the Curve and I've got a Love Child who sends me Hate mail. - (George Carlin)
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