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docinsand 12-06-2011 00:20

" Nice to haves " for 6mos. in Caribbean ?
In my continuing plan for a 6 month round trip from the lower Chesapeake to the Caribbean, I have some more questions regarding equipment. I think theses items would fall under the category of "nice to have." You may disagree so here goes...


This seems particularly useful at night or during periods of low visibility. Our trip would likely involve going down the ICW or perhaps the straight shot the Bahamas (~6days). From there we would island hop for as long as would be comfortable and then come home the same way. From my reading and experience bareboating in the Caribbean, it seems that the trips can mostly e accomplished during daytime and that there is rarely decreased visibility.


We are planning to have tankage for ~70 gallons of fresh water. There are three of us including seven year old boy. I think we can adapt to a reasonable ration, but I don't want to be in survival mode or showering in seawater and using a bug sprayer for fresh water. That's an admirable tactic for some, but would likely take much of the fun out of for my admiral. Sailing, yes, camping, no.

Who wouldn't like the extra supply of freshwater of course, but I realize it comes with the expense and hassle of installing, maintaining and powering it. None the less, this seems close to the top of the list if getting water is going to involve the cost and inconvenience of finding it and carrying it aboard in jugs.


Our five trips bareboating to the Caribbean were in the "off season." The summer fit in with school breaks and our budgets. Mostly it was fine, but on more then one occasion I recall the misery of being huddled around a pitiful cabin fan, sweltering and trying to sleep in a Benadryl haze. The wise guys on the crew wanted to change the name of the boat to "Amistad."

I believe that in the period we are planning, November to May, the weather is more reliably pleasant. A cool breeze and a squadron of cabin fans should do it I think. I do have a Honda eu 2000 that runs our carry on cruise air unit. It has been a Godsend in the summers of Pensacola and the Chesapeake, but I was hoping I wouldn't need it in the Caribbean during the winter.


Yikes, with all this stuff the power's going to half to come from somewhere!

In reality, I am hoping that the a/c is not necessary and that perhaps some solar panels and a beefed up battery/alternator system would be enough to run the fridge and water maker as needed


All of the above will likely have a small effect on the waterline...

Thanks for your opinions...

svBeBe 12-06-2011 01:32

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
We have been cruising for 6 years. All of your questions are sound and I am certain that you will have multiple and conflicting answers. The problem I have in accurately answering your questions is that there are variables which you have not stated such as what is the meaning of "nice to have" and what is your budget?

If money were no object, then you know the answer.

On passages radar's primary use is to identify targets (moving and stationary) which cannot be seen and to identify storms which have a tendency to sneak up on you. Question: You did not mention AIS which is also helpful in identifying some targets.

Water: We (two people) use an average of 55 liters/day (7 gal/pp/day). This includes everything and a clothes washing machine which uses 50 liters/load. If you consumed as much, you would use 2.5 X 7 = 19 gal/day for 2 1/2 people. My guess is that you could trim this to about 12 gal/day which will give you almost 6 days before needing water. You could increase this by adding some 5 gallon jerry jugs for water, and since water is going to be readily available in the Eastern Caribbean, you should consider the cost/reward. If I could identify common mistakes that people new to cruising make is underestimating the amount of electricity needed for cruising, underestimating the output of their choice of water maker, and underestimating the cost of cruising.

Air Conditioning:
It is extremely rare that I see a non-charter cruising boat of less than 60 feet running a generator and air-conditioning while at anchor. Marina, yes, at anchor, no. Get yourself lots of fans, and btw, remember power are probably going to need more that you thought.

Genset (Battery Bank & Alternator):
Lots depends on this. You said that you have a Honda eu 2000. This can run a battery charger and many cruising boats use small Honda-type generators to top-off their batteries. Almost all cruising boats have a beefed-up battery bank and a high-output engine-mounted alternator. Many have some solar panels and all that we have met who have wind generators say they wish they would have put that money into solar. We have a large battery bank 660 amp/hrs at 24 volts, a 175 amp 24 volt alternator and a 7.5kw 220 volt diesel generator. We made the decision not to invest in solar because we already owned the above power generating/storage items and the payback in solar would be 5+ years.

And, most importantly:
I know many fellow circumnavigators who sought advice from others in this and other forums who today say that most of the advice they received from these forums was from arm chair sailors who were clueless. My best advice is to go with what you have, figuring out what you need along the way. It may slow you down, but you will be thankful if you equip for what you know you need rather than listening to an arm chair expert who convincingly offers you credentials of their expertise.

Hope this helps in your decision making.

BeBe, Amel Super Maramu
Currently, Kea, Greek Islands

roverhi 12-06-2011 01:47

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
If you are cruising on that Catalina 28, you are going to be seriously cramped to find space for the water maker, other appliances and the electrons to power it. You might get by with a wind generator if you can handle the noise. some are better than others. Solar panels work but they require a lot of real estate for enough panels to power a host of electron eating appliances that a floating condo has. If you can't get by without all the conveniences of civilization, you need a big boat and lots of bucks to buy and keep all the gadgets running, not a periscope.

We may be weird but just didn't have a problem with salt water bathing. It was a natural part to cruising. We were in the water swimming and snorkeling constantly. The only time we rinsed off was when we washed our hair. Then, a bit more than a quart of water rinsed us off. If you have to take constant showers, you are not going to be get by without a water maker. Water catchment took care of all our water needs in the tropics. We never had to go into a marina/harbor to fill the tanks. That wouldn't be the case in Baja Mexico even with our low water consumption, however. The best way to lower water consumption is to permanently disable the pressure water system.

If you have an awning to keep the sun off the deck of the boat and catch rainfall for water, the boat will largely stay livable when you are on the hook in conjunction with a wind catcher on the fore hatch. The hook is what cruising is all about so the boat is usally faired into the wind. We used a pup temp like awning on the foredeck to force the prevailing wind down the fore hatch. That kept a nice breeze wafting through the boat. During the day we spent almost no time below, in any case. Without the decks reradiating solar heat soaked up during the day, the boat cooled right down almost as soon as as the sun was gone. The only problem time was the early evening when the wind died when it was transitioning from sea to land breezes and we were generating heat cooking. A couple of fans in the galley took care of that. The boat was still fine on deck. BTW, that was a summer in French Polynesia which was about as hot and humid as it gets. Even the tropics are cooler in the winter in any case.

Radar is nice to have in areas where zero visibility is common but still not a necessity even there. Believe it or not, people still cruised even those areas in the pre GPS days without radar. GPS is extremely accurate and areas with mapping issues are places that haven't been surveyed recently. Not areas in the north where you see a lot of fog. You are cruising anyway. If you don't feel comfortable entering an anchorage in the dark or poor visibility, heave to and hang out till the sun comes up or the fog burns off. The biggest problem with low visibility is the jerks in their power boats cruising at max throttle because they feel safe having radar. If they aren't constantly monitoring the radar screen and they probably aren't, they are just unguided cruise missiles. AIS will hopefully keep you from being the target if you and they have it on board.

docinsand 12-06-2011 02:26

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?

Thanks for your thorough and detailed response and opinion.

To fill in some blanks: Yes this will be a budget conscious endeavor. I am trying to take advantage of a pending break in my career. I'll leave the military in about 15 months and will hopefully be able to arrange our lives and finances to go for about six months. Our son will be seven which we hope will temper the shock of leaving his friends, school and our "normal lives."

Essentially, this trip will be an added expense vice a shift from land to sea life. More of an extended vacation, thus the budget. My thoughts are that we probably won't be going in style, but we are going. I've seen too much tragedy in my line of work to put it off. If the trip goes well and we enjoy it, my wife and I can go in style and further afar when we retire and the boy's off at college. I don't want to miss this opportunity because we couldn't afford a bigger boat with all the bells and whistles. Enough philosophy...

Agreed if money were no option I'd get it all. In short, we're hoping to spend about $60,000 for the boat and $10-15 in upgrades. That’s not much to work with. It sounds like for my circumstance: A/C is not necessary. AIS makes more sense than radar. Improve/maximize the batteries, alternator and solar aspects. Forget a built in generator and bring the portable Honda for use when needed. Perhaps a water maker if budget and power availability allow.

Again, thanks for your advice and time.

On a separate note, we did a bareboat charter out of Athens in 2002. We were five couples on a 65 sloop. What a wonderful time. It was quite a boat and about 25 feet more than I had ever commanded. Luckily, we didn’t bend/break it! The sailing and surroundings were so great. Because of the winds meltmi (sp?) in the summer, we went to Hydra, Dhokos, Agea and a few others. Wow what a trip! We had such a wonderful experience. I imagine you are enjoying on an even grander scale. I just glanced at your blog, but plan on digging into it more. With three more months before I come home from Afghanistan, it's this kind of vicarious escape that keeps me going!


docinsand 12-06-2011 02:37

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
Yikes, sorry for the confusion, but we just sold the Catalina 28. I have not found the strength to remove it from my profile. A guy needs a chance to mourn…

That was the next step toward the cruise. I am looking at a variety of other boats. I outlined that process in another thread on this forum. I'm not sure how to make a link to it, but it is entitled: "Island Packet 31 6mos in Caribbean."

That boat is not much bigger than the Catalina 28, I admit, but might do if I don't add all the junk we're talking about.

Thanks Peter for the input. Yes, we have a "down the hatch" wind scoop and it is a great help. The awning makes a lot of sense. We also love the saltwater, but I am trying to make this less of a shock tot he admiral. She usually surprises me with her ability to adapt, but we'll see.

On a side note, we were stationed at Barber's Point in '93-95 and lived in Aiea. What a wonderful place to live.



sck5 12-06-2011 06:24

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
just back from an 8 month carib cruise in a caliber 33 - a boat you should check out, by the way - sails way better than an IP -

didnt have a water maker and 60 gallons were fine for two of us and an occasional guest. We had to visit a fuel dock or marina every week or and took showers in several marinas where outsiders could get away with it or pay a nominal charge for it. a water maker would have been nice but certainly wasnt necessary in the caribbean - they have water there and in some places will even deliver it to your boat

air conditioning is completely unnecessary when anchored out. there is always a breeze! nice to have in a marina though.

we had radar and liked it but could have gotten away without it. we didnt encounter that much traffic anywhere but in the anegada passage

as someone said above, you will almost inevitably need more electricity. we ended up putting solar panels on our boat in st. lucia - relatively cheap and good stainless steel guys in the boatyard there by the way - because we were running the engine too much to power our various toys. Solar takes a while to pay back but it was well worth it to have free, quiet, clean electrons from the sky rather than running any kind of genset or the motor to recharge. Nothing kills the ambience of a beautiful anchorage like the smell of diesel.

best way to limit water usage on our boat - kill the electric pump and make people use the fresh water foot pump in the galley. but as my clean freak wife said - the first thing to go is hygiene. You really do get used to taking fewer showers. As long as everyone takes one at the same time you dont really notice it all that much.

zeehag 12-06-2011 06:41

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
must have---autopilot.
nice to have---money; crew
would love to have watermaker
screens for ports and companionway---nice to have. if not---FLYSWATTERS!!!
tarps for covering boat in hot sun and in rain...make one a watercatcher
fishing gear is good to have.

MarkJ 12-06-2011 06:43

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?

Originally Posted by docinsand (Post 705999)
a 6 month round trip from the lower Chesapeake to the Caribbean,


No need. No fog. Keep eyes open
Saving $2,000 / 26 weeks = $77 per week


I would LOVE a watermaker. But for 6 months? Divide 26 weeks by $10,000. Save $384 per WEEK!


, November to May,

Can be cold at night. Only hot during the day on land. I don't think you need AC. swim lots :)
Saving, say $1,000 = $38 per week


Without the above stuff you don't need a Genset.
Saving unknown but say $2,000 (Honda petrol 1.5kw portable genset)
save $77 per week.


Oh yes! I want one of those :)

So lets just add up the savings: $576 per week!

Now for that, you can really have a great time: Lots of touristing, tours, resturant meals, fun and excitement :)

Palarran 12-06-2011 06:50

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
Standard Horizon makes an inexpensive AIS receiver/VHF. You might check that out. If your only going for 6 months, it would bag all the stuff. Maybe get one of those Honda generators to recharge the batteries.

zeehag 12-06-2011 06:54

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
if you have a garmin gps, you HAVE ais..LOL just follow directions in the owner manual for making it work. even the 498 has it-- use nmea instructions to hook it up..LOL save a lot of dough by using what ye got.
there are very few ships to contact while underway. i had no problem sailing south even in shipping channels--- we used my radar very very rarely. we didnt need ais.....even with shipping traffic-- was easy to discern their directionality and avoid... they are well lit. save the money for cold drinks in hotville--you will want that a lot..LOL

btw--a watermaker may be superfluous in carib-- thre is actual drinking water there without problems from monty's revenge, and filtration is easily added for little dough to boat faucets for safety...

instead of airconditioner--think FAN.... just move the air and is a lot cooler in warmness.....

teejayevans 12-06-2011 07:08

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
I would add a SSB receiver to get weather forecasts...$100-$200

Charlie 12-06-2011 07:14

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?
Thanks for your service in Afghanistan. I have not sailed the Caribbean but we did sail from San Diego to Cabo with wife and two kids and a crew member. We sprung a leak in the plumbing but on a two week trip still didn't use all 160 gallons. I would use a jerri can to get five gallons of water any time I went ashore. This would extend the time you need to go to a marina. I was given this advice (and didn't follow it) Use the boat for six months before you buy any must have items. If I had done that I would have saved myself $5k.

MarkJ has hit it spot on. Use the money you save to have fun.

zeehag 12-06-2011 07:37

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?

Originally Posted by teejayevans (Post 706157)
I would add a SSB receiver to get weather forecasts...$100-$200

look hard-- the ssb receivers are a lot more than 100-200 dollars-- my brother is seeking one for me. use your laptop or netbook for weather, as the wifi is all around you and decent.
i would buy a wifi antenna booster or antenna before spending 1000 dollars on an ssb for 6 months.......yes they ARE 1000 dollars, even used.

MarkJ 12-06-2011 07:45

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?

Originally Posted by zeehag (Post 706177)
ssb receivers .


:) Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception: Electronics

$131 at Amazon. $200 in the shops.

zeehag 12-06-2011 08:02

Re: "Nice to haves" for 6mos. in Caribbean?

Originally Posted by MarkJ (Post 706188)

oooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh--will turn my bother on to that--but i thinks me momma wanted me to be able to send also........hhhmmmmmmm....would there be a lot to an upgrade after installation????

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