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Old 07-22-2009
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What I learned

Well, I learned a lot! It had been almost 10 years since my last offshore/coastal passage, and my first as the skipper of my own boat. These lists are sort of random, and we didn't make any huge mistakes (thankfully), but I thought it might be useful to think through it.

Some mistakes...

- I could've waited a few more weeks to bring the boat home, and had a little warmer, more pleasant weather. On the other hand, that choice could have resulted in sunny skies, but blowing like snot out of the SW! Still, there was less urgency to get her home than I probably felt inside.

- We should have planned better for locations where we could refuel, etc. Although it ended up not being a huge problem, we spent a great deal of time trying to locate a marina that a) had diesel fuel, and b) was OPEN.

- Time probably didn't allow for this in reality, but I would have preferred to rebed all the deck hardware and chainplates before the trip. We did have some water coming into the boat in some spots, in addition to all the water we brought in ourselves. It was not unsafe, and I don't believe any actual damage was done. But more dry = more comfortable.

- I should have started looking for spare diesel jugs earlier in the process. Those that we bought, which are the very common, widely available sort, we got just before departure. They have the safety nozzles which keep them from venting, but make it nearly impossible to refill on the go. We had to top off our tank underway in the ocean. I'll just say this really was impossible without either spilling diesel or modifying the nozzle. Either option is bad.

- This is more of a purchase thing, but I should have known that just about any project that we didn't get done before launch would not get done until next year. We've been sailing Valinor so much that we've had no time to work on her. This is a good thing! But it was unrealistic to think we'd have "all this time" to get more projects done at home.

- Should have noticed that the stove had no pot holders (or whatever you call them) mounted on it. It made cooking much more difficult because we had to practically hold the pot in place. The stove/oven is gimbaled, which helped.

Some things done right...

- We had good crew, all able to sail and navigate alone if necessary.

- The boat was pretty well prepared. We had two test sails beforehand as well, and discovered a few things during those. We had plenty of provisions with hot and cold food, easy to prepare (or just eat right away).

- We chose the best route for the conditions, via NYC. That gave us a 1-day shakedown as well, before heading out into the ocean. The freshwater leak we had would've been much more nerve-wracking if we were already at sea when we thought we had a hull leak.

- We used a preventer at all times off shore. The boom stayed still even when we rolled, and didn't load up the rig too much.

- Harnesses and PFDs at all times. We were religious about it.

- Hot water at watch changes to top off the thermoses. Coffee, oatmeal, hot soup--kept the crew warm and happy even though it was wet.

- While sailing down the coast, we gave ourselves plenty of searoom, while still remaining within striking distance of shore.

- We reefed early, and stayed reefed at night.

And other stuff I learned:

- The Sabre 34 is nicely balanced, and the hull shape makes for a pretty comfortable ride. Even on the wind, we had little weather helm.

- I've been sailing beamy, flat-bottomed boats for a good while, so the initial healing of this boat took some getting used to. However, she locks in after that initial heal and the motion is comfortable.

- The old clamcleats that held the traveler line were shot and should have been replaced before we left.

- Bonine, taken in advance of heading offshore, is your friend.

I'll probably think of a bunch of other stuff too. Looking back on this list, I think I'm missing most of the good stuff. But it's a start, and I hope it makes for an interesting read. For me personally, it helps me recap the trip and my thoughts along the way.

Thanks for "listening"!
-J
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1984 Sabre 34 Mk I
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