A Discussion of the Philosophies of Cruising and Circumnavigating
THere are many philosophies regarding cruising and, more so, circumnavigating. There are those that may tend to go over the top (much like myself, to admit honestly) where I want to travel in comfort and as much safety as possible. On the other side of the scale, is the "KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid), Go smaller, go now" philosophy.
I would invite both the new and seasoned sailor into this discussion. I believe there should be some disclosure up front as to your sailing experience. It would add merit to your comments and philosophies. Your experience is not meant to remove the validity of your arguments... it is to help the discussion along.
Let's remember thgat we are all friends here and each person is granted his own opinions. Respect them and try to understand their point of view - whether you agree with them or not.
I would like this thread to be informative and a good guide to current and future sailors who wish to embarq on the dream of the deep blue.
Let's kick it off and have fun with it.
After crunching the numbers in my head, the only over-riding philosophy for going bluewater to me would mean get a boat thats either:
1) Paid for/off completely (cash)
2) Pay for the boat with home-equity or other sources of cash
If you're going to buy a bluewater boat, even those as storied as Valiants, will require you to have insurance and all the associated restrictions/covenants that go along with it. Bluewater insurance on a boat thats got a note on it is prohibitively expensive.
Now, if you get a boat with cash or home equity - there's a certain aspect of "self insurance" that goes along with it. Have enough equity on top of it to be able to limp back home if something happens to your bluewater yacht.
Circumnavigating I don't get or understand. It has been done so many times now. Saying I want to sail to Spain and then Greece and maybe Africa, I do understand. Circumnavigating seems more like something people say when they don't know where they really want to go, me I rather sail to Spain then Greece and then ......
At this point in my super-newb career, I honestly have no desire at all to circumnav. I like the idea of coastal cruising and island hopping - and maybe a crossing at some point. And that's what I'm working up toward.
But I'm with Free - I just want to have some destinations and get to them as safely as possible - then drink.
Well on OP big race boats
I have never gone more than 48+ hours non-stop (3 to 4 hour watches) BUT it was a whole lot of distance races over a 3 season time frame and it was really intense with there being no such thing as a weather window
If it stopped blowing we anchored if it blew 50 double reef and Kevlar #3 and we got really freaking wet.
On my own J24 which we bought when we were twenty something's it was picked because it could sail well and it has 4 places to sleep.
It was equipped with a boom tent for the rain a curtain around the porta potty and two solar shower bags tied around the mast base to get clean.
I really cant tell you how many weekends myself wife and her twin sister and husband spent camping on the boat but it was a lot as the Jamesport to Montauk area was hard to get bored with.
In the present i bought a another J24 because a J80 cost to much :) and the J80 mast is a bit to tall to step yourself and we still refuse to put up with being held hostage to the Long Island boat yard Mafia.
I still like doing foredeck on big race boats and you cant pay me to camp in a J24 anymore
And anything more than a good 200 mile race is still more than enough time on a boat for me :)
My personal philosophy on cruising/circumnavigating/bluewater sailing is admittedly largely based on my anticipated budget. Obviously if I had unlimited funds I'd opt for a big Oyster with air, heat, refer, radars, watermakers, RIB's, lifeboat, solar/wind/diesel generators, hotwater, SSB, autopilot, sat phone, redundant chartplotting GPS's, and just about any other piece of fluff available.
However, the reality is that I don't (and won't) have an unlimited budget. If I ever circumnavigate or make a major bluewater trip it will likely be in an "old shoe" that can be had for less than $75k (read Westsail 32/28, Southern Cross 31, Baba 30/35, PSC 27/31 Mariah, etc.). My techno and safety must-haves will be a liferaft, windvane steering, at least two GPS units, solar panels, plentiful tankage, raincatch system, and likely an SSB (perhaps only receiver). I'm with the Pardey's when they say "go small, go now". If I wait for the fully loaded Osyter with all the cozy comforts, I'll never go.
As has been said many times by many long-distance cruisers: The extra fluff on a boat doesn't make the scenary in Hiva Oa any prettier or the wildlife in the Galapagos any more exotic or the weather any better in the Seychelles. In fact, I've heard many bluewater cruisers say their only regret is not having cast off the lines sooner in life. My goal is to make the adventure happen before my kids are too old to not want to come along.
I started sailing my own boat in 1991 after taking basic1,2, and coastal ASA on S.F. Bay. 18 months later I left alone with my ex-wife standing on the dock. I sailed as far as Cabo, and back alone. I also did a sail over to P.V. Mexico with one crew. My wife to P.V., and a friend back to Cabo. Frolic is a 30ft. Columbia shoal draft.
I was of the mindset of go now, and go with the minimum. I stayed a total of 5 months in Mexico. While Frolic stayed 2 years. I flew in, and out as I earned money. I was 41, fit, poor, enthusiastic, and life was grand.
After returning to S.F. I stumbled around from job to job, and eventually opened my own business. The business was a huge success, and after 5 years I sold out. I bought Imagine in St. Maarten in 02. In 03 I, and my new wife with only 2 afternoons of sailing flew to St. Maarten to board Imagine.
A friend joined us, and we three sailed for Florida. Over the next 4 years my wife, and I have managed Imagine alone. Sailing the east coast of Florida, and months at a time in the Bahamas using South Beach as a hub.
For nearly 3 years now I have been back to work. Last June we took the month off, and raced to Miami, Acklin Island, and back to Jax Florida. Hopefully SOON I will quit work, and we will sail for the Philippines.
I put 4k miles on Frolic alone going to, and from Mexcio. I weathered 50+ mph winds around Point Conception with 20ft. + seas. I hand steered for 48 hours trying to beat up the coast of Mexico when the autopilot failed. I was thrown across Frolic's salon, and my head split open in a storm. I was thrown from her deck in yet another storm only to be drug back up onto the house by my harness. It was a strong learning curve, but all it did was deepen my desire to sail.
We have sailed Imagine nearly 10k miles in the areas described. We have seen 40 mph winds from every direction a boat can sail in. Imagine is a cold molded 46ft. cat built in Berlin by the Schmidt boatyard in conjuction with the original owner.
She has so much storage we can't fill it. She is approximently 15k pounds according to the designer Roger Simpson. The surveyor told me she was strong enough to break icebergs. I don't plan on testing his opinions although sometime in my life she may see icebergs. One never knows where life will take them.
Imagine is a speed demon compared to Frolic. We have managed 450 miles in in 48 hours. The last part of the trip from West Palm to Miami we crawled with one hull on the beach fighting the Stream. Imagine is palacial compared to Frolic. My first 4 years on Imagine I didn't work.
So here I have had 2 boats. One slow, and with the minimum of comfort as compared to the other. 2 different scenarios, one being broke, and the other with money. I can say this about Frolic, and being broke. The sunsets were as pretty. The chilled beer was just as tasty. I was younger, and could tolerate more discomfort.
My body aches, and my nimbleness is not so nimble anymore. I want more comfort, and I was able to afford it. Imagine sails flat all the time, and things stay in place. As you can see I have experienced both. All I can suggest is to just go. Go when you can, and with what you have. You can always make more money, but you can't make more time. This hits me hard especially right now. A friend of 40 years died yesterday at the age of 55. I have lived my life with no what ifs. I have not regretted living in this way.
We all get through life differently. We all have different needs, and wants. I worry that if I had waited until I could have afforded Imagine. It may not have happened. You see it was Frolic that made me focused. It was the being thrown overboard, my head split open, and all the discomforts in sailing that made me focused, and to become successful. Many of my friends call the trip on Frolic a failure. I call it a success, and an adventure that deepened the desire to sail. Go with what you have, and while you have your health.......BEST WISHES in sailing into adventure......i2f
I have been sailing "large boats" for approximately 15 years or so now. I have sailed in Galveston through the shipping channel, off the coast of California, I have been offshore from Oxnard to Catalina Island and San Diego. About 8-9 years ago, I moved to S Florida with my wife and young child. We lived aboard and cruised about every inch of land including considerable time in the Tortugas. At this point I have 2 children, Chase is now 8 about to turn 9, Glen is 5. We spend almost every weekend on our Catalina 400 on Lake Texmoa, about 100 yards from where they lay up Valiant Yachts. My parents, who did some cruising with us (especially dad), have purchased a Tayana 42. We work together on both boats, so I can comfortably say that I am as knowledgeable of a Tayana 42 as I am my 400, my 380, and not as much as other boats I have sailed.
My philosophy is safety and "comfort". I do not believe in purchasing every gadget known to man, but I have found many of the modern "gadgets" add a level of safety and comfort which I will not leave home without. I also believe that they have made further destinations/shores within the reach of more people that otherwise might never have considered them.
The items I feel are essential to cruising are:
1) SSB - I have to be able to have some link of communication and be able to get weather information. You lose that about 20-25 miles offshore with only a VHF. Also, the ability to email is a cheap way to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
2) Radar - I doubt there is a piece of equipment on my boat I value more than radar. I remember one time in particular when coming in from Catalina Island and being RUN OVER by all the frieghters. Several changed their course at the last second (or so it appeared to us at the helm). THey are litterally on you in minutes. But even more so, it allows me to see markers when coming into a harbor at night, it allows me to watch for other, smaller boats, it can track the rain storms and how then are moving, and gives you eyes in the fog or when visibility is poor. I would NOT go crusiing without radar unless I never left sight of land.
3) Chartplotter. I MIGHT go cruising without a chartplotter, but it would be out of neccessity. The value in a CP cannot be overestimated. It allows you to consistently know exactly wher eyou are and if nothing else to verify your bearings that you have plotted on paper. It makes night navigation vastly easier and safer. It allows you to set in waypoints arnd areas of danger. It allows you to plot courses to minimize your passages. I do not consider it a toy for those too lazy to plot on paper - nor do I put all my trust in it. I do plot on paper every 30mins offshore. I have had them fail twice on me (once I think to lightning... to be fair). Still, it is a great safety and convenience tool. I agree with those who believe that it is too heavily relied on, but it has many positives which make it pretty hard to leave home for me.
4) Autopilot. If youa re going to do any long distance sailing, I cannot imagine going without a windvane or autopilot (the latter having both its positives and negatives). I believe one of the two is a must. A windvane is prefered by many offshore sailors as it requires no power and does better in storms. The autopilot is preferred by many because it account for XTE and interfaces with a Chartplotter to make passages a breeze. They each have their positives and negatives, not to mention costs.
5) EPIRB. Don't leave home without it.
6) Solar/Wind generation. You are required to run lights at night, your electronics draw considerable power, even the bilge pump will pull 5 amps/day. Since most boats are limited in their capacity to incorporate many batteries (with 2-4-D's being typical), you have about 24-48 hours max without power regeneration of some type. Solar and wind can vastly increase the amount of time away from mechanical power generation. We did not have solar or wind on our 380, but we had a diesel generator. Solar is better - much better.
7) Refrigeration. This is not a necessity. I understand that. But I want to enjoy my time at sea, and not live off of dried foods and can foods. I want to enjoy my time at anchor (where you spend 99% of your time) as the same.
8) Tankage. Lots of it, both water and fuel. Each person must consume in water 1/2 gallon-day in normal circumstances or you will dehydrate. However, when sitting in the hot sun of the tropics or working a winch or doing other strenuous activities, that number will go up considerably. You also have to have some water to cook. You have to have some water to wash your hands before cooking and hopefully after you use the restroom. You have to use your main for power regeneration and to motor through some storms and to get off a lee shore, and to go down the ICW, etc. Tankage has to be a serious concern.
9) Boat. I believe a boat should be comfortable down below. It is your home, not a weekend vacation where roughing it is fine. It has to have a lot of room for storage of goods and spare parts. I believe in a well-performing boat, boat one that can take a beating in the 5% storms you will encounter. We can discuss this in more depth later.
10) Room for a tender. I believe you must have a tender. We ended putting countelss miles on ours. I think the resano for this should be obvious.
This is not my complete list, but it is a start. It gives you a good idea of my philosophies and what I believe a cruiser (especially a circum) should take. I would apprecaite other's thoughts.
Good list CD. Well thought out.
How do you feel about life rafts?
I'm still not sold on radar as a necessity. I agree they are a nice luxury. However, they draw a lot of power when active. And the shipping lane example you gave about the ships bearing down on you and changing course at the last moment was because they were using radar, not because you were. So a radar REFLECTOR might be more valuable as a safety tool, though I've heard their effectiveness is debateable too.
I'm on the fence with EPIRB's too for circumnavigating and bluewater passagemaking. I believe that if you choose to circumnavigate and/or make a major bluewater passage you need to be fully confident in your sailing and survival skills and not rely one bit on rescue from others. If your EPIRB signal is being emitted, you've encountered a major problem and you're likely too far from help for it to matter in the immediate future. But I could be wrong. I'm a bit jaded about EPIRB's after having read Steve Callahan's book Adrift. His EPIRB didn't help and he was constantly rationing it's battery life.
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