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  #1  
Old 04-28-2007
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Planning a Major Cruise

I've been restoring my vessel for three winters now. I have been sailing it the last two summers mostly in and around Penobscot Bay, usually solo.

My prior sailing was always regional such as Lake Champlain for 4 years, Chesapeake Bay for 3 years and now the tricky coast of Maine.

None the less, I have never made a blue water trip and am planning to bring my vessel from Maine to Chesapeake this coming fall. I am currently looking for two additional crew members who have some distance under their belts and plan to have a total of three on board.

My objective is to make one push from mid coast Maine to Cape Cod canal in one shot. From there, continue south past Pt. Judith and make the inside passage into LI Sound through NYC.

Next step is Cape May, then Delaware River, C&D Canal and back to familiar waters of the Chesapeake on the way to the Rappahannock.

I've owned several boats over the last 15 years but this is still a major trip for me even though I have hundreds of hours of sailing time.

My vessel has a recent engine, recent rigging, excellent sails, Chartplotter, SSB, VHF, MOB, C.A.R.D., backup GPS, B&G instumentation, Autohelm 4000 with backup in the box, new batteries, dual bilge pumps, two whaler hand pumps, jack lines, harnesses, self inflatable life jackets, tri color mast light and a host of other stuff that came with the boat.

The question is: AM I READY? Any advise out there?

Don
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Old 04-28-2007
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My question is how much bluewater experience and how much heavy weather experience do you have??

If you've never sailed out of sight of land.. it might be worth doing before committing to a longer voyage. Some people wig out if they can't see land... others have no problem with it.

Have you sailed in bad weather? Do you have experience reefing the sails and sailing in heavy weather? If not, I would get practice in reefing your sails and then take the boat out in bad weather, to get some experience.

The New Jersey coast can be very unforgiving and dangerous, given any heavy weather. Most of the harbors are unapproachable in heavy weather, due to the dangerous conditions at their entrances.

How good are your navigation skills... what would you do if the Chartplotter and backup GPS both went belly up??? Do you have paper charts for the areas you want to sail??

Fortunately, a Westsail 32 is a very seaworthy vessel and can take far more than most crew can. Being ready is more a mental game than a physical one... in many ways. If you have to ask, you probably aren't IMHO.
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Old 04-28-2007
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Don..welcome aboard and pay no attention to Grandma Dawg! (G) You gotta get your feet wet sometime and if you pay close attention to the weather and don't try to push anything you will be fine. You have a good boat and if you've been singlehanding a while now in fairly protected water...you know how she handles and are familiar with her nuances. I do have a couple of suggestions though.
1. Don't leave it too late. I would be heading south at the end of August rather than later.
2. Choose a more in-shore route on the first part of your trip to the Canal. The likelihood of bad weather and fog is higher there and there are plenty of places to duck in and it only adds a little to your trip if you don't have to head in to port.
3. Consider going offshore from Greenport LI to Norfolk instead of the coastal route through NYC and the Jersey coast. If you get a 3 day good weather window you can be safe and sound in Norfolk and a daysail away from the Rappahanock and have had a REAL open water passage that is not difficult. The route through LIS and Hellgate in the East River and along the Jersey coast is certainly do-able but will require more time and does not give you a true blue water passage under your belt. Of course...if you want to sight see...that is fine but with a couple of extra crew an offshore end- of- summer passage could be nice.

4. Equipment wise you've made some good preparations. Consider a radar...not just a card..you'll be in shipping lanes. Get third GPS and put it in a box with lots of batteries. I do not see an EPIRB or Liferaft on your list of equipment. What is your plan if you hit something or get knocked down and the boat starts to sink? BoatUS and other places have rentals suitable for short trips.
Good luck and welcome to the board.
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Old 04-28-2007
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I agree with Cam about going the southern route around Long Island. Unless you want to sight see dead bodies in the East River. It can be really crowded there with the commercial boats and very nerve racking, but very do able. We made the trip around the tip of LI to the southern shore and further many times in the late summer. As long as you get around by late september, you should be fine. It is a nice stretch of water if you avoid the storms.
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Old 04-28-2007
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About the third GPS... get one that is powered by AA batteries, and get the Energizer Photo Lithium AA batteries, and then vacuum-seal the batteries, in groups of the same size that you need to power the GPS, and then store the GPS and the vacuum-sealed batteries in a box for emergencies. The Photo Lithium batteries have about a 10-year shelf life with littel degradation in performance, and vacuum sealing them protects them from corrosion, water, etc.

Get radar if your boat has a battery bank big enough to handle the load it will generate.

If you plan on doing much bluewater sailing getting an EPIRB and registering it to the MMSI for your boat is probably a good idea. BoatUS has a rental program, but if you rent more than twenty weeks over five years, it is better to get your own, as they charge about $50 per week plus shipping, and an EPIRB is usually good for five years before it requires a battery replacement.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 04-28-2007 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 04-29-2007
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Hello everyone,

Thanks for the great advice and encouragement. Yes, I do have an EPIRB on board and have a 4 man coastal liferaft. I was considering getting a Garmin 76 GPS without the charts as I've heard they are a great little unit.

I do have dead reconing skills and know how to use my hand held compass to triangulate my position. I have all the paper charts from Maine to the Chesapeake. I have sailed my Westsail on the bay in 35 knot winds and have done so solo and practiced hoving to. I have a double reef main, a double reef staysail, a 110 jib on Harken roller, a Yankee, trysail, and code O.

I am pretty stuck on my departure time. I would have liked to leave in August but my wife and I run a seasonal business which continues after Labor Day but does quiet down enough for her to handle it alone.

Saying that, I will look for the first good weather window right after Labor Day. I don't have a schedule or time constraints. My intention is to look for a 48 hour weather window leaving Maine and ride a high pressure system from the north.

Good advice also on the route. A three day passage outside may be prudent to the Chesapeake Bay bridge. If weather cooperates, that would be a good alternative. Part of my desire to go inside LI sound is just the adventure of it and sight see.

I have heard from a couple of my Westsail brotheren who are willing to jump on board. Both are X Navy with years at sea and sailing experience. Both are open to as much time needed to make the voyage and can be ready within a couple days notice.

Having some apprehension is not all that bad. I have a LOT of respect for the sea. I agree that it would have been beneficial to have crewed for others to gain ocean experience but I believe I have the skills to get this trip done.

Again, thanks for your sincere comments and suggestions. I hope to see you out on the water.

Don
SV HERON

PS. After getting the boat down to the Chesapeake, I will drive back to Maine, finish the business commitments, and head back down with my wife to the boat and continue to venture south for a few months.
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You sound a lot better prepared than some people here have been, posting similar plans. The weather window will be tricky, given the timeframe, but really, if you have three guys on a Westsail 32, you can "give her" 24 hours a day and still get decent sleeps on a six-on/six off schedule with two people awake at any given time.

I would advise the following: Make sure you can make a PRIVATE sleeping area with strong lee cloths. You are going to have the tricky nav parts at the beginning and the end of your runs...when you are most likely to be tired and anxious.

Have your rigging examined top and bottom for weakness. If the halyard are worn, change them. If they are still good, but have a few years on them, end for end them. Have the righ properly tuned/tensioned and tape cotter pins, etc. Put lanyards and clips on certain tools like needle-nosed pliers and get some of those West Marine rigging knives...at $9/each, you can lay in a store for dropping overboard purposes...

Have your sails examined and perhaps reinforced with triple stitching and chafe pads. Make sure your reef lines WORK when needed, and have preventers and jacklines riggable in a hurry. Rig anti-chafe of your choice on the shrouds. Bring a storm jib.

Have your fuel polished and bring more in lashed jerrycans. Heavy weather moves gunk (the best thing to do would be to have the tanks cleaned out, but you probably don't have time for that!), so bring spare filters, belts, etc. You could just as easily hit 400 miles of light air and want to motor a fair bit.

If you have a furler, service it and make sure the furling line isn't worn. You are intended to ride on a starboard beam or broad reach and this will be a fast run, but you may have to reduce sail often. Make sure nothing catches or squeaks. Bring spare pins, shackle, and Allen keys you can't drop overboard!

You have the wrong boat for a fast passage, but you have the right boat for a safe passage if you get caught out. Carry double provisions and water. This means if you have to detour big time to avoid bad weather, you can head east or south (Bermuda? It's an "out"...carry a chart for it) or just hove to for 48 hours battened down if needed. Make sure your radio's in good order so you can listen to weather and can tell the Coast Guard you are fine if you have to stay out. Filing a sail plan to this end is prudent.

Lastly, if you are personally concerned with going offshore, try to crew this summer on a short passage on a similarly sized boat. That should tell you if you are up to this. Your boat sounds close to being ready as it is.

Good luck...sounds like a blast!
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Hello Valiente,

Thanks for taking the time to read this thread and providing some good advise.

I am having a local rigger come by in May before launch to go over the entire rig before she gets stepped. All wire was replaced in 1999 and was stored indoors for three years before I purchased the vessel. None the less, I want someone with experience to go over the rig and running rigging to look for any problems.

Lee cloths were installed on port and starboard settees. The V birth also has lee cloths.

There is lots of spare gear on board for shackles, blocks, spare halyards. Good anchor gear with 44 pound CQR, Bruce 33, Danforth 40, and a Fortress. I also have new anchor rodes. One is 300' high tinsle 3/8" and the other is 90' 3/8 chain with 250 nylon rode. I don't have a storm jib but just had my Hood Staysail modified so it can be reefed in heavy weather.

My fuel tanks were installed new in 1999. The prior owner had these replaced when he repowered. I don't know the condition of the fuel but have run the engine about 130 hours over the last two seasons without a glitch. I just replaced my Racor filters. The vessel has two Racors per tank for a total of 4 filters. The engine is a Yanmar 4jh3e which has 56 HP on a Max three bladed prop. I have back up belts, filters, impellars and just purchased the shop manual for the engine.

I agree that my vessel is not fast but is capable of 140 mile days and has done more than that in the past with the prior owner. Actually, this vessel won the Marion to Bermuda race in 1995.

Filing the sail plan is a prudent suggestion and will be done.

Lastly, you mentioned 6 hour shifts for a three man crew. You also mentioned two men on and one man resting. Could you elaborate a bit more on that?

I am also planning a solo run from Blue Hill Bay off shore past Isle au Haut and then back to Owls Head. I won't be in sheltered waters but will be within sight of land (islands) most of the time. It will give me some feel of ocean swells and steady winds.

My sails are all recent Hood sails with triple stitching and chafe protection.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge.

Don
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Thanks for taking the time to read this thread and providing some good advise.

Hey, you are doing what I hope to do sooner! Besides, I have a soft spot for Westsail 32s, thanks to the snarly books of Ferenc Mate.

I am having a local rigger come by in May before launch to go over the entire rig before she gets stepped. All wire was replaced in 1999 and was stored indoors for three years before I purchased the vessel. None the less, I want someone with experience to go over the rig and running rigging to look for any problems.

That's prudent. An effective date of 2002 is new enough to avoid most age and wear and tear problems, but if there's a compromised tang or swage that a dye test would reveal (and that hasn't shown itself because you weren't in offshore conditions), it's best to find it at the dock.

Lee cloths were installed on port and starboard settees. The V birth also has lee cloths.

Nice. I really believe that sleep is probably more important than fuel on passage.

I don't have a storm jib but just had my Hood Staysail modified so it can be reefed in heavy weather.

Ah, OK. Glad to hear you are cutter rigged. I am a big fan of staysails, especially if you can reef them down. Your ground tackle inventory is huge by contemporary standards: Hal Roth would approve!

I have back up belts, filters, impellars and just purchased the shop manual for the engine.

Jeez, I don't know why you are worried...you've hit about every point on my mental checklist!

Actually, this vessel won the Marion to Bermuda race in 1995.

Nice!

Filing the sail plan is a prudent suggestion and will be done.

Lastly, you mentioned 6 hour shifts for a three man crew. You also mentioned two men on and one man resting. Could you elaborate a bit more on that?


Here's my logic for a short but intense passage.

If the passage is three days and you have three men of reasonable stamina and skill, you have 72 hours at hand. I can't recall if you have a windvane, but let's assume conditions are such that you decide to actively steer and trim the sails.

Normally, you'd want four hour watches, but I think if you can do a six-hour watch consisting of three on deck and three below, you can have a six hour sleep for each man in a 24 hour day, plus a three hour nap on a night "dog-watch". This leaves nine "awake and available" hours, of which three are a further deck watch, and six is "light duty/reading/galley". If you have Crew A, B, and C, you stagger B's start time by three hours initially, so that A takes the first trick, B sleeps or loafs until three hours pass, and C starts with "light duty". C cooks for A and B at the three-hour mark, and relieves A at the helm, who goes below and loafs. B then becomes "the active" and available crew, and A cooks or cleans (or plots or fixes) and then retires.

Man...I think I need to draw a diagram...Anyway, the idea is basically that B is the swing shift, and will work half with A and half with C and that no one needs to spend more than three hours on deck and in charge, and of course can call for relief from whoever is "active" below without waking up the guy who is "off". This presumes, of course, that all three can cook, steer and plot...


I am also planning a solo run from Blue Hill Bay off shore past Isle au Haut and then back to Owls Head. I won't be in sheltered waters but will be within sight of land (islands) most of the time. It will give me some feel of ocean swells and steady winds.

My sails are all recent Hood sails with triple stitching and chafe protection.


Please post how it all goes. You have a very good start.
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Old 04-29-2007
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Hey Valiente,

I had to read the watch schedule a couple times but it makes good sense. Someone is at full rest for at least 6 hours while one is at helm and the other is standby and relaxing for three hours. It will make more sense when it's on paper.

The Westsail gets launched out of her heated barn on May 29th. I redesigned her cabin over the winter adding more storage cabinets and re working the table from fixed to bulk head mount. New bottom paint is done, zinks are replaced, Max prop is lubricated, seacocks greased, varnish finished.

One more project is to finish converting the Shipmate K-1 stove to propane. Parts are ordered. Can't wait to taste that salt water.
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