Join Date: Oct 2001
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Graduating from Day Sailing to Cruising
As one goldfish said to the other: "Think outside the bowl!"
My experience was like yours. 22'' boat, and after a season of daysailing, I knew I wanted to try to GO somewhere. I just read, read, read, and threw myself into it. Here are the important things I learned:
1) I was perfectly capable of handling a small boat over many miles of coastline, and even channel crossing to island-hop. The sense of self-reliance was exhilarating!
2) I stowed too much food. I was in a marina every few days, and there was always a local market or supermarket within walking distance of the marina. Now I load staples and canned food, and then hop-and-shop for perishables.
3) STOW EVERYTHING AS IF THE BOAT WILL BE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND SHAKEN VIOLENTLY. This was my biggest lesson. Wind and waves heeled me over much more than I had experienced within my local breakwater, and everything I owned at one time or another spilled onto the decksole, and I got to watch it all flying off its perches through the companionway as I was fighting weather helm at the tiller. I learned to pack everything away securely and to put everything back after I''d used it. Besides loose items sitting on the setee, here is the short list of major things I forgot to secure:
a. ice chest (spilled everything onto the decksole)
b. gas can (tumbled over, spilled 2 gal. gas into bilge. Nasty cleanup)
c. battery (excessive heeling threw it out of its topless box; I went without electricity (autopilot, lights, VHF) until I made port AFTER sunset and had to re-connect it using a flashlight to see. Good thing the filler caps didn''t come off...)
4) After having to climb out onto the foredeck and douse the jib by hand in a strong wind (I did know enough to harness myself to the boat), I added a downhaul line, and now I can get the sail down without all that drama, and just scramble out to shock-cord it to the deck. Stuff it later.
5) Reduce canvass EARLY as the wind builds in the afternoon. Small boats sail more efficiently standing up.
6) Spare parts and tools are more important than food.
7) I single-handed: I needed a break from the tiller, if only to be able to relieve myself or make a sandwich. I had an auto pilot, but when the battery went, I lashed the tiller in place and she pointed into the wind wonderfully. You can''t spend 12 uninterrputed hours on the stick.
8) I was wetter and colder than I expected: I didn''t bring enough warm/waterproof clothing. It was August: who knew?
9) My outboard became my best friend a few times: make sure yours is running perfectly before you leave, and that you have spare parts.
I look back and laugh, but I was having the time of my life, and I learned more about sailing (and about myself) in those two weeks than I had all the previous summer. Go for it, try to anticipate, but be ready for the unexpected! You will conquer all the challenges in the end, using your skill and wits, and when you make port, you will sleep the exhausted-but-satisfied sleep of the man who has met the challenges of the day.