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vega1860 02-06-2008 01:22 PM

The most important piece of equipment
 
Before we left Hawaii our friends in the Ala Wai had lots of advice about what we needed. One was even interviewed later, after we had been reported overdue at our destination, and told how he had advised us not to leave without a SSB set. Advice we chose not to follow for our own reasons. Most of our friends were concerned that we would not be able to call for help or check in with family and friends during our Northward crossing of the Pacific to Puget Sound. They thought we should carry a satelite phone, SSB or even a ham set or have some sort of email capability. But we considered an EPIRB and VHF adequate.

Our crossing should have taken 28 to 36 days. There has been at least one crossing by a sistership to our Lealea in just 26 days. We made our landfall at Tatoosh island on day 55. We had been reported overdue and some of our friends and relatives were concerned, especially when the Coast Guard called them for information about our plans and our vessel, but those who know us and our experience and our boat were not worried.

The most important piece of equipment? I had balked at the expense knowing that nearly all of the accounts I had read of past voyages by others in similar boats had been made without it. My wife and First Mate pursuaded me, however, and so I installed the Powersurvivor 40E watermaker a few days before we left. We carried 45 gallons of fresh water in the main tank and in five gallon jugs; a heavy load for our Vega 27. It would have been enough for a normal passage and possibly even for our longer-than-planned 55 day voyage. But the water maker made the difference between peace of mind and high anxiety or worse.

We arrived at Neah Bay with six gallons left in the main tank, never having had to conserve even a little bit on water use. In fact, once we realized that the watermaker would easily provide our needs, we made a point of using up the water in the jugs to lighten the load. We ran the watermaker for two to two and a half hours every other day to fill our day use tank without seriously draining our house batteries which were kept charged by solar panels and occasionally running the engine.

We do not regret not having nor do we plan to install any more sophisticated long range communication equipment. That does not mean that others should not do so. We do however consider the ability to survive on our own more important than the ability to call for help or talk to friends and relatives while at sea. Though my mother in law disagrees:rolleyes:

I posted nother thread about our trip in the General Discussion forum but didn't mention the water maker there.

Malie ke kai

sailingdog 02-06-2008 01:35 PM

Vega1860-

Just as a warning, I would highly recommend that even with the watermaker, that you use the water properly, leaving at least as much in the tanks as you'd need to make whatever remaining distance to your next landfall plus about a 40-50% safety margin. Use the RO water for every thing else....but leave the water in the tanks, just in case the RO watermaker fails. If you want to splurge, use the RO water to splurge with, not the tank water.

I had a friend who nearly lost his life from not doing this... and their water maker failed unexpectedly about a week from port. They were pretty thirsty by the time they made port and a bit dehydrated, since their tanks were basically bone dry.

Plumper 02-06-2008 01:36 PM

It is notable that without the ability to call for help or the ability to inform your family and friends that you were fine, you cause unnecessary grief, work and expense.
I was at a pre-race brief for the Van-Isle 360 a couple years ago and the organizers wanted everyone to carry EPIRBs and to check in on a comms schedule. Many argued with that saying they preferred to be independent. The Coast Guard pointed out that if they were overdue, the effort would be made to find them anyway. Having the proper comms/EPIRB just made the job easier or saved them from even looking at all.
While proper comms equipment may not trump the watermaker, it would be nice if people didn't start looking for you when you don't need help.

sailingdog 02-06-2008 01:46 PM

Plumper-

An EPIRB does nothing to help you check in on a comms schedule.

An EPIRB is a specific, emergency use only device.

An SSB radio or satellite phone would be far more effective in letting your friends and family communicate with you and keeping them from calling the authorities prematurely. Even one of those new Spot Messenger devices would be better than an EPIRB in terms of notifying people to your whereabouts in routine situations.

teshannon 02-06-2008 01:57 PM

SD,
I was thinking the same thing, sounds like an ideal use for the Spot Messenger.

Stillraining 02-06-2008 02:00 PM

Vega
 
Are you the young Canadian couple that was overdue?

I never heard the final say on them.

Plumper 02-06-2008 02:13 PM

Saildog, I am aware of EPIRBs and SSBs. I have both and a Ham licence. I guess my grammar was a little off if you thought I meant you could indicate you are safe with an EPIRB.

My real point was, if you are overdue but safe, it would be nice to let someone know.

Simple courtesy.

sailingdog 02-06-2008 02:18 PM

That was my thought... but the Spot Messenger does have some serious holes in its coverage areas... but not too bad for most cruising sailors. While you couldn't really vary the message specifically, it would at least be a way to say, Hi, I'm safe, and I'm at xxxxxx location. For the $150 and $99 a year, it's not a bad deal. Combine it with a satellite phone or Skype, you could make the "help me" feature very useful, since you could use that to get your family to call you when you'll be available... and still leave the "911" feature free for emergencies.

Quote:

Originally Posted by teshannon (Post 261631)
SD,
I was thinking the same thing, sounds like an ideal use for the Spot Messenger.


vega1860 02-06-2008 03:48 PM

All good comments, particularly the one from sailingdog about water discipline. My only comment on that is to mention that, by the time we had tapped our main tank we were only 200 miles from Vancouver Island. That still left us with thirty days water supply on short rations (1/2 gallon per day per person) I realize that I may have given the impression that we were lavish with our water use but that was not the case. We were always conscious of the need to have adequate water to complete the voyage in the unlikely event that the watermaker should fail in such a manner that we could not repair it with the spares we had on board.

I know there are many who disagree with me on the necessity of long range communication equipment and the ability to call home regularly. We Have also been advised to get a bigger boat before attempting a major crossing. I have even known a few would be cruisers, and I am not making this up, who will never leave the dock unless they can talk with Mom twice a day. I lived aboard my boat in Hawaii for nearly twenty years and many times heard would be cruisers say "I would never go out there without..." X or Y, or on a boat less than X feet long. Typically, those people never go at all. On the other hand, I spoke with a lot of real cruisers; people who stopped in Honolulu on their way South or North, to rest or work temporarily. Those people usually said, when asked the same questions, "If your boat is well found and seaworthy just go. No piece of gear will make you any safer." As for boat size: The Titanic sank on her maiden voyage.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stillraining (Post 261633)
Are you the young Canadian couple that was overdue?

I never heard the final say on them.

We are neither young nor Canadian but there were broadcasts concerning us by both the US and Canadian Coast Guards in July of 2007. Once we had landed it seemed that everyone had heard about us.

Malie ke kai

Cruisingdad 02-06-2008 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vega1860 (Post 261699)
All good comments, particularly the one from sailingdog about water discipline. My only comment on that is to mention that, by the time we had tapped our main tank we were only 200 miles from Vancouver Island. That still left us with thirty days water supply on short rations (1/2 gallon per day per person) I realize that I may have given the impression that we were lavish with our water use but that was not the case. We were always conscious of the need to have adequate water to complete the voyage in the unlikely event that the watermaker should fail in such a manner that we could not repair it with the spares we had on board.

I know there are many who disagree with me on the necessity of long range communication equipment and the ability to call home regularly. We Have also been advised to get a bigger boat before attempting a major crossing. I have even known a few would be cruisers, and I am not making this up, who will never leave the dock unless they can talk with Mom twice a day. I lived aboard my boat in Hawaii for nearly twenty years and many times heard would be cruisers say "I would never go out there without..." X or Y, or on a boat less than X feet long. Typically, those people never go at all. On the other hand, I spoke with a lot of real cruisers; people who stopped in Honolulu on their way South or North, to rest or work temporarily. Those people usually said, when asked the same questions, "If your boat is well found and seaworthy just go. No piece of gear will make you any safer." As for boat size: The Titanic sank on her maiden voyage.



We are neither young nor Canadian but there were broadcasts concerning us by both the US and Canadian Coast Guards in July of 2007. Once we had landed it seemed that everyone had heard about us.

Malie ke kai

That was a nice writeup and I enjoyed reading it. Just curiously, how did you prep the boat for food? How much did you plan on catching? Any weather issues or mechanical issues to share or to make others aware of? Half way through the trip, was there anything you wished you had brought (or not brought... and don't mention the wife (smile)).

I always find the first hand stories very interesting and great learning tools - whether about your first time on a boat or third circumnavigation. I belive your account of your trip from HI would have interest for many readers here, including me.

Thanks for sharing.

- CD

PS Though for possibly another thread (or this one) I am not opposed to many of the "modern neccessities"... for lack of a better word. I think many of todays tools have made the sea a safer place and probably made it more 'do-able' for many that otherwise might not have chosen to. However, my big 'beef' with today's technological gadgets is the obvious dependence people have put on them over just plain, good seamanship. Electronics being a good example, they should enhance your seamanship... not replace it. That is a recipe for disaster.

Just my feelings.


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