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vega1860 02-08-2008 06:55 PM

Sensible Cruising
"...concerning the Chinese and Sandwich Islanders"

There is a book by Don Casey entitled “Sensible Cruising, the Thoreau Approach”. I had already owned my boat for several years and developed my own ideas about cruising by the time I first read it. I don’t agree entirely with everything Casey has to say; today, I would expand his minimum requirements to include things like a handheld GPS unit for example because two such units are less costly and far more accurate than a cheap sextant and the necessary tables, and let’s face it: How many people nowadays have the math skills to perform the calculations without electronic help? But Casey and co-author Lew Hackler make some good points about when to stop buying and installing new gear and dreaming about a bigger and better boat and get going.

By way of disclaimer I acknowledge that my thinking has been strongly influenced by H.D.T. if not Casey (One of my favorite authors BTW). It is my opinion that too much stuff just gets in the way of the basic enjoyment of life. How many people do you know that are slaves to their possessions and don’t even know it? It is a sad thing that so many people never fulfill their dream of cruising because they never quite have enough stuff or a big enough boat to hold it all.

So let us discuss on this thread the minimum requirements for successful cruising, short term and long term. I am not talking about sailing around the world in a peapod. Physical comfort and adequate supplies are, in my opinion, among the necessities, but I can state categorically that the right 26 or 27 footer is perfectly adequate, and in some cases ideal, for a couple to live and cruise in long-term. Also, let's not limit the discussion to gear, things you can buy. Consider skills, mindset, attitudes and other intangibles.

What would you consider the minimum requirements and where is the tipping point between sufficient and too much.

Malie ke kai

tdw 02-08-2008 07:30 PM

While it's a subject that has been much debated previously methinks it's a topic that always attracts some interest.

I had a friend who cruised quite extensively in a 26'er and at the time he was positively obsessed with the idea that the perfect cruising boat was sub 30'. I crewed on that boat offshore for a short while and what became very apparent is that out at sea you really do need less than if you are e.g. marina hopping.

Nonethless I did find his boat and our PB which was 28' to be a bit tight on for space. I'd also note that my friend is now out there on a 60' ketch and the last I heard of him he was madly trying to find crew. I think he went from slightly less than sublime to the ridiculous. On the other LOA is not necessarily the best gauge of a boats size.

My point of reference is "can the two of us handle this" and in an emergency "can one of us do it" ? That of course ignores the financial situation and whether or not you can keep the systems going without too much outside assistance.

Plumper 02-08-2008 07:57 PM

Much of the decision on what is the minimum depends on the area to be cruised. I suggest that cruising in tropical areas in a 26 foot boat is not the same as cruising in Alaska in the same boat. In areas where most of your time can be spent on deck, a smaller boat may be more than adequate but if your cruising goals are more northern wilderness than tropical harbours, being able to get inside becomes pretty important.
Similarly, cruising in high lats lessens or eliminates the need for refrigeration.


Stillraining 02-08-2008 08:04 PM

Whatever boat, skills or equipment
you have ..I think it is important to have an extra forestay...;)

xort 02-08-2008 08:38 PM

Duration plays a big part I think. I could easily live frugally if I'm on a one year sabatical. We're shooting for an open ended cruise of very long duration. In order to make that work, I think we'll need more than the basics. A bit more comfort but more importantly a bit of space to stretch out in, gain a bit more privacy and more storage for toys, hobbies, books, DVD's or whatever 'stuff' makes the time pass. I'm looking forward to some good fishing. That takes a bit of gear plus a good sized dink/motor. Need a bigger boat for carrying that.
I'm not purely a 'sailor' but rather a boater who enjoys sailing as PART of the experience.
But that's just me, takes all kinds, eh?

CharlieCobra 02-08-2008 08:42 PM

The versatility is one of the things I like about my boat with the forestay and headstay layout with the yawl rig. I can't see spending a lot of time in a sub 30' boat. Mine an old school 35' LOD with no quarter berths (classic cabin) and it's as small as I care to deal with.

vega1860 02-08-2008 08:57 PM


Originally Posted by Stillraining (Post 262806)
you have ..I think it is important to have an extra forestay...;)

Hear hear! WE now carry 200 feet of 1/4 inch Amsteel:cool:

Plumper 02-08-2008 09:29 PM

Why did you choose Amsteel?

Regarding boat size, one of my problems is berth size. Being 6'6" I chose my boat because of its bunk lengths not boat size. I think that the fun on a sailboat is inversely proportional to size.

mjrogers 02-08-2008 09:45 PM

Chuck, I truly enjoyed your website and can't wait for more.

All, I agree with most of the statements above pertaining to where the boat will be used and having things to elevate the experience from existence to truly living. Still, I find that the less things and complications I have the happier I become.

My wife to be and I are divesting ourselves of virtually everything. We will store what few heirlooms we have with the plan to cruise as long as it is fun. At first it was a bit of a struggle to get rid of things but as the process continues we feel more and more unburdened.

I like the attitude of Lin and Larry Pardey, Don Casey, "H. D. T.", the crew of Lealea, and the crew of Atom: Go simple, go small, go now. This is how I wish to live and cruise. Remember, there comes a point in life where you no longer own things but things begin to own you.

Now I just have to convince my love that we don't need 38' with AC and refrigeration...

vega1860 02-08-2008 09:50 PM


Originally Posted by Plumper (Post 262842)
Why did you choose Amsteel?

Regarding boat size, one of my problems is berth size. Being 6'6" I chose my boat because of its bunk lengths not boat size. I think that the fun on a sailboat is inversely proportional to size.

Amsteel or Dyneema is stronger than steel yet it is light and flexible as any other 1/4 inch rope. Easy to work with, and easy to stow. Far easier to replace a broken stay or shroud with amsteel than wire and stronger too. The drawbacks are less resistance to chafe and UV.

I had a friend in Honolulu who dreamed of cruising someday. He had the same problem with headroom. Got an old wooden thing that sailed like the Mayflower and was nearly as old. He eventually wound up selling it and moving to North Dakota:confused:

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