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  #1  
Old 04-02-2009
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Preperations for 1st Atlantic Crossing

First off, sorry for the length of this post. I'm just trying to make sure that all the pertinent information is here so that you can make worthwhile recommendations.

Trip Background/Motivation:
My brother joined the ARMY after college and has just finished all of his training. Well... now he is going to airborne school, so he will be done in 3 weeks. Afterwards, he will be stationed near Nurnberg Germany. I am graduating from college on May 9th and, after discussing with my parents and bosses from summer internships, have decided to do some traveling and visit my brother in Germany. Instead of flying, I thought it would be a great idea to take on another life goal. Sail across the Atlantic. Since I don't know any sailors at this level, I hit to the web searching for crew positions (too many crew sites). Through crewseekers.net, I was able to lock in a ride on a Beneteau 473 (please feel free express your concerns regarding Bene's).

The Boat: Beneteau 473

Owner: British businessman living in St. Maarten with RYA Yachtmaster Offshore and 20 years of experience. He will not be along for the first leg due to business, but will join back up in the Azores.

Skipper: Young South African guy with RYA Yachtmaster Offshore cert. He is also the full time captain of the boat. Crossing experience.

Mate: Another South African Guy with RYA Yachtmaster Offshore cert. who also has crossing experience.

Other Crew: Yet to be determined

Me: Minimal experience

I have been around boats and water my whole life. Up until about 5 years ago it had all been on been around the intercoastal, Chesapeake and lakes on motorboats. I made the transition after buying my first sailboat. It was a deal that I couldn't pass up. Since then I have been:

-Race crew on various keelboats (20-30ft) on Lake Norman, NC for 4 years
-Race crew on Beneteau First 36.7 on NC coast for 1 summer
-Race crew on Merit 25 for 60nm night race on NC coast (placed 2nd while smallest boat by 10ft)
-Owned a 1975 Helms 25 for last couple years
-Owned an 1976 San Juan 21 last summer while I was living in Savannah, GA to sail off Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island
-Worked on 100ft party barge for 4 years as deckhand then mate.
-(2) 10 day charters on an Irwin 68 (I think) in the BVI's.
-NAUI open water, NITROX and Rescue Diver certified.

I have probably logged more armchair sailing hours than actual sailing hours. I try to read and learn as much as possible. Its a huge distraction from my studies and work as it is all I think about.

I am young (22 y/o) and physically fit as I run, mtn. bike, swim and etc. pretty regularly. I am also a US citizen w/ US passport (might come into play with visa and permit suggestions)

The Route:
Depart from St. Maarten -> Horta, Azores Portugal -> Gibralter -> Palma De Mallorca Spain.

I fly down the morning after graduation (May 10th) to meet the boat in St. Maarten

From my blog (just started it)
I'm Heading East!


Gear:
While the boat has all the safety kit necessary for an Atlantic crossing, I am trying to make sure I have all the essential personal gear. This is where I need the most help. I have searched the SailNet and other site forums, in addition to researchin several sites, blogs and etc.. This is the resulting list I have come up with along with some of the associated prices. You can disregard the "W/ Eric in Germany" section as this is subject to change (he may be deployed straight to Afghanistan in 3 weeks).



Concerns regarding gear:
Keep in mind that this trip is on a VERY tight budget. I was hoping to keep this whole trip under $5,000 so I need to do some trimming. If necessary I can cut out Europe exploration and just hang out in Germany with my brother. My main focus is getting across the pond, I can make due once I get across. While I don't want to sacrifice safety, I still don't want to spend frivolously. So....
  • What am I missing?
  • What can be deleted?
  • Gill foulies (I have heard both bad and good things, any other input or other gear suggestions)
  • Have you used SPOT for a Transit? How did it work? (The reason I am considering this is purely out of concern for my poor mother. She will be a basket case with me in the middle of the Atlantic and my brother in Germany. I think it would help alleviate some of her concerns if she could at least see a new way point each day. However, the SPOT's coverage looks spotty in the mid Atlantic.)
  • I believe the boat has a Sat phone but I figured I would check into it anyhow. I will confirm with the owner.
  • Inexpensive handheld GPS suggestions (I really just want something to read lat/lon and speeds)
  • PLB options
  1. McMurdo Fast Find
  2. ACR AquaFix (I wasn't sure if these require an external GPS unit)
  3. ACR ResQFix
  4. ACR Mini EPIRB
  • In-port costs/fees (I plan on being very cheap and stingy on shore)
I guess I'm hoping you guys/girls will tear through my list and let me know whats good and whats not.

Any and all advice (and bashing) is appreciated!

Last edited by kananumpua; 04-03-2009 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 04-02-2009
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What a damn fine example of a good OPENING POST.

You're spending $600 on hats??? What kind of hats are they??? Gold plated???

Get a Garmin GPS76 or 72 for the GPS. Usually about $100 for the unit nowadays.

A SPOT messenger is a great device for what it is designed for... don't rely on it in an emergency. I'd go with the AquaFix PLB model #200, which has an integrated GPS. About $500 IIRC.

You might want to get two sets of foulies... one heavy off-shore grade, and a lighter coastal weight for warmer waters.
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Old 04-02-2009
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It's great to read a post of someone that has actually thought things out before posting!!

Sounds like a really fun trip. Looks pretty doable on your budget.

I, unfortunately, don't have any relevant experience to give advice. I'll just have to armchair sail your voyage.

Have fun and keep us posted how it goes.
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Old 04-02-2009
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Let me be the, uh, third to commend you on having a clue as to what you're getting into before posting on SailNet I will definitely be following along on your blog.

So, I see you're relying on your magic plastic money making machine to get you a flight home. Have you looked for crew openings on the way home instead? Seems to me you've planned a potentially rough upwind sail, and deserve a good trade wind cruise home!

SD, I think the hat covers everything under it (both literally and figuratively, hahah).
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Old 04-02-2009
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No advice to offer but warm wishes for a great crossing. It looks like you are thinking things through and PLANNING well. Please keep us updated on your progress!
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Old 04-02-2009
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Just out of curiosity what the heck are you going to school for? I ask, because of the thoroughness of your post.......i2f...oh yeah BEST WISHES in having a great time!
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Old 04-02-2009
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Two things your PFDs have with them beyond the ACR strobe... a Mirror and Whistle ($5 max). Since they can tuck into a PFD - if in the event you are forced to abandon boat - both (mirror esp) would be advisable in case batteries wear out of the strobe, it malfunctions etc...I carry both on mine for the same reasons.

Best wishes on a fun journey...
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Old 04-02-2009
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One other point, buy some good retro-reflective adhesive tape and add a strip of it about 2" wide to the wrists or forearms of your foul weather gear and add strips of it to your PFD if it doesn't already have it. It makes spotting you at night much simpler.
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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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Old 04-02-2009
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Kananumpua, this is shaping up to be a trip of a lifetime! Kudos to you for thinking out of the box and “stepping off the curb”, big time! You are absolutely correct in realizing that this is going to be an expensive summer. I’m not sure of the pricing for individual items on your spreadsheet, but I think you have the basics covered.ffice

What I did not see was a PFD and tether. These can be pretty spendy, but I would not scrimp as these will save your life much more than the SPOT. With only three crewmembers, you will be standing watches alone so a transponder won’t help much. What did work for me when I raced to Hawaii was promising my wife that I would never not be clipped in while topside. My skipper also promised her that I would always stay clipped in. Perhaps you could do the same. Spinlok makes a premier PFD but it is around $400. I used an Eastern Aero Marine one with a built in harness. I added a crotch strap, strobe and a better whistle. You can augment it with pocket flares, but you will be donating them to the boat when you are done (for obvious reasons). If you still want an electronic device for MOB, you may want to invest instead in a good handheld radio so you can talk to the guys on the boat when they are looking for you (you will see them before they see you, guaranteed).

Remember, it is only safety equipment if you wear it – If it’s down in the cabin, it’s camping gear

A pocket GPS is fine (and could come in handy in Europe). But you will probably want to copy down coordinates on paper as they are notorious for chewing up batteries. Rather than renting a SAT phone yourself, inquire what they will have on the boat. Chances are they will have an SSB with a A-D converter/modem. That will enable you to send and receive email (ask them if they have a “sailmail” account) and the connection is often times better (personal experience).

Foulie’s – You need to find Giu, a Portagee who visits this site for clothing tips. You are south enough that it shouldn’t be that cold so you may not need the sea boots but rather some sneaker type boatshoes. I was quite comfortable with a pair of mesh type shoes from West Marine. Likewise, you probably don’t need the most expensive foulies – a lighter pair might be better. You can augment them with polar fleece sweat type pants and a pull-over. Capline long johns will be helpful as you get further north.

Don’t forget shorts and SPF rated long shirts – you will be in the tropics after all! You will need extra batteries and memory cards for the camera. If you’re buying binoculars do so for the European portion of the trip – again, the boat should have a much, much better pair on board. A watch with an alarm is good. Make sure your headlamp has a red cover (and can be “dimmed” if possible) I also got by quite nicely with a little mag lite on a lanyard that also had a red lens.

There is probably tons more that I can bore you with later. Ask questions, dialog, this will become one interesting thread!

This will be you in six months!
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Old 04-02-2009
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To all, thanks for the kind words and wishes thus far!

SD:
Nothing but the best for this noggin. My head requires the best protection 14K gold. But yeah... Adam was right, I hadn't picked out every article of clothing yet so I just allocated some funds for that section.

As for the clothing section I'm thinking several UnderArmor type shirts that will wick away the perspiration, with layers on top of that to meet the weather at hand. I'm wondering how few shirts/shorts/pants/undies/etc. I can get away with on a sail of this length. While I don't want to stink out everyone, I also don't want to overpack. For this reason, and b/c of $$$, I will probably only be brining the Gill Key West Jact and Gill Keelboat Racer Trousers. Can anyone suggest anything better for similar prices. (note: I get a 20% disc. from this site through the schools sailing club)

As for the SPOT device. I was planning on just using it for tracking and relying on a PLB type device for emergencies. One concern about the tracking though is their coverage. What do you guys think about that stretch in the mid Atlantic?

Lastly, I think I now understand the difference between the ACR AquaFix I and the ACR AquaFix I/O (only the I/O has internal GPS). Now, what the difference between the AquaFix I/O and the ACR ResQFix? They are about the same price and seem to have the same features.


Epic:
This trip scares the poop out of me so I have been trying to make sure that I have everything covered. I know I will forget something, but trying to minize the "oopsies".

Adam:
I have left that for the "magic plastic money making machine" b/c I don't really know when I will be ready to leave. Hell, I barely know when I am going to arrive (hahaha). Since I will only know my departure date a week or so in advance I figured the plastic would probably ok. I also figured I should get one of those little devils for emergencies considering I don't have one. Actually, I have never had a credit card. They are trouble. But for this, I think it could prove useful.

i2f:
Studying Mechanical Engineering. The grammatical errors are probably a dead give away. Yes, I fall into that stereotype.

Jody:
Ah, good call. I was planning on bring both but only putting the whistle on the vest and leaving the mirror in my bag. A mirror in the vest could (hopefully not) prove invaluable. Thanks!!!

SD (2):
Good call. I'm thinking some of that SOLAS type tape. I wonder if you can buy it by the roll? Thanks.

Last edited by kananumpua; 04-02-2009 at 07:07 PM.
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