Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: New Zealand
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20 years ago we set off around the New Zealand coast, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the coast of Queensland, Australia, on a voyage that lasted 3 years.
We had our 2 oldest children (then our only children) aboard, aged 5 and 3. It was the best thing we ever did as a family, giving our children a huge range of experiences, exposing them to different cultures, giving them self confidence and binding us as a family really well.
Everyone has their own ideas about size of boat, level of equipment etc, and there are advantages and disadvantages in the different ideas ( including mine..).. here is how we did it..
We had built our own Denis Ganley designed 32 foot steel cutter ourselves, taking 4 1/2 years to do it. After launching, we sailed it locally on weekends and holidays, building up experience and confidence. before too long we were deliberately going sailing in the harbour in 35 knot winds to get experience, then some coastal voyages in strong winds as well.
This led to a small number of changes and improvements which were to be helpful later when things turned rough.. which will happen, but not often or for long.
We then did a few long coastal voyages, then set off on our main cruise.
The scariest part of the whole experience for me was handing in my notice at work and committing to making the dream become a reality, but I have always been glad that I did it.
Would we have preferred a bigger boat? Maybe.. but we didn't have enough money to get, equip and maintain anything larger, and we enjoyed the experience so much that I would be happy to say " Get a good boat rather than a big one. If you can get a good, big boat then great, but a good small boat will give you a great time anyway".
There were times I was glad we were on a smaller boat as well.. shallower draught opened up more anchorages, berthage was cheaper, reefing the main during squalls was easier....
Things I rate as important for safe passages included:
-Wind vane self steering;
-Good, STRONG roller reefing on the main forestay;
-Efficient shelter from wind, rain and spray for the cockpit;
-A way of doing everything manually if the powered/electronic systems fail;
-Good anchoring equipment including more than one type of anchor, a good anchor winch and a lot of chain;
-Storm jib and trysail which are well set up and easy to set.. you do not want anything difficult about something that you are doing in 45 knots of wind...;
-Knowledge of how the systems work, and how to repair them.
No time for more right now.. good luck with your plans.