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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-29-2002 09:28 AM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

lots of good advice given. a couple of things that i might add to your boats equipment list...
a backup gps
lots of batteries
a radar reflector
AND a cheap self-steering system (i.e, two cheap blocks, some 1/4" line, and bungy pleasant and restful to watch the boat steer herself).
oh, and remember when everybody says "don''t," it''s an excellent sign that your on the right path.
08-24-2002 12:31 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

oh, I know the joys of baby wipes. I reciently trecked across the Mojave desert with no more water than we could carry (40 lbs to a person) and those wipes were a life saver. Never thought of them on the boat though. Thanks.

-- James
08-22-2002 06:00 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.


I have to agree. I heard about baby wipes from some fellow cruisers and now have a box on the boat. Very refreshing even if you do smell like baby oil for a bit. They do the trick when out cruising.
08-22-2002 03:23 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

The solar shower is a great idea, but for daily ablutions, a couple of baby wipes can''t be beat. Bring a box. Okay, laugh again, but taking a "cat bath" is quick and convient, saves time and water, and improves morale. Remember, small pleasures become luxuries on a small boat. Wiping the salt off my face and the back of my neck with a nice, damp, aloe-dipped disposable cloth was nice.
08-17-2002 07:34 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

You''re not stupid. This is just the way I started cruising, except that I went solo (so who''s stupid now, huh?). I spent two weeks living and coastal cruising a Catalina 22 in a Long Beach-Santa Rosa-Catalina triangle. Here''s what I learnt:
1) Pack everything as if the boat will be turned upside down and shaken violently. I had the fun of seeing everything I owned go flying across the salon whenever I was heeled over hard (what I didn''t see was what was happening to my battery and fuel cans belowdecks!). After two days, I had stowing gear down to an art. Bring many shock cords of all lengths/diameters: they will be like babysitters for all your gear. And little brass eye-hooks that will screw into your woodwork inside the cabin, to hook the cord onto. Of course, you must also put everything away as soon as you''re finished with it, or expect to see it on the decksole later.
2) Have charts and a good coastal cruising guide. You can practice a bit of navigation with just a folding compass, a walking ruler and pencil (and then see how accurate you are with the GPS). A hand-held compass is useful for taking relative bearings along the shore and finding where you are on your chart, and for taking sightings before and aft of the beam along shore to see if you''re dragging anchor. Cruising guides have a storehouse of great information at your fingertips, esp. about good anchorages along the way. This can turn a long, cold, windy run all the way across Santa Monica Bay during a Small Craft Advisory into a cozy anchorage in Paradise Cove at the foot of Pacific Pallisades, only because you know where it is. Choices are good. Since you''re familiar w/ Channel Islands, you know Pirate''s Cove is not the only place you can run to when the wind is up. Learning a bit about navigation/piloting was one of the most satisfying parts of my first cruise. (The day I crossed the channel from Anacapa to Catalina they were recalibrating all the GPS satelites, so I spent all day out of sight of land, relying on my chart-figuring done the night before and my boat''s compass. I was dead-on to the Isthmus. I''m glad I had practiced for a few days before I really needed it).
3) Tacking upwind is tiring, wet work in a small boat. Take that weekend trip, but just go down the coast a day. Then feel how different it is beating your way back up to Ventura. Divide the number of coastal miles from Cabo San Lucas to Homeport by the number of coastal miles you made good beating into weather, and you will know the number of days you''ll be sitting at the tiller pounding into swells that are higher than your deck, wishing you''d reduced sail an hour ago. It will make going only as far as Tijuana sound like a great idea. Green water washing over the cabinhouse into the cockpit? Hope you brought a jacket. . .
5) A whisker pole to keep your headsail filled while running downwind is one of the beautiful things in life. You will make up a happy song the first time you see it work. It''s worth twice the price you will pay for it. I''d go without food for a day just to have one with me.
4) A good Coleman camping ice chest will stay cold 3-4 days, if you don''t open it constantly. Plan stops at marinas for ice/shopping accordingly. Block ice lasts twice as long as cubes, if you can find it. Deli meats don''t live very long in a cooler. Cutting a piece of insluation to fit inside the cooler, across the top of the food, will extend ice-life. I used an old kickboard.
5) Have absoultely clear expectations about what you and your crew are going to be expected to do: how much time @ tiller, how long your working days will be, who cooks for whom at what times, who''s hoisting and dousing sail, etc. Make all important decisions together the night before you''re likely to have to make them (like tomorrow''s first choice distance/destination and an alternate). You both need a big picure of what''s going on. (Okay, I didn''t have to worry about this singlehanding, but think about trips on your friend''s 30 and how easliy misunderstandings happen. For every foot of boatlength under 30'', multiply aggravation factor by 2).
6) Tools and spare parts are essential. Have a good supply of electrical and rigging parts and pieces, and the handtools to use them. Don''t forget thrust pins for the outboard (right behind the prop). My own Honda seems to like to snap them. I replaced more than one of these in two weeks.
7) Plan some "days off" at anchor to repair & maintain equipment, sails, and just relax. Take half a day to see the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and grab a burger, or whatever, then continue the next morning. Don''t be like your dad driving across country on vacation, trying to make "good time." You''re purpose is to enjoy yourself, right?
Okay, some other random thoughts:
a) you will need some way to recharge your battery (assuming you have one: if not, bring plenty of spare batteries for all of those hand-held radios/receivers you mentioned). Sometimes you can get shore power if you rent an overnight slip, so an auto battery charger (and a shop-grade extention cord) is just the ticket. Consider installing a good solar panel. They really work.
b) 10 gallons of drinking water sounds like just enough for two men for 3-4 day stretches You get dehydrated quickly on the water. The wind itself draws water from your body. For drinking, I''d use the rectangular 2.5 gal. containers with the pull-spigot and handle that you see in the supermarket, instead of 5-gallon jugs. They will stow anywhere and won''t fall over and spill. Don''t punch an "air hole" in the top when you use one, so that it won''t leak. For non-potable water, you can conserve it several ways. One is to wash dishes/utensils with seawater, and then rinse using a spray bottle of fresh water. It sounds ridiculous, but it works very well. If you make sure that everything that touches your ice chest''s H2O is clean, you can even get cold drinking water from the drain plug, assuming that you''re not doing things like throwing open packages of bologna into it. Try this out on your next daysail. Just make sure things are rinsed off before they go into the chest. And know that when you drain your ice-chest, you are draining "cold" from it, even if it''s melted "cold."
c) good luck installing enclosed heads on a 20'' weekender. You mean complete with plumbing? Treat your chemical toilet well, and she will treat you well. I think it would be less inconvenient to use that for a while than to remodel your boat. I slept next to mine the whole trip, and never knew it was there when I wasn''t using it. Keep a small bucket or other container (or even better, an old rubber hot water bottle: it won''t spill) handy just for urination, especially during the night. That''s when you don''t want to be fumbling around with a chem-toilet: in the middle of the night, in a pitch-dark cabin with no room to stand, bobbing on every little swell, trying not to wake your partner, pulling up boards from the V-berth, with an urgent call from Mother Nature threatening to make an emergency breakthrough? And how are you going to make sure of you''re your aim in the dark? Get the idea? Now stop laughing at my hot water bottle. Real convenient while beating to weather, too.
d) consider a small inflatable tender. Maybe only blow it up at places you stop at for more than a day. Think: if all moorings are full, you will need to get from your anchorage to shore SOMEHOW, and swimming while holding a bundle of dry clothes over your head lacks a certain panache. Besides, how will you bring stores back to the boat?
e) stow enough fuel to motor two full windless days @ half throttle. Besides, you may actually want to make some distance before noon along the California coast. I believe your boat is a light-air performer. I don''t believe it''s a no-air performer. It''s not un-seamanlike to motor through a duldrum morning, if you''re trying to get somewhere. At night, drop the hook.
f) little conveniences will make the difference: a radio (plenty of batteries), books, etc. will make living aboard a weekender more tolerable.
g) find out about any documentation, etc. you will need at your Mexican port-of-arrival. Even in California, harbormasters sometimes asked me for a copy of my boat''s registration to match to my ID when renting a slip.
h) you''re going to need more anchor line: I''d double what you have for each anchor, or at least be able to snap-shackle those two lengths together, but then you will only be able to throw over one hook, and that''s dicey.
i) throwing some chain ballast down below can''t be a bad idea. Do it. Just watch your waterline on a small boat like that.
j) choose the person you take along carefully: a month on a tiny boat will strain the best of friendships. In the end, you will know everything about him that bothers you, down to small mannerisms and smells. Stay flexible and light-hearted.
k) in a little open cockpit like that, you will want to stay warm and dry. Invest in some type of bad-weather clothing. If you get wet, you''ll be miserable for hours and hours.
l) always eat breakfast. It gets blook sugar up, gives your muscles fuel, and gives your brain glucose to burn. You''ll be stronger, faster, and clear-minded.

I think you have a great idea, if a bit ambitious. I''d just make my first cruise in that particular boat a bit shorter. Try San Diego and back, or Tijuana. Your crew may not be as gung-ho as you. You''ll still have plenty of experiences that will make you a better sailor, and will still have some great stories to tell those other friends who backed out!
Good Luck!
08-16-2002 07:41 AM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.


John Letcher sailed from California over to Hawaii and then back to the Pacific Coast (the Northwest, as I recall) on his little 20'' bilge keeled ALEUTKA (sp?). John Guzzwell sailed around the world on his little 20'' Laurent Giles designed sloop, TREKKA. But both those boats were very well found, properly equipped for the cruising grounds they visited and, most importantly, both single-handed sailors were eager for that kind of challenge. The suitability of your plan - which is not unusual by any means, but usually not in so small a boat - is most dependent on your own skills and motivation, not just boat issues (as you acknowledge).

Rather than detailing where your boat may not be suitably equipped at the moment (e.g. your ground tackle is too short and probably not beefy enough), let''s look at the 3 main challenges you''ll face: 1) the possibility of an offshore blow in the 30-40 kt range e.g. near Cedros Is. when going down, with sea and air temps much like you see in the Channel Islands (Brrrr!); 2) some surgy anchorages, which can detract from comfort aboard (enjoy seeing the sights ashore!); and 3) a long windward bash getting back up to San Diego (windward work for an extended period, which your boat apparently does not do well in, and which you can''t compensate for by motoring). You need to feel comfortable with all 3 of these challenges to enjoy yourself, I would think.

Two suggestions: First, Latitude 38 covers this kind of issue all the time, since it''s a common question for California sailors who want to enjoy MananaLand for a spell. In fact, L38 sponsors an annual Baja Haha that leaves San Diego each October. (That''s a good answer to your timing question for going down, but coming back in December is not recommended; spring is better). L38 does not accept boats your size in their ''rally'' (minimum is 30'') due to safety concerns and they''re quite prudent & knowledgeable, so that''s a hint. Start reading L38 routinely (free at WM stores if you find out when it normally arrives; they disappear fast) and review some back issues on-line to read past Letters that will talk about this ( Over time, you''ll gain much insight into what you''re thinking of doing.

Second, set up a cruise that''s more representative of what you have in mind, see if you enjoy the cruise and your boat can handle the conditions, and then reflect on what additions/changes you & your boat need to consider. Hopping e.g. over to Catalina, perhaps then visiting Santa Barbara Is. and then returning to SoCal is not a good test. Instead, consider sailing up to the back side of Santa Rosa (if you''re coming from the LA/San Pedro area) that will require sustained windward work and will be a long hike, like a ''first installment'' of getting back from Turtle Bay or Cabo). Then anchorage hop down either side of Santa Cruz (open roadstead anchorages but with varying amounts of protection from surge). From a suitable point on Santa Cruz, put in a long run back that will again give you 24+ hours in the Channel, so you can feel the afternoon winds & seas, and also the all-night sea/air temps. Try to take your friend with you; great way to test his/her commitment and your compatability.

Good luck to you. There''s a lot of adventure wrapped up in your plan, and not much expense even with some boat mods. But it''s also a serious cruise plan, both going down and coming back.

08-15-2002 11:51 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

i dont know about Cabo or the mexican region of the world, so i cant give any advice there.but it sounds like an awesome trip, something similar to what im contemplating at the moment.

have a good one
08-15-2002 08:23 PM
First time in cruising, in mexico, on a 20'''' sloop.

I''m stupid.

I know this. You dont have to tell me.
What I do want you to tell me is everything you wished someone had told you before you went.

Here''s my scenario.

The plan:

2 people. small boat, Sail to Turtle bay and back, maybe as far as Cabo.

The crew: I''ve got my basic keel and basic coastal crusing certs. I''ve spent a little time kicking it around the channel islands on Josie (my boat) and a bit more time on other peoples 30'' catalina and 38'' hunter. I''m bringing one friend with me, if any of my friends are stupid enough. I''ve had 3 definate yes''s, so I may have 1 person who meant it. I probibly dont want to do it alone, as I''m not realy comfortable docking single handed. The other person will have even less sailing experinece going into it than I do. That being said, the crowd I hang with rock climbs, mountineers, races motorcycles, and travels alot, so we''re all pretty level headed when stuff doesnt go right.

The timeline:
a month? 2 months? I dont know. we''re "unemployed" (ontractors) and can come up with some cash. BTW, when should we NOT go? suggestions are apreciated.

The budget:

Can this be done for under $2,000 a month for 2 people? under $1,000? "Comfortably"?What caught you guys off guard when you went? how much did you spend, and how much would you bring next time? What did you spend it on? Since I''m on a small boat, I''m going to want to do a hotel or hostel at least one or 2 nights when I''m down there, or at least have the option.

The Boat:

I''ve got a 20'' sloop thats awsome in light airs, but doesnt point. She "Sleeps 4" which means I may be able to bring 1 other close friend with me.

Right now the boat is sturdy, good hull, rigging, and sails (main (1 reef point), 100, 130, 150, storm jib, and storm trisail.) she''s got a 10 gallon water tank which I will be using for non drinking water, (and a couple 5 galon jugs I''ll be using for drinking water) and a little honda outbord for docking etc. Sometimes she can get up to a mind numbing 4 knots (and after a few hours of it, your mind realy does go numb too ) I''ve got a plow up front on 100 feet of cord and 10 feet of chain, and a cqr in the back with 100 feet of cord, and a sea anchor, and she only draws 3 feet. She''s got 800 lbs of lead in the leading edge of the keel, but I''m thinking about dropping about 300 lbs of chain or something else in the back of the keel to help keep her upright in stiff breezes.

I want to install a real head (as opposed to a nasty little chem toilet, a propane gimbled burner, and I''m going to just deal with a solar shower up on decks.

The bottom, sails, and rigging are all in great condition. I''ve got a vhf, gps, and am getting a decent pair of binoculars. (btw, anyone recomend a decent yet inexpensive set?)

I think we''re going to do a dummy check soon by bringing her to Catalina over a long weekend, which is enough night sailing and open water (from the channel islands) to see how people and the boat feels (ok, its not even close, but it''s about what can be done in a weekend.)

So... yes, I''m stupid. but it could be fun. let me know what I need to know that would make it alot less fun if I didnt know. After re-reading that last sentence, I think I''m going to stop now and go to bed.


-- James

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