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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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!
 

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Telstar 28
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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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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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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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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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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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Telstar 28
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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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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).

<O:pRemember, 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).

<O:pFoulie’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.

<O:pDon’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.

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

<O:pThis will be you in six months!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
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.
 

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Good work, and I recommend doing A LOT of research, if only to make sure you understand what it will be like. My advice is that its colder at night than you might expect so I take wool socks, a good fleece and a goretex watch cap (I hate being cold!). Take some Desitin cream for the almost inevitable 'rail rash'. Figure out if you're likely to get sea sick (I suffer from it) and what antidotes work for you (Stergeron for me, but its not 100%). You might also ask the skipper about the watch schedule, the worst I've had was 3 hours on, 3 hours standby (sleep in kit) and 3 hours off which for a gentleman of my years was crushing.
 

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This may seem lame but... when we cruise I pack an extra set of clothes, a set of sheets, and a towel or two in a water-tight vacuum seal bag -- it doesn't take up much space. And when everyone else is suffering from wet bunks/clothes or just can't stand the thought of using that rank towel one more time, I'm sitting pretty (I don't share:) ).

I have the type that you attach to a shop vac as well as the kind you roll-up to squeeze-out the excess. I use them for all sorts of storage needs onboard.

Oh and... I'm so jealous. I can't wait till we go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
GeorgeB:
Yeah, I definitely feel like I am "stepping off the curb". While all of my friends and classmates have been looking for jobs over the last 3 months, I've been sitting here looking for boat rides. I still think I got the better deal.

The all important tether. Very good spot. The boat has tethers on board. I probably should have posted this in the original post.

As for having the gear on your person all the time. I'm starting to think that I am going to be like <a href="http://www.newswireless.net/contentimages/medium/Inspector_Gadget.jpg">Inspector Gadget</a> while on board. If the ones they have on board don't have the crotch strap, should I purchase one before shoving off? Does the crotch strap have a significant advantage? I know that when diving a wing, I prefer a crotch strap. I'm thinking it has the same advantages.

I will ask about the SSB communications capabilities. That sure would save me alot of money.

SPF long sleeve shirts. I was afraid someone would suggest them. They are pricey. But, hate being burned and don't want cancer on down the road.

Lastly, the picture. Unfortunately I'm not sure I'll ever be able to grow a sweet mustache like that. I'm 22 and all I can grow is a dirty stache and a half assed beard. It's quite pathetic really (hahaha).


Bermuda:
Desitin or something similar is something I did not have down. I'm sure the first week I will be quite sore, as I will be using muscles that I never use.

Again. THANKS for all the input!!!
 

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&amp;quot;Nevis Nice&amp;quot;
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Just a thought...

The Bermuda-Azores High pressure area tends to produce headwinds on the route you're planning. Take a look at the Pilot Chart for May, below. You might want to consider heading around the north side of the High. Longer, but better winds.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Don't take too much stuff. You don't need a GPS for the trip (might be fun but you don't need it).

If the boat runs single watches and you fall overboard the best thing you can have is a PLB. The boat is not likely to find you.

Don't be a Christmas tree with all kinds of stuff on you -- the owner will be unhappy about dings in the woodwork as you go on and come off watch.

The biggest problem with SPOT is that when (yes when) you get a gap in coverage your family will worry about you more because they expect to have updates. Not so good. Skip it.

As you get East it will be colder, especially at night. The long underwear and heavy foulies are the way to go. I have some Gill Ocean gear that includes a jumper that I can use as either light foulies or as an intermediate layer. The jumper and outer jacket works great in warm weather and long underwear/jumper/sweater/bibs/jacket works in really cold times.

Home Depot or similar has cotton gloves dipped in plastic that do well in bad weather. Ski gloves are good also. Remember - most of the time offshore you are just sitting under the dodger on watch being still; you'll want to stay warm. Fleece socks are outstanding.

Don't let anyone kid you about Spring in May - it will be cold - have boots. Cheap ones will be fine. Warmth can come from socks - dry from the boots.

At sea most people wear the same clothes over and over. You won't need so much stuff. At the point when you smell yourself (or worse, wake yourself up from smelling bad) there is a problem. Baby wipes are the answer. When you come off watch strip down and wipe yourself off, even if you are putting on the same clothes. It makes a big difference. Don't be shy. Just do it.

Sturgeron is the go-to stuff for sea-sickness. I haven't ever needed it, but I have had crew that got sick and it is really bad. You can't get it in the US, but as soon as you get to StM you can get it over the counter.

Some people get badly constipated. A couple of suppositories of Preparation H may help. Check the med kit for oral laxatives before you head out. The boat should have them.

Can you cook? Someone has to (most boats rotate) and well-fed crew is happy crew. Goulash, ragu, curries, and such are often very popular.

Learn some knots. I've had a number of crew that couldn't tie a knot quickly enough to avoid a problem. You don't need to be an expert. Bowline, clove-hitch, figure-8, and square/reef knot will do. Once you can tie those in the dark add a rolling hitch and a sheepshank. There are lots of other knots but those six knots and hitches are the ones that you may need in a hurry.

Holler if there is anything you are unclear about. Happy to help.

Crossing an ocean is a life-changing experience that will make you a better and happier person for the rest of your life. Go do it. Sail fast.
 

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I would forget the Sat phone. Poor ratio Usefulnesss to $$$$
Real cost can skyrocket, if people chat.
If the boat has HAM or SSB, then winlink.org is a great way to handle reports to mum, at trivial cost.
Light foulies are sufficient for your crossing. I would not buy two sets. You can probably wear shorts all the way.
A good way to save is to get a good, longish heav duty rain jacket from a climbin store. (Eastern Mountain sports, Mouontain Equip Coop etc) They are good with shorts and wet legs.
I have been across twice, to Scotland, and never more more than that, despite having heavier foulies on board. (They are good once past about 50 North)
Beneteaus ar on the flimsy side for me, but lots cross OK. Do not tell you mum I said that.
I think you are well researched, and would go if I were you.
MUCH preferable to flying. (I am on a plane in a week, becasue we left Milvina in Scotland last fall. Home
 

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I see I differ from others on foulies. Oh well! Your call
I would like to emphasise the importance of being good on the knots
Bowline, clove-hitch, figure-8, and square/reef knot are OK,
I wouel add the sheet bend, for jooining ropes of unequal length. I use the double sheetbend a lot, since it is easier to untie even after a hard pull
 

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My 2 cents - drop the GPS and Satphone for starters - it's a luxury and on your budget I'd invest in pertinent gear to be warm and safe.

Assuming a 4 week crossing and rationed water you're looking at 3-4 days per underwear / layers as a starter better to go big with underwear and fewer changes for the layers. For extended cruises I have Odlo underwear, fleece leggings and jacket, light cotton hiking pants, wool sweater, and MPX outers. Aigle goretex boots + ski socks + lycra sock liners, goretex gloves + fleece hat. In ~7-10°C that's the minimum to stay warm on a 4 hour shift.

3 things get cold fast on chilly or wet crossings - head, hands, and feet - INVEST for all 3. Gotta stay dry as a starter and then warm. I'd personally invest big on boots because cold feet on what seems like endless night watches is horrible (but that's me).

I would forget the coastal goretex gear and go straight to a top quality outer shell. I have a Musto MPX set and although it's not the HPX it sure keeps you dry and warm with the appropriate layers - wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm not that familiar with Gill.

Finally, think about the off shift clothes and a couple thick wool sweaters as a layer at night. And think about at least 2-3 pairs of gloves as they will wear if you get in conditions where you need to manage the rigging actively. AND, bring some hand lotion or glycerol to ward off the salt burns and chafing from the cordage! And eye drops.

One of the things I'd consider is a ski mask for the very cold day sailing experiences but I haven't tried yet.
 

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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 have a SPOT, but haven't used it on the boat yet. But it seems to work just fine. BUT, another boat I have been following uses SPOT. He has recently made a trip to Bimini and on the Nassau. His SPOT is on-line. The link to his BLOG is: s/v Pelican - Following A Dream and the link to his latest SPOT track is: SPOT Shared Page . Note the breaks in his track. I was watching him as he passed the critical area and when no SPOT showed for an hour I was a bit worried. He was fine but you see it is not perfect. His track is every 10 minutes, that might be a bit too much for your mom, but you will get the idea. After using my SPOT on land and watching his SPOT I would suggest not just turning it on and pressing OK and then turn it off. Instead, I would let it run for an hour and then turn it off. That will give your mom and brother and up to a total of 10 email/cell phones your daily plot.

My other, inexperienced concern would be the South African team. I assume you will get plenty of real references...
 

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What a damn fine example of a good OPENING POST.
I'd second the above. Nice job. It's almost time to relax a little and enjoy the trip.

Possible cost savings: Check with your skipper on the comms gear on the boat. SSB? email? Anyone with an amateur radio license? If they have reliable long distance comms you might be able to skip the sat phone and keep your friends ashore posted with an email every other day or so, or if there's a HAM aboard you might be able to arrange to have a message passed to your family every few days that "all's well". Most boats with professional crew will have pretty good comms gear aboard and your skipper will probably let you use it to pass a message every so often.

Don't forget some fishing gear [250 yds of stout hand line (100# test), wire leaders, some bungie cord and a few good lures.] And, it's always good to have a personal stash of wasabi powder and quality soy sauce just in case you get lucky.

Have fun!
 
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