Having been on the steep learning curve of 20 years of single handed Transatlantic racing and cruising and 16 years of double handed Atlantic and Pacific ocean cruising I hope to give practical advice and discuss some essential requirements to make cruising life for the novice cruiser a success and the best experience of a lifetime.
No glorified descriptions of wonderful remote and secluded anchorages watching the sunset with a gin and tonic in hand from the aft deck or a palm fronted beach. Of course that happens and is more likely the result of good planning and thorough preparation which I think is essential to make cruising life a happy life.
In the first 9 chapters I will discuss the basics regarding the tools of our trade.
The ideal Yacht and her Equipment
Is there such a thing as the ideal cruising boat? Judging at the variety of yachts on display at anchorages and marinas around the world the answer is NO.
One notices many different hull types, materials, shapes, and rigs. Cruisers preferences, technical development, fashion and racing rules play a role.
The coming months, issued in weekly episodes, I will discuss in general the following items:
- Hull types and materials
- Rigs and rigging
- Safety, protection and accessibility
- Sails and engine
- Anchor gear
- Rudder and steering
- Dinghy and outboard
- Safety equipment
- Insurance, paperwork and money
Later, more detailed discussions are planned on these topics:
Emergency management; the “what if….” question
This question, what do I do when this or that happens …. should always be on the mind of the prudent sailor. For example:
The only good thing is it won’t come as a bolt out of the blue. High towering built-up clouds, thunder in the distance and coming closer warn you.
You have some time to prepare. Continue reading Emergency management
First aid and beyond.
• Health matters certainly even more when professional help is not directly physically at hand although today professional advice will be available even in the remotest of places over long-range radio or through satellite connection. Continue reading Health matters
Maintenance, back-ups, tools and spares.
Don’t fix it if it is not broke is an often (ab)used quote which does nothig keep the show on the road.
Fix it before it breaks should be the mantra.
Maintenance in the full sense of the meaning is taking care of everything that is broken or threatens to go wrong. Continue reading Maintenance, back-ups, spares and tools
Navigation and charting.
For thousands of years navigation was the art of knowing where you are and going where you wanted to go without the help of sightings of land not to mention instruments.
We have difficulty imagining how the early Pacific ocean navigators about 3-4000 years ago on board their basic ocean going vessels, without using Continue reading Navigation and charting
We have come a long way from smoke signalling to high speed internet access along an ever steeper curve of technical development. It is interesting to note that the latest technologies have not totally superseded the old and trusted ones. Smoke signals should be on board every life raft together with an Epirb and VHF radio. Old and new technology together.
Power Management is one of the keys to successful ocean cruising and long distance passaging. To begin with most of us underestimated how much power we would consume especially when sailing in the tropics and also what was needed to provide this power. Continue reading Power management
Documents, paperwork and money.
Before you set off make sure to have an insurance contract. Start early to arrange a contract. Most insurers want a recent inspection of mast and rigging from a qualified rigger. Continue reading Documents, paperwork and money.
Man over board
– A life vest and harness with short lanyards for every crew member to prevent anyone going overboard in the first place. Continue reading Safety equipment
The dinghy is the private taxi, the shopping trolley, the swimming and fishing platform of our cruising life. We used ours to hack million years old ice from the glaciers in Alaska for a G&T, shop for gull eggs on the moraine and to photograph grizzly bears catching salmon from a close but safe distance. Continue reading Dinghy and outboard
As a rudder comes with the yacht as a package one tends not to spend too much attention and time on the steering system including the rudder. Don’t take a well functioning rudder for granted and have a good look at it when the boat is hauled out. Drop the rudder enough to visually inspect the place where the stock sits in the lower bearing. Continue reading Rudder and steering, autopilot and windvane