Anchor gear, anchor, chain and winch

Anchor gear needs to keep you in the chosen position whatever nature throws at you. A dragging anchor puts boat and crew in immediate danger. The whole caboodle, often called ground tackle, consists of an anchor winch, a sufficient length of chain and an anchor. Continue reading Anchor gear, anchor, chain and winch

Sails, engine and fuel tanks

Sails are the main drivers and should be of good quality and shape to last the planned trip. Polyester is by far the most commonly used woven sailcloth under the trade name Dacron . This material provides value for money and if sourced from a reputable manufacturer lasts long. Not every Dacron cloth is the same so tell the sail maker about your cruising plans when ordering a new set of sails. To improve the lifespan of the sails put some effort in UV protection when at anchor by always putting up the sail cover on the mainsail and have a UV protection covering the leech of the headsail(s). The latest development is a painted on protection which comes with a warranty. Continue reading Sails, engine and fuel tanks

Safety, Protection and Accessibility

Safety starts with a sound and watertight hull. Through hull fittings of good quality and easily accessible, a good functioning stern gland for the prop shaft is most important. All through hull fittings should have a wooden plug attached just in case a hose tears off or even the valve itself gets smashed. On a regular basis the yacht will come out of the water for cleaning and anti-fouling. This is the time to inspect the fittings and grease the valves to make sure they are moveable. Continue reading Safety, Protection and Accessibility

Rigs and rigging

Most yachts have just one mast even the larger ones, a few are schooner, ketch or yawl rigged. A divided sail area is more easily handled by a small crew but less efficient than a single area. A yawl or ketch may have an advantage sailing on a reach but not upwind or downwind. Also the cruising clutter such as solar panels, wind generator, or dinghy over aft deck and a wind vane at the stern does not take friendly to a sail aft. Continue reading Rigs and rigging

Hull types and materials

The majority of yachts are mono-hulled but a noticeable enthusiastic minority of cruisers favour their multi-hulled yachts. The mono hull enthusiasts claim ultimate stability and recovery capability in case of a knock down or even a roll. The multi-hull sailors, in particular the catamaran sailors, enjoy their stable platform often claiming that glasses of wine stay on the table under all conditions but ultimate stability is only achieved upside down which of course only happens in extremis in races. Access to shallow places is a definite plus point. Continue reading Hull types and materials


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:

  1. Hull types and materials
  2. Rigs and rigging
  3. Safety, protection and accessibility
  4. Sails and engine
  5. Anchor gear
  6. Rudder and steering
  7. Dinghy and outboard
  8. Safety equipment
  9. Insurance, paperwork and money

Later, more detailed discussions are planned on these topics:

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Bay of Plenty, Tauranga


11th March

When it became clear that Kitty wasn’t going to return for the final trip from Stewart Island to Auckland, due to recurring dentist appointments, waiting was no option. With autumn in the air I didn’t want to linger any longer in Stewart Island. Our original plan of visiting Christchurch and the Acaroa peninsula were out off the question as that part of New Zealand is still in deep shock after the devastating earthquake. So I decided to take the advantage of southwesterly winds and head for Gulf Harbour in one hop. Single handed cruising is not fun, but racing the winds single-handedly is another. So after 4 days and 19 hours I covered 814 nm which works out at an average speed of 7 knots. I hove-to in the bay of plenty for several hours during the night. I didn’t want to run the risk of berthing single-handedly in a strong current. Kitty arrived on Wednesday by bus from Auckland with very bright new front teeth!

East Cape NZ


Wednesday 09-03-2011

Just South of the infamous East Cape I passed at midnight Poverty Bay with Young Nick’s Head at the South entrance. One can only wonder why this name was given. Was it to remember a hostile meeting with the local fearsome Maoris or was it the similarity of Young Nick’s and the cliff face.

The heritage of other place names is more obvious. Sinbad’s Mistake or Chasland’s Mistake and Cape Turnaround all point to navigational events.

Shag Point, Seal Point or Gull Rocks refer to wildlife, as do Cannibal Bay and The Sisters. Good old times.

It never fails to impress me what difficulties and hardship the discoverers and settlers had to endure. Some were away from home without communication for years but most had no home to go back to and just lived life as hard as it was.

All that has changed. I sail as much from inside as from outside my comfortable yacht. First I consult the screen on the nav. table to check on the position and progress and the possibility of neighbouring vessels on the AIS. Then I check if emails have come in without me noticing. Only then I stick my head out to check for changes in wind direction or strength and if non-AIS fisherman are around.

Then another 45 minutes to bed; what luxury.

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