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:
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
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
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
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
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
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