|What you should be aware of when living aboard and cruising
Inside a cruising sailboat
|Anchored at the movie set of
Pirates of the Caribbean
#1 BEST SELLER
Sailing . . . As well as sailing off to Paradise - is really much easier to learn & do than most people think, and I think that's
Not that it's easy of course, but that most (even most experienced boaters) avoid sailing & sailboats as if they were the plague.
Fact is, most people who have never done it, believe sailing is difficult to learn, hard to do, and requires an exponentially difficult
level of work as well as expertise.
In truth, sailing is very easy to learn. It is also the very most relaxing form of cruising there is. Aside from the fact you can sail
anywhere in the world for free, sailing is silent. You hear nothing but the wind and the sound of the waves swooshing over the
hull. From bow to stern, no shouting is required.
My oldest son is a very accomplished world sailor. He has given lessons to people with absolutely no boating experience
whatsoever, and had them ready to sail the Caribbean within days - not weeks, not months, not years - as somepeople believe it
|Long distance Cruising Essentials
Most of the more accomplished sailors in the world are self taught. Many in fact learned to sail in sailing dingies. Me? I was a
live aboard size power boater until my son took me out in his sailboat one day, and suddenly told me I had to sail us back to land. I
promise you, by the time I got us back to land, I knew how to sail a boat. Not only did he teach me how to sail, he is the reason my
last two cruising vessels have been sailboats.
Sadly, many people including boaters, are students of old. We read the classic sailing books of the famous that were sailing in
the 1900s to 1970s. These guys never heard of "GPS". They used paper charts and sextants for navigation. Now days, cruising
around the world is as easy as setting your destination, pointing your boat in the right direction, raising your sail - and simply
making sure you don't hit anything before you get there.
Watch System - Someone needs to always on watch when sailing.
My son and I use 4 hour watch shift at night beginning after dinner until dawn.
Steering - Keep it simple - we use a wind-vane. It is very simple, and requires no electricity.
An EPIRB - It is not law yet, but it should be. It can save your life in an emergency.
Laundry - when at sea, I do my laundry the old fashion way... I put my dirty laundry along with about 2 gallons
of fresh water in a 5 gallon bucket. Then we put the lid on the bucket and hang it over the stern so that the water
keeps it agitated. Who cares how long it is hanging out there? I don't. But after about 20 minutes, it's probably as
clean as it's gonna get. Then I pour out the soapy water, and repeat the process a couple more times with fresh
water. Presto! I run my laundry of the mast to dry. Works great!
Postal Service - If you haven't already - Go green! A "paper less" lifestyle is great. All my income and bills are
taken care of with automatic Banking deposits, and on line bill paying. It's wonderful. All my friends & family know
how to get a hold of me. E-mail & Internet is great.
Groceries - When sailing, I almost always have a fishing line out. Therefore always have fresh fish to eat. So
my groceries are limited to rice, pasta, beans, and favorite beverages, such as coffee, drink mixes, etc. I also
keep well stocked with soups, soup mixes, spices, sauces, salsas, and careful not to buy too much of anything
Maintenance - I make an every other daily effort to keep everything clean and check for needed repairs.
Sightseeing - I spend a great deal of time seeing the sights on land every where I go. I also try to get to know
some local natives everywhere I make landfall. They are a key factor in learning where to go for eating out,
grocery shopping, etc.on a frugal budget.
Booze - I do not travel with booze on my boat. While I enjoy a good drink now and then, I always do it ashore.
Putting aside all the reasons one shouldn't drink and drive or boat - What you may not know is that alcohol when
cruising greatly increases your risk of seasickness, heat stroke, and dehydration. The hotter the weather, the
greater your chance of experience one or more of these.
Neat & Secure - Everything on board has a secure place. You want things secure so that it will remain in place
in rough seas. While you may never run into a gale, most likely you will encounter someone's wake that tosses you
and everything on your vessel from port to starboard. If you don't want to have to pick it up off the floor, you need
to secure it.
Time actually cruising - I spend more time actually cruising then most. I normally spend about 50% of my
time actually on land seeing the sites, and 50% actually cruising.
Stuff left on Shore - For truly "frugal cruising" you should really not have anything left to worry about on
shore. If however, there are some things you just can not part with - I suggest you put these items in the hands or
garages or your kids, family, or really dear and close friends. Commercial storage facilities are also an option.
Paying bills - I strongly suggest you set up automatic payments with your bank for on-going bills such as
insurance, cellphone, etc. For all else, use your debit card and pay online. Don't use your Credit Cards at all, or
at least not unless it is a real emergency. Then, you can pay it off using your debit card online. It is easy to fix
your finances so that you do not have to rely on receiving any mail through the Postal Service. I have not
received a bill in the mail in years. In fact, I haven't written a check in years. To avoid any disaster that might arise
from Identity theft or Internet fraud - I use two accounts - one is strictly for an "on line" account. My income is
deposited in my "main" account from which all my regular banking and automatic payments are withdrawn. I
transfer just enough
money from my main account to cover the months anticipated expenses. If someone breaks into it - they certainly
aren't going to get much, and my life and lifestyle will remain uninterrupted.
Talk to your banker - Yes, that's a novel idea for this day and age isn't it. Tell them what you are going to do,
and let them help you set everything up. This includes authority to handle critical financial items, as well as a safe
deposit box for all your expensive personal items and legal documents.
Radar - We do not have or use radar - tried it once and found it to be of little use. Assume that the radar on
ships around you is OFF as well. Logic suggests they would be on at all times since electricity would be a minor
issue, but maintenance costs drive ship
operators to keep them off much of the time.
VHF Radio - In foreign waters many ships will not answer a call on the VHF radio, either because they are not
monitoring it or they do not speak English and don't understand your call - if they do respond, we consider it to be
a pleasant surprise.
Weapons - A controversial subject - they are illegal in most foreign ports, and can get you in trouble; Canada,
BVIs, Aruba, French Polynesia, NZ, Australia, and all most all or Europe, for example, do not allow them. In other
areas, they are a non-issue. I don't have them, and never had an occasion to even as much as feel threatened in
FYI - I have four 12 ga flare pistols. A flare pistol of course, is a required safety device. We have enough flares
to wane off a small Pirate invasion - and we have never had any problems or questions asked. Now, if you think
this is either silly, or no substitute for a weapon - think again - and try this: Take a flare pistol and fire it into a 3/4"
sheet of plywood at a distance about 4 times distance of the length of your boat... Then tell us you are going to
stand within a hundred feet when someone points one in your direction. Your flare gun is a weapon that fires an
Course Adjustments - I always assume the other vessel is unmanned and has no intention of changing
course, and act accordingly. I change course early enough to avoid them, and so they can see what we are doing
if they are on watch.
Wait for weather - I always wait for the weather to be the way we want it before leaving on a trip.
Keeping In Touch - We keep in touch daily with family and friends via e-mail. Our computer is hooked up to
our Ham Radio, which gives us world wide 24/7 access with no monthly and no per minute charges. Also, we try to
remain in radio contact with other cruisers on radio nets or a check-in station such as the Atlantic or Pacific
Maritime Net. It provides a safety line if there is a problem. It has also provided us the ability to help others.
Marine Suppliers - You can get parts for most anything delivered just about anywhere. We usually shop US
catalogs and order on line. We don't usually like ordering from West Marine (only because we know we are
paying more) but they do deliver faster almost anywhere in the world then anyone, and we do like that.
Learn to use Equipment in advance - There are a number of items aboard which may get used only in an
emergency or other stressful situation - it pays to dig them out and learn how to use them in a calm (non-
emergency) environment. Examples? Drogue, Life Sling, Man over-board drill, etc.
Scuba Equipment - Though certainly not required, scuba tanks come in handy and should be examined
yearly to show that they are safe to fill - most dive operations will do this when they refill. Regulators, hoses, and
BCDs have rubber and neoprene parts that deteriorate. So, keep them clean and checked, and spares are a
Install a 220-110 power inlet and use that in all foreign marinas. Ours is a 2000 watt unit, adequate for
normal appliances such as TVs, PC, water heater and air conditioning.
What to wear - Loose fitting T-shirts mostly when sailing, you will also want a loose fitting light cotton long
sleeve shirts for sun block, cotton polo/golf shirts, Shorts, Slacks (Khakis, Dockers) at least one or two pair for
excursions ashore, I wear jean shorts most of the time. You will also need bathing suit, good sandals and
sneakers, hats, some with wide brims, light-weight wind breaker, light rain jacket, and don't forget an umbrella for
on shore, you will also need some good sailing rain gear.
Fishing Gear - For the most part, your typical bass or lake type fishing gear will be woefully
small and useless except in some Bay areas or Coves. You will want to get some good heavy duty saltwater, big
game fishing gear. (Ironically, there are usually tons of this stuff around coastal area Pawn Shops.) In addition to
the actual pole and lines, you will need steel leaders, lures, big strong nets to hold big strong fish, and some not
so strong "fine mess" nets to catch bait. You will also need gaff hooks, gloves, and we suggest a good book on
Some saltwater fish are not good to eat, while some in fact are not good to touch. Some have poisonous meat,
and some have poisonous fins.
Now, having said that... as a general rule, you are probably already familiar with most of the
fish you will catch... Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Grouper, Monkfish, Tuna,`Halibut, Whiting, Hake, Shark, Rockfish, Red
Fish & Red Snapper, Sea bass, Sea trout, Sail Cats, and the list goes on and on... A good "frog gig" is great for
catching lobster, and of course, a spear gun and a long handled net are good as well. In addition, in many bays
and coves you will find oysters, scallops, claims, and crabs... When sailing, we always have a line (or two) out,
and when tucking into deserted islands we always go looking for lobsters.
In General - You will find it is best not to provision your boat to the extreme. It is far more fun and exciting to
plan your provisions for what you need when out sailing. . . Other then that, it is much more fun to visit the food
markets and restaurants in places you travel. With only a few exceptions, you can sail around the world with fuel
and provisions less then 10 days away. (If you follow the popular trade wind routes, there are only 3 areas where
you will be at sea for a month or more between landfall.)
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