Cruising essentials, part 3

If you’re planning to go full time cruising and you don’t intend to hop from marina to marina your systems and gear will need to be prepared to a high level of reliability and operational efficiency. Self sufficiency is the name of the game.

In earlier posts I’ve looked at fresh water supply and electricity generation, now I’ll consider other essentials.

Anchoring: Each skipper develops his personal anchoring techniques and trustworthy gear. My own are outlined in my article “The Happy Hooker” written a few years ago but still valid:  http://www.saltyjohn.co.uk/resources/haphook.pdf

These methods kept me safe during six years of full time cruising. Other experienced sailors will have their own particular variations but all will agree that flimsy, undersized equipment has no place on a serious cruising boat. Big anchors, chain and a good windlass are essential.

Protection from the sun: We all love the sun but it can very quickly become your enemy if you can’t shelter from it when you need to. If you’re heading to sunny climes your cruising boat will need oases of shade through which cooling breezes can blow, so give serious thought to the design of your awnings and bimini tops.

If you’re cruising in areas where the prevailing wind is from the east, as in the Bahamas and Caribbean, the setting sun will blaze down upon your cockpit and aft deck just when you’re settling down with those sundowners. Don’t underestimate how miserable it can be if you aren’t prepared for this assault. On Adriana one of the most useful items aboard was a rectangular sheet of Sunbrella which could be strategically fixed with bulldog clips and adjusted as the sun stalked around the boat. We also had an awning draped over the boom and secured to the guard rails; on our later ketch we had custom made awning frames, but still found the Sunbrella rectangle a vital defence when the sun was trying to sneak over the transom.

Repairs and maintenance: We aren’t all motor mechanics, sailmakers or riggers but it’s important to develop a degree of skill in repairing and maintaining your systems. Basic servicing of your diesel – bleeding the fuel system, changing the oil and replacing belts – along with basic plumbing and DC electrical skills add to your self sufficiency. If you’re really good at it you can even add to the cruising kitty by providing your skills to more mechanically challenged sailors.

Happy Cruising!