The uncomplicated cruising boat

When I dreamt of setting off into the wide blue yonder I followed the teachings of the Hiscocks, the Pardeys and Bob Griffith. My boat would be simple, rugged and seaworthy. It would carry stout ground tackle, fly hanked-on sails and be worked from the deck not the cockpit. 

And that’s pretty much how it was. Adriana was 33’ overall, heavy displacement, a simple sloop rig, boom gallows, a massive bronze windlass to handle the all-chain rode and CQR anchors. She was classically pretty, (being from the board of Phil Rhodes she could hardly be anything else), with long overhangs, sweeping sheerline, wide decks – and cramped accommodation. 

We planned to navigate by dead reckoning with a compass and a set of charts. We carried a plastic sextant for when we were out of sight of land. Fortunately, GPS became available and reasonably affordable at about the time we cast off so my astronavigation was never seriously tested.

We had a shiny new Yanmar diesel engine and this begat a battery bank and a big alternator and this in turn begat a fridge to keep the beer cold and the veggies crisp. This could have been the thin end of the wedge but we managed to stave off any further adulteration of the hair shirt cruising ethos and for three years had the adventure of our lives. 

A few years later, with the cruising kitty replenished, we set off again – the boat was bigger and the KISS principle somewhat further eroded by watermaker, forward-looking sonar, radar and wind generator.

The bigger boat served us well but the watermaker, radar and sonar didn’t make it. They failed to live up to their billing: The watermaker stopped making water, the forward -looking sonar didn’t look forward and the power-hungry radar didn’t earn its keep. 

I’ve always seen this as justification for my continuing view that avoiding unnecessary complications on a cruising boat is the way to go despite the current obsession with all things electronic, high tech and led aft. I wonder if I’m just old fashioned.