How much money do you have to save to cruise per year?
How do you know what to provision? What do you take with you?
Because we like particular hygiene products, I buy enough of those to last us for the duration - razors, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and those sorts of things. I also purchase enough vitamins, cotton swabs and balls, stomach remedies and the like to last the entire length of our trip. This action was spurned on by the cost of Pepto Bismol in the
What kind of gear and safety equipment do you have on board?
After 10 years and at least 2 biminis, we went with a hard top. It is built out of ¾ inch starboard with an aluminum frame built by a local welder. We then constructed side curtains led through tracks attached to 1 x 3 teak strips, which are screwed to the hardtop. There are side panels as well as a back panel. Two separate smaller panels cover the walkway areas to connect the sides to the windshield by snaps. The dodger also had been replaced at least twice and was replaced with a clear, heavy duty plastic windshield with a starboard hard top. Now we just have to remember not to stand up quickly! The hardtop is not as forgiving as the bimini.
We have asked a lot of our little autopilot that gets connected to the wheel steering in the cockpit so decided on a heavy duty below decks hydraulic autopilot. After having the smaller one shipped back to the US last time and hand steering from Mayaguana to Luperon, we decided we needed to upgrade as the one we had wasn’t quite up to the task for heavy weather steering. Although costly, it is well worth the expense and is like having another crewmember on board without the messy bunk and stomach to feed. We made the decision to upgrade to a unit considerably larger than needed. We are sure this will pay off later.
Besides new equipment, much of the existing equipment received maintenance and repair. The watermaker got a thorough cleaning and check. The radar unit was not working properly and went back to the manufacturer for service. The wind generator came down. It was vibrating a bit and we know now small things lead to bigger problems later. We corrected the vibration, lubricated the bearings and gave the housing a fresh coat of paint. When that was not sufficient, it went back to the manufacturer, who did a much better job than we did and it is now working wonderfully. All onboard systems received a thorough check. Anything suspect was corrected or replaced. Every battery operated item on board got new batteries and we made sure an adequate supply was on hand. Pumps, alarms and safety equipment were priority issues. All outdated equipment in the life raft was replaced with the repack but there is still the boat equipment to consider; replacing expired flares, old life jackets and more.
On board electrical demands is a concern for all cruisers. A wind generator, solar panel and the engine alternator had served us well for many years. But our demands have grown. One of the decisions to add the hard top over the cockpit was to enable us to add additional solar panels. Four would have been preferred, but two were settled for. We also opted for a larger alternator on the engine. Cost was a big factor. At some point you have to stop spending and adding to, and go. The addition of 12-volt refrigeration, below decks autopilot, computer and more made the decision for us.
We have chosen to run our AC appliances from an inverter rather than add a generator. Aside from the noise factor, we don’t want another system to maintain. Our 110-volt needs are few. The 1500-watt inverter will power the TV, VCR, microwave and all of our power tools.
This is one piece of equipment that some cruisers don’t give serious consideration until well into their journey. It becomes the most used equipment on the boat and can make the difference between some very enjoyable times or sitting on the boat watching others have all the fun.
The electronics received a complete check and cleaning. Yes cleaning. All connections, plugs and battery terminals were cleaned and tested. We carry two GPS units since this is a very important navigational tool. We have also gone high tech and have a laptop, which allows us to use the latest chart and navigation software, receive weatherfax over the HF radio and be able to do email wherever we are on the planet. Consequently, we have a back up laptop also. Radios, antennas, ground planes and potential interferences on the boat were all checked and corrected as needed. It is so much easier to do it now, than when parts and assistance are not readily available. We also decided to update our VHF to the latest version with the remote mike for the cockpit.
We decided to take down the spars, repaint them and replaced any suspect rigging. This was a lengthy process and is deserving of its’ own space. As you can see, the preparation appears daunting, but don’t let that stop you and keep you at the dock. We want to cruise while we are fit enough to enjoy it and young enough to have the energy needed to make such a long journey. Also, don’t forget to prepare your family and friends for your departure. Sometimes, that is the hardest preparation of all.