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Date: 18 February 2016. Inadequate Boat (Gulfport too)

Today I ran on at the fingertips. You might want to pour a cuppa coffee or tea before reading this missive. Thanks. J.

A gent I recently corresponded with is interested in joining the boating world. He wrote "Living on the hook is free isn't it?" The one word answer is yes, with caveats. Although dockage is always a Good Idea in my view for those initial months after purchase. There are some things you can do to rapidly get the costs down to a minimal level. Selecting the right boat is important!
 

You can have a good life at anchor, IF you have the infrastructure in place.


Definition of infrastructure: Multiple ways of generating power and storage for said power. Think solar panels, a wind generator, plus an auxiliary generator. Additionally, you'll need batteries to store said power.

I think all of us have had those dreams of sailing off the horizon, visiting fabulous places, all for Free!!! Then the reality. The wind comes in three varieties: too much, too little or from the wrong direction. Thus the engine is running to get where you're going.
 


 

And those sails have bits that break, wear out, need tightening, replacement, etc. Sailing requires a physical stamina that for me went with the first round of chemo. I'm better now however life after the half century mark begins to slow.
 

I can best be described as physically phfitt, and not getting any younger.


My boat is my forever home. Seaweed was bought with the future in mind. What would it take to make her better, more comfortable, safer, etc. not just today but in ten years? I'm eight years into the plan and have mostly covered all the critical items.
 


Seaweed has sufficient solar panels that it matters not if I am tied to a dock or at anchor. My life does not change. Were I to want to run the air conditioner (I have a 5000BTU wall-banger) at anchor I'd have to install the already bought 55 amp alternator.

Wall-banger: a room air-condition like you'd have in a house.

The alternator installation is something I intend to do before summertime.
 

On the left is the currently mounted small alternator. The new spiffier more robust one on the right.


It was 7.5 years into this journey before I was self-sufficient with a level of decadence regarding power. On a budget things take time. The final two solar panels were a gift. You have no idea what Larry and Eva's kindness meant to me. There is a level of joy now because I've achieved the goal of comfort off the grid with a reefer aka refrigerator.

For literally years except when in a windy anchorage I was without a refrigerator. I did not have sufficient power generating to support the drain a reefer would require.

Bringing ice back to Seaweed is just beneath hauling water as a not-fun part of life out here. It is physically demanding. When you (er, I!) need ice, it's so stinking hot I don't feel like going for it.
 

I wanted to be like Ted and Sarah with ice cubes in my drink.

The pup Patches cruises with her people on M/V Manatee, a 36' Kadey Krogen.


Without a refrigerator you're going to be either grocery shopping more frequently or making adjustments. A way to store leftovers is awesome, and have I mentioned ice? I love that I have ice cubes at will. Cold tangerines are so refreshing too. And my little chicken sausages too are tucked in the reefer.

Unfortunately at Christmastime so too did those wonderful NY cheesecakes fit in there. And now they are in me and nothing fits. Gosh they were good though...
 

 

Eventually I'd like an autopilot. A tuna-door is also on the list. Those are the next two Big items. Prior to either happening I'll be replacing my anchor chain. That's $500 for 150' of 1/4" G4. Ouch.

Side Note: Chain is rated by letters. They tell the strength of the links. G4 is the best. 1/4" is the diameter of the chain links. Figure $3 per foot on sale for my size chain.

Remember that the larger/heavier the boat, the larger, bigger, sturdier the anchor tackle, lines, more bottom paint, etc.

 

Shorter vessels are less costly though few
would be happy on a boat as small as mine.

 


Power boats have just one propulsion system to deal with. Sailboats have two, the sails and the engine. On this coast (Gulf of Mexico) it is seldom that I see a sailboat actually sailing. Most of the time if the sails are up the engine is in gear as well. When I do come across a sailboat without the engine running I write it down in my Log Book. That is a rare occurrence.



Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.


Small diesels don't burn a lot of fuel. Fuel consumption is affected by weight of boat, waterline of boat, speed through water, currents (with or against you) and windage, hull shape, etc. All of those things factor in and determine how much fuel you will use.

The largest detriments to fuel economy are men and schedules. Oh you may think not, however many powerboat captains have this thing whereby they believe the throttle has one position. That is all the way forward and going as fast as is possible. Back off, take your boat at hull speed and you're going to be burning far less fuel.

Women like to get there early too. Being willing to forget the schedule is CRITICAL for safety. Putting yourself or your boat in a dangerous situation to meet a time deadline is asking for trouble. And believe me, King Neptune can provide lessons in humility to the saltiest among us!



For instance, this weekend is an SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) get-together at Gulfport. It starts tomorrow afternoon with dinner ashore and then a potluck on Saturday. Seaweed will NOT be at the Friday anchor out. That won't work for my life.


The anchorage off Gulfport is only a good choice when winds are from the north, off the beach.

 

I fully intend to bring the boat over to Gulfport on Saturday morning provided the weather continues as is forecast. I'll spend the night anchored and then return to the dock on Sunday. To meet the schedule of being there Friday would put too much pressure on me. I won't do that.

Saturday is fine. And if I don't make it on Saturday there is always Sunday. This retirement thing is awesome.

In the meantime I'll be installing my fuel polishing system tomorrow. It will run for several hours before leaving this dock. I want to make sure I've got all the water out of the diesel tank.

But I digress...
 


Smooth seas as viewed through the galley window.


Continuing, and on topic too... Be sure to remember that you spend most of your time sitting still. Can you see out while seated? If not, I would not be happy. Picture yourself stuck inside your boat in the middle of a thunder-boomer. Can you see to check on the world outside?

As for me, I love that I can sit down in my galley and watch the world. Dolphins, turtles, pelicans and more are right outside my window. I can see and hear it all. Just the other week I had a couple of visitors:
 


 

For first time boaters or those with a new-to-them boat AT FIRST find a pier/dock for the initial break-in period. Do not plan on anchoring out. Pay for the privilege of that electric cord. Having a convenient way ashore is going to be necessary as you'll need things.

Until you get a feel for this life having fellow boaters on the dock is going to be your lifeline. They will be able to help out with issues that come up and offer advice. It doesn't matter how smart you are, a fresh set of eyes is often more useful than you can imagine.


Life on the hook at anchor is solitary. I like the peace and tranquility however I missed the social interaction. That's why I pay $80 per month for 10 gigs of internet on my computer.
 

There's lots more however you'll need to read a bit too. Check out my Archive. Each article or vignette is listed chronologically, with most recent at the top. It's more than a title though. I include the first paragraph and topics (Categories) touched upon. Any that interest you simply click the title and voila: you're there.

If you have any questions or wish clarification, please add a Comment in the section (end of each piece) provided. It might take a couple of days however I will respond. And thanks! I appreciate all comments.


Life is great afloat. I love it.


Those with mechanical skills will have a head start on me for certain. Make sure ABSOLUTELY that you have good access to the bits and pieces of your engine and batteries. If getting to stuff is difficult you will not do routine maintenance. Nor will any previous owners have done preventative maintenance if it's too hard to reach.

Recently I was told by a cruiser "nobody" checks their batts once a month. Since I've been doing so since I bought Seaweed (Pi Day, 2008) I can only surmise his batteries are in a difficult to reach area and that is why HE doesn't check his.
 

Accessibility to all components will pay off in the long-term.
 

Enough advice from me. Good luck finding your new boat home and have fun on the journey.

 

Most important of all is to remember the boat you buy doesn't necessarily have to have "everything" you require. She does have to be a good base to work with. Much like a house you can make improvements and spiffy her up.


Nearly eight years ago I bought an inadequate boat.


She came with one battery, zero solar panels, no wind generator, a pretend 11 pound Danforth knock-off anchor, 16' of plastic coated chain of indeterminate age, half-rotted dock lines and the ugliest curtains this side of a house of ill repute. She did have structure and since then, well, I love my home and am so fortunate to have her.
 

She's nearly perfect except for the stuff that is
broken, needs upgrading, fixing or changing.


Being on the water is fabulous.

I'd love to hear what boat you own, or want to own next.
And when did you get your first boat? What size and kind?

COMMENTS:
 

2016, 2017

Categories: Anchorages, Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Locations, Pets,

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