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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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