Filed Under (Boats and Boating Gear) by Debbie on 11-02-2010

I dream of cruising on a blue water sailboat to distant shores.  I often think of this during the long dark winter months and this past year, with the fragile economy we’re experiencing, that dream seems more elusive than ever.

I am blessed to have a Newport 30 sailboat.  She’s not what I’d term ‘blue water’ but I could squeak up or down the coast line to the San Juan’s or Mexico.  I am currently cruising the Columbia river.  As I do so, I learn more about sailing, navigating and provisioning.  I also learn what equipment I like and what I can do without.   I have always like the Pardey’s idea of go simple, go now.  However, after cruising in the summer here in the pacific northwest where the heat is far less than the tropics I find there are a few things I don’t care to leave on the dirt if and when I cast off. 

I’m putting out my current list of “don’t leave home without it” in this post.  It will probably change as I hopefully get closer to blue water and I certainly hope you’ll comment on my list and how you’d change it.

  • Pressure water.  We have that and I really appreciate it.  However, I know too that it eats up battery amps, so I’d also like a separate foot pump for both hot and cold water.
  • Watermaker.  Having talked with a crusty old sailor who’d been living and cruising since the late 1970’s, I realized I don’t want to have to dingy to shore, find a dubious water source, fill jerry cans and dingy back to the boat to fill the water holding tank.  I want clean so I’ve want to have something with a good out put that’s easy to use.
  • GPS a former cruiser helped me pick out the GPS we have.  It’s a Garmin GPSmap 76 handheld.  It works well and I like it a lot.  My hubby wants a GPS/chart plotter (color) on the binnacle.  I don’t know if that’s really helpful although it would be nice to have that.  If and hopefully when I get to cast off I’ll have three of the little hand helds in water proof packs and lots of batteries.
  • We have roller furling for the jib and I wouldn’t go without it.  I’ve been reading about roller furling mainsails and the general consensus seems to be furling in the boom is better than in the mast.  I’ve never used it but I’m thinking given my age it would be better to have furling for the main too, especially if I can work it from the cockpit.
  • Solar panels to keep the batteries charged as I like to read and find the glow from the oil lamp while cozy and charming isn’t enough for me to read by.  Although, here in the pacific northwest with all our gray days, I doubt they would really help all that much…
  • Wind generator.  A fellow club member has one on his Hunter, spends several weeks at a time in the San Juan’s and says it works well to provide the battery power he needs.  Although, I find the sound somewhat annoying but far, far less so than a generator.
  • Golf cart batteries and more than two. 
  • Refrigerator.  I know we all read about the ice box.  We have a conversion and it’s nice but with our current battery set up and lack of charging without running the engine or having shore power it can be frustrating.  I’d really like a better system and if we get to go for an extended time, maybe a freezer.  With like a bazillion inches of insulation.  No matter what I do our ice melts fast in the rare 80 degree days we have.
  • Windless, currently I have windless envy.  I’m not sure why I do, we’ve only dropped the hook once!  Our friends have an electric one which they never use on the river.  I’m thinking I’d like a manual one so I’m not using up the battery power and don’t have to fix it.  Although, again given my age, maybe an electric one would be better particularly if I could run it from the cockpit.
  • EPIRB something we don’t have but currently we could swim to shore if we fell over on the river.
  • Ditch bag with EPIRB, VHF handheld, GPS and lots of batteries.
  • Radar.  While I’m not sure it’s something I’d really need on the river, it would be nice to have now so I can learn to use it.  Then too, I have to say after being out single handing during an amazing albeit short lived squall it would have been a comfort to have right then as there was zero visibility.  My current research suggest that a mast mounted radar is better performing.
  • Radar reflector.  We are looking for one at the next swap meet.
  • Ground tackle.  More and heavier than what we have.  The old crusty guy who’d been cruising since the 60’s I spoke with said that was one of the most important items.  I’m thinking about carrying the next boat size up after crusty guy spoke about his adventures.
  • A good self steering system.  We have a wheel pilot that works well and really cuts down of the fatigue of a long day.
  • A good stereo with speakers both inside and out.  We have a car stereo in the cabin inside a water proof housing that is working well for us.  I love having music to listen to plus we have a small DVD player and I can plug into the system for movies.  It’s not something for cruising but for living, even my hubby agrees.
  • Titan winch handles.  I’d like to have more of them just in case.  They float plus I appreciate that if they ever break you get a new one…no questions asked…for free.  While cruising…FREE is great!
  • I’d really like to have a dry bilge but I’m not sure that’s more than a dream especially if we keep this boat.
  • Davits would be nice in the good weather.  I get real tired of the dink on the foredeck. 
  • Hot water heater.  This for me is one of the living vs. camping items for a boat.  I won’t leave without one.  I wash the dishes and really hate having to heat water in the tea pot to wash and rinse.
  • Shower inside.  While my hubby may feel it’s ok to go for days without one, I just can’t get there.
  • Spares of all sorts.  We carry lots of stuff right now (kind of a running joke in our club) but I’d like more just in case, including the element for the water heater.  Too many cruisers out there have asked about getting one for me to head off without at least one!
  • Self tailing winches.  We have two of them and there is just no way I’d head off without them.  I’m actually thinking I’d like at least one electric winch (read old lady). 
  • Depth sounder.  One with a good sounding (loud) alarm.  Having hit ground this past summer I would really like an alarm that’s loud enough to hear in the cockpit.  No one was below to hear our whispering alarm and while I wasn’t hard aground I did hit a very shallow spot…20 feet to 4 feet in 0.2 seconds!
  • Opening ports.  I so want an opening port in the galley.  Along with better ventilation via fans and other opening ports.  We don’t get that many hot days here but I know from the few we had that the galley isn’t fun in the heat.
  • More 12 volt fans.  We currently have one and at the last boat swap found another which we’ve yet to mount.  They make quite a difference inside on those hot days.
  • I definitely want all the non-handheld data instruments mounted at the helm.
  • A pedestal mounted compass and a handheld too.
  • Oven/stove.  Ours is CNG and it’s ok for this area although if we’re going off the beaten path I’d want LPG.  I also have a single burner that runs from cans of fuel that I can use on the dock or shore that I appreciate.
  • Two sinks.  I enjoy cooking and my hubby enjoys eating and I do the cleaning, enough said.
  • Dodger and bimini and I think side curtains.  Not great in a blow but you can take them down and store when you’re moving.  In our area I like the darker color we have now as we don’t get lots of hot here and the dark color we have helps to warm the cockpit.  However, I have to say if I’m heading to the tropics I’m springing for white! 
  • Heat.  We have a solid fuel heater currently.  I’d really like it to be propane or maybe diesel.  While our little heater really does a great job (gone from 40 degrees to 80 in under 30 minutes) it’s messy and I have to cut and pack the wood…or presto logs rather.  Yes, it’s not something I’d need in the tropics but here in the pacific northwest it can be chilly!
  • Rain collection system.  I’m thinking rather than using the sail as the device (thinking bird poop and washing down) maybe a strong tarp with a hose bib and hose.  It could store flat and come out for the rain and the hose could just pop into the fill tube for the holding tank. 
  • BBQ.  We like to BBQ and as long as I don’t have the bimini up I’m fine with it.
  • VHF radio with remote in the cockpit.  We have a radio but no remote so we really can’t hear it and you couldn’t single hand and call for help unless you left the helm unattended although with self steering it would be ok.  Even as a couple I’d want to be set up to single hand should the need arise.
  • No teak on deck.  I like the look but I don’t want to deal with it.  We have a very small amount on our deck (hand holds) and a bit around the companion way.  We oil as needed.  I thought the gray teak decks looked good and gave a good foot hold but last summer on a hot day a club buddy let me wander around his Westsail.  My bare feet didn’t like the burning hot deck! 
  • Cockpit cushions.  We have 4 of those that ratchet into various positions and I really like them.  They can be moved all over the deck and really make a world of difference when at the helm for hours on ‘end’.
  • I’d like a mattress.  We’ve replaced the foam for our cushions, added a 2″ memory foam and I cut and sewed our sheets and comforter to fit the V-berth.  This is much better but I’d still like a real mattress.
  • A reel of floating poly line maybe 300 feet long.  I know in our area it would be helpful for anchoring so the stern could be tied to a tree or stump on shore.  I’m not sure about the tropic on this one but a great addition for the pacific northwest.

Ok, there you have it.  My list of what I’d want on a blue water sailboat.  Heck, I want it on our coastal cruiser!  What do you think, anything I’m missing?

1 Comment posted on "Blue Water Sailboat Dreams"
Watermaker for a Sailboat on November 20th, 2010 at 11:01 am #

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