Our Cruising Philosophy
I love to sail, love boats, love the water, love everything about all of the above. Well, except rebuilding heads... But to me, cruising is more about the adventure and becoming immersed in our surroundings. It just happens that our method of conveyance happens to be a sailboat, which is why I think I love cruising. My mother and her husband Rick are into the RV thing. They've got a map on the side of their trailer that shows all the states they've visited. That's kind of neat and I've been camping and enjoyed it. But, I love to cruise because it involves boats. When RV or tent camping, the journey is a chore to me. The traffic, the people, the hassles all detract from the adventure and make it a chore. But when Cruising, the journey is part of the adventure and at least half of the fun.
Terry and I both love to wake up in an anchorage and watch the sun burn the morning mist off the water. I like to be mostly alone, with her by my side, if possible. People in quantity are stress to me, so I avoid them when I want to have fun. Despite this, we both love Theater, History and Geography. So inevitably, our cruises will include historical destinations or somewhere we can take in a show, etc. We try to stay away from festivals unless they haven't been "discovered" yet. For instance, I've been meaning to go to the Delmarva Punkin' Chunkin' contest for several years. But, now that it has experienced an explosion of popularity thanks to national Television exposure, I probably will never go. It is the individual that attracts me, and I hope that in our travels, we will be able to meet people and develop relationships with people much like the Roths did in their book, Two on a Big Ocean.
In outfitting The Write Byte, I am reaching for a balance between minimalism and comfort. The minimalism is for efficiency and ability to maintain the systems and remain self sufficient as much as possible. The comfort is because I don't want this to be a "camping" trip that never ends. In doing so, we have made many compromises, some of which are listed here with explanations.
No Radar. We will have a collision avoidance radar detector aboard, but the energy draw, maintenance and purchase cost of Radar itself seems prohibitive.
No Autopilot. I was convinced when I read an account of a circumnavigation that analyzed the autopilot maintenance down to costing $1 for every mile it worked. (which was not very often on the 30+ thousand mile journey.) this, not including a huge initial cost.
Refrigeration. I like cold beer. We went with a simple air cooled Cold Machine. My feeling is that the benefit gained by going to a cold plate water cooled unit does not balance the quadrupled cost of purchase. I may be wrong though and will switch if my beer doesn't stay cold enough in the tropics...
Massive Solar collectors to attain energy self sufficiency. (No moving parts) Current plans include two Kyocera 120 watt collectors. Heard too many things about broken wind generators, etc. Our peak solar output will double our daily needs for the (admittedly inefficient) refrigerator. That way, we can still maintain self sufficiency when not achieving peak output.
Wind Vane. For self steering when under sail. Since we intend to sail to our destinations, this seems a valid expense, whereas the autopilot did not. (The auto pilot also increased required solar capacity, which the wind vane does not.)
No Watermaker. We will be cruising in areas with adequate rainfall to allow catchment systems to provide our water needs. Cost of purchase, maintenance and electrical consumption also a factor. I have designed, but not yet built a catchment system which will utilize simple, inexpensive materials and work very well, I think.
No Generator. No room in the narrow beamed CCA design boat... Except perhaps for a small gas powered Honda, which might be stored like many other things in the forepeak. No intention to purchase one at this time.
Battery capacity: We currently have a 900 amp hr house bank that will run the refrigeration for about 12 days. (there is a voltage cut-off on the fridge, so the bank is not dead yet, when the fridge quits.) We also have an engine starting bank with 280 amp hrs of service and 1385 cold cranking amps.
A 3 burner LP Stove with oven and broiler. Two 10 lb aluminum tanks for fuel supply. (not enough room for 20 pounders) Eating well is important.
Our navigation tools currently include, GPS, Chart Software, VHF radio. We will be adding Ham Radio at a later time.
Sail inventory includes:
Three mains. One new in 2000. The other two of indeterminate age. (One is likely the original) The new main is full battened and has a full roach. The other two are not full battened and have little roach. The shape of the older sails is poor. The new main has 8 oz cloth and is triple stitched by Rolly Tasker.
A 110% roller furling jib, (blown shape, but still holding together.) New in 2000, 135% Roller furling Jib, 6.6 oz cloth, triple stitched, also by Rolly Tasker. A 75% Mylar Kevlar jib. (this was a 150% racing Genoa on a fractional rigged Tartan 10. It still has great shape and strength. It gets hoisted when the winds are 25-30 kts.) A 10 oz storm jib. The storm jib, as are all the jibs have luff bolts for being hoisted on the Harken Roller furling system.
A 180% Asymmetrical spinnaker.
There is an inexpensive car stereo with CD player... There is no TV or Video player. To me, cruising is getting away from civilization. We have found that we seldom even listen to music, except occasionally while cooking dinner at night. Originally I selected a laptop with a DVD player, specifically because I love movies and thought it might become an issue while cruising. It may, but I doubt it. Mostly, the laptop will be used for navigation and log keeping.
BTW, when shopping for a laptop, find one that has a battery voltage less than 12 volts. My laptop's battery voltage is 10.5 volts while the output from my 110 and 12 volt power supplies are both 19 volts. With these figures, it was a no brainer to hard wire a plug for directly powering the laptop from the house batteries. This eliminates the 12 volt power supply that wastes power increasing the voltage to 19, only to be using only 10 of it to run the laptop. A friend's Compaq laptop has a 14.5 volt battery. While it is an excellent machine in other ways, this little trick is not possible for him. Shop wisely, sailors. (http://www.winbook.com is where I got mine... It has been a superb machine and the Winbook customer service is excellent.) The bottom line is that the 12 volt power supply drew amperage whether I had the machine on or not. This way, I can leave the machine plugged in and when I turn off the computer, there is no draw. But I digress...
Most important of all, the boat itself is inherently comfortable. With good sized berths, oodles of storage, lots of deck space, a decent galley, good chart table, comfortable cockpit and a wonderful head; it is simply a comfortable boat. It is easy to sail and easy to move about above and below decks. The Bristol 40 has a gentle motion in a seaway, is fast and kindly under way. It has safe decks on which to work and move about while underway. This goes along way toward keeping a crew happy. It was this combination of seaworthiness, comfort, elegant simplicity and classic lines that drew us to the Bristol 40 in the first place. The Write Byte has exceeded all our expectations. Many, many thanks to Jack Tyler, for suggesting the Bristol 40 might fit our needs ... Were it not for his recommendations, we might have simply skipped over it in our list. We would never have known what we might be missing.
Thanks again, Jack.