Group: Forum Members
I am impressed by Jonathan Lloyds meticulous approach revealed in his paper mentioned in the newsletter but I worry slightly that potential blue water sailors may be put off by the apparent complexity of the preparations needed. I like to think that it is still possible to adopt the shoe string approach which I followed admittedly now nearly 20 years ago (of necessity). I circumnavigated in my old Moody 36 mostly single handed living on the very modest pension I had as an early retiree, covering about 50,000 miles and visiting Australia as well as Alaska and many places in between.
I think it's worth thinking about the things you can do without and avoid the attitude which tells you that every eventuality must be foreseen before departure. For example small diesel engines are universal all over the world and in poorer countries there is a culture of mending rather than replacing. I had no difficulty in repairing my BMC Thorneycroft 4 cylinder diesel and getting the spares for it. I never used the spares which a specialist mechanic recommended I carried. All the various problems I had with the engine were with the cooling system, which is easy to repair. I learned to keep on hand a replacement alternator and fresh water pump both easily obtainable more or less anywhere.
Fresh water falls from the sky quite frequently in most latitudes of the world, a simple rainwater collecting system is easy to devise and large plastic jerry cans can provide a back up to the water tank, I seriously doubt whether a watermaker is necessary.
I fitted a Hydrovane self steering on the transom of my Moody with big 20mm ply backing to the Nylock bolts and it never shifted. The vane cover rotted under the tropical sun but replacements were easy to make using offcuts of spinnaker cloth. The whole vane blew away one night in Hawai'i and I had a new piece of tube bent in a local workshop. Unfortunately, in spite of my instructions the engineer made the bending easy by inserting solid rod in the appropriate places which made the vane too heavy. It gave me a lot of trouble before I realised what he had done at a time when I was too far away to go back and remonstrate. The answer is that if you do get the tube locally, weigh it before you fit it.
I fitted a boom gallows which repaid its cost many times over and made sail handling infinitely safer. I have to remember, when I sail on a boat without one to be especially careful. I did most handling of the main sail from the foot of the mast, eschewing the complexity which comes from taking lines back to the cockpit. I converted the original roller reefing to slab reefing before departure at the expense of some line and a few blocks.
I never regretted buying a heavier anchor and chain before departure and relied on the original manual winch.
In Trinidad I acquire a length of mainsail track for nothing and fitted it as a separate tri sail track which I used about 3 times in ten years. It meant that to set the trisail, it was only necessary to furl the mainsail in the normal way. I loved the trysail when I did use it, unlike the mainsail and boom, it didn't try to kill me.
I learned that when I needed any special tool, it was always cheaper to buy it rather than pay someone who had the tool to do the job for me. Whenever I failed to follow this rule, I regretted it.
I also learned that many sail repairs can be done by glued on patches using impact adhesive.
the Moody has a very modest single spreader rig which looks quite short compared with many modern rigs but was simple to set up when replacing any of it. I changed all the swaged fittings with Norseman after having a fitting fail on my first Atlantic crossing. I improvised to get over that but I subsequently carried enough wire for a spare shroud and appropriate fittings.
I fitted an extra forestay with a tensioning device which proved its worth. On two occasions the fitting at the head of the roller foresail failed and I used an old hanked on jib to reach a safe haven.
People find it surprising that I mostly managed without any long distance communications, merely a £100 VHF and I drank my gin warm after the frig packed up. I have to concede however that habits have changed, I found it exciting to be isolated, it made for a special experience, I have difficulty in imagining being out on the empty ocean and yet chatting on the phone each day.
I did take an EPIRB, which I thankfully never used.