Fitting out a budget trailer-sailer or pocket-cruiser

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Rachael, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. Rachael
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Norfolk, UK

    Rachael Junior Member

    So... you've bought a trailer-sailer or pocket-cruiser for £2,000 or so, complete with outboard, sails and so on: you can sail... and all's well.

    Reading around... you end up considering a few extras before heading out to coastal waters with just a 3-4 year old, a dog as crew:

    1. Tiller Pilot: Simrad / Raymarine for £240-£400.
    2. Cockpit mounted GPS / electronic plotter: Geonav Gypsy / Garmin 276C / 278c for £400-£600.
    3. Charts for the above for £200(ish): Navionics and the Gypsy preferable if you have a laptop...
    4. Yeoman Sport chart-table for paper charts for £400: backup if the plotter fails.
    5. VHF system for £100 to £400.
    6. Liferaft and flares for £600.

    Alas... that (even without radar, AIS, an on-board PC with navionics card-reader and so on) adds up to way, WAY more than initially invested in getting afloat... and let's face it: none of this was even an option a generation ago.

    At times I wonder if a higher priority ought to be some sort of cock-pit enclosure (perhaps a bimini enclosure linked to a sprayhood): no big deal on a larger yacht... but perhaps more important if you are going to do a week afloat in dodgy weather on a 22' trailer-sailer without putting a 4 year old off for life...

    I know a lot depends on exactly where (and when, and how) we choose to sail... but I'd love to pull together the best advice on priorities for an irregularly used trailer-sailer / pocket-cruiser (on a budget).
     
  2. BHOFM
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    BHOFM Senior Member

    The biggest factor here, is how much experience you have.

    With sixty years of sailing and 20+ years of blue water.
    I would head out with a compass and flashlite. Some
    extra fresh water and a case of Spam!

    I made it around the world twice without a GPS. Half the
    time I didn't have charts.

    Your knowledge is the most important thing on the boat.

    What kind of boat?
     
  3. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    how about a leash and safety harness to fit the four year old, and a life jacket for the dog? Also I would consider exposure clothes for the child, a person that small loses heat real fast in cool waters. These, and a comfortable PFD (so the child will keep it on) I would think are more important than many of the others. Also make sure the boat is seaworthy. A broken rudder or lost keel even a half mile off-shore can become life threatening real fast. Check and double check every essential system on the boat.

    Use a bungee cord on the tiller for now, and you can get hand held GPS units cheap (used even cheaper), a hand held radio and get a used life raft; you will be good to go for coastal cruising. keep charts in a large zip-lock bag. All that fancy electronic stuff you will spend a lot of time messing with and not enjoy the sailing. As you get more experienced you will know more what you will want in fancy nav equipment.

    The best way to keep small children interested in outdoor sports is to do short day trips in good weather at first, make sure they stay warm, fed and comfortable, and then build up the length of the trips when they are ready. Treat each outing as a mini-adventure. Consider doing your first outing on an in-land lake where it is more tame. Children are usually not tolerant of prolonged discomfort until they are 10 or 11 years old, so build up to the longer trips. And this will give you time to accumulate better gear for the longer trips too.
     
  4. Rachael
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Rachael Junior Member

    Ah, a kindred spirit! I may not have taken a yacht around the world without a gps, an electronic chartplotter and a full set of charts, but I did climb the Hornli Ridge of the Matterhorn following a line once spotted on a postcard (albeit with advice from a guy who'd climbed the north face and had run the Horli), and ice-climb a grade 3 gully on Ben Nevis in 1/2 shank boots (albeit with a stranger who'd been ice-climbing on that mountain for 40+ years)!

    With that said... in both instances I was a LOT younger, had no 4 year old daughter (or dog) in tow, and whilst not technically outstanding, I (just about) had a strong enough background to be able to both judge the risks well and respond appropriately in adversity.

    I'm not sure where I'm at in a yacht: I may be at that point, but that's not a judgement to get wrong!

    I sailed dingies and a windsurfer in a mis-spent youth... and my kayaking experience off St. Davids, Anglesea and the Farnes was over MANY years (and often in force 6 winds)... and the navigational principles learnt on the mountains never seemed inadequate to me on the sea given a mathematical background which means vectors and trig come as naturally as reading and writing.

    Were I young and sailing solo I'd almost certainly decide that the best way to gain useful experience was to learn as much theory as I could and then sail as clsoe to the limit as seemed survivable at the time (thinking that experience gained in conditions that concern me is pretty much the only experience that actually counts for anything when the going gets tough).

    Sailing with a toddler tames my advendurous nature... and I'm keen to build both understanding and experience steadily as I'm acutely aware that I may not be as capable of dealing with adversity at sea as I once was in the mountains - which is why I'm doing my shore-based yachmaster now and am hoping to get a drying mooring in the Orwell, Stour or Deben as a place to build experience in the spring.

    With all that said... I'm still a tad undecided on further expenditure.

    A tiller pilot currently tops my list, as my tiny tott is prone to going AWOL with a cry of "I need a wee" whilst supposedly helming (most recently leading me to a great spillage of coffee as I raced from the foredeck to avoid a violent gybe into the reeds on the Norfolk Broads) and is certainly not up to coping with 'weather helm' if I suddenly decide to change the foresail.

    Does one have an obligation to fit one's boat with a liferaft for a trip from the Orwell or Stour to the Walton Backwaters or Orford Ness (assuming one sets out with no prospect of force 7-8 gales)? My Kayaking and canoeing background incline me, instead, towards an inflatable canoe (ideally Grabner, though they cost the earth; most realistically something far less impressive) on the basis that the Pandora is unlikely to sink so quickly that inflation would be a problem.... and on the basis that we only have the space to store a tender OR a liferaft, rather than both.

    I'm a great believer in compromise... but the trick, in any walk of life, has always seemed to me to be knowing where (and on what) to compromise: some failings self-evidently don't matter, and others are - by all accounts - to be avoided at all costs... and I'm not sure that I'm AS YET well positioned to decide WHICH compromises are the most sensible.

    Sadly... when working on a budget, decisions have to be made for the here and now despite a clear focus on where one intends to be in (say) 2 or 3 years time - and trying to anticipate what one WILL be doing is pretty critical to any buying decision.

    I'm still planning to buy nothing until absolutely convinced... but I suspect some folk on this forum could tip me past that point on a few items!
    We've just acquired a Mark 1 (1970-ish) Van De Stadt Pandora (centreplate / drop keel version) as built by Rydgeway Marine.

    see http://pandora-snowgoose.blogspot.com/

    ps. anyone got any experience of second-hand liferafts? The 'Service' interval seems to be 3 years - but is there anything included that one cannot service oneself?
     
  5. Steam Flyer
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: North Carolina, USA

    Steam Flyer Junior Member

    Trailerable boats can be great!

    Some good suggestions so far. I don't think a life raft on a small boat is a good idea, or at all necessary. If you're going to be crossing oceans, maybe... a better idea IMHO would be to install positive flotation. Cheaper, more reliable, and you get to keep your food supply.

    A tiller pilot would be a big plus if you have to motor for long boring distances. I see on your website that you have an assistant helmslady... great! A shock cord on the tiller can steer the boat for short intervals, and can be balanced to sail the boat... but not when conditions are really hairy. A tiller pilot will handle more. It will also require good batteries!

    We found a bimini very valuable, but then we live & cruise in the southeastern US where the sun beats down brutally.

    http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/1039013108035692614csAfNS

    In a northern clime, a dodger and/or spray shields might have more value.

    You can get by easily, and for great voyages, with handheld GPS and VHF. Before getting any fancy electronic doodads, make sure the basic boat and all her gear is complete & sound. Hatches & ports have to be completely watertight. Sails good... older boats often tend to "get by" with ones that are at least a little bit blown-out, and this can be a safety issue as much as a performance hit. Sheets & halyards... ground tackle... winches... rudder & all it's fittings... you can spend a lot of time & fair bit of money getting all to rights.

    I mentioned batteries, good ones with an appropriate charger, maybe a small solar panel, good wiring & lights, will also be a prime cruising upgrade.

    Don't forget mosquito netting!

    The boat looks like fun and I've read about sailing the Broads, I envy your experience.

    FB- Doug
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Sail the boat in near coastal and inland waters for while, until you get an understanding with the vessel and it's requirements.

    You don't "need" any of the stuff you mentioned, though some are a good investment, especially the VHF. It's assumed you'll carry flares and other signaling devices, in fact it would be foolish not to. A basic signaling kit is inexpensive and hopefully will not be used during it's expiration period. I get a fair amount of enjoyment from shooting off the no longer current flares, understanding it was money down the dumper, but this is cheaper then my butt down the dumper.

    A tiller pilot can be a home made wind vane or even as simple as tying your jib sheet leads to the windward side of the tiller.

    Charts are handy, even necessary in some locations, but you can get these as you need them, local sailing generally don't require them.

    A chart table is as simple as a piece of acrylic to spread out the map on.

    A hand held basic GPS can be had for less then $100. I don't consider it necessary to know where you are down to the last few yards, when you can look over the bow and see a bridge or water tower on a near by shore.

    Stowing a life raft on a 22' boat will be a chore, when the boat will likely float well enough to drift to shore.

    Sail the boat in gentle water, establish common sense routines for you, child and dog. Most of the things you'll truly need will be come apparent in the first couple of outings. Making mountains out of mole hills before hand is begging for an ulcer. The other stuff is just "fluff" that you can acquire as you develop a need, desire or budget.

    Your first course of action should be the current state of the boat and it's systems. Bring these up to snuff.
     
  7. Rachael
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Rachael Junior Member

    That's in hand: we've at least one major issue to address (in that the centreplate is well and truly jammed within the keel)... but have taken up the offer of a winter of sailing on the sheltered waters of the Norfolk Broads (where the centreplate is of no great moment) in order to fault-find ahead of launching her into the Orwell for some gentle coastal sailing off Harwich in the summer.

    My thoughts entirely. I do like the idea of an inflatable open canoe for use as a tender-cum-lifeboat... but I've read somewhere that a Pandora was once rolled through 360 degrees without sinking... and I'm convinced that attention to the seals on the aft hatch, foam in assorted odd corners and buoyancy-bags that could be inflated inside the cabin during heavy-weather sailing should suffice so long as the VHF radio and flares are well maintained.
    Given a cost of £240-£280 these strike me as eminently sensible: if I'm going to need one in 3 years time for more adventurous sailing (when my experience is greater and my daughter is up to such things)... I might as well spend the money now and have the convenience of being able to potter on the foredeck / disappear into the cabin.

    The batteries issue does concern me though: at present I've got to haul the battery home (involving a long carry) each time I want to charge it - not good!
    I'm rapidly becoming a bimini-and-dodger fan.

    Sprayhoods seem to me to completely destroy the lines of smaller vessels... and (rather like bike helmets) to detract massively from the experience being sought.

    Biminis seem to me to be more easily stowed, less intrusive when up, and - crucially - a better basis for a wide-topped cockpit enclosure "room" for use when at anchor(which is surely more critical on a small cruiser than on a bigger one).

    I'm currently working on a design for the above: I'll post the sketches when I've got them sorted.
     
  8. BHOFM
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    BHOFM Senior Member

  9. mr curious
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    mr curious gunkholer supreme

    for overnight multi day trips, keeping warm and dry {safely} in the British damp climate would be a consideration for me.

    alas the wallas diesel stove / heater combo is $$$'s, but you can sometimes find a used one cheap ;)
    all the best!

    mr c
     
  10. mr curious
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    mr curious gunkholer supreme

    very impressive :cool:

    i notice you have yet to fly fish for steelhead in the coastal rivers of BC Canada... :D
     
  11. Rachael
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    Rachael Junior Member

    The only thing I ever caught with a fishing rod was a dragonfly... and I couldn't manage to do that twice! Never really bothered me before... but having witnessed some more competent folk at the pub the other week I fear my 4 year old might start taking an interest :(
     
  12. NordicFolkboat
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    NordicFolkboat Junior Member

    I'm more or less in the same boat myself. No kid, but dog may be on the horizon. And of course I'm thinking about outfitting my currently very basic 25' folkboat.

    I think I'll add GPS and VHF, not only for safety but also for convenience and out of interest. Beyond that it's all about creature comforts.

    A heater is necessary, but those fancy diesel heaters are way out of my budget. I fear solid fuel would only get my sails covered in soot, and the necessary long flue would come in the way of my rig. However I've found a pretty neat and affordable propane heater from Sigmarine, the Cosy Cabin. Does anyone have any experience with it?

    I like fresh milk with my tea, so a good fridge would be necessary. A company in my home town, OzMarine makes a really efficient water-cooled thermoelectric system, but it doesn't come cheap. But maybe this could be done with off-the-shelf parts at a lower cost?

    A toilet is another issue. I would like an enclosed head, separate from the berths, galley and food stores, but I'm not sure I want to sacrifice that much space...
     
  13. Rachael
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    Rachael Junior Member

    Roll on the creature comforts!

    I've been getting ideas together for a cockpit cover. A standard boom tent would not really work in terms of wet-weather space for a 3-4 year old: I'd like more headroom / width and am thinking that a bimini frame to add width at the rear and some sort of coat-hanger style "spreader" at the front (perhaps tensioned to a halyard) should combine maximum useable space when moored without involving an intrusive sprayhood.

    I'm with you on the heater & fridge: some sort of low-budget solution is needed. I will look up the "cosy cabin". I suspect my fridge solution will eventually be some sort of second-hand unit: tips welcome.

    Re: privacy and the toilet - some sort of folding-enclosure strikes me as a minimum if we are to entertain visitors on-board. Could be made of the same materials as the cockpit cover... and perhaps arranged to fold down from the cabin roof when needed.

    On the navigational front I've had some long chats with folk who do this sort of thing for a living... and am considering a Yeoman Sport (which consumes minimal power and will double as a portable plotting table) linked with an inexpensive (low power drain) hand-held GPS or to a handheld "Gypsy" (with a view to using the land-and-sea mapping in the car and on the laptop for passage planning).

    As with you, I'm getting a VHF: probably something simple. The boat already has navigation lights and a radar reflector so I'll add flares and some sort of inflatable open canoe that can be fun in it's own right and can double as both a tender and a liferaft.

    All of which lies ahead: right now I'd settle for coaxing life from the old Seagull 170 outboard that served me so well a couple of weeks ago and then left me stranded for no apparent reason last week :(
     
  14. NordicFolkboat
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    NordicFolkboat Junior Member

    I thought I'd use a USB or BlueTooth GPS dongle with my MacBook and GPSNavX, as I want a big screen with a proper mouse, instead of using the small crippled user interface you can find on an entry-level plotter. I will need to have an electric engineer draw me up a schematic for a 12V to 16.5V DC-DC converter. An inverter would be a huge waste of electricity. And with a laptop, you get entertainment, and even the option for 3G internet along the coast.

    As for self-steering, a sheet to tiller system is probably the cheapest and easiest (see ClassicBoat September 08), but would be impractical if you need to tack a lot. And it wouldn't work under power.

    One of my biggest dilemmas are whether to go with propane heat and stove, or paraffin heat and alcohol stove. Propane would definitely be easier to use, but needs an elaborate system to ensure safety, and the tanks need to be changed often when the heater is being used. And I can't seem to find any Sigmarine dealers in Sweden, which means I probably have to pay the price of a more expensive paraffin heater is I include shipping it here.
     

  15. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    i am very impressed with GPSnavX

    do you guys know a similar product for Windows XP :?:
     
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