Pilgrimage/Boondocking Boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Penitent, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Penitent, There is a lot more practical way to do this without resorting to boats or waterborne learning experience. Just pack up and hike the Appalachian Trail. There is plenty of desolation and aloneness and certainly an opportunity to make a commitment to your religious journey. A bit of danger too, but at least you are not likely to drown in a sudden storm squall.
    Mr Efficiency likes this.
  2. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    BlueBell . . . _ _ _ . . . _ _ _

    I can see your boat name: "FOR GOD'S SAKE".

    I have every confidence you'll find your way, regardless...
  3. Penitent
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    Penitent Junior Member

    Boat name: I will name the boat SOR. :)

    SOR: It is true that I am not yet capable of formulating an SOR. I had to look up the term, then I looked up some examples. They are very definite and specific on many of the exact things I’m still wondering.

    I think this gets into my initially saying please forgive me if my newness causes me to break forum etiquette. I think my boating questions are so basic and so general, that they are not even within the scope of the forum. I didn’t realize that initially, but it seems more clear now. I have a “mission SOR” that is fairly definite and specific. (Logistically enable long term sustainable independent religious life.) And I had an idea why a boat would be used for that, so that seemed enough. But I think the process of attempting to translate that mission SOR into a boat SOR is is a more general level of planning not within forum scope. It seems to me now that I could only even post within scope if I get enough general boating experience, and experience trying a boat for what I want, that I have a specific SOR.

    I didn’t see any such distinction. I just thought, “Figure out what type of boat and boating would work.” So in hindsight, I especially thank you all for the information, which is EXTREMELY helpful, given that I may have bordered on not even posting within forum scope.

    I’m sure I will find reading posts here useful, but I would likely not post again at least for months, as I believe I don’t yet have the knowledge to do so within forum scope. If I post anew it will be when I am able to give what I can’t now.


    Thank you very much for this suggestion. This is exactly what I will do. I will try as many boats as possible. Many people support what I am doing. Even near strangers. It will not be hard to test a number of boats of different types.


    So no one has to worry, I assure you that I take safety seriously for anything like shooting, climbing, diving, and so on. Such activities have fairly low risk IF protocol and skills are diligently learned and followed, and they are Russian roulette if you don’t. I promise I’m familiar with a range of such activities and respect boating as similar. Until trained to do something safely, I don’t.

    By the bet it will work for me, I mean that a large part of independence is using what you’ve got, not what you wish you had, and I’m used to using good enough. This does not contradict safety. Eagle Scout, military, and expedition types certainly take this view, while also taking safety protocol very seriously. I do NOT mean I would take a pontoon boat in the ocean despite knowing that’s a killer, or before knowing for sure either way. I mean if a packraft is good for floating rivers but too slow for distance you need a kayak ... I’ll deal with it. I can go slow. If that’s all I had, that’s fine for me.
  4. Penitent
    Joined: Feb 2020
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    Penitent Junior Member

    I have a feeling the following will not count as an SOR, but I should at least try. Here is my best try:

    Statement of Requirements:

    Haul capacity 800 pounds for safety, regular load likely between 200-600 pounds.

    Rugged, long lasting, field maintainable and repairable by nonexpert with only basic tools and handy skills other than yearly service or more serious hazards.

    Suited for inland and coastal cruising in most regions of the USA. (I don’t mean whitewater rafting. I mean calm creeks and rivers, lakes, plus coastal cruising.)

    Effectively powered by both muscle and sail. (I assume rowing is correct, not paddling, given this level haul capacity?)

    Suitable for both shore camping and living on the hook.

    Is not required to be effective in any one location, as operator has high flexibility in location choice. (For instance maybe it’s not practical to trailer human powered in the hills.)

    Needs only to be effective in SOME environment. Operator will then move to that environment.

    Need not be particularly good in any way. It is enough that, “It works.”

    Need not be particularly forgiving or pleasant. “Rough” is ok.

    There is a means to sleep on the boat that is as safe and protective as minimalist shore camping. It is ok if this is a means of rigging something daily instead of a permanent feature.

    Low cost. 500 used if possible. Up to 2k used if truly needed.

    Would the outrigger canoe satisfy that if a deck goes from the canoe to the outrigger? And I can detach that while towing? This is probably a stupid question, but could something be done with such a deck so that I can sleep on it safely on the water, yet it doesn’t require the weight of an actual cabin?

    Ok I tried. :)
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Can you define the terms. In my eyes, independent would be living like a hermit, completely separate from society. That would mean no internet or going to town shopping.
  6. Penitent
    Joined: Feb 2020
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    Penitent Junior Member


    Yes. Let me define some basic underlying terms going into this, and hopefully clarify in general:

    Religious life means seeking Christian perfection through the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, obedience. Chastity has the obvious meaning.

    Poverty has a slightly less obvious meaning. It doesn’t mean intentional destitution. It doesn’t mean you have to be homeless, or be nutritionally deficient, and so on. It roughly means a plainness, simplicity, and austerity with respect to one’s life station. If one needs a car or computer for their apostolate/ministry or other religious duties, then not only does it not contradict the vow of poverty to have those things, but it is part of their religious duty TO have it, unless unable, because a major religious duty is fulfillment of life station duties.

    Using tools and technology is not in any sense forbidden or frowned upon in religious life, unless the particular technology is sinful or somehow otherwise antithetical to living the evangelical counsels. Buying is not in any sense forbidden. Neither contradicts a vow of poverty.

    It is true that daily chores and communicating with others distracts from prayer. Thus it is minimized with respect to life station duties, monastic needs, and so on, but it does not mean no such activities take place. Many such activities must take place. Daily. For instance, a Benedictine order motto is Ora et labora, work and pray. The Benedictine order is a contemplative order, in a sense the quintessential contemplative order as Saint Benedict founded western monasticism. And yet even they, not even JUST a religious order, but specifically a CONTEMPLATIVE order, have as a very motto work and pray. That work is a formally scheduled part of the horarium, the daily schedule, not something opposed to it.

    I am Catholic. In more normal times I would simply join a religious order. Initially I was not thinking anything about going off into the desert, desert father style, or doing anything independent at all. I was simply undergoing a normal religious discernment phase to discern which religious order to join. My goal was to become “a religious.” (Religious, used as a noun, is what most people think of as a monk. Formally, most religious that people think are monks are not monks. A monk is a certain kind of religious, but I digress.)

    There is a war within the Church, and almost all key positions are owned by those who openly, publicly, seemingly proudly break nearly every single major point of Catholic doctrine and practice, to the point that those who simply FOLLOW Catholic doctrine are persecuted from within, and kept out of positions.

    I came to the conclusion that it is not possible to formally join a religious order today without compromise at a level that I believe would count as selling my soul. And so I won’t.

    But the framework of monasticism developed for a reason: it works. It is NOT easy trying to figure out how on earth to still live as a religious without that framework. Can it be done? Yes. The early history of eremitical (hermit) and monastic life shows that beyond all doubt. But the men who go off into the desert twenty years ... it’s not by miracle. Yes, miracles exist, but they are rare. Living independent religious life means somehow logistically enabling that in a practical, natural way, not asking for a miracle.

    Many independent religious used what would now be called bushcraft. I think such skills used to be so common that it wasn’t thought of as “bushcraft.” Then it was just the hermit’s little house. But it was made by what today would be called bushcraft skills. Similarly food was often obtained by what is now called bushcraft, but then was a normal activity not a special skill.

    They also farmed. They sometimes had benefactors who brought them supplies. Sometimes they had cottage industries and accepted donations. It is done by practical means, one way or another. That’s just part of it. Hermits aren’t an exception.

    They use the tools of their day. Religious used wagons and now cars. Today they use the Internet and phones. You can look up contemplative religious orders online, see their website, and you’ll see their phone number you can call to speak with a contemplative religious living there. Gabbing two hours with a friend? Yes that’s forbidden. But the phone is not. It’s how it’s used. Jesus and the apostles sought desert seclusion to pray, and they also used boats for transportation. The two fit, not fight.

    I myself would not be a hermit or pilgrim or contemplative if able to join a religious order in normal times. I would be a mendicant. This is an active religious. Think preacher, missionary, and so on. A mendicant travels where the mission calls, which might mean travel, might mean you’re planted, might mean city or rural, depending on conditions. You go by mission.

    I probably sounded earlier like I’m saying I’m a hermit. This is because the city/travel part is not a problem: If you’re in a city short term, the stealth camping is no big deal. The clerk thinks nothing when you shop with a large pack one time. It’s dismissed as random noise. Time ten you’re a vagrant they want gone, even if you’re clean, friendly, and so on. (I have read of this dynamic constantly from cruisers and liveaboards. I mean the exact same thing. This part isn’t a religious pattern. It’s a nomad pattern. RV types say the same. Nomads are in a grey area where it’s a toss up if you’re seen as a good citizen vs a nuisance vagrant.) Moreover if you’re in a city for four days, someone who believes in what you’re doing will practically insist you stay with them, not sleep outside. For many reasons like this, these parts just aren’t a logistical problem. It almost solves itself without even trying.

    But of course the four day gracious host shouldn’t be asked to offer four months straight. This is very hard to give all relevant context, but the gist is that:

    I’m not a hermit, but for the purposes of this planning, it’s as if I am, because the months long independent part is the only part that doesn’t solve itself.

    Why would a mendicant be isolated? Seclusion still helps, it can be spiritual recharge between ministry, online enables communication from afar ... it may sound like the two can’t coexist, but they often do. Mendicants can have an online apostolate too.

    The third evangelical counsel is obedience. When joining an order that means obedience to a rule of life, daily horarium including all Divine Office hours and more, and obedience to a religious superior. I would have no religious superior as an independent, so obedience is obedience to rule of life and horarium (daily schedule). That is what following religious life means. As long as that is done, and nothing is done that is sinful or contrary to that, then that’s good. It doesn’t really have restrictions like no internet, no boat, etc.

    (If anyone is curious about further reading, the Rule of Saint Benedict is about 80 pages. True Spouse of Jesus Christ by Saint Alphonsus Liguori is longer, but gives detailed instructions on religious life. If anyone has curiosity piqued and likes to read, each would give a very good sense of “the rules.”)


    I think a miscommunication on this probably comes from my writing in a way that’s causing people to picture me sitting in the middle of Alaska. Picture a ten hour drive. I almost always have cell signal. Many of those miles are sparse. And often forested for miles. Pick a random spot in there. Go far enough that it’s a real pain in the neck, but not so hard that people seek it as a challenge. You will see almost no one, have no nomad type “stealth” concern, and you’ll have signal. I can state with certainty from experience that I have not found connectivity to be an issue. If it seems it would be, that just means I’m inadvertently making it sound like greater distance from civilization is needed for seclusion.

    Logistically enabling long term sustainable independent religious life:

    It really just means finding some practical means, as religious of centuries ago did, to follow the rule of life and daily horarium. That can involve all kinds of tools, technology, labor, trade, skills, and so on. Hopefully that clarifies why living on a boat and being internet based is “allowed.”

    I initially saw many different problems, but I gradually realized they all came down to ONE:

    The ability to camp in seclusion, not “stealth”, for months on end, without resupply. The ability to do that without relying on something too expensive and easily broken. Living in a van would not break any rule. NEEDING one would. I can’t NEED a van or any such thing. It has to be what doesn’t break unless I break. If I break? Then so be it. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. But if I NEED it ... that’s just preemptive quitting when of course things break. What I see in practice today is the good men with religious callings usually quit. They quit because they won’t compromise to join, but can’t figure out how, logistically, to still pursue religion without that structure. I believe the ONE thing needed is the ability to self haul months worth of supplies. Then no more Goodbye Good Men. (That’s a book on the internal persecution.)

    I did not come to boating randomly. In previous centuries large personal hauls were made by boat. If one does not want to NEED something expensive and breakable, I believe that is still true today. No idea comes just once. It’s born of common need. I predict many others will adopt independent religious life. They will feel the same needs I do. They will gradually feel that the primary “budget” is no longer money, but haul capacity. Many might then live by vehicle. But many of them will realize their austere life is not best based on large expensive complexity. At that point, there aren’t many options. Bike trailer, pulk (sled), boat. Did I miss any? It’s those three. Boat has by far the most haul capacity of the three, and the best ability to live and move as well.

    It isn’t random. If you want bomb proof independence, it’s a boat today just as it was a thousand years ago. That is my belief. For that reason I am determined to make this work unless it truly just doesn’t.

    Thank you and God bless.
  7. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I think the miscommunication is because you are writing more about your religious beliefs, presenting as if they are the only valid ones, and disregarding what the source of information in this forum can give you. Frankly, I find that your posts are ranting about religion. However, if you need information about boats, we can provide that. At this point, I would like to ask you to keep your religion to yourself. There are forums to air those opinions. This one is not one of them.
    bajansailor likes this.
  8. Penitent
    Joined: Feb 2020
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    Penitent Junior Member

    I gave my reply as a direct response to your question about what this life would allow/entail, and in light of it seeming clear that the boat discussion itself has miscommunication entirely based on people thinking I have religious restrictions I do not have.

    I did my best to clarify that, as I have done my best in the thread to state my boating needs, as well as I can with my current low knowledge.

    I actually had not previously stated my beliefs other than being Christian.

    I will not enter into an unneeded conflict, so I will simply say that if something seems less than constructive I will not reply.

    God bless.
    Tiny Turnip likes this.
  9. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    I agree. Not the place; but we can disregard it on a once or twice error.

    Living on the hook an on the shore and on the river are a rather difficult set of hopes. Not impossible, but also not exactly simplicity. In all things boating; there are tradeoffs. Most boats you can sleep on overnite are too large to bushwhack or get hidden onshore; for example.

    I encourage you to watch this video and purchase the book by Gary Dierking on how to build an outrigger canoe.

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  10. Penitent
    Joined: Feb 2020
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    Penitent Junior Member

    That video is very useful. And others of his. I will get the book.

    Thank you all for the information and God bless.
  11. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    what ratios of human-trailering, rowing and sailing are you hoping for? What is max distance you expect to haul overland?

    I'm thinking a Light Dory with dolly made of sturdy (they come in wide range of grades and built strengths) 20" bike tires. Make the dolly able to serve as material-hauler without the boat. Figure the boat and some equipment will weigh about 150lbs, then if needed haul the supplies in 2nd trip.https://www.amazon.com/How-Build-Gloucester-Light-Dory/dp/0937822043#customerReviews

    They say these boats aren't particularly stable UNLESS loaded, but it sounds like you will be in loaded mode 90% of time. There will be several well sorted schemes for sliding rowing and sailing setups for this boat.

    I tend to agree that you can haul a lot of weight on water VS just about anything else. On my first day of casual paddling a SOT kayak I covered about 5 miles, and I feel I could've carried an extra 100lbs and barely noticed. Not gonna come close backpacking, or even cycling.
  12. Penitent
    Joined: Feb 2020
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    Penitent Junior Member

    I have to think. This thread has already taught me a lot fast. A few days ago I thought I knew the answer to that question, but that’s when I didn’t know how serious the trade offs were. I now see the amphibious good at both set up I previously pictured is likely not realistic.

    My new thinking is I will see the land and water aspects as somewhat more separate, and roughly speaking use the boat for water travel and for “base camp.” I would probably leave the boat there and just walk or bike without it for affairs on land. Maybe hide it ashore.

    But this is still a very new idea since it’s based on what I JUST learned from you all. So I have to think before I can answer.
  13. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    The OP, Penitent has been consistently humble and grateful, to a degree rare on the forum, in seeking advice on a boat to meet his wants and needs, mentioning the religious element only as background, and has only expanded on his beliefs when specifically asked. There is, it seems to me, good advice on this thread, despite a number of posts which are unnecessarily disrespectful, rude or provocative. Rather than instructing the OP on what or how to believe, it would be good to keep the advice to helping Penitent find or build a boat suitable for what they want to do, in safety.

    My two pennyworth, from some experience in small boat camping, including coastal, would be that a canoe, or similar, with trailer (and possibly folding bike) could well provide a way forward. I would keep minimising weight as a very high priority; pulling a laden boat uphill is not to be taken lightly (see what I did there) and I would therefore avoid going as far as a boat with a permanent cabin. The sailing rowcruiser is a highly appealing vessel, but the sleeping space is very small, not for claustrophobics, and it does add weight. If sleeping on board is necessary (and I find it uncomfortable in any sort of chop, usually cold compared to sleeping on shore, and anxiety inducing - is the anchor dragging? is it? ) I would keep it to a tent/bivvy arrangement, to be used in extremis only, when onshore camping is just not an option.

    I would also reiterate the advice about gaining experience and ensuring that you have the boat skills and gear to meet the conditions. If you are in a fully laden canoe in cold water and get knocked over, can you right and bail the canoe single handed? Was your gear all tied in and in dry bags? Are wearing a dry suit and buoyancy aid? and so forth. If I were in a small vessel that was not inherently very stable, I would be considering an outrigger, but then I'm not a canoeist.

    Best wishes.

    Edited for typo.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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  14. clmanges
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    clmanges Senior Member

    I don't think I'd recommend the dory; with their high ends and wide-flared sides, they're made for the open ocean. I think some variants are used on fast rivers with big waves.

    It looks to me like your best bet would be a nice big canoe that can be fitted with things like a sailing rig and/or outriggers. My dad had a 17' Grumman and he handmade his own mast and leeboard and even sewed the sail himself (mom was infuriated; she thought he was going to break her machine). It wouldn't be too hard to do all that, and it's not hard to find good used canoes; just get a wide one with a flat bottom. A plus with a canoe is its narrower width for when you have it on the cart; most rowboats are at least four feet wide where canoes don't go much over three. For the ultimate simplicity you like, though, forget the sail and just paddle it. You can use a kayak paddle, too.
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  15. Mr Efficiency
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    Mr Efficiency Senior Member

    Yes, adding boats always complicates existence ! And I'd have thought shedding complications and living as simply as possible, is more in keeping with a reflective, contemplative state of mind.
    bajansailor likes this.
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