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Old 03-31-2019, 10:24 AM   #1
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Cruising - lessons learned pros and cons

I realize there are many contributors to this forum who have much more experience cruising that my wife and I and I welcome everyone's comments. Here is our story and our experiences:

Preparation for cruising

My wife and I are cruising in the Bahamas and have been for the past 8 weeks. We have another six weeks to go before we put the boat on a ship and send it back home to California. A little background, we purchased an Offshore 62 powerboat (our retirement boat) in Fort Lauderdale and are cruising now in the Exumas.

The boat was in pretty good condition, but we spent the last year making it ours. We were reflecting this morning on what we did right and what we would have done differently in our preparations. Keep in mind that we are a powerboat with two generators and a water-maker (that has since died). While some of our preparations may apply, plenty of it may not apply to your personal situation.

What we are pleased with:
Replace the electronics- Replaced Furuno NavNet 1 with new touch screen Garmins. Three for the pilot house and two for the bridge. Later we added an additional unit to the master stateroom because we learned we could not hear the anchor drag alarm from down below. Excellent upgrade! We spent about $30k for the project. It’s cheap insurance when you consider the cost of a new prop is 10K. The navigation software makes traveling through some shallow water pretty simple. You simply follow the dotter lines. Super easy!

Shopping/provisioning
Since we were planning to be gone for 31/2 months we really shopped. Keep in mind that the boat was stripped clean when we purchased it. No spices, silverware or dishes. We made several trips to Target, bed bath and beyond and of course several trips to Costco.

Things we am glad we brought
Brita water pitcher – Costco item that filters water. OMG, this item is amazing! We fill it and drink from it. It eliminates the need for buying bottled water which is really hard to store.

Label maker with spare tape – I use it regularly

Sharpies – see above. We write on the top of our cans before we store them. This makes it easy to find what you are looking for.

Paper towels – buy lots of them.

Canned meats- never used them at home but they have been really great. Pulled pork, chicken and tuna.

Clean rags and dish towels – you can never have enough

Paper plates – came in really handy when we lost our water maker. You use a lot of water for doing dishes. Fortunately, we have some cheapie plastic microwavable plates that paper plates fit nicely into.
Hand held rechargeable vacuum cleaner – use it regularly

Chamois – I like the Absorbit Chamois from Amazon they are around $10 each. I bought four of them and leave them in various places around the boat, so I don’t have to go looking for them. Enough for guests who see me cleaning and want to pitch in.

Dock lines and fenders – Don’t cheap out on either of these items. Both will protect your boat in the long run. I have been using 35’ dock lines regularly when in a marina to cross the stern lines to avoid swinging back and forth. They also work great to tie to an aft cleat to pull the boat off the dock (the wind always is blowing here.

12’ plastic coated cable and lock for skiff - there are plenty of incidents where skiff are being stolen or outboards are being taken off. Having a long cable eliminates the need to remove the skiff from the water each night to prevent theft (pretty common in the Bahamas).
Cheapie paint brushes from Harbor Freight

Things I wish we would have brought

More tortillas- they are much better than bread. Easier to cool with.

Varnish – Since I have so much downtime, I have time to do projects. The sun is tough down here and I needed to sand and varnish a handful of items. I paid $54 for a small can of varnish that would have been $20 at West Marine.

Zip lock baggies – one gallon are great for left overs. We brought two boxes and could have used another two. They are expensive here. We are buying meats in large quantities and are freezing them in zip locks.

More trash compactor bags

Books – I am not that much of a reader, I am a writer (I have written four books). I found myself yearning for something to read. Fortunately I found a James Patterson murder mystery on the boat. I read it in two days. I then downloaded another one to my Kindle on my Ipad and read it in a day. In retrospect, I would have downloaded more books to my Kindle.

Guests
Half of the fun of buying a boat and cruising is to share it with friends and family. After the first experience of wishing we had better prepped our guests with certain ideas or how to pack, we put our thoughts down in a document. In this document we ask them to pack their clothes in soft sided duffel bags as there is nowhere to shore hard sided suit cases. We explain about the importance of water usage, and how they can help (volunteering to cook or do dishes etc).

We discuss that only one person gives commands to the Captain and the importance of manning their position if they are asked to watch a corner when entering or leaving a dock. There is nothing more difficult than having multiple people telling the operator which way to go. We also discuss that while we may have an itinerary of where we want to go, there are lots of factors that play into this including weather, fuel etc. Please don’t be disappointed if we must change our plans. Imagine all of the things you share with your guests over the course of the trip. We find it much easier to email it to them before they even leave home.

All of our guests thus far have been amazing. We especially appreciated those who step up and cook and those who do dishes afterward. Another bonus is that a couple of our guests have been really mechanical. This has been an added bonus.

As great as our guests have been, we currently have a 12 day break with just us on the boat. It’s really nice to just have the time together.

Projects that I am glad we did before our trip
We redid our AV system including all of our TV’s (4) and the stereo system. Very disappointing dealing with the local Fort Lauderdale vendors. I had a bid of 30K to remove the vintage 2002 stereo system in the boat and “bring it up to date”. This did not include replacing the 15 year old tv/vcr combos. The best option I could find was to go to the local best buy and they gave me a bid of 8K to replace the existing stereo and all of the TV’s. This did not, however include having the stereo to be XM compatible. This was a deal killer since we didn’t want to be limited to our iphone music selections while on the boat.

I had a conversation with my friend in So Cal who installs electronics in boats. We designed a system for our boat using Fusion radios and the existing amps. We also designed a system that includes 12volt TV/VCR combos. This eliminates the need to run the generator or be hoked up to shore power to watch TV or a movie. We elected to fly him in for 6 days to complete the project while I assisted him. By the time it was all done, the price was cheaper than what I would have paid to Best Buy and it works perfectly. We are very pleased and have XM radio on most of the time.

Boat cards- retired recently and gladly disposed of all of my work related business cards. Had fun creating “Boat’ business card. Photo of the boat on one side and name, phone number, email and hailing port on the other. Really cool, all the kids have them!

A few months back I put a post on this forum asking for a recommendation for a vhf antenna for our inflatable skiff. My plan was to hard mount a vhf radio in the skiff, so we didn’t have to worry about making sure there was a hand-held vhf in the skiff at all times. I was disappointed at the response from several of the respondents to the post suggesting that I was a negligent captain because I wasn’t willing to make sure the skiff had a charged vhf radio at all times. The reality was that I preferred to have a hard-mounted radio in the skiff, plain and simple. Wow, am I glad I did this. I use it regularly. I highly recommend it.

Speaking of the skiff, I spent four full days pimping out our skiff. I removed the dash panel and replaced it with a black starboard. I removed the steering wheel and all of the gauges. I added boarding LED and even underwater transom lights (ok the underwater lights may not have been necessary). I also added an anchor with 15’ of chain and 50’ of line as well as an emergency battery starter, paddles, fresh water, and all of the safety items. I had the tubes replaced and the engine serviced. We use the skiff multiple times a day. It’s 14’ long with a 60hp Yamaha. Most people have a small skiff and a small outboard. This thing is a solid boat and is super sturdy and fast. As I said earlier the wind always blows and this boat is great and for the most part is very dry.

We replaced 16 6 volt AGM batteries. This was an expensive project, but it allows us to run the inverter during the day and use the generator less. It’s really nice to sit on the anchor without the generator running.
Issues/setbacks

A trip like this is sure to have some setbacks. One early on was the davit we use to lift the skiff from the water to the second deck. Early on it began to act up. The motor would remain on when the hoist was not in use. Losing the davit could be a disaster as this would mean we would have to tow the skiff everywhere we go. It’s not the end of the world, but it would be a major inconvenience.

We pulled out the manual and identified the problem. I called the manufacturer (Marquist) and was able to get the parts shipped to a friend who was coming down in a week or so. For the record, I would classify Marquist as being less than helpful and not very user friendly. Disappointing for such a large company I would have expected so much more.

When our friends arrived, they were stopped at Immigration and was going to be charged a 45% import tax (pretty steep considering the cost of the parts was ($1500). Fortunately, he was able to call me, and I texted him a copy of our cruising permit and everything was OK. Now I make sure I send a copy of our cruising permit to all of our incoming guests, just in case.

Another issue was with the water-maker. This was the original one for the boat. We spent a good deal of $ servicing it and it worked for the first couple of weeks and quit. It’s beyond fixing here and we will likely replace it with a new one. No more band aids. Fortunately, we carry 350 gallons of water and we can purchase it in any marina for a cost of .40 per gallon. Losing our water maker has just become a minor inconvenience, not a trip killer.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:28 AM   #2
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That is a lot learned. Very much appreciate your thorough writeup.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:52 AM   #3
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Here's a tip I get from Jeff Merrill at one of this "trick out your trawler" Trawlerfest sessions:

Have a "lost parts" bin. We are always finding the odd screw, plastic bit, "thingy." They definitely came from somewhere! And eventually you may find that place. Have one plastic bin on the boat where all homeless parts go.
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Old 04-01-2019, 06:09 AM   #4
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"You use a lot of water for doing dishes."

Simplest cure is a sea water faucet so dishes can be cleaned and rinsed with sea water (not in every harbor) and a slight hit of fresh will remove any salt.

Some folks will take a line from the engine discharge or noisemaker discharge so hot water can be used for washing.
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Old 04-01-2019, 06:18 AM   #5
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Some folks will take a line from the engine discharge or noisemaker discharge so hot water can be used for washing.
I like this idea but what about when the engine is not running? Would a pressure pump with the inlet tapped into the outlet of the engine cooling water have enough suction power to run when at anchor?
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Old 04-01-2019, 07:12 AM   #6
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A lot of great information in there. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-01-2019, 09:36 AM   #7
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thanks for sharing. lots of good info. as for the paper towels. try wypall's. we use them at work for just about everything. they are strong enough to wring them out and reuse them multiple time's and they absorb a lot more than any paper towel.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
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"You use a lot of water for doing dishes."

Simplest cure is a sea water faucet so dishes can be cleaned and rinsed with sea water (not in every harbor) and a slight hit of fresh will remove any salt.

Some folks will take a line from the engine discharge or noisemaker discharge so hot water can be used for washing.
FF,
Our Albin 25 had two pedals for water. One for seawater and one for fresh. Came from Swdwen that way. Was great. But even then I wonder how we got by on our long cruise w only 17 gallons of water?
Never had a “noise maker”.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:56 AM   #9
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Another space saver is used def jug's for waste oil. Take them out and they can be collapsed almost flat.
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Old 04-01-2019, 01:18 PM   #10
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I am curious how you like the Garmin touch screen. I was going to put one on my boat but some here say that in choppy weather using the screen can be a bit of a bear. Haven't made up my mind 100 % yet but inclined to get one with buttons and dials instead.
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Old 04-01-2019, 01:35 PM   #11
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Rsn,

Very pleased with the Garmin touch screens. Havenít had the problem with inadvertently touching the screen. In the event I do inadvertently touch the screen I simply hit the back button. No big deal. I find them to be very user friendly and intuitive. Their customer support is very helpful too. The best thing about them is their navigation software. I am really pleased with them. So much so that I just bought another boat and I am going to add them to that boat too
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:23 AM   #12
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"Would a pressure pump with the inlet tapped into the outlet of the engine cooling water have enough suction power to run when at anchor?"

If not mounted too high any FW service pump should do fine, but the wash down or a bait well pump may be set to a higher delivery pressure and in many cases comes with a larger more HD motor.
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:38 AM   #13
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EXCELLENT write up! We too have shared our Exumas prep on our blog from two years ago. See links below for some of them. Given your penchant for writing and sharing you should consider starting one. It will help others who are somewhat nervously preparing for their first islands cruise. It will also help keep you away from the varnishing!

Where are you? We are currently in the Exumas, working our way south. Right now on a mooring ball in Cambridge. Sampson next, followed by a few days around the Majors.

These posts are about the provisioning!

Preparing For The Exumas – Part 1 | AtAnchor.com

Provisioning – How Is It Going? | AtAnchor.com

All posts:

All Posts | AtAnchor.com
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:49 AM   #14
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I am curious how you like the Garmin touch screen. I was going to put one on my boat but some here say that in choppy weather using the screen can be a bit of a bear. Haven't made up my mind 100 % yet but inclined to get one with buttons and dials instead.
We put in a couple of touch screen 8610s a couple of months ago. Yes, when it is lumpy you can hit the wrong thing, but a quick "back" and you are there. Entering and selecting new waypoints is a lot quicker and easier than before.

I would say the one area that can get annoying is tapping the AIS ship icon to get info on other vessels. Those icons are pretty small and it can take a go or three to hit the right icon!

We put in the xsv sonar model, but have to wait until the next haul in the fall to get the transducer installed.
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Old 04-02-2019, 06:52 AM   #15
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Books – I am not that much of a reader, I am a writer (I have written four books). I found myself yearning for something to read. Fortunately I found a James Patterson murder mystery on the boat. I read it in two days. I then downloaded another one to my Kindle on my Ipad and read it in a day. In retrospect, I would have downloaded more books to my Kindle.


Did you get the BTC SIM and buy the 15GB/$35 plan? If so, get all the books you want!

And sign up on BookBub!!
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Old 04-02-2019, 07:01 AM   #16
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Greetings,
Mr. F. Nicely done. Thanks.
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Old 04-02-2019, 07:35 AM   #17
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I am curious how you like the Garmin touch screen. ......some here say that in choppy weather using the screen can be a bit of a bear. Haven't made up my mind 100 % yet but inclined to get one with buttons and dials instead.
My Raymarine eS127 & 128 are hybrid/touch but also have a large knob for zooming in and out, moving the cursor, etc. I didn't realize it at the time of purchase but I really lucked out! Trying to put that cursor on a mark in a seaway with just touch screen is a real bear! The "knob" makes it a piece of cake!
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:25 AM   #18
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Freespool

Good thinking. Some additional thoughts you possibly already have covered ---

With the room the Off Shore provides have you considered twin water makers? Not uncommon in larger vessels in fresh water challenged areas. The ones I'm familiar with are set up so that each one can easily be run on alternate days so no pickling necessary.

Also, which engines do you have? Spare starter, heat exchangers, coolant and RW pumps, fuel delivery etc are on many lists. If the Cat 3196, a spare or recently serviced after coolers would be a nice to have. Do you have a spare air conditioning pump on board?

Yeah, the list is seemingly endless. A few months ago when at Roscoe Bay I was chatting with some FL based guys at the beach bar, both were waiting for parts. Not a bad place to be stuck for awhile though.
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:37 AM   #19
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...each one can easily be run on alternate days so no pickling necessary.
Can you expound on this - are you suggesting pickling after every use? I would think the opposite - daily use means no pickling. Especially of you do a FWF each time.
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Old 04-02-2019, 10:00 AM   #20
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Can you expound on this - are you suggesting pickling after every use? I would think the opposite - daily use means no pickling. Especially of you do a FWF each time.
As I said, no pickling necessary.
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