Tips After Two Circumnavigations
The rig: Inspect your rig for
weak points. Rigging redundancy, such as an inner forestay and running
backstays, may save you from a dismasting. External chainplates are
strongest and easily inspected. Mast steps were a lifesaver on this
Self-steering: A windvane is
most dependable and powerful. Add a tillerpilot for light winds and
motoring. Experiment with sheet-to-tiller self-steering for a backup.
Electrical: Fewer electronic
gadgets mean more trouble-free passages. Only our GPS, VHF, and SSB
receiver are mandatory. A 200- to 400-amp-hour battery bank with one or
two 50-watt solar panels suits our needs.
Fresh water: We don't begin a
long passage with less than 40 gallons per person in tanks and
containers. To top off tanks on a small boat, catching rainwater on
deck or in awnings and a large storage capacity works best.
Ground tackle: On a Triton-size
cruiser, I like a heavy anchor, such as a 33-pound Bruce, on at least
100 feet of 5/16-inch chain with a nylon extension. We carry three
secondary anchors (a 20-pound Danforth, a 15-pound Fortress, and a
21-pound storm Fortress), each with 25 feet of chain and 100 feet of
nylon rode, ready to deploy. A manual windlass is useful.
Dinghy: Inflatables are
unsuitable for my needs. Desirable rigid-dinghy characteristics include
easy rowability (so you won't need an outboard), a flat bottom aft for
stability, built-in flotation (so it can serve as a life raft), chafe
guard on the bow and transom (so you can deploy and retrieve a second
anchor), and a length around 7 feet (so it will fit between the mast
and the bow cleat).
Galley: A gimballed one- or
two-burner kerosene or propane stove with high railings for full-size
pots is adequate. An oven can be fashioned from a heavy aluminum pot
set on the stovetop and wrapped in aluminum foil. A foot pump at the
sink is best. Don't even think about refrigeration.
Comforts: I won't sleep far from
instant access to the cockpit; two full bunks with lee cloths in the
saloon is ideal. We use a solar-shower bag hung over the cockpit,
topped up with stove-heated water on cold days. A cockpit dodger,
bimini, awning, and hook-and-loop mozzie screens over all hatches are
required equipment aboard Atom.
Safety: Instead of relying on
man-overboard systems and luck, we wear safety harnesses at all times
offshore. Thorough boat preparation and route planning are more of a
requirement than a rescue beacon. There is some risk in crossing oceans
in a small boat that we accept in return for self-reliance.