Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Cruising plans, discussions, etc.

Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby sailmon » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:31 pm

Dear All,
The Admiral and I are approaching retirement and planning to move aboard our 1991 F38 in May of 2017. We will first be visiting some destinations on the Great Lakes that have been out of reach on our many 2 week vacation cruises (Macinac Island, etc.), and then, toward the end of the summer, heading down the Erie Canal to New York. Generally our goal is to spend 1 to 2 years crusiing East Coast and Caribbean. We have been sailing on Lake Erie and surrounding waters for over 30 years and have experienced the full range of conditions Lake Erie has to offer including 65 knot squalls with 12 foot short period square waves. We have done a number of overnight sails - but you can pretty much reach both ends of Lake Erie from our home in the center in 24 hours - so we have spent a good deal of time out of sight of land - but no multi-day periods.

I have several questions that I'd appreciate your thoughts on:
1. Based on our experience (and reports of others), we have no doubt that our boat can withstand the rigors of blue water sailing. Transitioning from day sailer/vacation cruiser to live-aboard, we will be equipping her with the usual array of upgrades: dinghy, outboard, multiple means of charging batteries, AIS, radar, etc. I'm wondering if there are any upgrades pertaining to strength, integrity, safety or security that we should seriously consider for Caribbean cruising?

2.Our boat has a 60 gallon water tank. We suspect we will need more water capacity - drinking, laundry, dishes, showers. Given our Carribean destination, would we be better off increasing tankage or adding water maker?

3. Now for the hardest one to answer (since you aren't familiar with our sailing skills or experience) . As I mentioned, we both grew up sailing and and have sailed together for over 30 years. I have a 50 ton USCG masters license and a fair bit of racing experience (though not in past 20 years). While we have extensive experience on the Great Lakes, our experience with ocean sailing is very limited - a 10 day BVI charter and a short charter on Charlotte Harbor (my brother lives at Burnt Store Marina - south of Punta Gorda FL). We are looking at 2 options for getting to Caribbean: Picking our way down the Intercoastal, dipping our keel into the Atlantic, gradually gaining ocean sailing experience OR joining Carib 1500 rally. Joining the rally gets us straight to Tortola - an important destination for us. On the up-side, we will likely have better sailing direction with the 1500 - as opposed to bashing our way from Florida to the islands. On the down side, we will be committing to a 7 to 11 day open ocean sail. Would appreciate comments from people with off shore experience and especially with off shore ocean and Great Lakes experience.

Thank you,
Bob
Sailmon (Captain Bob Allenick)
S/V Her Diamond
1991 Freedom 38
Cleveland, OH
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Re: Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby cberdie » Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:35 am

Bob;

We've done your route 3 times from Lake Superior. My thoughts:
1. A planning dingy is a great purchase. Get at least 10 horsepower, or the heaviest you can lift. Spend your money on cruising and not gimmicks, you can purchase anything you find you need along the way.

2. We hardly ever emptied our 100 gallon water tank, and then only in the Bahamas. You can get good water in the US and anywhere in the Lesser Antilles. Hispaniola may present challenges to getting water, but you will always be able to get enough for cooking and washing.

3. Our first trip south went from Mayaguana Bahamas to San Juan and was hellish. We've had several friends do this in three years and they were happy with their plan. If I were doing it again from Florida I would go round the south coast of Haiti and PR because you can tuck into the reefs and avoid the seas and current. Many travel this at night when the wind is low. Read Van Sandt's book before you consider this route.
Our second trip went from Norfolk to Bermuda then Antigua. I would highly recommend this route as it will get you there in two weeks or so. Bermuda is about 600 miles from: NY, Boston, Norfolk, Charleston and Miami. It's also a wonderful place to visit. We've had many friends sail the 1500 or Salty Dog and were very happy with their choices,(with one exception). The problem with rallies is the groupthink that gets people to sail in less than ideal conditions.

Good Sailing
Carl
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Re: Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby sailmon » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:58 pm

Carl,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Wondering if anyone else with Atlantic coastal and Caribbean experience has a few minutes to provide thoughts/suggestions.
Thank you,
Bob
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S/V Her Diamond
1991 Freedom 38
Cleveland, OH
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Re: Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby daletournier » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:09 am

Hi Bob, my thoughts regarding yours, in no particular order. I should add these are purely my opinions based on my experiences. Firstly regarding your boat. The problem with Freedoms is there very good, I ponder weekly upgrading to a larger boat but Ive realised to get a significant improvement will be very expensive and Im not convinced my cruising happiness would improve that much, dimishing returns. I look at the prices of Beneteaus etc in Europe and they are great value, but when your in the middle of the ocean 100s nm from shore in the middle of the night you need to feel confident in your boat, Freedoms are actually a lot stronger than I would of thought, ive tested this in varying situations from weather conditions to hitting things. When full time cruising, particularly in remote places, confidence in your vessel is hugely important. Obviously boat maintaince combined with quality of vessel is the key.

So, confidence that comes from having a strong well maintained boat is number one and number two is comfort.
Im not into camping. Water,electricity,fridge and shade, these are my essentials. I have friends on a 400k boat next to me, Ive cruised several 1000 miles with them. Often they cant shower as their water tanks are very low and cant run the fridge at night due to power issues. Not needing to worry about water or power is the difference between camping and cruising. The limiting factor with Freeform, which I guess the Freedom 36/38 suffer from also, but not quite as much ,is storage, as well as tankage ,both fuel and water.

A water maker definitely is not a need BUT I wouldn't cruise without one. I have a Katadyn 80e that draws 8amp. I would prefer bigger but room limits me. I dont cart jerry cans to the boat, and I dont have to worry about water quality. This is mounted in head cupboard. Once my batteries reach a point of not accepting all my solar panels can produce I switch the watermaker on, 2 to 3 hours a day gives me enough clean water. Its interesting, I often hear resistance to modern equip like watermakers, I dont get it, they make life easier. An eg. I use SAS planet. it gives me satalite navigation everywhere I go , offline and for free. I have downloaded a lot of Asia and offered it to a friend the other day. He didn't want it, said he will stick to his paper. Now keep in mind the charts for the west coast of Sumatra are very inaccurate, why not adopt technology and have paper charts? Anyway I digress.

Electricity. Im the worlds biggest fan in regards to solar. I have 300 watts which mostly keeps me fully charged. Ideally 400 watts would be better. This combined with a solar regulator that you can custom program. I believe that most solar regulators are way to conservative, and hit float mode prematurily. Batteries, once again space is the limiting factor. Im a flooded 6v deep cycle guy. I just think they are forgiving and can take a beating. In a perfect world I would go gels ( actually Lithium) but things go wrong and batteries get over charged. Ive had both a solar regulator go while on passage and start putting 16v into my batteries and also a Balmar smart regulator do the same on another occasion, BTW having a switch wired into regulator circuit which enables you to turn it on and off when you like is a good idea. Although I have a Balmar alternator I only use this to charge if motoring. If the solar panels dont keep up I have a Honda 1000, which is fantastic. For a little extra the 2kw version would be better, you could also use this to run a AC watermaker, room permitting. The little Honda also allows you to run power tools if need be. Batteries. Back to batteries, space is once again limited. I really only had room for 232a/h plus starter battery, unless I shifted them. I came to the conclusion that the starter battery wasn't a starter battery but a spare battery as I always use my house bank to start anyway. Now I know some will argue that you will damage deep cycles using them to start engines, but this isn't true, they can easily handle the current draw a small auxillary engine needs. So with this in mind Ive replaced the starter with a 150a/hr deep cycle that runs one of the fridges. These are wired so that I can parallel them, 382 a/h. The chances of both banks dying at the same time is slim, and if for some reason I do run them flat the little Honda comes to the rescue. Anyway Ive drifted, I think approx 400A/h battery bank with good solar and a little Honda will make you happy. A small battery bank isn't a issue if you have enough solar and a little Honda. I have a wind generator. Honestly I think they are overated. Ive sailed in the carribean and do realize you have more wind there BUT one extra solar panel, particularly seeing they are now so cheap is the way to go, once again a good solar regulator that can be custom programmed will make sure your solar is utilized best.

Its important to me to be able to sail as often as possible, this really means sailing when the breeze is light. I believe our little jib is great for a number of reasons but in light breezes forward of the beam Freedoms are under powered. I purchased a jib top reacher last year and that bigger , lighter headsail really makes a difference. Ive spoken about this before so wont repeat hear other than to say im looking for options to have it rigged permanently.
Anchors are always controversial. I say this very humbly, Ive never dragged. I very much believe in the modern anchors. A Rocna, manason supreme or equivalent. No one can convince me that a CQR or the likes are suitable for cruising. I have a Manson supreme and two Aluminium Danforths ( not that ive used the Danforths). I need to sleep at night ,and a proven anchor on a all chain rode ( unless Im in more than 75 feet) is the only way I can. Every night without exception a drag alarm is set. I carry 210 feet of 8mm chain and 60 feet of nylon rode. Some will argue you dont need that much, chain combined with rode will suffice, I disagree. Most of the people I cruise with are circumnavigating or have and very few would use rope over chain. I also carry dive gear. Twice I have been caught up in depths I couldnt free dive to and have used my dive gear to free my self.
One other useful piece of apparatus is a Hookah. I keep my hull and prop clean and the hookah just makes life easy. A simple 12v unit that is sufficient for 3 to 4m ( 12 feet).
I have lots of covers for the boat, Although Im still quite young and brown skinned, Ive reached a point where I struggle with the sun. I need shade.
Dinghy, when you have the perfect solution let me know. An Aluminium rib is best, but here comes that small boat thing again. I think you will find it difficult to fit a rib on deck, as I also do. Due to this I have a roll up. Open water passages I have it deflated and stowed. A 8hp Yamaha will plane with two. Once again a matter of opinion but I believe Yamaha to be superior. What ever country Im in , 90% of outboards I see are Yamaha. My 8hp Yamaha is right up there with my Honda generator, one light pull and they start everytime, unreal.

Faith in your sails and mast, faith in your anchoring system and faith in your rudder everything after that is a bonus. Make sure your mast step and mast fitting to step is solid. Sails, I dont use a first reef, I have a second and third reef, everthing other than securing the jib gets done from the cockpit. My sails are Marblehead dacron, I wouldn't have laminated sails, Im no racer and im not convinced they are as durable for cruising. Im going to fit a tides marine mainsail track. I had one on a previous boat, I want my sail to go up very easy, even if im beam on with no engine, drifting. Im not sure how robust the Freedoms rudder stocks are? anyone really know? Lower and upper bearing housing seems very robust, Stock being fiberglass? not sure. I like redundance and have therefore fitted a Hydrovane. As a wind driven self steering device they are really only good on long passages, its just easier to use autopilot on coastal hops. But I really do like knowing ive got a second rudder, its just that confidence thing again. When I was off Borneo there were two days where we saw literally 100s of logs floating, some were over 12 inchs plus in diameter, this was 50nm out to sea, I was nervous at night and yes we did hit two, fortunately all was well.

In regards to engine, Im assuming you have a 3gm30f? they are a great engine, worthy of 10,000hrs. Two things to look at, exhaust elbow and oil pressue line that runs near starter and around back of engine to starboard side. They rust out. And you probably have already fixed the starter solenoid thing? Also the oil pressure switches fail. Also Im a feathering prop fan. Improved sailing but also improved manouvering around the dock, important to me.
In regards to joining rally or travelling the thorny passage, I would do the rally. Carls Bermuda route sounds good to me. An ocean passage is safer and you will sail mostly. Remember all the sharp bits are near the land, sail back up the chain. You will be surprised how fast the days go (except for the first couple).

Anyway Ive rambled enough, and I apologize for poor punctuation etc.....Im using a german computer and the keyboards different.

Cheers Dale
Freeform.
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Re: Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby gamayun » Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:07 pm

Great post, Dale! I am a few years behind you, but my thinking about my F38 aligns with everything you said. I can shed some light on the rudder stock. See picture of mine that just got dropped. I am hauled out to do bottom work and had mixed feelings about dropping the rudder, but to remove the shaft, it needed to happen. I am very happy to have done this now because I could see how sturdy it is, but also that there has been some pit corrosion in the bottom stainless ring around the stock. I was told I could remove it and reweld, but that it's still sturdy and probably won't fail on me any time soon. In the interest of my sanity, I'll consider doing that in the future, especially if the helm seems like it's starting to bind.
Rudder dropped_4-4-16.jpg
Rudder dropped_4-4-16.jpg (54.59 KiB) Viewed 1557 times
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Re: Would appreciate your thoughts - cruising

Postby sailmon » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:00 pm

Dale,
Thanks for the great post. You have validated so many of the things I've been thinking. Even though Her Diamond has been great as a 2 week summer vacation cruise boat, there is a huge leap to transforming her to a live-aboard. Regarding the Tides Marine track, we installed a couple years ago and it is great.
All the best,
Bob
Sailmon (Captain Bob Allenick)
S/V Her Diamond
1991 Freedom 38
Cleveland, OH
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