Monday, September 6, 2010


I'm getting a serious desire for wandering. When I was a kid, it took the form of putting on a backpack and wandering into the mountains. Other times I'd disappear with a canoe down a remote river system. For quite a few years, my lovely wife and I traveled the back roads of America, living out of a tent.

Now I've got a serious hankering for cruising on a sailboat. My practical knowledge of sailboat living is pretty limited. Until that can remedied, I'm doing all the reading on the subject that I can. There seems to be almost as many opinions on the "proper" way to live and travel on a sailboat as there are sailors. Opinions on boats vary widely. Like anything else I do, I'll have to develop the right method that suits me.

I'm narrowing down my requirements. The sailboat should be big enough to live in: sleeping space for 2 adults, stove, sink, cooler or fridge, and some sort of head. Enough storage to be independent for a few weeks at least.

It should also be on the small side. Less boat is less to take care of. There's less to fix, to sail, and parts are often cheaper. I'm looking for something that can sneak its way into shallow waters. Being able to go shallow opens up more anchorages. There's interesting places to explore that a big boat won't be able to get near.

I want a boat that can make the crossing to the Bahamas and do some island hopping. I am willing to wait for good conditions. My schedule won't be that pressing. I do not need a boat capable of circumnavigating the world.

People that go from living in a house to living in a boat complain a lot about the lack of space. I'm looking at it from another angle. Even a tiny sailboat can carry more than what I used to fit in my backpack, yet a single backpack would keep me going all week. I thought canoe camping was luxury. Why, I could carry more in a canoe than I'd want to carry on my back. Then there are all those years my wife and I lived for months at a time out of a car and tent. Our first year we lived out of a Dodge Neon, and we had a dog with us. It's the car we happened to have at the time.

One of things I learned from car camping is to have enough consumables to last for a long time. Some of the places we camped were pretty remote. There wasn't a grocery store around the corner. It was darn handy to know we could live off our stores for a good long while. Good training for boat travel, I think. I got pretty creative with a few basic ingredients.

There are some basic steps I'll be taking over the next year or so. I'll soon be taking my NH Boating Safety course. Might as well get that certification under my belt. It's cheap and relatively easy to get.

Later this winter my wife and I are seriously considering getting some ASA certifications. My dad in Florida lives close to some sailing schools. We could crash at his place and save lodging costs. Anybody have experience with ASA certification? Is it worth it?

I'm pretty good with tools. No stranger to engines. I'm experience with fiberglass and small boat repair. However, one of the attractions of this new adventure is that I don't know everything. There's all kinds of new and interesting things to learn.

The used boat market seems to be in a big downturn. Prices on good boats are going down all the time. I'd love to get one before something like stupid like super inflation hits. Keeping a close eye out for deals. Only wish I knew exactly what I was looking for . . .



  1. Well, just dive in and get your feet wet. Oh yeh, wet feet on a boat ain't a good sign.

    May I suggest a sailboat with a small (1 or 2 cylinder) diesel engine. Diesel fuel is much safer on a boat than gasoline and you do NOT want a fire at sea.

  2. Maybe something along the lines of a Catalina 22 would fit your bill. Shallow draft, swing keel, and kick up rudder. V-berth in the bow, port-a-pot under the berth, dinette booth, small galley with 'fridge. Not the best open water boat, but it will get you to the Bahamas on a nice day. BTW, diesel inboard sailboats will be fixed keel and non-trailerable. Boating with gasoline is not dangerous if you maintain your equipment and remain conscious of what's going on with your boat. Along the "kaboom" lines, propane for cooking is worth the "risk", those alcohol stoves are virtually useless...

  3. Dizzy-Dick: I do like diesel, as I don't anything around the house that burns gas anymore. However, Mayberry is right that diesel boats aren't trailerable -at least the ones I've seen.

    Mayberry: Yes, something along the lines of a Catalina 22 looks like it might fit the bill. They built a zillion of them and there are some great deals out there.

    The Bahamas sound great. I'm willing to hang around waiting for good weather to cross the Gulf Stream.

  4. If you want to get into real shallows, might want to consider a catamaran.

  5. Good info Suburban. Cats are kinda cool, but outside my budget. I'd have to build one, and I'd rather be sailing than building right now.