Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sailing test bed

My sailboat (Oday 19) is only a short walk down the hill, so I’ve been using it all the time. It’s been a great way to test out new hardware and techniques. If something doesn’t work out just right, it’s no big deal to come back to shore and reconfigure.

A friend of mine will be building a custom tiller to replace the too short one the previous owner built. The access port I built to release a stuck swing keel works fine. Certainly beats diving out of the boat with a snorkel and diving mask to free it by hand. Tweaked the anchors and made some improvements to the sails.

Now I’m working on cabin mosquito screens and drink holders. Next will be a custom tarp for the cockpit and better cooking arrangements.

My lovely wife and I are planning some serious trips. The boat can handle the lake and coastal cruising we are planning on doing. Under the right conditions, even the Dry Tortugas or Bermuda wouldn’t be out of the question.

We are very happy with this little boat. Most people wouldn’t even think of cruising on a small boat, even for a weekend. They are used to living in houses. Even a 40 foot sailboat seems darn cramped in comparison. My lovely wife and I spent a lot of time living in tents. The little cabin on our boat compares quite favorably with a tent. It’s dry, has lights and some electricity. There’ s a porta potty. The V berth is comfortable for the two of us and even the little dog.

When we bought this boat, we thought we’d learn to sail and then think about what kind of boat we want to upgrade to. After some time on the water what we really want is the boat we already have. All our time on the lake has shown us what little improvements would make sailing more comfortable. Nothing we are doing costs much money. I’m slowly adding provisions and gear -including fishing poles and tackle.

It’s a great bug out vehicle. The plan is that I could just hook the boat trailer up to the truck and head out. Everything we need will already be on the boat. One of the cool things we did was use the boat as a dry land camper. We’ve slept in it on the hard, and it worked just fine. Not as much fun as sleeping on the water, but it was quick and easy. It allowed me to get a few hours sleep in a comfortable bed.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” He would have certainly understood life in a small sailboat. It doesn’t take all that much to take care of a person’s needs.


At the end of the summer it gets a new coat of bottom paint. Any nicks and dings will get a touch up. We’ll be ready to head out to


  1. Only thing about dry camping is you don't get ta hear the halyards slapping and the swing keel thumping back and forth.
    I really miss my little 20 ft. Oday...
    You really must stop by next fall when ya come thru Melbourne.

    Rob D.

  2. Hey Spud. I find those noises restful.

    We are trying to figure out what we are going to do next winter. Tempted to drive south only as far as VA and taking the ICW to FL. I've a cousin in VA who might let me store my truck and trailer there.

    It certainly would be nice to spend more time in the Keys. Thanks for the invite.

  3. I think you certainly have the right idea! Sounds like a great way to spend some extra time to me!

    Heck, makes me want to learn to sail...but where would I put the garden?

  4. I have heard of guys sailing across the ocean single handed in boats about your size. One guy I met on the east coast said he had a radar detector to warn him when a big ship was coming at night when he was sleeping. Big ships are always using radar.

  5. I'd be happy with a Stevenson Weekender (16' I think?). That would be enough for me to run the Great Loop... My next boat will be something like that, if the Ponzi scheme doesn't completely collapse first.

  6. Salty looking little boat Craig. I'm sailing with the wife and a small dog. It'll be crowded enough on the 19.

    Dizzy: there are some nice electronic gadgets that can make a trip safer and easier. Much depends on the type of sailing one is doing.

    Hermit: Our big sailing trips are planned for when the snow's on the ground here in NH. Not much gardening happening then.

  7. What is it like, sleeping on a boat that size? Do the waves sort of rock you to sleep or do they take some getting used to?

    I remember reading a book which mentioned hammocks were great for boats as they could be set up perpendicular to the action of the waves (not sure if that is in-line with waves or not, guess it would be if at anchor offshore). The boat moves, the hammock stays put.

    Anyway, just curious. Thanks for the update.