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[Yacht Selection] [Equipment] [Weight Aloft]  [Maintenance
Selecting and equipping a sailboat for extended cruising offers the opportunity to make a lot of mistakes - and we have made our share.  Print our notes and read at your leisure.
Yacht Selection

Having selected a yacht based on our knowledge at the time, we believe we should have changed our criteria somewhat:

  • Boat Length
we felt a 38' boat was the biggest we could handle comfortably, we now believe a 40'-46' boat is easily handled by a middle-aged couple, and many handle boats up to 60'
  • Think global
We focused on US magazines, books and  articles and now believe that there are many European and New Zealand boats just as good as US boats, and many are more suited for off-shore cruising.
  • Freeboard
we did not consider how the relatively low freeboard of our yacht translates into wet passages - higher is better as long as the yacht remains stable.
  • Hard dodger
We considered a canvas dodger adequate, but experience in bad weather has convinced us that a hard dodger with a protected steering station makes off-shore passages more enjoyable and safer.
Boat Equipment

Weight Aloft

In our zeal to add features, we have probably added too much weight aloft
  • Radar - 25 lb at about 20' high
  • Wind Generator - 30 lb at 15' high
  • Mast steps on mizzen - 20 lb distributed over 30'
  • Genoa roller furler - 20 lb distributed over 45'
  • Staysail roller furler - 10 lb over 25'
  • SatNav and Loran antennas and cables - 10 lb over 30'

At nearly 2000 ft-lb, that weight and windage has undoubtedly decreased our stability and slowed us.  Each person should reach a judgment on what to install and where.  We should have consulted the boat builder before adding this much weight. Unfortunately we added it one at a time rather than as part of an overall plan. It should probably be counterbalanced by 400 lb. at the bottom of our keel.  


  • Engine Maintenance
Not much to say other than "follow manufacturer's recommendations" - be extra careful to change oil and filters on or before scheduled
  • Timely Repairs
Fix items when first noticed - when we have left something to do 'another day' it often causes a more expensive problem before it gets fixed. 
  • Bright-work
Judi has kept Long Passages exterior teak in good shape and has narrowed down our thoughts to:
  • Varnish - 8 to 10 coats as a base and reapply 2-4 coats per year provides the best looking finish. Use good quality such as Interlux Schooner.
  • Sikkens Cetol - Next best in appearance and much easier to apply and maintain - 3 coats initially and 1 coat per year after a quick cleaning.
  • Polyurethane - Our cabin sole has polyurethane and has a few spots where water has come up through screw holes and discolored it - repair will be difficult; we avoid using polyurethanes.
  • Sealants
We tend to use Sika-Flex most of the time since it has been available everywhere and seems satisfactory. 3M 5200 and 4300 are also good products, and widely available.
  • Bottom Paint
 If at possible, use Petit Trinidad - we used it as long as we could get it in the US and Caribbean, and it lasts up to 3 years.  Otherwise we have found that a hard coated paint is best as we can clean the bottom in anchorages and not remove the paint.  Interlux makes different formulas under different names around the world, and we have found them satisfactory.
  • Spares -
Our philosophy on items to carry has changed a little since we left the US. It boils down to:
  • Emergencies - Carry what you need to cope with emergencies and to get the boat into a safe harbor - oil, filters, tools, materials to seal an underwater hole, etc.
  • Routine Repairs - With FedEx, DHL, and Airborne Express, one can get most items almost to anywhere in the world - at a cost - in a few days. Keep on hand those items which are most common, easy to stow, and of low cost; fasteners, sealants... 
  • Power Tools - When we left the US we had a full set of power tools aboard - we now believe the essentials are: a 3/8" drill, soldering iron, and hot knife; all others are handy but can be rented or worked around.
  • Boat Enhancements -  We used to carry lumber and plywood for boat projects - they have been useful but take up a lot of room and can be obtained locally or ordered.
  • Catalogs - We keep the West Marine and Defender catalogs readily at hand. 
  • Corrosion -
We have found corrosion between dissimilar metals to be a major annoyance and maintenance headache

 Some examples, applicable to most boats, are:

  • Fasteners in spars - Stainless screws or bolts in aluminum spars will corrode in the presence of salt water - always use a corrosion inhibitor such as Starbrite 'Anti-seize', 'Duralac, or Bostik 'Never-Seez' when fastening stainless to aluminum.
  • Base of Mast - Our boat, like many others, has a metal base on the keel to hold the foot of the mast. Water can get onto this joint and corrode these pieces together even though they are both aluminum.  Use and anti-seize as mentioned above on this joint.
  • Wire Splices - Salt water will wick into wire splices where crimp connectors are used, and cause corrosion between the copper wire and tinned connectors. Use tinned wires at all times, use the new heat-seal connectors where appropriate, keep wires away from wet places.
  • Hose Clamps - Some clamps use soft steel for the screw and/or band - we now use a magnet to check the clamps and discard clamps with any soft steel parts
  • Ground Tackle - Anchors and chain are a combination of stainless and galvanized steel so corrosion is possible. We had a cotter pin disintegrate so that our anchor fell off - we now check all fasteners regularly.
  • Ignition Key - We found that the zinc ignition key on our Yanmar reacted with the chromed ignition switch, and eventually dissolved the key - don't leave the key in the switch when not in use, enclose engine panel, and spray with corrosion block. 
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