A boat… any boat would be fine in a pinch. Something to keep you above the water, dry from the wind and rain, and with a sail and rudder to let you direct your course.
In the past six years of getting ready, we’ve sailed several boats though and have come to the following conclusions:
1) We aren’t racers, don’t care about PHRF ratings, don’t expect to be rounding any orange buoys in an attempt to beat the bigger boat in a fleet and know, for an absolute FACT we can’t outrun a storm coming at us at 25 MPH ground speed in a boat that moves at 9 knots.
2) We love being comfortable when we sleep. The bed has to be “just firm” and not too hard, not too soft and not saggy.
3) We like our showers. We love our hot tub, but there’s no place on a sailboat for one.
So – those details among millions of other small details have brought us almost six years forward from the day we said, “Hey, let’s retire to a sailboat!” and then set forth on that road.
In a few days we will be making our first trip to Florida to visit her brother – and look at boats. We’ve got a long list of boats, but the basic requirements parameters come out this way:
A) Full/Modified Keel
B) Ketch rigged
C) 40ish foot in length (38-42 seems reasonable to us)
D) Two “real cabins”. An Aft cabin and a Vee berth “cabin”.
E) Mast ought to have steps on it, or me, the ability to place steps on it….(I don’t trust me, or anyone else to handle a winch to hoist my ass up 50′ in the air, sorry!)
F) Engine should work, but it’s not the primary means of motivation for a sailboat.
G) There needs to be solar panels, a wind generator and a diesel/gas generator for extra power
H) There will be a water maker.
I) We’re both ham radio operators and I like to operate on HF bands
J) The galley will need to be workable for the “cook”/”admiral”/”First Mate” entity that will be ensuring we eat good meals
Yep – those first three things helped us figure that out. We want comfy beds, and I believe that an aft cabin will be best for us. We will have visitors who will travel with us from time to time, and they will generally be couples, thus the forward berth for them (and the ability for single individuals to have the pilot berth or something).
We need power. Good batteries (and I’ll replace what needs replacement) and ways to charge them are in order to keep the water maker, HF radios, computers and showers.
We need a full or modified keel to keep us stable and slow bouncing in rolling anchorages – which we will try not to be in usually. We’re not in any sort of a rush to get anywhere and just won’t go if the weather is going to be bad. Yep, fair weather sailors when we can be – and we’ll brave the storms when we must. Truth be told we will be watching weather windows carefully and go when we have a decent chance to have good weather, rather than risk a bad passage on a dark night in near-gale and gale conditions. Higher than that… we’ll be snuggled up in a hurricane hole someplace… umm… snuggling….
Water makers aren’t necessary, they aren’t required, they aren’t even cheap. You can catch rainwater, pay for it at docks and produce it from water makers. We will put a water maker aboard the boat. Even if it produces only small quantities of water in an hour because we want to have clean clothing and we drink a lot of water, we like showers and as long as we can generate the power required to run one, then we’ll have one. Again, they ain’t cheap (example: http://www.electromaax.com/products/watermakers/). Then of course you HAVE to depend on power from somewhere, the engine, a generator, wind generator, solar/battery combinations etc.
So in a few days the next leg of this voyage begins with searching for the boat to suit us, to take us where we want to go, to keep us safe and to give us the freedom we want to see the things we want to see.
Until next time… Fair Winds to all….