Introduction to Long Range Offshore Cruising

It is my intention that this be a "kind of blueprint" to long range cruising. Obviously there are many blueprints possible and none of them are certain to be complete. I have deliberately constrained the materials presented, in order to not have you drown in so much information, that neither you or I can swallow it. I have purposefully avoided web sites, books and articles that are vague, oriented towards expensive solutions, loaded with flashing banners, or so self centered that what you are really getting is a sales pitch for some product or service. In other words, I have made a real effort to weed out the less useful materials so that you can home directly and efficiently on materials that will be of immediate value to you.

The decision to go with a Sailboat or a Powerboat leads in two very different directions. It seems to me that the problem boils down to this. As George Buehler says in his books, the cheapest way to go is pure sail, but once you put an engine in it, you are already 5% into a powerboat and his argument is that if you don't want the physical effort involved in sailing, then why not go 100% powerboat? Of course, if you opt for a powerboat and a single engine then where is your backup? The natural answer is 2 engines which is a a lot of cost for little use, or you guessed it: sails. Now you are talking about 90% powerboat with 10% sails and they are called Motor sailors.

My personal reaction is go for a sailboat with an engine as backup, 80% sailing and 20% powering. George Buehler makes about the best arguments for the powerboat with sails for backup or a wing engine as anyone, so read his material.  In many cases your choice of sail versus powerboat will come down to costs and maintenance issues. So what are a set of plans, anyway?

Michael Kasten has about the best material supporting either strategy.  Motor Sailors. Ideal Sailing Rigs. Ideal Passage Maker Form.

In  all fairness you deserve to have some idea about my strengths and weaknesses. Every author comes to the table with their own prejudices and experiences to guide them. Mine look about like this: I first went to sea in 1958 and over the next 7 years or so, made numerous crossings of the local bars on the Northern Oregon coast. At that time, deep sea salmon fishing was almost a religion and we participated in the ritual every summer. By the spring of 1965 I had enough experience to be a fair salmon catcher and to sit for my first Coast Guard license. I have sailed and motored sailed and motored boats in Alaska, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, up to Nova Scotia and up and down the US Pacific coast, many times since then. I have a fair amount of experience in rough water including breakers up to 30' on the bars and storms up to 60 knots on this coast. I have had my ears pinned back in a 27' powerboat, one morning while trying to make the Columbia River entrance. In one hour, we took 21 waves clear over the top of the flying bridge and most of them left standing green water on the front deck, over the top of the front windows. If we had broken out any of the forward windows, we would have lost the boat in 90 seconds and might have all died.

I do not have a lot of experience sailing sailboats under sail, since when I had my hands on them we were mostly running upwind and against the current.  I have had more sense and some luck to have never tangled with a really powerful storm in the open under conditions where a mature sea could develop. I do not know everything and am hard at work changing, that! I lack extensive practical sailing experience, but not practical rough water experience.

Too many authors have lots of sailing experience and very little rough water experience. Take what they have to say about practical sailing carefully and even more so, what they have to say about rough water.  If they have little experience above 40 degrees latitude, you have been warned. I am a firm believer in keeping systems simple and maintainable. And you have been warned about that!

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© Copyright 2003. Captain Michael P. Maurice. All rights reserved.