Moved in

Moved in



I attended a West Marine lecture on “Getting Ready to Cruise” and the lecturer was a cruiser (and his wife) who had just returned from a 4-year circumnavigation of the Pacific Circle from San Francisco, to Hawaii, to Fiji, then north to Indonesia, and eventually home again to the Bay.

He said – If you are not currently living on your boat, then you are just kidding yourself that you will go cruising, because you wont. It doesn’t happen that you are living in your house/condo/apartment and then one day you pack your bags, move onto the boat, cast off the dock lines, and take off for the wild blue yonder. That doesn’t happen. If you are not living on your boat, you are not going.

That shook me!! That was exactly my thinking. I had imagined that on that special day I would just move onto the boat, stock it with food, throw off the dock lines, and sail away on the Big Ocean – aka the BFO.

So I thought about that. I remembered all the sailing blogs I have read over the years, and every single one of them stated that they lived on the boat for at least a year before sailing away.

Time to move onto my boat. Time for FastAlley and me to become fast friends.

I thought that maybe I should try spending just one month on the boat for starters. The marina manager was agreeable for me to be a liveaboard so I moved onto the boat – lightly. Basically I just moved my clothes onto the boat, made the bed, and went shopping for food.

Being Winter, the next thing I did was pay a rapid visit to Home Depot to buy an electric heater since my propane fitted heater stopped working some time ago, and I had removed it.

Then I noticed that some of the things that used to work, now did not work anymore. Or at least I hadn’t noticed when I visited the boat on the occasional weekend, but now that I was on it 24/7 both big and little things got my full attention.

That cruiser was right – the minute I moved onto the boat, as opposed to just a weekend visit, my whole mindset changed. Suddenly I was viewing my boat as my home and I noted the some general maintenance was lacking. In fact, I hadn’t even washed the boat down properly in months. If I was ever to go out on the BFO, then I needed to take my boat seriously!

I dragged out the list of ThingsToDo that I had compiled in 2011 when I decided to do the HaHa that year. However, although I did extensive upgrades, I never made the HaHa.

In 2011 I missed the HaHa as I spent some months visiting my ailing mother in South Africa.

In 2012 I missed the HaHa as l rushed to my dying mothers side.

In 2013 I missed the HaHa because I was just plain unprepared.

I am planning on making it this year – 2014.

I will then continue my ocean trip from MX down the coast to Panama, and across to the Caribbean.   At least that is the vague plan.

I will need at least one crew person to stand watch while I sleep, but just in case she (I prefer tidy females to messy males) is not much of a sailor, I will then in effect be singlehanding, and so I have set up the boat appropriately. Hopefully the crew can cook because cooking is my least favorite activity.


Now as I look at the list again, I am pleasantly surprised that over the last 3 years I have indeed accomplished quite a large body of the tasks. I also noticed that the list had gotten considerably longer over the years.

I asked a world cruising couple to check my list, and they added valuable comments only known to those who have been there, done that.

Here’s a good list to print out and start with (http://www.downwindmarine.com/downloads/cruisingdownwind.pdf).

Read the Downwind Marine list all the way through since there is lots of current and valuable info there.

Here is my list, started in 2011, and as it stands now in 2014 divided into 2 sections – DONE, and OUTSTANDING



  1. Replace the dinghy with one that has a hard bottom
  2. Move the wheels off my old dinghy (Done),but not on my new dinghy yet
  3. Replace the anchor light, not working – get spare fuses (done)
  4. Replace the 3 regular lights in the Cockpit with one LED –(now uses 30x less power)
  5. Get reefs into the mainsail – no ability to reef! Done – and Dutchman system installed
  6. Get lazy jacks or Dutchman for easy mainsail handling. Done – Dutchman system installed
  7. Buy sail repair kit. Take a course in emergency sail repair.
  8. Remove the hard piece on the mainsail leech that hooks the topping lift. Done, Replaced the mainsail.
  9. Get jack lines – would ordinary lines work? Flat Dacron webbing is often used because when you step on them they won’t roll underfoot and cause a fall.Having said that, any lines will work so long as they are strong and don’t stretch (much). Mount the lines well inboard so that with a short tether you don’t go over the side and drag alongside the boat.
  10. Good Binoculars that let in 90% of light – Jim: Fujion 7X50 marine binoculars with a built-in compass. It’s not very useful for viewing objects in moderate to rough conditions for the reasons Mark mentioned, but the compass works well for taking accurate bearings on an approaching vessel to help determine whether I was on a collision course or not.   Mark: 7X35 which is a compromise between magnification and stability
  11. Fix the fridge that doesn’t work on 12V power, works only on shore power(12 volt reefers drag the batteries down in no time.   Better to run the genset an hour or two per day?)Not all fridges run on both 110V and 12VDC. It’s very handy to have the 12V option since the fridge will continue to run as you motor along, charging your batteries. You won’t often be able to run your genset, plus your solar panels will help a lot when further down south. You have room on your hard dodger roof for enough panels to keep the batteries fully charged – providing you can keep shadows off the solar panels. Make sure you get a peak power tracker for your solar panels. You’ve made no mention of being sure you have a large and bullet-proof 12V alternator. Make sure you have spare belts, diodes, bearings, and a service manual for the alternator.
  12. Man over Board alarm system. Loud alarm on board if wearer goes overboard and the device is submerged, or if the person is more than 105 feet away from the boat.
  13. Find the bloody leak up front !!!! (Was the forward hatch in the head)
  14. Replace the last hatch above the starboard guest bunk (not leaking but handle is broken)
  15. Relocate the solar panels from the starboard side to the roof over the cabin – NO, the mainsheet will rip them off when I tack or jibe.
  16. Replace the hot water heater. Probably won’t have time to do this.
  17. Get spare bottles of oil to change the engine oil. Will synthetic oil work on diesel engines? (Yes. Most boaters use Delo 400 for diesel, get it at Costco). Got extra bottles of Delo400.It is a good idea to carry enough oil and filters for 2 – 3 oil changes. Remember that you’ll need some empties to receive your old oil. You should do your own oil changes from now on, just so you know how.
  18. Buy iPad for my Navionics charts (backup to my onboard GPS and handheld GPS)
  19. Buy solar power battery charger with rechargeable batteries of different sizes
  20. Buy solar power charger for iPhone, iPad, and sundry electronics
  21. Get CA fishing license – learn to fish. Bought the rods, and gear, and HowTo DVDs – but have never managed to catch anything.
  22. Net to catch the fish – check the port front lazarette, I think I have one
  23. Buy an electric WinchRite to hoist up and down the mast – check its reviews
  24. Buy WINCH maintenance kit. Took a course on winches; opened & cleaned & greased all 3 winches & parts
  25.  Get Coastal Pilot
  26.  Buy SSB book for idi-yachts, understanding the SSB.
  27. Hammock – no place to put it now that I enclosed the cockpit.
  28.  Buy manual clothes washer. Done, Wonder Washer takes 3 shorts/3 shirts at a time
  29.  Buy manual clothes wringer. Hand wringing is too tiring!
  30. Night vision binoculars/FLIR monocular? (you won’t find them very useful…once in a blue moon item.) Nice if you have extra $$ burning a hole in your pocket, but not terribly useful most of the time. You’ll NOT be making landfall at night anyway, so that limits your use.
  31. Cut away the white partitions at the foot of the beds for extra storage – not load bearing?? NO. Decided not to; used for storage of unsightly things like games, papers, spare books. etc.
  32. Enclose the cockpit for privacy and comfort. 
  33. Replace the broken solar panel. Most panels have a long warranty, as long as 25 years. Check with the manufacturer to see if you can trade for a new one.
  34. Buy a guitar – learn to play it, it will provide solitary amusement. Havent learned to play yet.
  35. Air horn – backup to the electric one.     Not necessary, I have a bell as backup in fog.
  36. Buy sea anchor to park the boat in heavy weather. I have a 12 ft diameter heavy duty sea anchor
  37. Put grommets in the sea anchor to float a ball – easy retrieval from the float.
  38. Buy floatable ditch bag with: thermal blankets, freeze dried food, water pouches.  Put official papers (passports, etc) + boat papers in the ditch bag.  EPIRB in the ditch bag. One 406 EPIRB should do it, but think long and hard about where it’s mounted and how/when to launch it.
  39. GaleRider – size is 36”x42” for 10-30,000 lbs boat weight, costs $585.   I recommend buying a drogue from Gale Rider which is sized for the weight of your boat.  o      GaleRider deployment rode – 5/8″ X 350′ for $425, or 3/4″ X 350′ for $575.   o      GaleRider bridling line $80 or $110 (match the rode size of the deployment rode)   o      GaleRider Chafe Gear. Chafe protection for the bridle and deployment rode is available in 18 ” heavy polyester slip-on tubes at $19.95 per pair, or 16 ” removable tubes with velcro closure at $37.74 per pair.   o      CarryBag is $60
  40. Ditch Bag primary items:
Energy Bars
  • Signaling mirror
Plastic sextant
Fishing line/hooks/fillet knife
  • Space blanket (2)
Handheld VHF Radio
First Aid Afloat book Tissues, Toilet Paper Collapsible plastic container
Extra Binoculars Screwdriver Handheld compass
Hand held flares Wash cloth Disposable towels
Matches Small “chamois” towels Sea Survival book ‘Dougal Robertson’
  • First Aid items
Waterproof VHF bag
  • Flashlight & batteries
Pen, pencil, paper Sunblock 45 SPF Solar recharging unit
Sheath knife Sunglasses Sponge
Tupperware container Lightsticks Cash (US$)


OUTSTANDING – I am going to have to Prioritize this list if I want to make the 2014 HaHa!

  1. Figure out how to pump out at sea (currently only external pump out at a dock) …and practice doing pump outs. People at anchor in bays pump in the middle of the night.
  2. Buy toilet tank monitor for empty/full holding tank levels
  3. Buy rigging hacksaw to cut away rigging in emergency (or a cable cutter…much faster and very small).
  4. Propeller cutting blades to automatically cut snagging lines on the propeller – marine spurs
  5. Wrap the exhaust to prevent burns
  6. Replace port and starboard lights – they leak so they fuse and I am continually replacing their bulbs.
  7. Dinghy davits – make it a 3-threaded loop not 2 so that it is easier to haul up and down.   While you’re at it, why not make it a 4-part fall so you won’t have to strain as much?
  8. Pink paint – paint all my tools pink – they keep (annoyingly) disappearing into other men’s toolboxes?!!
  9. Close the deck hole caused by the broken heater chimney. Good idea if you’re losing the heater.
  10. Get 2-way radios with 1-mile radius to communicate when anchoring, or up the mast, or away from the boat.
  11. Check my flag box – I need one for each country from here to Panama Some people make their own flags from squares/rectangles of white nylon and a sack of colored permanent marker pens
  12. Need a quarantine flag. A simple square of yellow cloth with a rope edge.
  13. Non-skid on the (dock) steps to prevent slipping
  14. Non-skid in front of the BBQ and over the engine cover – slippery surfaces
  15. Non-skid on starboard side by back spare anchor
  16. Sew privacy curtains for each bed
  17. Auto-pilot overcorrects in following seas. Most AP’s do this in following seas. Learn how to adjust the various settings to minimize
  18. Buy DDDB. Buy and read the DDDB – the “Drag Device Database”. It’s an invaluable book to own and to have carefully read as you plan out your heavy weather strategy.
  19. Buy a fuel filter for the outboard gas.   Most outboard engines have a small filter somewhere in the fuel line inside the engine housing. I’m assuming you mean to add an external filter in the rubber hose of your external tank fuel line – great idea if so. A simple motorcycle or automobile in-line filter works great.
  20. Tie another line to the outboard to (double) prevent it falling in the sea (and for security use a SS stainless steel line so it is not stolen)  …and lock it!
  21. Need a heavy weight at the top of the mainsail? It doesn’t just drop when the halyard is released; you have to pull it down. I don’t want to be at the mast if I don’t have to be there!
  22. Buy 4-man life raft – do I need one for coastal cruising? (Yes. You can rent them or buy a used one off a former cruiser and have it repacked.) A life raft is a luxury item if you have the funds to buy it and the space to mount it. It will need servicing every two years. Some folks carry a floatable ditch bag that goes in their inflatable as a replacement for a life raft. The MOST important thing you can have is an EPIRB.
  23. Buy hypalon paint and paint zebra stripes on the dinghy – easy identification
  24. Get white flares for warning off boats when lying on sea anchor/drogue
  25. Spare zincs
  26. Portable water filtration system and taste filter (activated carbon) in series with a particle filter.
  27. New microwave – leave in its box, store in starboard ama? (I need the space for food storage).
  28. Radio and DVD player don’t work – do I care? I have my iPod and my laptop for movies? Correct On the other hand, a 12V radio/dvd player will use a lot less power than your laptop and your ipod – both of which require 110V to recharge their batteries. It would be a good idea for you to live several days onboard while disconnected from shorepower, shore water, shore everything. Do this more than once to learn how much energy each thing aboard requires so you can work out your energy budget. A good amp-hr meter to track your power usage and prevent overly-deep discharge of your house bank is worth its weight in gold.
  29. Do I need a MX fishing license? YES! Mexican police will seize your boat if they find fishing gear on board and no license, even if its never been used. You need a license for everyone on board and for the boat. It’s not uncommon for a local police chief to decide he wants your boat, and this is the most common way to get one. And you must have Mexican Insurance as well as US insurance. I’ve never heard of anyone ever being harassed for not having a fishing license. Most of the time you’ll do your fishing while dragging a line when sailing offshore. It’s cheap and easy to buy fish from the local fishermen than it is to fish. One or two dollars will buy a lot of fish.
  30. Buy Cruising Guide to Mexico and beyond…..buy ALL the guides
  31. Buy Charts from Mexico to Panama (unlikely to make it to the Carib in 3 months)
  32. Start the generator, check it works – check it powers the boat – do thorough maintenance. And buy spares!
  33. Buy supplies/spares – 4200, 5400, duct tape, blue tape, oil, belts, gaskets, impellers, fuses
  34. Buy medicines in Los Angeles pharmacy   Find a doctor friend to get the stuff you really need, pharmacies won’t sell you powerful meds. Get First Aid Afloat for a list. Seaside Pharmacy in San Pedro will help you stock your medical chest, including all the heavy duty pain killers, anti-biotics, etc. Once you register with them as the captain, it’s easy to re-order and keep your stocks fresh.
  35. Un-pickle the watermaker and test it.   Get spare filters, etc. Test everything – you will have great trouble finding parts once you leave the States. Lay in your spares while in the States. A watermaker which has been pickled for a very long time may be in need of a new membrane.   Pickling is hard on membranes, especially if the solution is not changed at least once a year. Find out now and then replace it a month or two before you leave.   A watermaker can be tricky to run and maintain – learn all about it now. It will be too late once you get beyond San Diego.
  36. Buy 4 deep cycle gel batteries. What to do with the 2 cheap ones?
  37. Reinforce the Rear deck hardware to take the forces of a sea anchor. NO. I am going to assume that the fact that “someone” placed a reserve anchor attachment here, then they also thought of the stresses (I hope that is a safe assumption!)
  38. Buy sea anchor ball float and float lines for easy retrieval.
  39. VHF antenna on the mast is not stable, wobbles – check the connections. If your VHF antenna wobbles, the base is not mounted properly. Secure it well – a loose mount also causes transmission problems.
  40. 4-stroke outboard engine base – replace the white board it is clamped onto – sun damaged. And make sure that OB is ready to go. How old is the water pump impeller? Do you have a spare prop and/or shear pins? Spare spark plugs? Engine maintenance manual?
  41. Buy new boat EPIRB
  42. Buy personal EPIRB
  43. Get US insurance for International travel. Insurance from DAN (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/) is often purchased by cruisers since it guarantees a medevac flight out when you get in serious trouble.
  44. Get MX boat insurance.   Liability insurance is generally required in marinas.




GALLEY PREPARATIONS Talk with Pam about this topic.

  1. Fasten the spice racks down
  2. Build more shelves in the kitchen
  3. Learn to bake bread.   Coffee can bread is a cruiser favorite.
  4. Buy food supplies for 3 months – lots of food supplies   Everywhere there are people, there is good food available. Learn the language and shop locally.
  5. Buy lots of non-slip rolls
  6. Buy Soda Stream to make sodas when they are not readily available.
  7. Buy lock-tite containers for the galley
  8. Ziploc bags 1-quart 1-gallon 2-gallon – squeeze together seals are better. Ziploc bags are a cruiser’s best friend. Buy LOTS of them in quart and gallon sizes. Wash them and reuse – they are indispensable. The larger sizes will keep everything inside dry, no matter how wet the inside of the boat gets. Get Freezer Strength – they are absolutely indispensable.
  9. Heavy duty freezer bags – get lots and lots
  10. Buy thermos for keeping coffee hot on long nights. Brewing coffee is a pain on a sailboat. It uses lots of energy to heat the water in a pot that wants to fall off the stove and scald anyone nearby and then you have to be careful while brewing not to spill those damn grounds – which go everywhere. Tea (in bags) is a good second choice if you can learn to like it, but you still have to deal with dangerous boiling water at sea.
  11. Buy sprout growing kit
  12. Buy sprouts seeds
  13. Move growing plant (shoe) holder to boat
  14. Lots of bay leaves to put in flour to keep out weevils
  15. Whole cloves (or ground) in cupboards to keep out ants
  16. Cedar chips to keep out critters
  17. Insulation – Bubble wrap, fleece fabric, tube socks – helps keep down the noise
  18. Bleach (lots) for washing fresh produce, cans, bottles, etc
  19. Vinegar for the head
  20. Permanent markers (water resistant) – fine nibs
  21. Plastic bins for storage – with solid bottom and holes in sides
  22. REMOVE all the containers with cheap lids
  23. Thermos Nissan 48-ounce wide mouth stainless steel bottle (cooking)
  24. Thermos Nissan 34-ounce briefcase       stainless steel bottle (hot drinks)
  25. Thermos Nissan 16-ounce food jar         stainless steel bottle (yoghurt, rice, beans, etc)
  26. D-con bombs for roaches, mosquito coils, netting
  27. Laundry soap (Tide for salt water), softener
  28. Aluminum plates for rat guards on lines
  29. Fast drying towels from REI
  30. BBQ spare propane
  31. Lots of Joy dishwasher
  32. Toilet paper
  33. Heavy duty gloves
  34. Extra kerosene for the lamps
  35. Assorted small gifts – candy, t-shirts, pens, hair grips,
  36. Folding shopping cart
  37. Buy MRE’s for storm food



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