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Thread: When Cruising was Simple

  1. #1
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    Default When Cruising was Simple

    Years and years ago, a cruising boat would likely have a coal or wood burning stove, oil lights, an icebox, pumps at the sinks , and a manual head, if not a bucket. A bit later the stove might burn diesel and there would be electric lights

    Modern boats, well, let's just say they're a tab bit more complicated....

    There are a number of advocates of the simple-is-best school --- Herreshoff in the Compleat Cruiser for example. Ed Monk supposedly said "if it's not on the boat, it doesn't weigh anything, it doesn't take up space, and it can't break."

    So what level of simplicity is right for you?

    I did the wood-stove-oil-lamps-and-no-engine gig years ago. Not again. I am now happy to have electric lights and a diesel engine. In fact, I no longer cruise in a sailboat, having concluded that reasonably sized sailboats are largely under power anyway in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and much of the Salish Sea.

    My Monk-designed Roughwater 35 is already fairly simple. There have been some additional complications added since she left the shipyard in 1972: electric head with pumps and holding tank, a fridge conversion for the icebox, forced air diesel heating system. I have already dispensed with the electric head, holding tank, and pumps. My composting toilet is a thing of beauty.

    The shower pump will go away too as the head is too small to have a useable shower. We are thinking of a bug spray hand pumped shower in the back cabin instead. Feasible?

    The fridge conversion is currently not working. The boat just had an icebox forty years ago. .is an icebox tolerable?

    There is probably no reason to take out the propane stove and the forced air diesel heater, but I do think sometimes of a diesel cook stove in place of both. What is it like to live with a diesel stove?

    Pumps on the sinks would tend to make people conserve water. And they would never break



    So what complications are worth it on your cruising boat?
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    When I plan my perfect boat I think as simple a diesel as possible, electric for cabin and running lights and for instruments & VHF & GPS & and a couple of plugs. No refrigeration. Certainly no air conditioning. No pressure water - foot pumps. A really serious galley stove. My pump-up garden sprayer "hot water system". Ice box with room for several hundred pounds of ice. Manual windlass. A rig that does not require any halyard or sheet winches.

    I've been living on one boat or another since 1981 and I am deeply convinced of what I need and even more convinced of what I don't need.

    Everything breaks once a year so if you have three hundred and sixty five things on your boat you'll spend every day fixing something rather than sailing.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Intriguing...Tell me about your hot water system.

    Air conditioning is not something you need in the Pacific NW

    What kind of cook stove or cabin heat, Ian?
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I like your desired approach to boating, Bob. In my last boat, for my hot water needs I would just boil a pot of water and cut it with some cold water for dishes etc... For a personal shower, I had a cheap plastic plant sprayer,about 3 quarts, which I would partially fill with boiling water(see pot above) and cut with cold water until tolerable to the touch. 14 strokes of the pressure pump on the sprayer and it was ready for use. The rest of the pot of boiling water would then go into a dedicated plastic bucket and also be cut with some cold water. The shower routine would then involve:

    1) using a body sponge dipped in the bucket, the body gets wetted out.
    2) some liquid bath soap applied to the sponge and rubbed vigorously all over the body
    3) a glorious rinsing of the suds with the pressurized plant sprayer.
    4) a good rub down with a dry towel
    5) sit back, pour yourself a treat, and feel like a million bucks!


    There is beauty and a degree of pride when simplicity is at the top of the list.




    Cheers!


    Peter
    Do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,now!
    J.Lennon

    This boat was built with ten thumbs.No fingers were harmed in anyway.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I only coastal cruise - rarely longer than 2 weeks, in 1951 H28. Diesel engine, alcohol stove, portable cooler for icebox, SS bucket for sink, CHead compost toilet, oil running lights and cabin light, water tank with foot pump, taffrail log, handheld GPS, compass, sextant, lead line, sheet to tiller self-steering. As electric gadgets have stopped working or become unreliable, I've learned to use the pre-electric equivalent instead of chasing the electrical problems. I'm very happy "low-tech", but am undecided on level of complexity on next, bigger boat and extended cruises. I'm interested to hear what other wooden boat folks are doing. I have to confess to rafting up to boats with cold beer and AC on hot afternoons.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    There is tech for tech's sake, and tech for improving your situation. I may be the only one in my social group without a smart phone. People keep telling me how great they are and how it will change my life. I don't really have much in my life that a smart phone will improve and I like my life, so changing it, especially if it costs me money every month, is not something I am interested in doing. Some people like camping in tents and others want RVs. There is pride to be had in simplicity.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Well, there's simple and then there's simple. I've found more and more for myself lately that I get greater satisfaction per minute on the water in a frickin' rowboat, for crying out loud.

    I'm getting closer and closer to selling off all the rest of my boats and sticking with Rowan and at most two or three kayaks.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Peter uses the method - plastic pump up little sprayer like you use for aphids. On mine the pump died so I tapped in a bicycle valve and use one of those foot operated pumps to get the pressure nice. I don't bother with a sponge since I can fully shower in about a gallon of water. I took the spray nozel off so it's a straight flow. This rig is also galley hot water, deck shower, or whatever.

    I've had propane and diesel stoves, each with advantages and disadvantages. My perfect boat would have a big Dickinsen gravity feed diesel with hotwater loop. This would be cooking and heating in the winter. For summer, I'd use a two burner countertop propane. For all seasons a seaswing for coffee. Propane stoves can't also be heat.

    On Granuaile I plumbed the hotwater loop to a cleaned out brass old time fire extinguisher - the sort you stand upsidedown to activate. It was not insulated so as water in the tank cooled it went back down to the stove, got reheated, and convection brought it back up. I figured since part of what we were doing was heating the cabin, some heat loss was fine as that extinguisher tank brought heat into the head. The tank had a tap at the bottom to fill the pump-up and easily opened at the top to refill it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    When i finally got around to being able to afford a small diesel engine in a bare hull fit out, that changed the reliance on wind generators or solar panels that not always kept batteries topped up. It did allow use of nav lights and continous use of a sound system on top of course being able to keep moving in windless conditions and a left over chop. Water systems similar to above, pressure sprayer. Had a small woodburning stove for heat that could hold a pan on top and a parrafin stove. No built in water tanks, certainly no air con.Nothing i would change though would possibly change to another drip feed diesel heater if cruising in colder climes.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Everyone is different, but one thing is certain....... When you build a new boat you must design in and install the services for every system possible. Every electric cable, every plumbing run, every tank space , every structural reinforcement for every piece of equipment that may be needed in future.

    this is done because your idea of sailing may be different from the next buyer of your boat. If provisions were not made in the design and build phase , adding these system may be so expensive that your boat becomes worthless

  11. #11
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    This pump up solar shower at $40 from Duckworths - is the ducks nuts. Based on a story I read on a cursing blog, I imported one into New Zealand ($50 freight ……) but it works so well it was worth it. I lash it on deck during the day & being black it helps the water perfectly. The secret is the shower head, this one has great pressure & flow but uses so little water. Details & photos below.

    Cheers Alan

    http://www.duckworksbbs.com/gear/shower/index.htm
    "Old boats are like teenage girlfriends: there is a certain urgency to their needs & one neglects them at one's peril"


  12. #12
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    @Slug, your point is valid only if the purchaser of your stripped out "basic cruiser" wants all the bells and whistles, in which case your simple boat should not even make it on his short list. The fact that you have such a basic fit out means cheaper to build and so re-sale is a lot cheaper too; some folks like a boat that has strong hull and deck with minimal systems and that in itself can bring a lot of interest. Take an average 20 year old cruising boat, and most of the systems onboard are going top have to be ripped out and replaced at great cost, the boat with no major built in fancy stuff is easier to inspect,more time will have been given on the maintanence rather than fixing broken "luxuries". I have met cruisers who will not sail without a functioning ice maker,washing machine and air con, but these boats tend to become dockside homes rather than cruising homes.  To each their own of course. My chief concern is a dry bunk and i would pass on a fancy real teak deck for dynel covered plywood to get it.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I recently installed an autopilot...a typical upgrade.

    the installation cost more than the autopilot.

    if the builder had anticipated an autopilot by creating cable runs and space , structure for the autopilot actuator mount , the instalation would have been cheap

    all system upgrades are like this..failure to anticipate future upgrades is a costly mistake and the signature of a poorly built boat

    cable runs, plumbing runs , reinforcements , space allocated for additional equipment like service batteries.....cost nothing when done at the biuld phase.

    you may prefer to sail without electric refrigeration but if the next owner wants it and asks me to chop up his boat to fit a compressor , tears will stream down his face when he recives my bill.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I think i may have found the one that trumps all for simplicity ;

    No standing rigging , no motor.
    One halyard.
    One sheet (sans purchase)
    I posted a brief post on my blog on this and the original image and many more can be found here; http://saveirodabahia.blogspot.com/


    http://tangvald.blogspot.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Two halyards. Three sheets. Very cool foot to the sail.

    These are like catboats - the apparant simplicity masks remarkable sophistication in how you actually trim and handle. There's an amazing degree of sail shape control in a rig like this.

    There could even be some subtleties to which way to stick the mast in to take advantage of vortecies from the crooks in the mast. Well . . .

  16. #16
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Yes. Two jib sheets as well. It's not entirely clear if there is a halyard on the jib. I assume a block goes up with the mainsail for the jib.
    I meant the mainsail has one halyard and one sheet.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by slug View Post
    you may prefer to sail without electric refrigeration but if the next owner wants it and asks me to chop up his boat to fit a compressor , tears will stream down his face when he recives my bill.
    Well, but what if you're building the boat for yourself rather than for the next owner? That's what I generally like to do.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Tcubed View Post
    I think i may have found the one that trumps all for simplicity ;
    Maybe not quite the simplest. How's this: one halyard, one sheet (sans purchase), no standing rigging, no motor, standing headroom throughout (except for stowage locker), cruising speed for long passages 65+ mph, total cost ca. $300 (including duct tape repair to sail):



    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 01-08-2014 at 10:56 AM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  19. #19
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    Default

    I just purchased a small Elco with bare bones & everyone keeps trying to talk me into fancy things.

    I'm sticking with my pump sinks & icebox. I even have a manual bilge pump (it's this long stick near the helm that you pump manually).

    My only contention is with my head which I want to get rid of, but the yard tells me I need it. It has a foot pump & tank, so I'll keep it for the season but am considering the compost toilet...

    My stove is propane but I've been considering a coal burning hibachi over the bow or stern. Perhaps n the galley, a crockpot & electric burners. Again, I'll go through this summer to test what I have, but I'll downsize if I don't like how things function.

    I was considering oil lamps, but good to see others disagree with that. I'll keep my electric lights.

    I have a single diesel engine but a friend pointed out that he prefers twin engines, just in case one goes out so he never gets stranded...???

    What type of marine heater do you have? I'm interested in that...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple


  21. #21
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Simple for me is when you can carry enough spare parts to effect repairs as required; the knowledge must be carried in your head so for me simplicity is paramount. The Dickenson galley range will provide heat, cooking and hot water for ten months around here, although a hotplate for quick tea or soup is handy. Wih the philosophy of “never leave wind to find wind” Bob, I would use your range and heater until they no longer don’t.

    Put me in the “a bit later” stage. How do you heat your water? / Jim

  22. #22
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I will keep the stove and heater so long as they work, which may well be for a long time.

    I may not have made clear that I have pressure water. I also have a water heater, 5 gallons. It heats from shore power or from the engine when you're running. When we get to anchor, the water is very, very hot. Interestingly, it will still be noticeably warm the following morning. If I were staying at anchor for a couple of days, I would heat water on the propane cook stove.

    We currently have a plastic bug sprayer, but it's flimsy at best. We will be buying a metal pressure sprayer from Zodi


    The plan is to us a catch basin (maybe a blow up kiddie pool) and hang a shower curtain in the separate aft cabin and use it for showering
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  23. #23
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Been away for a couple of days and unable to contribute....I think this question is very subjective, depending on where and how you like your cruising. For me Whimbrel comes pretty close to my ideal. Simple rig, simple engine (for almost emergency use...it really does not get a lot of hours in a year), and very simple electrics, (basically a 12 volt deep cycle battery, and a few lights, and a VHF radio), plus oil lamps and candles, Sea Swing single burner propane for most cooking. I have heat in the form of a Tiny Tot solid fuel stove, I use the boat year round, though I'll admit this year there has been some anchor cruising, where I spend time, often the night, without actually getting under-weigh.

    When I was living aboard I certainly had and used more stuff, and in that context it was fine.

    On the other hand when I was still in Ontario I was mainly kayak and canoe cruising. Were I to sell Whimbrel, I'd probably move more along the lines of James McM rather than moving up.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Cruising for some is said to be "technical repairs in exotic places". That being said, I have had fun with figuring technical repairs with substitute bits in an exotic place; the fun being finding places and meeting people, and discussing the technical aspects with a language barrier to help. I think it's ok when your technical thing isn't actually essential to your plan for the boat to work in the most basic manner - e.g. an electric winch without any windlass option, or an electric complex autopilot on a one man boat that doesn't track without it.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I generally like to keep things as simple as possible to do the job and keep them working.

    I also like having equivalent backup systems for everything, e.g Engel cooler/icebox, engine/sails, alternator/solar panels, and so on.

    As for a head I installed a Lavac. It is simpler and more reliable than any number of sub $200 heads that are readily available. I'd give some thought to the question of whether a head or portapotty. I read that in Ontario portapotties are banned. In Alabama one's head has to be inspected each year to make sure it doesn't discharge overboard. Each September I get this inspection done and put a sticker on the boat next to the registration stickers.
    Will

  26. #26
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I ran across this thread when doing an unrelated search. Interesting to read my thoughts from 7 years ago and consider what has changed since then.

    We did get the Zodi shower, a pressurized metal bottle with a pump. It was had little use. Turns out showering on a weekend/vacation boat is not as much of an issue as I thought it would be.

    The forced air diesel heater died and it was so old there were no parts available. I thought about replacing the propane cookstove with a Dickinson diesel stove, but realized that i would have a propane stove for heating coffee in the summer in any event. I kept the stove and put in a Cubic Mini woodstove to heat the main cabin. It burns little wood and a five gallon bucket of wood scraps and recycled lumber lasts a surprising length of time.

    I got tired of a cooler with ice on deck and replaced the dead fridge with a new one. It uses little juice and is very convenient.

    I thought about replacing the auto pilot that died soon after I bought the boat, but haven't done so and don't really miss having one.

    The boat came with a stern thruster. I disconnected it many years ago when replacing a water tank. Haven't hooked it up and don't miss it.

    So there's the update
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  27. #27
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    How simple do you want to go?
    IMG_1640.jpg

  28. #28
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Been there, done that. Too old now to do it again
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  29. #29
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Yeah...my wife wouldn't buy off on it, either. This was a bunch of kids at the PTWBF several years ago.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Actually, thats not such a bad idea. Looks like there is plenty of room to pitch a 3-man dome tent on the deck to keep out the spray and rain, plenty of available fire wood to stay warm, and if the whole thing sinks, just go chop down some more trees, steal some pallets from behind walmart or lowes, and all you need to find then is some rope and a bed sheet!
    Seriously though, I admire the spirit of those kids. How far did they sail with that raft?
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh MacD View Post
    Looks wet...

  32. #32
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee.007 View Post
    Actually, thats not such a bad idea. Looks like there is plenty of room to pitch a 3-man dome tent on the deck to keep out the spray and rain, plenty of available fire wood to stay warm, and if the whole thing sinks, just go chop down some more trees, steal some pallets from behind walmart or lowes, and all you need to find then is some rope and a bed sheet!
    Seriously though, I admire the spirit of those kids. How far did they sail with that raft?
    I never got to see it underway but while you can't see it there is a 5 horse outboard behind the "seat" (stump). My understanding was the kids slept on deck in their bags when they couldn't cadge a berth in another boat. I had to admire their sense of adventure and it really was one of my favorite boats that year

  33. #33
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    You could hire a simple sailing cruiser on the Norfolk Broads,, gas cooker and LED lights(they have modernised a bit), pump out toilets (they have grandfathers rights), most have no motor and those that do have electric..

    2 Berth Hustler Class Hunter's Yard
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  34. #34
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I like hot and cold pressure water. I'm going into my third season with my new old boat. It came without an autohelm and I thought it would be my first, if not one of my first purchases. Not so much...she tracks real well after about five, ten minutes of fiddling with the trim and the wheel lock and frankly it's made me be not so lazy about sailing her well.

    I am putting in a new hot water heater this spring cuz the mrs. is not a fan of the sun shower. I like the sun shower...

    Other than that, I'm not big on bells and whistles and froo-froo. Keep it simple. Keep spare parts handy. Ice works fine if you plan it right and the second cooler is just for drinks so the icebox stays closed most of the time.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    15 years living aboard in the Caribbean, never had a fridge or an ice box.
    Still use a bucket.
    Our sink graywater goes into a 5 gallon bucket under the sink.
    All sweet water is in 5 gallon jugs...no water tanks,no pump.
    No watermaker ,no windmill,no outboard .
    Cruising remains simple for us.
    Of course, in the USA or Europe these things may not fly.
    Is it gentrification ,over regulation, advertizing hype , laziness ?
    Folks confuse simple with easy. They are different things.
    Having a simple boat is now a zen thing.

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