KEEP IT SIMPLE
If I had to come up with a single piece of advice to newcomers about
cruising yachts, I would say, "Keep it simple."
If you want to be a world cruiser, "complicated" is not good.
Everything on your yacht that is difficult to maintain and fix
distracts you from the heart and soul of what cruising is all
You can tell when you have a simple yacht, because it's affordable
and relatively easy to maintain.
One of the things I liked about Exit Only was that I didn't need
to be a billionaire to make an eleven year trip around the world, because
Exit Only was affordable.
During those eleven years, I had problems with the autopilot only twice, and
both times I repaired the problem myself with spares I was
carrying on board. I replaced pieces of 1x17 rigging
developed broken strands at various times during the
circumnavigation. Whenever there was a rigging challenge in
a remote location, I fixed it myself using extra long Stalock terminals.
The Yanmar engines ticked over nearly flawlessly all the way
around the world, requiring only periodic oil changes and
salt water pump impeller
changes. I also had to change
alternator belts frequently until I started using ribbed drive
Systems that lasted the entire eleven year trip included the Raymarine radar, GPS, depth sounder, Power Survivor 80 watermaker,
Kenwood TS-50S ham radio, and Force 10 propane stove along with
the aluminum propane cylinders.
The most complicated system that I used the least during the
circumnavigation was our watermaker. It produced only 3 gallons of water per hour,
and the only time we used it was on passage.
Because we had a simple yacht, we didn't spend large amounts of
time in port waiting for spare parts. When we flew to
the USA for a visit, we picked up needed spares so we could
perform quick repairs in an emergency.
In eleven years, we went through two genoas and two mainsails.
We replaced the genoa because it was stretched out of shape by the
time we arrived in New Zealand after 5000 miles of downwind
sailing. We replaced the mainsail after eleven years because
the fabric was rotten from UV exposure.
Today, the simple yacht has been replaced by
floating condominiums. Nearly every shore side convenience
has found it's way on board. Cruising is less like camping
and more like staying at the Hilton. There's nothing wrong
with transforming your yacht into a floating condominium with all
the conveniences of home, as long as you understand that it won't
take long for those conveniences to become a millstone around your
neck when you need to repair them in some remote corner of the
world. It's only a matter of time before those conveniences
become inconvenient and deplete your cruising funds as well.
Joshua Slocum said, "You must know the sea, and know that you know
it, and know that it was meant to be sailed upon." This
statement reminds me that sailing is about the sea, and
interacting with the sea in a seaworthy vessel. It's not
about trying to replicate my shore side existence on board a
yacht. When my yacht starts looking like a floating
condominium, maybe it's time to move ashore where all those
conveniences make more sense.
Exit Only is a simple yacht, and I intend to keep her that way,
because simple works for me. Simple is good.
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