I got an email from a reader with the following questions about living and working aboard. I thought I would post my email response here in Q&A format to help any other readers that may have similar questions:
Question: What’s been your experience trying to work while living about your boat? Have you had significant issues with connectivity or power while cruising nearshore? Do you end up spending most of your workdays docked in marinas or are you able to anchor out and still effectively communicate with the outside world? How about sharing a space, even with separate cabins, with someone else trying to do their thing? Would having to listen to another person’s phone or video calls end up driving your shipmate nuts?
There are two fascinating difference between our prior boat, the Sabre 42 (and most similar coastal cruisers) and our current Hylas 54 from the standpoint of automatic bilge pumps. The first big difference: on our Sabre, a variety of sources would cause the (single) automatic bilge pump to run regularly quite apart from any leaks that would be alarming to the crew or a threat to the vessel. For example, rainwater would run down the center of the mast into the bilge which could cause the bilge pump to run periodically during rainy periods. Also, the Sabre’s air conditioning and refrigeration drained condensate directly to the bilge (neither of which were particularly desirable) which would trigger automated draining of the bilge by the pump. Whatever the cause, while aboard we regularly would hear the bilge pump run and therefore had an awareness that that the bilge pump worked.
I just stumbled across a terrific blog article in a Facebook thread explaining how and why buyers should carefully inspect the mast steps of the Roger Hewson generation of Sabres. This is article serves as a great companion to the Sabre Sailboat Buyer’s Guide I published some time ago. Check it out here.
YouTube channels can be credited with generating excitement about sailing and bringing people into the sport, but those of us who have lived aboard cruising boats for extended spells know that they also paint an unrealistically rosy picture of what the cruising lifestyle is really about. We also know that in many cases YouTubers set bad examples – for example by choosing to cross the Atlantic in a cruising catamaran dangerously late in the season as a publicity stunt, or filming themselves offshore prancing around on deck on the ocean with no jacklines, let along tethers or PFDs. Continue reading Lessons From a YouTube Casualty→
After the gale passed yesterday, we found the breeze shifting to the west and easing somewhat, blowing around 20 with gusts to the upper 20s. With the right shift we found a terrible problem with swells bending around the northern corner of the island and coming to violently roll us on the beam. Some months ago Brian send me a link to a YouTube video showing how to rig a “swell bridle” for this situation. The technique involves tying a long line to the anchor chain with a rolling hitch, running it aft to the transom, and then easing out the chain enough that effectively you wind up a gigantic bridle that will hold the boat in the direction you choose (based on how much chain you let out from the bow). We decided to try it out, and it worked great! We were able to point the bow straight into the waves and be far more comfortable even though the waves coming off the Sound were so big they actually caused the boat to pound lightly on occasion! Check out the results in these videos:
It’s a terrible joke but I’ll make it again: marine diesel engines always fail at the worst time. From an engineering standpoint, this is a bad joke because there is a perfectly good reason why engines choose rough weather to fail: big seas stir up the asphaltenes or blobs of microbial growth, which then get sucked up into lines and filters. Many boat owners like to blame old, dirty fuel tanks or having “gotten bad fuel” at their last fill up, but the reality is that keeping fuel clean requires constant vigilance even on new boats. The ship’s log our our Hylas 54, Rover, show that she was experiencing engine failures due to clogged fuel filters when she was only a year old. Below is a great a video from Distant Shores TV showing they had the exact same experience on their one year old boat – and, as always, the engine failure occurred in an choppy inlet, which is when they always do. If you watch the video all the way through you will see that a terrible design flaw in Southerly’s fuel plumbing directly contributed their failure too.
Don’t you hate it when you want to add a dockline to one corner of your boat, but the nearest piling is 15 feet away and much too tall to throw a line over it? On our Hylas 54 we found the prior owners had rigged heaving lines to solve the problem. Heaving lines are relatively light and small, but long lines with a weight on one end. Here’s what ours look like:
For more backgound on this post, see this post and this post. In summary, the fresh water tanks on a boat can get pretty disgusting inside if they aren’t managed carefully. We cleaned the water tanks on our Hylas soon after we bought her and it was a big job that I’d prefer not to have to do regularly. As such, I needed a means of draining the very last bits of water out of each tank once they were “empty” (but not really empty, because the pump pickups are high enough from the bottom of the tank that small amounts of water remain in each tank, then go rancid and start growing small swamp monsters). Continue reading Keeping Water Tanks Clean: Part III→
As I predicted, bottom of the aft 50 gallon tank on Rover, which is located under the aft cabin berth, was by a considerable margin the most disgusting because the tank was likely the most seldom used by her prior owners.
Editor’s note: these photos are pretty gross so viewer discretion is advised before scrolling down.