Broughtons 2018 videos

I’ve been puttering about with all the video I shot this spring during our cruise up to the Broughtons and finally got around to finishing it. Overall I’d give the effort about a 75% …there are few weird video blips and some of the narration is just plain mumbley, but at least it’s done.

It was a great trip and we saw tons of humpbacks and porpoises — and I even got some good footage for once. I especially enjoy getting to share it with my brother—it’s always special to revisit something through someone else’s eyes.

And Matt, if you are still reading, check out the shoutout to Gudgeon in video 3 starting around the 6:45 mark. It will make you glad you finally got a windlass 🙂

 

 

 
—Bruce #Cruising

Tracking Never for Ever with Farkwar

Before I get started

If you read my previous post about adding KMLs and posting tracks website be sure to go back and check out the new addendum. A comment someone posted made me realize I could eliminate a lot of hassle in the middle bits by using Google Earth as an editor.

***

Where are we?

I’d been looking for a way to track my position and share it with friends and family in as close to real time as possible. Again it is something I could do by buying something like a Garmin INReach and paying for a subscription, but I just can’t justify the cost. I came across Farkwar because a bunch of other boat blogs I follow used it (Denali Rose and Little Cunning Plan). It’s a personal project by a cruiser/programmer and is available for free (unless you feel motivated to donate something).

Farkwar was designed to work with things like inReach or Iridium Go but also accepts input from a simple web interface or by email. The designer set it up to automatically parse position footers from emails coming from the popular Airmail/Sailmail program. Simply send an email and it updates your position. Of course this necessitates having the proper linkage etc. between your GPS and mail which I don’t have.

What Farkwar does is take your submitted position reports and post them on a map on it’s website.

It will also share your position on Twitter and (if they can get it working again because FB broke the interface) Facebook. You can also set it to link the position report to current blog posts on your site.

What I do

Once I decided to use Farkwar, I set about figuring out how to use it with the tools at hand. What I needed to do was to send a specifically formatted email to a unique “secret” email (which Farkwar gives you after you sign up). The trick was in getting the formatting right since it is parsed by a computer and doesn’t like stray commas or spaces. Once I got eh format figured out I saved it as a master file.

This is my saved default email:

We are currently tied up at our slip in Nanaimo.
–––––
At 28/06/2018 10:15 (pdt) our position was 49°11.3095?N,123°56.8367?W
Destination: finished trip

I use an iPhone. So I save the above email in Notes and just reuse it whenever I want to report. I did have a problem at one point when the iPhone helpfully changed the 5 dashes to one long line and the emails stopped working until I figured it out.

There are 4 main parts:

  1. The body of the report. I don’t know if there is a character limit, but I haven’t run into one. You can put as little or as much as you want in the report.
  2. 5 dashes indicate the end of the report body and the start of the position report.
  3. Time and position. There are several formats of lat and long that will be accepted and it depends where you get that data from.
  4. Destination. I usually just change this for bigger destinations like Desolation Sound or the Broughtons. This is mostly because I use Farkwar as part of my Float Plan.

How I do it

Step one: Open My GPS Coordinates on my iPhone. This is a free app that instantly gives me my lat and long in a mostly correct format. After I’ve opened the app I just hit the wheel in the upper right and hit Copy Coordinates.

Step two: Open Notes and find my Farkwar template.

Step three: Select the old GPS coords and then paste the new ones over top. At this point I need to fix the format because My GPS Coordinates puts spaces between the degrees and the minutes as well as between the minutes and the direction (N or W). Simply delete the 4 errant spaces

Step four: Edit the date and time and add a brief note about what we are doing.

Step five: send the note as an email to your secret Farkwar address and you are done.

This info is updated on the Farkwar map and sent out as a tweet (and hopefully some day once again posted to your Facebook feed).

Embed the Map

I have the map embedded on my float plan page. If you ever want to see where we are, then check there. I try to update it every day we are aboard. If I don’t have cell service I send it anyway and it will update when the phone connects.

To embed the map simply add an iframe to your website with this code: <iframe > src="http://farkwar.com/boats/<boat name>.map" height="500px" width="100%"> </iframe>

Other Bells & Whistles

You can also manually add positions using the web interface. If you add your website it will associate blog posts with position reports.

Farkwar also allows you to follow other boaters and get email notices, and also to form fleets of other boats that you might want to track. All in all a great little tool at a great price.

 
—Bruce #Cruising

Posting My Tracks on the Site

With an old Raymarine e80 and no real excuse to invest in a Garmin InReach or a Spot satellite tracker, it has always been a challenge to get tracks of our trips in a format I can share. And I like to share. I have previously documented my boat tracking attempts on my personal blog (here and here) but I don’t think I ever summarized the Google Maps procedure I now use. It’s a lot of work and very convoluted, but I do find going through it is a good way to summarize the trips in my head after I get back home and I always get some enjoyment from bending technology to my will 🙂 Your mileage may vary.

Recording the Tracks

While crusing we start a new track each day using Navionics on the iPad. It’s a first gen and is occasionally cranky, but it lives below plugged in to the usb charger and is generally happy enough to do this one simple job. It also syncs the tracks via wifi to my much more modern iPhone 7, so I can work with them later from both places.

iPad: Navionics v4.7.2 (this is an ancient iPhone version)
iPhone: Navionics US & Canada v11.1

Then when we get home (or I have some leisure time to screw around with computers) I start working on consolidating the tracks and posting them online.

The Procedure

1 — The first job is to get the pesky KMLs in the first place. Right now the easiest way is to email them from the app to myself. Here’s what that looks like:

iPad version of the email

 

iPhone version of the email

 

The iPad gives me an attachment with the KMZ (which is essentially a KML embedded with graphics etc.). The iPhone version gives me a link to download the KML, which adds another step. Recently the KMZ files have started to be rejected by Google Maps, so while I find the attachment handier to work with , it looks like I am going to be stuck with using the link to the KMLs unless I want to dig the embedded KMLS out of the KMZs.

I really wish there was an easier way. But all the other options (DropBox etc.) just save the graphic and not the link. I have also used the Save to Notes option (btw this is all done on a Mac—no idea how it works on a PC…sorry) which is a bit faster and gives the exact same info as the email but for some reason the links are not clickable and just makes for a few more steps.

2 — So after sending myself a gazillion emails, I click the link to download each KML in turn and organize them in a folder. At this point I generally pause to make a small spreadsheet with departure and arrival points  as well as dates and times, so I can keep it straight and later include that info in a blog post.

3 — Next I can either upload them all, separately, to Google maps or take the time to edit the text files and string them all together. If I edit the files (more about that in a minute), it is much quicker to upload but then they all run together negating the ability to keep the days separate. If I don’t edit them together I will have to go into Google maps and start merging layers as Google maps has a limit of 10 layers it will allow you to create.

To merge files…

KMLs are just text files, in fact they are just xml files. You can open them in any text editor and muck around as much as you want. Open up the files and look for the section that contains the coordinates. You can then cut and paste these coordinates from multiple files into one master file to create one long track.

To upload, go to maps.google.com and sign in to your Google account (you need a Google account, obviously, to do this). Click on Your Places in the sidebar, then MAPS and hit Create Map. Or you can also go straight to mymaps.google.com and hit +Create a New Map.

4 — Hit Untitled Map and an edit box will pop up so you can change the name of the map and add a description if you so choose.

5 — Under Untitled Layer, click Import and select the KML file or drag it into the pop-up window. Don’t bother changing the title yet.

What should appear is an error message, a Start and End icon and the track itself. The error message can be cleared (not necessary if you don’t want to) by clicking on Open Data Table and then right clicking on the first row where it says Navionics. Simply delete the row and close the window.

Oops

At this point in writing this post I ran into a snag. It didn’t work. MyMaps kept kicking out an error that said: An error occurred. You may continue to use the application but any change that you make may be lost. Reload page.

After a few days of experimenting and fussing I finally went through a line-by-line comparison with a few older KMLs that did work and one of the many files that didn’t (some that I know for a fact used to). And in the end I found the issue.

In the section marked <IconStyle> (around line 22) Navionics supplies two https addresses: one each for its start and stop icons. Google doesn’t like them anymore. If you replace al link like “https://social-sharing.navionics.io/images/fb_sharing/kmz_end_icon.png” with “kmz_end_icon.png” for both the start and stop icons then voila…it works.

Boy, this just keeps getting more and more complicated.

Then click Add Layer and repeat this step 9 more times, creating new layers for each new KML.

6 — At this point you will have to merge some layers. It’s another finicky job. You have to drag the three elements (Start, End Track) up to a master layer to consolidate them — I usually do this by weeks although this limits you to 10 weeks per map. I rename the tracks by Day # to keep track and occasionally change the colour of the tracks for visual organization.

Once a layer is emptied then delete it, create a new layer and start the import process all over.

Repeat as necessary until all your tracks are uploaded and organized.

7 — Now you need to make it public. Click Share (beside the Add Layer button) and under Who has Access change Private to ON — Public on the web. Hit Save and then Done.

8 — Click on the three vertical dots at the top  (on the right hand side across from the map name) and select Embed on my site. This will give you some iframe code that you can paste into your website, which embeds the map. The default is width=”640″ and height=”480″. This is the box size in pixels and you can change it to suit your needs. There are other options you can work with like setting the Default View (what the map looks like when someone first sees it. If you wish to use some thing like Google’s terrain map or the satellite view just click on Base Map at the bottom of the layers and select your favourite.

In conclusion

And, after all that, I almost always post a screen capture image of the complete map just in case Google ever decides to boot me off its system.

So. Is it worth the effort? I think so. But that may be because I like mucking around with computers. If you don’t, you might be better off coughing up for something like a Garmin and using their built-in system or just sharing your tracks as static images using the  email function I mentioned above. Navionics will also share to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And then there’s always the idea of a fancy new wifi enable chartplotter…

Stay tuned and I will do a follow-up post (much shorter, thank goodness) on how I am using Farkwar for daily position updates.

Addendum

Thanks to a comment below made by Patrick of SV Violet Hour, I tried something a bit different. It seems I can use Google Earth to organize all my files into one big layer, then export it as a single KML file and which I then import as a master file into MyMaps.

Using Google Earth offers a ton of advantages:

  • Drag and drop import of files
  • Will take KMLs or KMZs
  • It doesn’t hiccup over the start icons
  • The actual reorganizing of layers isn’t as fussy. MY Maps web interface often makes it hard to drag and drop elements within the layers

All in all a way faster and less frustrating way to do things. Just goes to show there is always an easier way when it comes to computer stuff.

Spring 2018 Round Up

Well our spring 2018 cruise is done. We went a bit later this year due to time commitments but since we were headed north to the Broughtons it was still a pretty uncrowded affair. We only had three and a half weeks, but we were determined to make the sojourn north again. In retrospect it was a bit rushed (especially as we had a timetable involving picking my brother up in Port McNeill) and I am not sure I would do it again with that little  time — then again I am such a fan of the Broughtons I probably would. It just a different kind of cruising than we’ve become used to.

Day 1: 24.5 nm (Lasqueti Island*)
Day 2:  58.5 nm (Gowlland Harbour*)
Day 3 : 27.5 nm (Blind Channel)
Day 4: 38.25 nm (Port Harvey)
Day 5: 23.5 nm (Mound Island*)
Day 6: 0 nm (Mound Island*)
Day 7: 6.25 nm (Spout Island*)
Day 8: 14 nm (Port McNeill)
Day 9: 0 nm (Alert Bay)
Day 10: 26.25 nm  (Echo Bay)
Day 11: 15.5 nm (Kwatsi Bay)
Day 12: 25.5 nm (Lagoon Cove)
Day 13: 15 nm (Goat Island*)
Day 14: 0 nm (Goat Island*)
Day 15: 21 nm (Port McNeill)
Day 16: 35 nm (Port Harvey)
Day 17: 42.5 nm (Shoal Bay*)
Day 18: 26 nm (Von Donop)
Day 19: 0 nm (Von Donop)
Day 20: 43 nm (Van Anda)
Day 21: 28 nm (Secret Cove)
Day 22: 24 nm (Nanaimo Harbour)
Day 23: 1.5 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 25: 0 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 26: 0 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 27: 0 nm (Off the boat)

Total nautical miles travelled: 495.75 nm (918.12 km)
Time travelling: 92 hrs 50 minutes
New places visited (see asterisks): 6

As you can see we only spent more than one night at an anchorage on 3 occasions — quite the contrast to last year where only twice did we not stay more than one night.

Wildlife spotted

Humpback whales: 12
Pacific White-sided Dolphins: ~100
Deer: 2
Sea cucumbers:  a bunch and 2 different species
Bald Eagles: uncountable
Barn swallows: a passel
Purple Martins: some?
Slugs: multiple!

Spotted for the First Time
Mink: 3
Dall’s Porpoises: ~5
Minke whales: 2
Sea urchins: tons, both green & red
Chitons: various
Violet Green Swallows: 4 or 5

Boat Troubles

This years trip featured more than our usual share of boat-related issues.

  • Electrical weirdness — We raised the sails almost immediate after leaving Nanaimo Harbour b and a few hours later the chartplotter was so dim it was almost unreadable. After we started the engine if brightened back up again. This continued throughout the whole trip. I checked all the connections but didn’t find a solution. (After we returned to dock and properly cleaned all the battery terminals the problem seemed to clear up.)
  • Webasto heater— it ran just fine the  first few times we used it but on the morning it hit 11° C, we just couldn’t get it to fire. It gave us a 3 blink error code for the first half dozen attempts but then it became a 6 blink. After we had access to the web again I discovered that 3 blinks was a low/high voltage error (see point above) and that 6 was a Temperature Sensor Interrupt (which necessitated ordering a new part).
  • Jib Furling — after sailing downwind in 30+ knots, when I rolled the jib in it didn’t wrap around the stay properly and left a little flap of sail that caught the wind. After entering Discovery Passage the winds picked up, caught the flap and started unfurling my sail. This became so bad we had to turn back into the wind and unfurl it and wrestle the sail back in again. What seemed like a straightforward procedure took about half an hour and had me on the foredeck getting pummelled by the jib sheets.
  • Main burner thermocouple — the main burner started cutting out halfway through the morning hot water boiling procedure (much to the dismay of the caffeine starved crew). I cleaned the thermo couple and dismantled the burner to give it a scrub but it was all to no avail. So for the rest of the trip we had to rely on the two small burners which meant cooking was a very time consuming affair. I opted not to have the new thermo couple shipped to me and that turned out to be a good thing because getting the old one out eventually necessitated drilling out old screws and retapping the holes.
  • Lost oar — we lost the bottom part of one of the oars somewhere on Johnstone Straight. It was odd because the conditions weren’t half a s rough as they had been on days previously. I called a head to Port Mc Neill to see if they could order me a new oar and they said they would try. But upon arrival it turns out that oars are such a specialized thing that they couldn’t find one that would fit. So we bought a paddle as a backup and resigned ourselves to more motoring that we usually do.
  • Overturned dinghy — after surviving the 25+ knot winds in Knight iInlet we breathed a sigh of relief and turned up Clio Channel. Unfortunately the winds funnel down Clio even more and soon were gusting in the mid 30s. When they hit 39 knots the dingy became air born and then flipped and landed upside down. I managed to pull it in and right it but our new paddle, the seat and the fuel tank were gone. A few MOB turns later we had recovered the seat and the fuel tank but the paddle was gone.

Brotherly Love

As I mentioned my brother joined us for a week (Port McNeill –> Broughtons –> Port McNeill). North Island Marina let us use their van to pick him up and drop him off at the Port Hardy Airport which is a great service. He hadn’t been on the water since he was a kid so if was a new experience for him. I asked early in the trip if he wanted to be crew or passenger and he opted for passenger. Still he managed to  spend his share for time at the helm and was a great help.

We saw tons of wildlife, hit the high spots of the Broughtons and generally had a great adventure.

In Conclusion

It was a great trip and over much too soon. We managed to meet up with some old friends, connect with some internet acquaintances and make some new friends as well. And we are still eager to do it all over again.

We managed to get back to a few spots we wanted to see again (including Alert Bay) and were blessed once again with a whole pod of dolphins traveling with us for a few miles. The only thing missing was some orca, but given that we saw a mother and calf pair of humpbacks I think we can let that slide.

 

A static version of the map for posterity.


—Bruce #Cruising

Instagram This Week

For all you doubters. This is definitely a whale :-) #humpbackwhale #blackfishsound #pnw #broughtonsFor all you doubters. This is definitely a whale 🙂 #humpbackwhale #blackfishsound #pnw #broughtonsThe fog burns off on our last morning before heading to civilization for supplies and a crew change.The fog burns off on our last morning before heading to civilization for supplies and a crew change.Why yes, it is a happy Fathers Day...Why yes, it is a happy Fathers Day…Chillin’ on an ancient midden beach at the site of Mamalilaculla, an abandoned Kwakiutl villageChillin’ on an ancient midden beach at the site of Mamalilaculla, an abandoned Kwakiutl villageWe had a couple of stowaways yesterday. - #welcome #swallows #birds #beautifulWe had a couple of stowaways yesterday.

#welcome
#swallows #birds #beautifulPorpoises greet us as we enter Kwatsi Bay. <3Porpoises greet us as we enter Kwatsi Bay. <3Echo Bay. Far-away in time. Chillin’ dock-side <3 #broughtonsEcho Bay. Far-away in time. Chillin’ dock-side <3 #broughtonsDoug’s at the helm as we head off to Pierre’s at Echo Bay. No sailing yet :-(Doug’s at the helm as we head off to Pierre’s at Echo Bay. No sailing yet 🙁

Things that make it more comfie

For those of you who charter — if you are anything like we were — you don’t bring much to the boat with you. And, given you aren’t likely to be aboard much beyond 2 weeks, that makes a lot of sense.  But when I was  doing my Turnkey Sailboat inventory, I came across a long list of things that we’ve have added to the boat now that we cruise in longer stints. These days we have a storage unit that has five big blue bins full of stuff that we haul on and off the boat, and most of it goes to making our boat a home again.

We’ve got enough stuff in storage that we keep an inventoried spreadsheet of it all.

Some of it is just things like our own linens, pillows etc. But there  are also the items, big and small, that we’ve discovered help make our shipboard lifestyle familiar and comfortable. So here’s a quick summary of what we add to make our “charter” boat a comfy home for us when we are aboard.

Things that came with the boat

These are a few things we didn’t buy but are oh-so glad to have. We are eternally grateful to the PO for providing them..

  • Rubber base floor mats: There are two of these. They are the ones with foam in them so they a) are comfortable to stand on, b) are insulated and keep our toes warm, and c) are nonskid so add a lot of traction. Easy to clean too — we love them. And they are only thing in this list that stays on board full time.
  • Fleece sheets: I can’t rave about these enough. Not flannel…fleece! When we are off-season cruising these things are so warm that it’s like someone has already heated up the bed for you. The only downside is if you wear pyjamas or nightgowns, you might be strangled by your own garments.

Things we added to the boat

These are all things we added to our boat after we purchased her. Some came aboard right away and others were slowly added based on our experiences. They are in no particular order and most of them aren’t especially earth-shattering game-changers. But there’s only one or two of these things I wouldn’t immediately replace if it was to lost or broken and that is only because we aren’t full time cruisers any more.

  • Cast iron pot: I bake  a lot of bread — no-knead boule to be exact. We picked up a cheap camping cast-iron dutch oven that is the perfect size for the boat.
  • Extra frying pan: I don’t know where I developed the habit, but I am a a two-frying pan guy. Especially when making pizza crusts.

  • Heat diffuser: We picked this doohickey up at a specialty shop in Victoria, thinking it would be good for making toast. It wasn’t. But The Boat Galley taught us it does a crackerjack job of diffusing the flames so simmering is way easier.
  • Solar showers (2): Moderately useful in the off-season (we use a kettle to heat the water when there’s no sun), in summer they make long stays at anchor a lot more enjoyable. And with a hatch above our shower they are convenient to use as well.

  • Folding boat seat: I love mine. Leslie doesn’t use it as much, but my back really likes the idea of regular angles in the otherwise curved confines in our cockpit.
  • Laundry bags: Such a simple idea. Ours are like big cotton sea-bags with a drawstrings that are big enough to put at least some of the folded laundry back into. I have my eye out for some that I will be able to pack all the folded stuff back into.

  • TV table: We decided pretty early on that since we were only two, that we would keep the salon table down in “bed mode” and use it as a lounging area  with pillows and blankets. So we have a medium-sized tv table we take out to eat on. It’s cozy, easy to stow, and saves us raising and lowering the main table.

  • Best Anchorages : Better known as Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage: British Columbia’s South Coast From the Gulf Island to Beyond Cape Caution, 2nd Ed: a great, great, great book for anchoring in the PNW and our go-to guide for deciding on new anchorages.
  • Popcorn popper: The manual kind with a crank you turn. I suppose we could just use a regular pot but we like popcorn and this does it just right. Besides we use it as a big pot to make rice crispy squares…how’s that for justification?
  • Kellet: Our friends gifted us with a kellet as boat-warming present — it is essentially a weight you add to your anchor rode to help keep it lying on the bottom. I have read a lot about them and there are some naysayers about their usefulness. But when we have a lot of rode out (and are off the chain portion) in moderate conditions, the extra weight is comforting and that’s worth something to us.
  • Mini Staub Cassarole: I brought this from home and left it for the boat. It is the perfect size for two, cleans easily and works awesome in the gas oven. And there is nothing like a baked pasta casserole to warm you up after a long day of sailing.

  • Inflatable life jackets: We have a rule and wear life jackets whenever underway. For all their failings, at least using inflatables ensures we do wear them 99% of the time.
  • LED desklight: Our aft cabin has at least six lights in it, none of which are easily accessible when you are actually lying down and reading in bed. So we picked up this cool LED light that runs off both 120v and batteries. It’s perfect!

  • Humidity meter/ thermometer: This little doodad is the ultimate authority on whether we are going to fire up the heater or not. And when we were full time liveaboards it let us know when it was time to open some hatches and get some circulation going…
  • Spinning clothes dryer: You know those ugly, plastic, clothes-hanger things? Well we had this spinning one for years that we never used and wondered what it was really useful for. Turns out it is the perfect size shape in a boat for drying things that can’t go in the dryer. Ours has a clamp rather than a hook so we can hang it in the doorway.
  • Shower squeegee: We shower aboard a lot. And a quick squeegee afterwards ensures they head is clean and dry for the next user. Bonus: it acts as a backup in case the cockpit squeegee for wiping the dodger goes missing!
  • Foil bbq trays: We discovered these late but they are a god send. I love BBQ chicken thighs but the amount of grease and fat that they leave all over my transom is a huge pain. With these foil trays I can do a quick sear on the grill to crust up the skin and then let them roast in the pan for 20 minutes without having to spend an hour cleaning up the next day.
  • Non-slip shelf liner: We lined all of our shelves with this stuff and have a bunch of spare pieces for various uses. It might not be as big a game changer as, well, a catamaran, but at least we can leave things like cameras and binoculars out and be pretty sure they won’t go flying when we heel.
  • Glass candle holders: Last, and probably least, we have a bunch of glass candle holders. If we are cruising when the days are short and the nights are long, we like to have a lot of candles going for light, a bit of extra heat and to save batteries. We find the glass votives handy for holding the candles safely and also to double as  containers for knickknacks, spare change and pens.

Open to Suggestions?

That’s our list, eclectic as it is. I am always looking for the next greatest thing so I spend a lot of time online analyzing other people’s systems — I have found quite a few useful little items that other people consider “necessities” that way. It’s great to see what matters to different people and to find new things to add to the wish list. It is amazing how the smallest things can make such a big difference and equally amazing how we come up with ways to make boating life just that little more homey.

 
—Bruce #Equipment

Cover Story

I’ve made the cover of a national magazine… both cover story and the cover image are from our spring cruise last year. My first national sale. Should be out in the next week or so…

A Turnkey Sailboat

When we bought Never for Ever we had one major requirement: we wanted a turnkey boat — something we could board and sail away for most of year without having to worry about anything major. But it occurs to me now, so many years later, that at the time I had no idea what a “turnkey” boat was. Or what a good deal we actually got. And, it occurs to me after writing the first draft of this post, I never realized just how much we got — so apologies for the length of the post.

In the boat shopping phase I had compiled a list of “wishlist” items that I wanted with the boat. Not so oddly given my inexperience, many of those wishes are still unfulfilled and, as I mentioned in a recent post, priorities change and now I am not so sure just how much I am now willing to invest to acquire them. Check the end of this post if you want to see a selection of some of the more ridiculous ones. But my original wishlist notwithstanding, our intention when we purchased Never for Ever was to cast off and head north, at least to the Broughton’s and further if we were feeling adventurous. We wanted to be able to cruise with no home port for up to 6 months and not have to worry.

And that’s what we got.

I’ve watched a lot of Youtube videos in the last couple of years of people buying their first boats and you know, I have been surprised by the kinds of things boats can come without. And by the kind of work that has to go into some of them — even if they weren’t project boats. Before we bought, and over the years since, I have regularly checked in at YachtWorld and tracked prices, models and ages of sailboats for sale in the PNW. My parameters always change but essentially I look at 36-40 foot boats under $120,000 CDN. But I also keep an eye on boats under $50,000 to see what there is in classic boats that an extra $30,000 of refit would make cruise-worthy. This seems to be more of what the current crop of younger YouTube sailors are doing and their equipment lists vary significantly.

But what we bought was a $120,000 boat that was ready to go. And I want to do a summary of what was on Never for Ever when we got her and maybe rate items on a scale of frivolous to necessary.

Must have’s

There weren’t many items on this list.

  • Reliable engine. We bought an ex-charter boat with 2000+ hours on the Yanmar. I had the opportunity to talk to the original owner and was convinced that it had been maintained and my reading led me to believe a marine diesel is good for up to 5000 hours. And so far it has proven to be true. I am not so worried about engine hours anymore.
  • Solid rigging and sails: turnkey meant we could trust our gear while we were “learning the ropes.” We did spend a bit of money post-purchase on this but we were building on a solid foundation.
  • Canvas. I new I wanted at least a dodger (can you buy a boat in the PNW without one?) and a bimini. One 2 week spring charter to the rainy Broughtons without one was enough to convince me. And as we were staying aboard over the winter, a full enclosure was high on the list. And that’s what we got. I definitely think this was the plus I thought it was going to be. I spend a lot of time in the cockpit and we sail a lot in the shoulder seasons. Just the side panels cutting the cold wind paid for itself many times over.
  • Windlass. Actually I had no idea that so many boats were sold without a windlass or with manual ones. But given our two handed crew system, I definitely think it is an addition well worth having.

These side panels turned out to be our favourite bit of canvas.

Wanted

Some things I knew I wanted:

  • Chain rode: 110 feet (120 feet now) of chain and another 300 feet of rope rode have made a lot of our anchorages comfortable and worry-fre.
  • Outboard (and RIB): we got a nice 8 hp Yamaha that is just enough to get the two of us and our gear up on plane in our West Marine RIB. While I think we could do without the planing, it has made some of our explorations a lot more feasible. Now we occasionally get frustrated when there is a third person and can’t get up on plane. And the RIB? I would never get a non-rigid bottom—I have put enough holes in the pontoons as it is.
  • Webasto hydronic heater: I love it. But would I fork out the $$ to buy such a cantankerous piece of equipment? I don’t know. There are a lot of other heating options that might make more economic sense.
  • Robust autopilot: we got a tough chain driven autopilot and I love it. We have cruised without an autopilot and long days get much longer if you are always at the wheel (especially without an enclosure). And I have seen enough flimsier autopilots to make me appreciate how robust ours is.
  • A good house bank: we have 450 amp/hours of batteries. I knew we wanted to avoid the expense of marinas as much as possible. Our bank gives us 4 days at anchor without having to fire up the engine. These days I think this really is more of a “must have” than a “wanted.”
  • Midship cleats: such a small thing. But we have chartered boats with just the two of us and that middle cleat makes docking in difficult circumstances so much easier. Something I would immediately add to any boat.
  • RAM mic: a remote, helm-mounted mic for the VHS really is a necessity if you are cruising busy waters. The ability to communicate with other traffic, contacting crowded marinas or even listening to the Coast Guard from the cockpit just makes cruising a whole lot safer in my opinion.

I really appreciate having the remote VHF mic.

This is our new chain. But we got 3 years out of the old one.

The outboard and the handy Forespar crane.

Wanted Now

And there were some things Never for Ever came with that I hadn’t realized I wanted. I have subsequently seen a ton of boats that were sold without these “necessities” but they are things I personally would add almost immediately.

  • Charger/inverter: she came with a Magnum with a remote screen — I love this thing. A 2300 watt inverter (that we rarely use but is nice to have) combined with high tech charging system for maintaining our batteries. We later added the BMK (Battery Monitor Kit) and it has made life on anchor so much less stressful.
  • Cockpit cushions: I didn’t realize how much time I would spend in the cockpit and how quickly these would become a necessity.
  • Closed cell foam: (in the the above cushions) it means we can leave them out and have a reasonable expectation they will be dry without having to have them dry in the sun for hours.
  • High density foam mattress topper: our aft cabin was one of the reasons we chose the Hunter and the 3 inch memory foam topper was icing on the cake. It’s certainly something I would look into adding to any boat I was spending a lot of time on.
  • Radar: I know, I know, but who would have thought there was so much fog on the West Coast? <head smack>
  • Racor: it never occurred to me boats would be sold without a secondary fuel filter. Seeing the problems some of our boating buddies had fuel-wise I wouldn’t leave the dock without one.
  • Screens for all hatches: well maybe all was an unnecessary bonus, but having some opening ports with screens really is a necessity.
  • LED lights: Never for Ever came with 4, at least one in each space except the aft cabin and we quickly remedied that. Incandescents are a huge power hog and, despite the price of LEDs, if you are spending any time on anchor, they are worth the cost.
  • Rail mounted bbq: I didn’t realize this was a necessity but it really, really is.

Seems it can get foggy here sometimes 🙂

We have a battery monitor now!

The bbq gets used more than the stove.

Bonuses

And here a few things, big and small, that we got on Never for Ever that have made life a lot easier, but I don’t think I would include them as “must haves” when boat shopping or outfitting.

  • AIS receiver: when I finally got the Standard Horizon VHS hooked up to the chartplotter, it was great to be able to track AIS targets…just added a level of safety.
  • Handheld vhf: the boat came with one and it sure is handy when we are off exploring in the dinghy.
  • Campbell Sailor 3 blade prop: I am not experienced enough to  know just how much benefit we get from this, but I will say the boat backs well and the prop gets lots of good reviews online.
  • Autopilot remote: until it stopped functioning one day I never realized how much we used it. It’s nice to be able to huddle under the dodger and still be able to dodge logs etc.
  • Boat manual: as an ex-charter boat she came with a manual that listed all the common systems and instructions for use. Not a necessity in any way, bit it helped us get up to speed quickly in those first few weeks.
  • Forespar Outboard Crane: almost a necessity with the 8hp motor and it makes it really convenient for the two of us to get the engine on and off the dinghy.
  • Backup Fortress anchor kit: we’ve never used it but this little kit with anchor, rode and convenient carrying bag is a nice addition to our tackle.
  • 5 fenders, extra docking lines: who knew how much this stuff costs? You can always use them and it’s nice they came with the boat.
  • Brass barometer: we love to track the changes and see how they relate to the actual weather.
  • 4 speakers: what can I say, we like music.
  • 2 sets of drinking-safe hoses: self explanatory and great to have at some marinas where hose bibs are few and far between.
  • 4 life jackets: spares we don’t use but makes having guests easier.
  • 200′ of stern line: in the PNW? Without one you are limiting your anchorage choices.

Our shiny prop.

I was so happy the day I got the remote working again.

When it’s busy, you end up stern-tying a lot.

Hunter 386 Brochure

I dug up the original sales material for the 2003 Hunter 386. Here are a few of the “optional items” that Never for Ever came with from the factory:

  • Aluminum Boom Vang: I am not sure what the standard option would have been?
  • Electric Anchor Windlass: see above
  • Inmast furling: I’ve not seen a 386 without this option, but maybe they did make a few.
  • Inner-Spring Mattress: this is a not option.
  • Refrigerator/Freezer (as opposed to an icebox)

A Great Deal

So, quite the list eh? I really didn’t realize how well equipped a boat we got until I started working on this list. I have not seen a lot of boats for sale that didn’t include at least a few of the above, but I have seen an awful lot that that didn’t weren’t equipped with most.

Comfy and dry and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

Not Wanted on This Voyage

I will finish off with some of the things that were on my original boat-hunting checklist that didn’t make the cut. I am not saying that I wouldn’t want (or need) them if we were cruising in different waters  but for now they have become extravagances I mistakenly  thought I would need.

  • Fitted sheets (And we didn’t even sleep in the v-berth!)
  • Hammock (Really? This was on my wishlist?)
  • Watermaker (In the Salish Sea? Because freshwater is so  scarce?)
  • Drinking water filtration system (see above)
  • Generator (Still dreaming, but such a luxury)
  • Solar panels (Still, still dreaming… I think…)
  • 100 amp alternator (Sell, not the worst idea but oh, the expense.)
  • Wifi booster (because I wanted to stay connected? Sheesh.)
  • Davits (I think I was in a lazy phase)
  • Code zero (Sail envy is a thing!)
  • Fender socks (Because they look tidier?)
  • AIS transponder (Oooh, an electronic toy!)
  • Folding wheel (What was I thinking? Oh right, that crowded cockpit on the Bavaria 33 we chartered…)

—Bruce #Equipment