Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Celestial Navigation: Sight Reduction

work in progress...
I need some good days for photographing the sextant work.
9 May 2019, sunny but I had a conflict.

The Nautical Almanac is the one book required for sight reduction by hand.  The single volume Nautical Almanac is required when using other tables such as HO 211 or HO 249. Since the Almanac includes a set of tables and the useful forms required for sight reduction, no other books are required.

An excellent tutorial is available on YouTube here:

Let's look at the NAO Concise Sight Reduction Form. In the 2019 Nautical Almanac, it is on page 319.

The instructions for using the pro-forma are found on pages 277 through 285.

The first two things a navigator needs are time and angle.  See my notes on that in an earlier post.  Once the time and altitude are captured, the calculation using the Almanac is not too complex.

Step 1.   please wait.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Celestial Navigation: Altitude and Time

Work in progress....

The starting point for a celestial sight includes two things:  Time in GMT/UTC and Sun Altitude/Angle by sextant measured in degrees and seconds and minutes.

Time:  A simple way to get GMT is

Local time is a function of your Longitude:  The sun moves 15 degrees of arc every hour. At W070 deg Long the local time is 70/15=4.66 or 4 hours and 0.66 of an hour after Noon in Greenwich, England. The decimal converts to minutes this way: 60x0.66=39.6

Local noon at W070 is 4 hr 39.6 min after noon at the Greenwich Meridian. This will become important later when doing the noon Latitude observation.  Time = Greenwich Mean Time or the modern equivalent,Universal Time Coordinate, UTC.

If possible also collect the temperature and barometric pressure. For most yacht navigation in temperate climates,these are not critical.

Altitude:  After taking a sight with the sextant, the angle first observed must be corrected to get a "true altitude."

A very good explanation is give on YouTube at this address:

The lecture is delivered by Josslynne Masters who has many excellent such presentations on celestial navigation.

Some of the terms:
SA = sextant altitude, what you read off the instrument after observing the sun
IE = index error, + or -, the sextant error which can be calibrated just prior to taking a sight
OA = observed altitude, the result of combining SA and IE
Dip = HOE = height of eye, always negative
AA = adjusted altitude, result of combining OA and Dip
TC = correction for Upper or Lower Limb observation. Use sign given in Almanac
TA = true altitude. This angle is where one begins the sight reduction process.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Voyager Notes: Section 0: Overview

Sailing schools offer ocean voyaging classes and experiences. These sections entitled "Voyager Notes..." are designed to help candidates as they pursue the ASA 108 program. The material is mine and mine alone. It is based on my experience and does not reflect anyone else's views.

Enjoy, comment, suggest corrections and amendments.

Harwich MA

Our boat, Averisera

Averisera and a Cal 33 we frequently raced. Both on Boston Harbor

In cruising mode at the Black Dog Wharf in Vineyard Haven

In Provincetown after an overnight double handed race we did not win

Shortly afterwards a squall blew through and destroyed the kite.

Looking for wind on a windless day

Home during the years 1960 and 1961

We built the Skerry from Chesapeake Light Craft kit

Voyager Notes: Section 1: Planning a Voyage, an Atlantic Circle

From the ASA's 108 standards, levels 1 and 2

1.Plan a passage across the North Atlantic or Pacific and state the advantages, disadvantages and hazards of various routes, utilizing Ocean Passages for the World, climatic charts, Great Circle plotting charts, plotting instruments, etc.
2.Plot a series of rhumb lines on a Mercator chart to approximate a great circle route.

Let's discuss charts. We will use a Mercator Chart, pilot chart, and a Gnomonic chart. Each has it purpose.

 At the outset, let's make Plan A: the top shows two of the possible planning tracks. On the Mercator Chart, a pilot chart, the great circle route plots as a curve, the white pins. The great circle route goes into the cold reaches of the North Atlantic north of the Gulf Stream. The warmer and somewhat longer route is plotted as a curve to the south of the rhumb line. Advantages are warmer water, a fair current, and favorable wind direction and strength. The dark pins mark the route this sailor prefers, Plan A.

Pilot Chart for North Atlantic in June

 A view of the big picture. The Azores are most of the way across the Atlantic and on the route to Gibraltar and the Med. It is over 2300 nm from New England which is about 16 days at an average speed of 6 knots or 20 days at an average of 5 knots. I'd plan on 20 days!

A closer look at the Gnomonic chart comparing the Great Circle Route (straight line with flags) to the straight line on a Mercator chart (curved line marked with pins). The pined route keeps the heading constant at 093 degrees True. On the top chart, our desired route is planned out to be below the rhumb line defined by the blue pins (above chart). It is longer and more comfortable.

Once we arrive at Horta, Azores, what are we doing next? Aside from cruising the islands, how about another voyage? Maybe an Atlantic Circle? (If you can get the book Atlantic Circle by Kathryn Lasky-Knight, do so. True story about a young couple a long time ago in a small boat and eventually with a little kid.) 

Using pins on the Gnomonic chart, the Atlantic Circle is detailed. The regulator of the trip is the Atlantic Hurricane Season, July through November. One must not be too far west as hurricanes brew off the Coast of Africa. Madera, The Canaries, and Cape Verde Islands  are for lingering until the crossing season starts in late November or early December. A first landfall in Barbados, for example, starts the Caribbean cruising circuit. that ends somewhere in May with a run to Bermuda and then into home waters off New England.

The Atlantic Circle

Voyager Notes: Section 2: Reading and Reference

ASA 108 Level Skill Standard 3:
3. Describe the publications required for prudent navigation on an offshore passage including:

The navigation station requires some basic books and materials. The Nautical Almanac and a sight reduction table compliment the sextant. For a sight reduction, I use HO 211, Ageton, so that's what is pictured. The publications HO 229 and HO 249 are also commonly found in navigation stations. Along with the books is a notebook, plotting sheet, chart, etc.

Also included are two books by Jimmy Cornell: World Cruising Routes and World Cruising Essentials.

Cruising guides are invaluable to the voyager. Guides for popular sailing destinations are easy to find. Other areas, such as the Azores are more difficult. A hiking guide might be the best you can find. More than one world cruiser has been glad to have aboard a simple tourist map to help arrive at an unplanned harbor.

Voyager Notes: Section 3: Vessel Selection and Preparation

Voyager Notes: Section 3: Vessel Selection and Preparation

Voyage: Vessel Selection

ASA 108 Level, Skill Standard 4, Voyage Preparation
4.Describe the effect of the following factors when selecting a vessel for an offshore ocean passage of at least 1000 miles:

The discussion includes such topics as: §  Hull shape §  Hull construction §  Displacement § Rudder §  Keel §  Rig §  Machinery §  Water capacity §  Fuel capacity §  Sails §  Interior layout

This is all opinion. There is no definitive answer. The notes that follow are mine.

Cruiser forums debate the topic endlessly and without resolve. Sometimes you sail the boat you chose. Sometimes you sail the boat you’ve got. Understanding yacht design helps the sailors manage their voyage wisely. 

As a starting point, are you sailing the boat you have or are you picking out a yacht for a voyage? For example, lots of yachts are delivered each year across large bodies of water. The crew make the best of what they are sailing. At the same time the crew are making the best of what they are sailing, the owner of said yacht has given a lot of thought to selecting said yacht. A lot of opinion depends on whether you are the owner or the crew.

First, all kinds of yachts have sailed all over the world’s seas successfully and some not so successfully. What makes the difference? Probably it is the sailor as much as anything else. It takes a special kind of sailor to sail either of Lin and Larry Pardy’s small engineless sloops as extensively as they did. Carleton Mitchell’s 38 foot yawl Finesterre would probably not qualify for the Newport to Bermuda Race any longer yet he won it three times, 1956, 1958, and 1960. He then cruised the yacht extensively. I encourage would-be voyagers to read the accounts of those who voyage. It gives one the best window into selecting a yacht suitable to their voyage and crew.

Excellent resources on the topic are 
John Rousmaniere’s work: Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of the Offshore Yachts
Digging a bit deeper takes one to Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor by C. A. Marchaj. 
If you can find it, read: Cruising Sailboat Kinetics: The Art, Science and Magic of Cruising Boat Design by Danny Greene. 

A 1921 era Alden yawl. Very old school. Pictured sailing in the Bahamas in 1961

A web site: allows one to compare two boats. It is best to use this for comparing two similar designs, for example the Tayana 37 and the Pacific Seacraft 37. (No particular reason for choosing those two. They are simply two examples of well-regarded double ended ocean-going designs.) A site, provides a good deal of basic information about production sailing yachts.

For a quick look at how these topics manifest themselves, let's create a sample boat for our Atlantic Circle based on the distances of the first leg, the long and roughest one. It is planned as 20 days so we will carry stores for 30 days for four in crew. That's about 250 gallons of water stowed in integral tanks plus loose storage in jugs, 300 pounds of food, 60 gallons of fuel plus 30 gallons in reserve tanks, a life raft and ditch kit, dinghy in stowage on deck, storm sails and light air sails, spare parts, and the crew's personal gear. That's just a quick list, too.  Let's start by assuming the yacht is a full bodied 40 footer. 

Hull Shape: Self righting, self rescuing and with a capsize index/screening formula under 2
Hull Construction: Rugged and watertight
Displacement: Sufficient to carry a thousand pounds of extra gear without being sluggish
Rudder: Strong from the bottom of the blade to the rudder head at the deck
Keel: Strong and firmly attached at the keel root/hull
Rig: Strong, well stayed and fitted with good running rigging
Machinery: Accessibility is essential
Water Capacity: Sufficient to meet crew needs
Fuel Capacity: Sufficient for daily charging and reserves for a day of motoring at the end of the voyage
Sails: Strong, new if possible and constructed for ocean crossings
Interior Layout: Everyone needs a berth, ideally, two toilets (and a repair kit) and a galley set up for sea.

The following is a discussion of these factors.

          Hull Shape: You are going to need interior space and cabinets for stowage. Piles of gear on the cabin floor are not seamanlike. The hull shape must accommodate lockers.

I have a strong preference for a V-shaped hull. It is old-fashioned and provides a gentle ride that is not slow. Contemporary yachts have flatter sections, are faster and are prone to pounding. To reduce pounding one must slow the yacht. Narrower boats are better sailing to windward and wider boats are better off the wind. Narrow designs have less room below than wide designs. Variables, variables, variables.

Important hull shape factors in selecting an offshore yacht include freeboard, cockpit design, and the workability of the deck for the yacht’s entire length. Freeboard that is too low makes for a wet ride. The cockpit must be comfortable and drain very quickly. Flush decks are more workable than trunk-cabin decks. The narrower the side decks (i. e., the wider the cabin trunk) the more difficult it is for the crew to go forward.

To get an idea about the range of the hull shape discussion, look at the Golden Globe 2018 racers as opposed to the 2018 Route de Rhumb contestants. The choice is yours to make. There is no ‘right” or “perfect” shape. There are shapes “preferred” by specific sailors to meet their specific needs.

Two yachts of the same approximate length, a Cape Dory 33 (designed 1980) and a Peterson Offshore One Design 34 (designed 1978). The Cape Dory demonstrates the style of hull and keel fairing that was common for offshore yachts. It offers a gentle ride. The OOD 34 shows a flatter bottom where the keel is appended without fairing.

Selecting a yacht involves many factors for consideration, length, displacement, hull form, and various ratios. There is no absolute. From a sailing point of view, each has its own handling characteristics. Handled appropriately, all deliver a satisfying offshore experience. The “trick” is in the sailor’s hands and handling.

          Hull Construction: The material does not matter very much if the builder is competent to build in that material. The next issue is maintenance. Can the owner/operator take care of the build material?

Fiberglass is popular because it is inexpensive, resilient and repairable. Hal Roth rebuilt a fiberglass boat while stranded on an island in the Straights of Magellan. Who knows what would have happened had his boat been wood or steel or aluminum? Doesn’t matter, he could repair fiberglass.

          Displacement: Displacement is how much a boat weighs and is an important measure of size. It is much easier to select a boat design based on displacement than length.

The human factor is, “what can the crew handle?” What do they need? Heavy does not mean slow nor does light mean fast. A heavy boat has more interior space and probably bigger equipment. Boats grow exponentially in size. The real measure of a boat’s size is her displacement not her length.

Ted Hood designed some very fast heavy boats, they had plenty of sail area. At the same time, Doug Peterson was designing some very quick light boats that featured small sail plans.

Displacement is not related to length. A 32 foot Aphrodite 101 displaces 6300 pounds and has sail area of 460 square feet. It is cruised by a couple of grandparents. A Westsail 32 displaces 19500 pounds and has a sail area of 650 square feet. The Aphrodite is quite a bit faster but not nearly as voyage able.  A fellow from Gloucester, MA recently completed an around the world non-stop solo voyage on a Westsail 32. It is unlikely anyone would select the Aphrodite for such a caper!

Let’s look at two boats that have similar displacements. The Westsail 32 and the Hinckley Bermuda 40 both weigh in at about 19,500 pounds. They have similar ratios, LWL, draft and beam. The Hinckley is larger and a more comfortable platform on which to work. It has more room below and is a bit faster.

Generally speaking, a heavier displacement yacht can carry more supplies. Generally speaking, a heavier displacement yacht requires more sail area to move. How much sail area can you handle? How much gear are you carrying? The factors are numerically represented by “pounds per inch immersion” and “sail area to displacement ratio.”

Hinckley Bermuda 40: pounds per inch immersion: 1213
Westsail 32: pounds per inch immersion: 1064
Aphrodite 101: pounds per inch immersion: 745

The cruising issue with displacement is about human scale, too. What is the crew able to handle in terms of anchor size and ability to fend off when docking. Bigger anchors mean a windlass must be fitted. Docking bigger boats requires bigger and more fenders. Bigger is more costly.

          Rudder: The rudder must be strong and the steering assembly accessible. Preparing a vessel for sea requires close attention to the steering assembly. This is the part that when it fails is most easily repaired. The rudder must be inspected when the yacht is hauled. Weeping rust stains are a warning sign. Investigate! If the rudder wobbles from side to side when handled, the bearings need attention. Do that!

The famous cruising authors, Lin and Larry Pardy prefer a stern hung rudder affixed to a full keel underbody. It is easily inspected and repaired. There is a lot to be said in favor of such a set up.

Designers write about the advantages of one type of rudder over another but all agree, the rudder must be strong. The modern fin keel-spade rudder configuration became the standard after the 34 foot American sloop, Rabbit, won the Fastnet Race in 1965. After that, no performance boats were built with full length keels.   Rabbit had a skeg in front of the rudder and that configuration was popular for many years. (

Below: An example of a skeg-hung rudder. The skeg helps support the rudder and protect it from damage. The yacht is a 1970 Sparkman and Stephens designed Yankee 30. The type are considered well rounded cruiser/racers. One of the model was sailed successfully from San Francisco to Australia.

An example of an unsupported rudder. The blade is exposed to impact or fouling. The yacht is an Aphrodite 101, a late 1970s speedster that featured low wetted surface area for its day. The Aphrodite design brief was to win the Around Denmark Race which the type did for several years. That's a rough sail by anyone's measure.

Pictured above is a full keel Cape Dory 33. The rudder is protected by the full length keel. Each of the yachts are about the same length. An interesting exercise is to study the three types using and

Each style has its advocates and detractors. The measure of seamanship is one's ability to handle the design one is operating. As much as we may discuss hull design, it is still the sailor who matters most. 

This aspect is very important: the steering gear must be easily accessible and repairable under duress. A rudder that does not move is useless. 

A couple of observations about rudder failures:
I once had to rig the emergency tiller on a 33 footer. It was easy to fit but very hard to steer. Not enough leverage and the binnacle was in the way. We did get back to our berth but it was hard work. The steering cables were repaired quickly. Test the emergency steering system and rig it to work efficiently.

True story: A 45 foot boat lost its rudder on the way to the Caribbean. The rudder shaft broke at the hull. The owner telephoned the manufacturer who shipped a replacement to the destination and fabricated a temporary rudder which they were able to deliver to the rudderless yacht at sea off Puerto Rico. The crew affixed the temporary and sailed to their destination in Tortola.

Another true story: during a trans-Atlantic, a 30 footer lost its rudder 300 nm East of Barbados and sailed successfully towards the island. (As a side note, sailing downwind with no rudder was very difficult.) When in sight of the island a tow boat was called and the yacht brought to harbor. The owner commented that those were the most stressful 300 nm he had ever sailed.

Sailing acquaintance, Mike, researched emergency steering by removing the rudder from his 48 footer. (Mike ran a boat yard.) He then tested various drogue steering arrangements. The diagram shows the best set up. Principal take-away? Have a drogue and gear aboard and know how to use it.  

Some time ago, this piece was written and it is worth reading and keeping in mind.

          Keel: As with the rudder, the keel must be strong. Actually, the hull-keel attachment must be strongest. The “floors” or structures that keep the keel from swaying side to side must be very sturdy. Often a keel failure starts with some aspect of the floors failing.

A full keel shape on a Cape Dory yacht

Keel type is another one of the many controversies of yacht design. For the longest time, the hull and keel were faired together. Cruising yacht designs up into the 60s are good examples. Today, the builder, Island Packet (to name just one) builds full keel boats. The system was very strong but produced a lot of wetted surface area which is slow. Full length keels are still designed and built because they are so strong. Some ocean sailors still prefer the design and argue that anything else is folly.

With the separation of keel and rudder, things began to change in both racing and cruising boat design. Carter’s Rabbit (1965) and S&S’s Intrepid (1967) were designed with separated keel and rudder to reduce wetted surface area, increasing speed and maneuverability. It worked! In the 1970s a couple of young designers began to design the hull first and append the fin keel to the required place. The boats were very fast. The stress resulting from fin keels is a potential weak place for modern design. Generally, ocean boats with fin keels have long keel roots to spread the load of the keel on the hull. The speed and maneuverability of separated keel and rudder is considered a great advantage. Some ocean sailors prefer this design and argue that anything else is folly.

          Rig: This discussion involves both the type of rig and type of rigging. Rigs have gone through many evolutions. For a long time, schooners were fast and beautiful and the rig of choice. Ketches and yawls were simpler and eventually replaced schooners. Now sloops are preferred. Every type has been tested at sea and each has its advantages. Which one is best? Dunno. We’ve been voyaging a long time and change is always taking place.  
Pictured: A small classic schooner such as this was much favored for voyaging. Schooners pack a lot of sail area onto a hull and were considered fast sailors in ocean crossings. The rigging is complex and the design has fallen out of favor.

Now carbon spars and synthetic fiber standing rigging are coming into use. These are slowly replacing aluminum spars and stainless steel rigging of either rod or wire. Aluminum replaced hollow wooden spars which replaced solid wood spars.

Split rigs:  Wooden hull and spar construction favored short spars. It was a materials problem. The materials, cotton sails and wooden spars had their limits and tall spars exceeded those limits. Dacron sails allowed for larger sail plans which pushed for taller rigs and eventually fewer ketches.  Robin Knox-Johnson on Suhaili and Vito Dumas Legh III both accomplished amazing long distance voyaging feats in 32 foot double-ended wooden ketches. The 1928 John Hanna designed Tahiti Ketch of 28 ft was considered the gold-standard for ocean voyaging well into the 1970s. (That is probably no longer the case.) In older days, Joshua Slocum on Spray and Harry Pidgeon on Islander sailed yawls. Split rigs are still favored by many for going offshore. The sails are small and easy to handle.

A staysail ketch allows for a wide variety of small sails to be set. Pictured is a yacht typical of early around the world sailors. Handling the headsail from the end of the bowsprit must have been a challenge.

Perhaps the prettiest ketch ever, Rebecca, is anchored off of Newport, RI. Split rigs are often chosen for superyachts.   

Sloops and cutters:  The advent of fiberglass hulls, aluminum masts and stainless steel rigging made tall sloop rigs practical. The materials were available and designers pushed for higher masts.

A couple of variations on the sloop rig are common. The first is a cutter which features a staysail and jib. In effect, it is a split rig on one mast since the forward sails are divided between genoa and staysail. Typically, the cutter mainsail is smaller than the sloop mainsail. By adjusting the size of the three sails, the yacht can be balanced fairly easily.

Pacific Sea Craft 34 cutter with jib and staysail on roller furling.

A variant of the cutter "jib and staysail" arrangement is the “Solent Rig.” This is popular on yachts of all sizes, especially superyachts. Here the masthead jib is paired with a stayed roller furling sail set below and very close to the masthead forestay. The forward sail is a 120% to 150% genoa for light air which must be rolled in before changing tacks. The after sail is a 100% jib that is easily roller reefed to storm jib size. 

The yacht is a Bermuda 40 yawl seen anchored off the Weepecket Islands in Buzzards Bay. The B-40 is a well regarded ocean going sailing vessel. This type is similar to the famous Finesterre.  

28 foot Bristol Channel Cutter. 14000 pounds displacement, long keel, transom hung rudder, very similar to the Pardy's Seraphin. By some measures this is the "perfect" design for ocean voyaging. The type were used in the rough seas off of England's Western Approaches and are considered remarkably seaworthy.

Rigging: Rigging comprises two parts, standing rigging and running rigging. Shrouds and stays are standing rigging. Controls lines such as sheets and halyards are running rigging.

Standing rigging, for our purposes is stainless steel wire or solid bar called rod rigging. Rod rigging is used on race boats and will be ignored for our purposes. It is light, strong, and subject to catastrophic failure without warning. Wire is strong and is much less subject to catastrophic failure. As with all other boat parts, the attachment points on the mast and the chainplates must be proper.

Inspection of wire rigging normally is visual. If the swages are not showing signs of rust or cracking, the system is OK. Stainless steel naturally weeps a little rust stain. It is something which must be watched over time. Anytime a wire strand parts, the entire length of wire must be replaced promptly.

Running rigging is normally Dacron double braid. The cover provides chafe and UV protection, the core provides strength. There are other cordage constructions such as 3-strand, 12-strand and hollow core. The important things to know about cordage are that splices are about twice as strong as knots, chafe occurs quickly and must be looked for constantly and that rope ends should be whipped against unravelling.

Dacron fibers are easy to cut and seal with heat. For this reason, too many rope ends are left unwhipped. A sure sign of a professional yacht person is whipped rope ends. Some newer fibers such as Spectra and Dyneema are very strong but do not burn/melt neatly and must be whipped.

Chafe almost always occurs when a piece of cordage must make too sharp a turn while under stress. The other chafe occurrence is simply repetition such as a dock line in a chock. The old fashioned term of art is to “freshen the nip” or move lines so the same place is not always bearing on the chafe point.

The first reef outhaul (pictured above) is rigged to minimize chafe of both the reefing pennant and the sail. If reefed for an extended period of time, the sailors would look for signs of chafe. Sometimes a sail tie is used to relieve the strain on the reefing outhaul pennant, reducing chafe. The sail is a carbon fiber laminated fabric best suited to a racing yacht.

The first reef tack pennant as normally rigged. The chafe point here is at the bowline. Note the whipped rope end.


Machinery: If you can’t fix it leave it ashore. If you don’t have the space to carry the tools necessary for the repair be prepared to live without the machinery.

In practical terms the advice of world cruiser Hal Roth is sage. He bought spares, say, the water pump impeller, and immediately installed it reserving the removed part for his spares kit. This accomplished one major thing: he knew both parts worked.

Modern sailing yachts are complex collections of mechanical and electrical devices. Much care must be taken for their protection. An example is the deterioration of electrical connections as water makes its way inside the head or hull liner and dampens the wiring. In time the wire corrodes and the appliance fails. The inability to inspect is the problem. Cabin lights installed in headliners are a classic point of failure.

Diesel engines are not particularly challenging to maintain, if you can get to it. Access is a very important component of engine maintenance. The two images show a Volvo installation that has access from four sides. All parts of the engine are easily and quickly inspected.
The key ingredients are clean fuel, cooling water and plenty of air. Air is seldom an issue. The cooling water and fuel both are protected by filters. The ability to clean and replace filters is most of the machinery maintenance required.

This image is of the Volvo SailDrive unit. Sail drives are becoming more and more common. The risk, as with any engine drive train is leaking. Sail drive seals are tough and also require regular inspection. A standard shaft/packing gland installation is no different. The hole in the hull is smaller.

Each piece of equipment, mechanical or electrical, must be able to be inspected to be maintained. Then, it must be maintained. A well equiped voyager has a big locker for tools and a sturdy work space or bench.

          Water Capacity: Plan on using two gallons per day per person. Over the course of a voyage this will work out well enough. In this era, for reasonable comfort and hygiene, about five gallons per day per person is about max if you can carry it. The water supply should be divided among several tanks with reserve water jugs stowed conveniently.

The subject involves more than how much water is aboard. Water capacity discussion includes two other factors, access to the water and protection of the water supply.

Access the water supply: Electric water pumps are common on yachts these days. Have a manual way of retrieving water. It can be a clean manual hand pump with suitable hoses for removing water from fresh water tanks. Some offshore yachts are wisely designed with a hand or foot operated manual pump in the galley. Access to the water supply must have redundancy. 

Protecting the water supply: Accidental loss of water is a serious setback when offshore. Tanks and discharge hoses must be protected against chafe and/or breakage. Normally, yachts are built with this level of water supply security.

In my youth, our yacht was fitted with a day tank which allowed our water usage to be regulated. This practice is worth continuing. Such a practice usually requires a retro fitted day tank. This is something to consider if you are retrofitting a yacht for voyaging.

Many voyagers carry bottled water in one or two-gallons containers. Caution, the containers are easily damaged and must be stowed very carefully. The use of small plastic disposable water bottles is discouraged. They are a waste nuisance. Personal water bottles filled from a common source are more efficient.

In the preparation mode, empty all the water tanks and refill with clean water. Clean the pump protection filters and make certain the water pump is fully functional. Switch the tank selector manifold to drain all tanks! One tank at a time! Make certain you have access to the water tank and the water therein.

Anecdotes: A yacht was met recently in Bermuda that had lost all its tank water and the crew was on very short rations for four days. Years earlier, after a couple of stormy days, the yacht I was sailing lost its water supply because the tanks shifted and broke the hose fittings, draining the tanks. We had plenty of bottled water and only one day to go so the issue was not critical. At the same time we discovered the problem, we met another yacht with the same problem and no reserves. We supplied them, of course. On another trip, the water in one tank was foul and clogged the filter. We were able to bypass that tank for the duration of the voyage.

Before departing: Make certain water tanks are secure from shifting. It is best if the pick-ups are at the top of the tank as per fuel tanks. (You won’t find that too often.) Protect the tanks from draining accidentally by keeping items away from drain hoses.

Water makers are a good way of assuring plenty of fresh water for cooking and personal hygiene. Maintaining a water maker is an important routine task that must be scheduled.

          Fuel Capacity: There is only one thing you cannot make at sea: fuel. So says my sailing friend, Lance. He carries a lot of fuel and in segregated containers.

Fuel capacity is determined by tankage. The tank size is a function of design based upon the engine’s burn rate. (Measured in gallons per hour.) We have noted that a typical cruising boat diesel burns about one quart per hour per cylinder when motoring with the sails down. Motor sailing can reduce the consumption by half if everything is going just right. (That’s a big “if.”) Voyaging yachts probably have at least one or two tanks totaling 50 gallons. Often the same yacht will carry a half dozen or so five gallon fuel jugs. Remember, yellow tanks for diesel and red for gasoline.

As with the water discussion, the fuel is no use if access to it is cut off. The engine fuel lift pump and low pressure fuel filter must be in good working order and accessible. A spare low pressure filter and filter changing tools are required at the very least.

A common tale of woe is that after a season of light air leisure sailing a voyage is undertaken, the fuel is shaken releasing sediment, sediment clogs the fuel filter and the diesel stops. There are a couple of prevention steps. One is to manually clean the tank. The other is to have the fuel “polished.” Clean fuel is useful fuel

Manual cleaning requires a sufficiently large tank access port that all parts of the tank can be reached by hand. In some cases the tank is removable for cleaning. Either way the tank can be drained and wiped clean.

Polishing is a process whereby the fuel is pumped through a series of filters and returned to the tank. This goes on for long enough that all the fuel gets filtered, or polished. Fuel polishing is a service that can be contracted in many marinas. Larger yachts install their own polishing systems and are spared the dirty fuel problem associated with long range voyaging.

The other way to go about this is to not have an engine. Some famous sailors eschew the mechanical propulsion problem by not having a motor. Some row, others just sail. It brings up a point, suppose you have to sail in because the engine quit? Can you? Back to the design question: is your boat capable of being sailed in close quarters. It is a valid cruising question.

          Sails: Yes, we’ll need sails. So, the question is: how many sails and of what type? Here is another topic that is changing quickly as new materials come on market and challenge the “old ways.” Let’s assume a sloop rig for simplicity of discussion.

At a minimum:
Mainsail with two reef points and a suitable reefing system
130% Jib set on rolled furling/roller reefing
Asymmetric or symmetric light air headsail

Pictured is a well-regarded sail plan, jib, mainsail and spinnaker. The fore and aft sails are Dacron. The spinnaker is nylon. Note the yacht has the jib fitted with hanks instead of roller furling. The spinnaker is a pleasant alternative to motor sailing in light air.

Depending on how far you are voyaging and for how long, these will come in handy:
Storm trysail and mast track
Storm jib and halyard
Spare jib at the 110% to 90% size

Every sail needs a halyard and offshore boats typically carry two forward and one aft. A separate storm trysail halyard is nice but not essential. Of course, sheets and various gear for setting the sail must be fitted.

Sail material is commonly woven Dacron with double-stitched panels. New molded sails are being used on higher end cruising yachts as are laminated fabrics. Dacron is the “old reliable” material because it lasts a long time and is easily repaired. Newer materials are for the adventurous.

Sail covers are required and must be used every time the sail is furled. Every sail that is not stowed below must have a properly fitted sail cover since ultra violet rays degrade sail cloth quickly. Headsails stowed on roller furling systems require either a suncover hoisted independently or one that is sewn onto the leech and foot of the sail. There is no exception. Mainsails frequently have sail bag/sun covers permanently mounted on the boom. These systems catch the sail as it is lowered and auto-furl the sail. However, the sun cover zipper must be pulled forward to complete the protective cover.

 Not only do these sail covers capture the sail and cover it, the cover wraps around the mast to cover the luff which would be otherwise exposed to sunlight. This is the way a good sail cover is made. It protects your investment in the main sail. Note the self-tacking jib track on the boat pictured above.

A new type of mainsail is becoming common, the in-mast furling mainsail. It is analogous to the roller furling head sail. It’s being fitted on more and more monohull mainmasts. To date, catamarans are not fitted with in-mast furling. The in-mast mainsails have less sail area because there are no battens. The sails require care when furling and setting to avoid fabric jams inside the mast.

Pictured are two 102% jibs from the same boat. They have the same luff, foot, and leach measurements. The black sail is under the white sail. The black sail has battens and the white sail does not. While not mainsails, they demonstrate the difference in sail area one can expect when comparing in-mast mainsails with traditionally set mainsails.

In-mast furling is becoming popular since it offers ease of handling, reefing, and the sails are less expensive. In-boom furling is a developing trend but is less popular, at present.

          Interior Layout: This is a volatile topic as every sailor has a very specific idea about what is and is not suitable. There are a few fundamentals and we will limit our discussion to them. This writer opines that sailors are at the most risk below, especially in modern open concept living yacht interiors. More so than when on deck.

Hand holds are essential.
Underway in a seaway one moves below decks from hand hold to another. Even when seated, one is subject to being bounced out of one’s seat. Know where to grab a hand hold. Best of all, always sit to leeward, you have no place to fall since you are already there.

Wet Locker.  Wet gear needs to be put some place where it does not wet the interior as it drips dryish. A head near the companionway is always a good choice. It should be fitted with sufficient hooks for the foul weather gear in use. In the picture below, we decided that we’d use the handholds for that purpose. The hooks in the heads were already “full.” This suited us as the sea state was benign.

Doors are dangerous.
They swing open/closed suddenly. Chichester’s worst injury occurred when the head door unlatched and hit him. Read Gypsy Moth Circles the World. Contemporary yachts do not have positive mechanical hook-style latches to secure the door open. Spring style latches are easily unlatched during pounding. Brace doors open or have them always closed.

Berthing must be comfortable on any tack in any seaway.
The foc’s’l is a hard place to sleep at all times. Any berth without a lee cloth is useful on only one tack. Double berths may be divided with a “bundling board” so two crew may use the berth at the same time. Many double berths have mattresses split to accommodate a board. Without a bundling board, a double berth can accommodate only one person.

The stove must be gimbaled and have sea-rails or fiddles.
The only pot or pan that is useful is one that fits on the stove and is held firmly by fiddles. A handrail bar must be installed in front of the stove. Most boats these days are set up with a suitable galley. A more common problem is that the pots and pans don’t fit into the lockers well. The number of burners dictates the number of pots needed. The cook will need a kettle, frying/saute pan, sauce pan and large pot all with lids. Meals are planned to suit the crew size and the cookware. Everything must work as a system. That’s about it.

Pictured is a galley at the ready. The area is OK at sea. Limitations: the cook is not well-braced on port tack.  The top-loading reefer (left) means all food in cold storage must be removed before meal prep begins. The dining table (lower right) has no fiddles and is not useful for prepping meals. None the less, meals appeared on time.

Pictured, a sea cook (and an OUPV captain), at work in a stumpy seaway going to windward. Notice the angle of the stove. The galley is very much a seagoing set up. The cook is safe on either tack. There are working surfaces nearby with fiddles. The cookware is sized to fit the cook top. 

Some images of a 1981 C&C 41. It is a racer/cruiser typical of her day. This particular boat has a couple of solo races to Bermuda to her credit. The type also made comfortable family vacation cruisers. The layout features two private small double cabins, one head and a seagoing main cabin, galley and cockpit. 

The recent trend is for larger double cabins and a minimum of two heads. Families don't cruise dad's race boat as often these days... one observes.   

A nicely appointed forward cabin includes a hanging locker. 

The port side of the main salon has many good storage lockers and shelf with a high fiddle. Very sea going.

The small quarter berth cabin is enclosed and contains good amount of storage.

Aft cabin and navigation table view

Aft cabin and navigation table view

The "chilly bin" is large. More importantly, there are drawers nearby and a small counter for use while unloading food.

Engine room has access from three sides

Galley has lots of counter space and good lockers.

Main salon, starboard side. Note sea berth outboard of settee. 

Navigation area.