Monday, November 14, 2005

Preparations - (Part 2)

Time is passing quickly now. It is the 14th of November and we have just had the first (very late) frost of the winter. The sailing season is over for us warm-weather sailors and I visited Nadezhda this weekend to strip the sails off ready for the Winter lift-out on the 5th December. They are still in the back of the car; I don’t suppose that I will be able to hang them from the banisters to dry, as I have done in previous years, since we decorated the hall, stairs and landing this year.

Once lifted-out, the work begins to fit the boat-out with all of the gizmos that have been discussed in the last note. By the way, the second-hand Bruce anchor was delivered by a sweating and grunting Parcel Force delivery driver who had to lug it down the drive and round the back of the house. The Internet and mail-order is an absolute boon.

Fliss’s brother has just had his bathroom re-fitted by a friend of his who has done a really professional job. The fitter (Dan, ‘the man’) has just been made redundant and is looking for odd jobs and we just happen to need a bathroom fitter to do ours before renting our house. If we do some of the preparation and he does the ‘real’ work then we end-up getting the job done at a knock-down price without too much investment of the precious time we have. So far, fingers-crossed, everything is falling into place!

Having bought a drogue, the cost does not stop there. They recommend 80 metres of 16mm double braid rope to attach it to. Add enough rope to form a ‘bridle’ to attach to the boat and you need 100 metres. I was lucky enough to find this at only £2.50 per metre with an attachment eye already spliced in both ends from Aladdins Cave (about half the price of other retailers). As I said, the Internet works wonders.

Unfortunately our EPIRB needs another battery before we depart and I have been quoted over £200 for this. If anyone can do better………

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Preparations - (Part One)

Having made the decision to leave the UK for a long-term cruise around the world, we had 9 months in which to prepare ourselves and our boat (See previous postings). It is now the beginning of November and the trees still haven’t dropped their leaves. It must be due to the unusually warm weather at this time of year, maybe this warmth has something to do with the unusually vicious hurricanes strafing the Caribbean and American coast this season. I must remember to keep an eye on the occurrence of hurricanes and tropical storms through November in order to get some yardstick as to when we should set sail across the Atlantic next year.

In the meantime, we have not quite stood-still since we started the clock for our departure in June 2006. This Blog intends to catch-up with events and the preparations we have made so far.

  • Insurance

    The boat insurance ran-out at the end of September. In order to make life simple during our round the world travels, I wanted to find a company that would support us wherever we wanted to go for the duration of the trip. Historically, I have insured with Bishop Skinner who have always delivered best value for the usual UK waters plus English Channel (Elbe to Brest). They said that they could insure as far as the Canaries (but no further) as long as we had 3 persons aboard and as long as they could double the premium.

    We exchanged details with a broker at the Blue Water Rallies seminar but having chased twice by telephone, they failed to return calls.

    I hunted high and low on the Internet for Insurance companies willing to cover “The World” with very little luck and only one company being represented at the Southampton Boat Show showed any interest.

    We eventually came up with a shortlist:

    • Admiral Insurance ( might have insured us but they didn’t like the age of our boat (20 years).
    • Yachtsure Insurance ( were helpful and would cover extended cruising at least to the Caribbean
    • YachtLine Insurance ( could cover as far as the Canaries but could not confirm insurance as far as the Caribbean at this stage.
    • Pantaenius Insurance ( will cover at least as far as the Caribbean and probably further. The restrictions in-place were minimal and they were not averse to single-handing.

    Part of our problem may have been caused by the age of our boat. Some other concerns may have been raised by lack of offshore experience (although I am still unsure about what “offshore means”). However, the majority of Insurance companies and brokers simply refused to consider insuring anyone who was foolish enough to want to venture outside UK waters.

    We eventually opted for Pantaenius due to their good record and lack of policy exclusions. Prices from those who would insure us were comparable and therefore the policy itself became the determining factor. They wanted numerous questions answered about our experience and about the boat and were eventually satisfied although there are a number of things that need attending to on our boat before next year. I see this question, answer and caveat system as being good for us since they have pointed-out possible weaknesses in our safety systems that we are now in the process of rectifying.

  • Preparing the Boat

    Not a lot has happened in this respect. Each time we visit Nadezhda, we do so for pleasure rather than getting-on with the task of fitting-out for extended cruising. The fitting-out task will be relegated to when she is hauled-out for the winter at the beginning of December – some time off work will be called-for! However, I have been researching what is needed, contacting suppliers of equipment and we had a big spending-binge at, and immediately following, the Southampton Boat Show. Here are a few things that have been considered:


    We have two 20Kg CQRs. Although these provide good overall holding, it is always a good idea to have more than one type of anchor and to use the variety that best suits the conditions. What we wanted was a Bruce claw anchor (good overall and on rock/coral and also a spade variety (ie: Danforth, Fortress etc). We opted for the best since the safety (and hence value) of the boat depends on your anchoring. This meant getting a Fortress FX37 (boats > 55’) and a Bruce 30Kg both of which are oversized for our 40’ boat and therefore give peace of mind.

    The Fortress purchase was simple but obtaining a Bruce 30Kg requires persistence and determination since no stocks are available in the UK. We wanted a Bruce rather than a “reproduction” claw anchor since we have heard reports about failures of the look-alikes due to casting failures. It appears that Bruce subcontract the supply to an Italian firm who get them made in Brazil and the whole supply chain has stopped. I would imagine that the 30Kg variety is mid/top range and therefore stocks of these have expired earlier than other weights. I have just sent a cheque off to Boatworld in Birmingham who were recommended by the guys at who were very helpful, I cannot find Boatworld on the Web nor in the yellow pages – I am hoping to get delivery of my (second-hand) Bruce soon!!

    Electric Power

    We currently have no charging mechanism except the engine and therefore need to supplement this somehow. Wind, water, solar and generator devices are available but with an adverse reaction to complexity and noise, we decided that a power generator was immediately off the list. The final choice was a 120W rigid Solarmax solar panel, a 32W flexible solar panel and a DuoGen combined wind and water generator. This poses some problems in terms of fitting. We have a true canoe stern that offers very little space for attachments. Having had a local stainless steel fabricator visit the boat, he rubbed his chin, he ummed, arrghed and said he would get back to us. That was 8 weeks ago and I must chase him up!

    The director of DuoGen has promised to come-up with a scheme to fit his wonderful device onto the stern so that it swings clear of the Aries self-steering. I gave him measurements, plans and photographs of the stern 6 weeks ago and I must chase him up!

    The theory is that the rigid solar panel goes on top of a small gantry at the rear and this then serves as the rear-edge of a bimini (absolutely necessary in the hot climates that we intend to visit). The flexible panel will be brought-out and placed wherever when conditions are right.

    Reading the literature, the right approach is to add-up the wattage of all the electrical equipment and the hours which you expect to run the equipment and calculate the daily/weekly load and then determine what power input is required to reach an equilibrium. My view is that we have bought what we can afford and what we have the room to fit and if we exceed this in wattage, then it’s time to turn something off! As I said earlier, we like to keep things simple and do not have water maker, washing machine, microwave and the likes.


    This has always been a difficult decision. Do you buy a two-way SSB radio so that you can communicate by radio to others that may be hundreds of miles away? The equipment allows you to send and receive e-mail whilst in mid-ocean although this is painfully slow. The guys presenting the Blue Water seminar that we attended promoted it but I think that, since they also run the Blue Water Rally, they like SSB since they can do a role-call of entrants each day. The costs are high (£3000 for purchase and fit) and operators need to have been on a course that lasts a week (another large monetary sum). In addition, none of the “cheaper” units available adhere to the stringent radio interference rules in the UK so whatever you buy will be illegal on a British registered boat!

    The alternative is a satellite phone that allows you to ring or receive calls wherever you are. This also comes with e-mail but the operating costs are still very high.

    We have decided to but a SSB receive-only unit that allows us to receive voice weather forecasts from radio stations and radio-hams (the famous “Herb” and the like) and also download Weather Fax. At £250 plus simple fitting, this should give us the best of both worlds.

    Communications whilst ashore will probably include a pay-as-you-go mobile and we will buy SIM cards locally (which is cheaper than topping-up a UK one). Also, we will have a laptop computer aboard. We are hoping that we can link this to the internet (wireless or otherwise) so that we can make Voice-Over-IP calls. This is a method of using the internet to make calls at the price of a local call in the UK via software such as SkyPe. I am not sure yet whether facilities for this are available abroad but I am keep an eye open for more information.

    Other Bits & Pieces

    Everything needs a backup. You need spares for all essential equipment aboard because mail order companies do not deliver to mid-ocean locations!

    The list goes on!!! Repair kit for rubber dinghy, spare shackles, repair kit for broken rigging wires, spare oil for the engine, fan belt, toilet pump kit, sink pump kit, engine filters, bulbs, etc etc etc. We carry two auto-pilots (plus the Aries self-steering), two GPS (fixed & handheld), two VHF radios (fixed & handheld), spare sails plus a score of other parts plus half a mile of rope of varying lengths, types and sizes.

    Other bits are related to safety including Man Overboard kit, Drogues, new EPIRB battery, Medical kit etc etc.

    Everything needs organising, storing or fitting!

    Pete & Fliss's Chandlery

  • Selling a house

    I have a rental property that is owned by my computer consultancy business that is currently dormant. This is the funding mechanism for our travels and needs selling. The theory is that the equity in the property can be taken out of the business at very low tax rates whilst we are abroad. The house went on the market and I accepted an offer on it at the beginning of this week. Let’s hope it goes through smoothly and we can then tick another item from the list of things that need doing!

  • Personal

    We still need to organise banking, copies of ships papers, itinerary, new passports, powers of attorney, wills and a host of other things that we have not even listed ourselves yet

    So. The original 9 months is now down to 7 months and the pressure is on to get everything ready for departure.

          Tuesday, November 01, 2005

          Decision Time

          Our plan was to buy a boat and sail her around the world. We had very little experience with handling any sort of yacht but three years after buying Nadezhda, our 40’ Saltram Saga, we had sailed most weekends from April through December and taken all holidays on the boat. We were not too adventurous but managed to get to the Channel Isles, the French coast, West country and the Scilly Isles.

          The overall plan was to wait for 5 to 6 years before departing and there were a number of reasons for this. Felicity and I are both divorced and each of us has a daughter each. Felicity’s daughter would be 22 by that time and my daughter would be 16 years old. However in the summer of 2005.

          Fliss and daughter Holly

          Bobby - My daughter

          Me (Pete)

          Our timescales changed due to a number of factors:

          • My father had a mild stroke leaving him partially blind in his right eye
          • I noticed that my mother was not getting any younger
          • My employment prospects turned sour
          • Fliss (Felicity) was keen to depart sooner than our original plans

          Balancing your own desires to disappear for up to 3 years with the needs of close family and work-commitments is difficult. The problem is that there is never an ideal time unless fresh from college or retired! Fliss and I are 40 and 44 respectively and do not want to wait until possible infirmities wreck our plans altogether and so in August of 2005, we made the decision to depart in June of 2006. This decision could not have been made without our fortunate position that we can fund holidays for the kids to come and see us for extended holidays during our voyage.

          So the race is now on to prepare for our departure. You may be thinking that 9 months is a massive amount of time to incubate our plans but it is now November and there is so much left to complete. Our tasks can be very broadly split into the following categories:

          • I own a computer consultancy business that owns a rental property. This property needs to be sold to fund the trip
          • The boat needs to be prepared with additional equipment to make her ready for extended cruising
          • Itinerary and planning needs to be completed and personal matters need to be tied-up and left in the hands of capable people
          • Our house needs decoration, renting, contents storing and the cars need selling

          This Blog was going to diarise each of these activities on a regular basis both as a keepsake for later life and as a guide of the necessary preparations for anyone wishing to take part in the increasingly popular activity of long-term cruising. So far, this hasn’t happened but the next Blog will catch-up with events to-date and I will hopefully keep it up to date in the future!