Sailing plans, provisions, safety gear and finding the balance

There is hustle and bustle going on here as we prepare to take off cruising for two months in just a few weeks. It seems like we’ve been talking non stop about boat things – jobs needing done, things needing buying, problems needing solving.

harry on mast
Harry at the top of the mast, retrieving the wind vane, wind speed reader and VHF antenna that need replacing.

We’re almost there though, things are being crossed off the list at a fairly rapid rate. This trip around Vancouver Island will be by the longest and furthest afield I’ve travelled by boat so far, so it feels like quite an adventure to me. Not so for Harry, but maybe the longest on a boat of his own. Our own adventurousness in sailing around a remote and rugged coastline seems a little dwarfed in comparison to that of some new friends we’ve recently met. Simon and Erin pulled up and anchored next to us a few weeks ago in their 38′ wooden gaff rigged cutter, flying an Australian flag. They’ve been working hard getting Narvahl off-shore ready after they bought it in Vancouver a few months ago. They are planning on sailing it back to Australia, first setting sail towards Hawaii in the next few days. Narvahl is a very different beast than ours. Everything is wooden and heavy. Wooden blocks, wooden mast, wooden boom. The Boom is a tree. I feel encouraged by their adventurousness. If they can do it, so can we. There is a link to their youtube channel below.


That departure for the big blue is at least another year off for us. But for now, we have this upcoming journey to get ready for. Provisioning is on my mind, six people eat a lot. Luckily there will be a few places we will be able to stop in a restock when necessary. We will have to get creative with storage – both food and stuff. Six people’s personal luggage and all that food will have to go somewhere. We have converted the closet in to a pantry, with drawers that pull out. There are DCIM100GOPROGOPR0669.a few cupboards with space available, but some items might have to go hidden away into those secret cupboards under the bed. Which should be fine as long as we remember what we put where. We’ve been practising using our pressure canner and cooker we got second hand to preserve some food for the trip. This seems to be a favourite strategy for a lot of long-term cruisers. Pressure canners that are quite old still work well as long as they have a good seal and the weight that sits on top. We found ours online for $35. It will also be important to select fruit and veggies that keep well over time, as there is only so much room in the fridge. I plan on stocking up on squash cabbage, potatoes, yams and other root vegetables. We have also acquired more fishing gear in the hopes of eating a lot of fresh fish.

As we cross things off the list this week, we are having to distinguish between what it is that we actually need and what would just be nice to have. Safety gear like flares and life

Passage planning. I’m reading The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising by Beth Leonard.

jackets are obviously a must. We have our navigational software on an ipad, and another older GPS, as well as paper charts. We have two VHFs on the boat, a life ring, air horns, and a very old radar that still works. Still on the list for before an ocean passage are EPIRB, SSB and life raft.


Today the debate was whether to get the more expensive hand-held VHF radio that has a longer range, or the cheaper one with a shorter range. We wanted to be able to send one on shore with people going hiking or surfing. We haven’t decided yet. If you actually need something, then it is useless to save a little bit of money and have it not fulfil it’s purpose. I’m torn between wanting to have all the gear to increase safety and comfort as much as possible, and keeping things simple. Annie Hill’s book Voyaging on a Small Income is great inspiration. She and her partner travelled the world by boat living on a tiny amount of money per year. She makes the argument that your freedom is simply not worth trading for stuff and a bit of luxury, and that when we spend years working to afford unnecessary things this is exactly what we are doing. Finding the balance is the current task.


Narvahl’s youtube channel: The Geordie The Witch and the Wench



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