Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Ready Part I - The Boat

We will be taking Ladybug, a stock US-made Cal-29 on this trip. Upgrades that have been done or are in progress include:
  • New lifelines and running rigging
  • Solar cells (2 X 65 Watt cells that are specially designed to fit between the stanchions and pivot to catch the sun)
  • A slightly used wheelpilot (Navico WP5000) to give us a break from hand steering
  • A forespar whisker pole for use in downwind runs
  • A new 100% jib that reefs down to about 60% (the foot being rolled up in the same way that a mainsail is reefed). The jibs that came with the boat are original and a little tired, so this will be used in heavier airs.
  • Additonal tankage for water installed where the diesel tank used to be (under the cockpit)
  • A new 9.9 Yamaha high thrust outboard in a cut-out in the transom. This frees up a lot of space under the cockpit where the diesel used to live. This area now contains tools, spares, books, camping gear, and the extra water tank. The outboard has the advantage of being simple, accessible, and its position immediately behind the helmsman encourages one to sail
  • A new dodger (currently under construction from a SailRite kit with the the help of my friend Jamie and his trusty Pfaff sewing machine)

There are a hundred other little things to attend to (including storm shutters for the windows, loads of spares, new oars for the hard dinghy...)

Everything comes together

I have dreamed of cruising South for nearly 20 years and have had concrete plans to do so since 2000. Only now have cirmcumstances converged to make this a reality:
  1. I have just completed a 2 years Masters degree and am officially unemployed as of July 1
  2. I have met a lovely woman who is a keen adventurer, does not get seasick often, and grew up without indoor plumbing (all valuable cruising traits!)
  3. I have recently sold a house and have put away enough to do some extended cruising
  4. I have lived on a boat for more than a year and accumulated a modest amount of cruising experience over the last 10 years - enough to risk trying a longer passage.

I would be crazy to turn away from this opportunity...