Having made the big move to Florida means that we have now entered the next stage of getting ready for cruising. With the house rented out for the next few years we can now really focus on finishing the last of the big projects on the boat. As any boat owner well knows, especially one preparing for cruising, the costs can be quite great. We love our boat, but when we bought it, it needed a lot of help. I have made it a point to only buy the best I can for the boat which means I am quickly parted with my money (Does that make me a fool??). With the unexpected, but necessary purchase of the new air conditioner for the boat, the expenses are adding up. I jokingly told Ashley that after adding up how much I thought we had left to spend on the boat that I was having a mild panic attack. It may not have been an all out attack, but it was sure eye opening! Goodness..... The last of the big expenses is a new dinghy with outboard and an all new electronics package.
The Dinghy. Any man that has ever owned a dinghy and any woman that has a man who has a dinghy (did you follow that?) knows just how freakin fun dinghies are! Maybe its the speed, maybe its the closeness to the water, maybe its the ability to explore small, tucked away areas or maybe all three, but there is just something about going out for a dinghy ride. I have spent many days with just our dog and a cooler out exploring away in our dinghy. Not only are they fun, but absolutely essential to a cruiser. We currently have an old (But stout) Seaworthy 8 foot dinghy with slat floors and a 3.5 outboard. For the past few years, this set up has served us well. Now that we are on the coast, with real weather, real seas and where reliability is essential, it just won't cut it. Having looked at the cost of new Dinghies, I have greatly considered buying used. After much thought and reading many blogs, I feel used is too risky given the importance of reliability. I knew we wanted Hypalon, RIB hull, big enough for Ash, Me and the dog with groceries but small enough to be stored on deck, Light weight, stable in rough seas, dry and a big enough engine to get around quickly and against current. (I know, it's a lot) After much research, I have settled on a Highfield CL290. It's Aluminum hull, light weight, 9.5 feet long with large tubes and it only weighs 100 pounds. For an engine, a 9.8 Tohatsu or 9.9 Nissan (Same engine). From what I have read and been told, these dinghies blow AB and Caribe out of the water and they are cheaper. They come out of Australia and are somewhat new to the US market. Now knowing this is what we need..... Accepting the 6K dollar price tag....Gulp....... I have discovered a distributor in Cape Canaveral and I plan to pay them a visit in a week when I return home. Anyone need a Used Dingy??
Electronics..... A topic debated by all sailors. The hardcore say they are not needed, the nerdy like to have it all and somewhere there is a middle ground. I feel that as a Professional Mariner I "Know too much". For instance, I know how dangerous ships can be, that Asian Container ships will not alter course for any reason, that sailboats don't show up on ship's radars, Mates on ships are overwhelmed with paperwork and look at a computer more than out a window and that ships are fast and quiet and you won't see them or hear them until its too late. I've also picked the brains of very experienced cruisers, learned the absolute importance of a high quality auto pilot and the dangers of losing it. I've seen the outcome of buying cheap or outdated chart plotters as well as the dangers of relying solely on one. Given all of this, I know we must have a Powerful and reliable autopilot, a modern and update-able chartplotter that can use multiple chart platforms, Radar as well as Radar reflectors, depth sounder and at minimum a Class B AIS receiver but preferably transponder. Now that I have accepted this, I somehow need to find a way to afford it! I hear kidneys sell quite well these days.... At this moment, our boat has a mid '90s chartplotter, early 80's (and non functioning) autopilot and a broken depth sounder. .....I have a long ways to go...... I have done a great amount of research and all systems seem to have the good and the Bad. There is always those few that have had nothing but trouble as well as those that swear by the same system. There is always the Factor of human error in either operation or installation and there are just some stupid people.... Ok, maybe lots of stupid people but I give anyone on a sailboat the benefit of a doubt. Because Sailors are the best there are right?? At this moment I am looking at the Raymarine system with the Type 2 ram and their midline chart plotter. It's an expensive system, but overall gets good marks. I guess there is only one way to really find out.
The good news is that these "Should" be the last of the major purchases. Down the road there will be a water maker, maybe a wind generator or more solar panels and the typical repairs that pop up. We have to upgrade our battery bank but all of these are minimal when compared to the last two. I still have to remove our teak decks, but this is really more labor than costs and we plan to do it ourselves. We plan to Haul out in October to do a lot of bottom work. We are planning our wedding in the Bahamas for July of 2016 so our goal is to have all of these projects (YES ALL) done by around January of 2016. It's a daunting task, but our boat will be ready for cruising at last and we will be able to cast our lines anywhere we please. In the meantime, I plan to take a lot of dinghy rides with the dog....