Mid-Life Cruising Sabbatical

Questions and Answers
Part 2

Here is another set of questions we got:


Your reports are great and I hope you continue to write them for all of us who dream of finding the courage to actually go. I am in the process of outfitting a 39' CC Mariner for a trip as you describe. and had several questions.

You mentioned an air conditioner 19kbtu and 9kbtu are they worth the effort? If you did not have them would you still desire a genset?

I don't think I would add an air conditioner if I didn't already have one, at least not for a trip like ours. I can't see anyone running their genset all night so they can have AC on the hook. Your neighbors might take exception to the noise too. All marinas that I know of on Caribbean islands charge high prices for electricity, so you had better be wealthy to run your AC there. Marine ACs use sea water heat exchangers, so you've got two more through hulls (one in and one out) and a pump to worry about. These things seem to love to suck up plastic bags, and they are a pain to clear.

We did see one interesting alternative to the marine AC. We saw a boat where an RV air conditioner (I think it was a Coleman) had been fitted into a hatch. They had a waterproof cover to keep the sea water off it while under way. Great Idea! Much cheaper than a marine unit and no sea water plumbing!

Marina living in hot climates is another thing. I sure wouldn't do that without some form of AC. In Trinidad there was a local company that adapted window air conditioners to be installed in hatches. They did a booming business with renting them to the yachties in the marinas. Oh, yes, power was included in the dockage in Trinidad.

Now the genset question. With no air conditioner and with no (or a DC) watermaker you could do without a genset. They are mighty handy, however.

A word of caution. Here are devices that look like big alternators (and are mounted and driven the same way) that produce 110 volt A/C current. I can't remember what they are called (cruising generators, maybe). We saw two boats that had suffered crankshaft damage from using these. It seems they put a huge sideways load on the shaft which damages bearings which ultimately damages the crankshaft.

Some people also carry little portable gasoline generators for their A/C needs.

I was wondering about the need for a watermaker, but thanks to you that was added to the list.

Yep, very convenient even with the high maintenance.

I have a hard dingy (fiberglass 100lbs) is it worth keeping, or should I augment it with a 10' inflatable?

The big advantage of an inflatable is stability. Actually, in my opinion, the most important question is how dry is the ride. Our 10' Avon was not very dry. I think a hard bottom inflatable with large diameter tubes is the best solution. I really like the Caribe.

Since you apparently have kids to take along (see next question), and depending on their ages, you might want two dingys. One for you and one for the kids. Many people carry a sailing dingy. It gives the kids something to do in an anchorage full of grown-ups. On second thought, those people can't be grown-ups; the don't have jobs, and they spend all day in bathing suits!

Did you find a lot of children 'out there'.

Sure did. Mostly younger than teenagers. I think you don't see many teenagers because of the problems of adequate education on board. We'll discuss all this in detail in a future article.

Hope this helps

Jim & Diane

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