Thursday, January 1, 2015

THE MAGIC SQUARE (OR DIAMOND, IF YOU PREFER)



When long distance cruising there are four factors one needs to keep in mind:

Fuel
Water
Power
Food

I call this the magic square. Some of these elements can be converted to others. For example by burning fuel one can charge the batteries creating power or run the water maker producing water. Power can also be utilized to make water. On Reboot the solar panels produce power. In the summer they are able to produce excess power, that is more than enough to refresh the batteries running the navigation instruments and lights at night. The excess can be used to produce water or just run the toys (like my computers and keyboard.)

Food of course is obvious. It is possible to fish to gain food but my experiences are that this is a pretty iffy situation.

This suggests that when looking at boats for long distance cruising an important element is the size of the fuel tanks. Large quantities of both water and food can be stacked up inside the boat. With sufficient fuel you can generate power.

One would expect that cruising sailboats, and sailboats in general would therefore have large fuel tanks. In most cases (Reboot being one of them) they don’t. The two dead giveaways of a long distance cruiser are fuel tanks on the deck and solar panels. To a lesser degree a wind generator is also a giveaway.

My friend who worked in marketing for one of the big three (Catalina, Benateau, Hunter) explained this to me. She said “The design of a sailboat is focused on getting the wife to agree with the husband that he can purchase the boat at the boat show. Considerations about sailing are not important to the design.” Big water tanks for daily showers, heat and air conditioning run by an auxiliary generator, a pretty stateroom and nice kitchen take precedence over  everything else. Throw in some fancy electronics for the guy and you are all set.

In the past few years catamarans have completely taken over the sailboat charter industry. One visit demonstrates why. Beautiful and spacious living and entertaining areas, deck space to sun bathe, multiple staterooms each with a private bath. There is no getting past that they are beautiful.

I have never sailed in the ocean on a catamaran. I did sail a Hobe Cat in Long Island Sound in my youth. That was a trip and an half. I have watched them bob up and down and hobby horse in the waves. Friends who own them tell me that they don’t go upwind as well as monohulls. But there is no getting past the fact that they are beautiful boats.

Remember fuel is king!

Fair winds and following seas J

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