2012 Summer Sailing - The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew
After our most recent summer trip, cruising SF bay and the delta during which we had up to 15 people eating aboard (9 sleeping aboard and another 6 sleeping in a rented cabin ashore during the delta leg), we were amazed at the amount of food and drink consumed. We went through a truck load of supplies in a week. With only two meals eaten ashore, it was a great feat to keep everyone happy with enough food and drink especially when the sea breeze died and the full summer heat of the central valley was felt at the end of the week in the delta. A couple days of triple digit heat had us really missing the cool fog of the main bay experienced at the beginning of the week while at Angel Island.
Once back, I happened to stumble across Lin and Larry Pardey's book called "The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew" looking for clues how to better handle this challenging situation next time.
Many of the concerns discussed for long voyages such as preserving food and water seemed to be equally challenging even on a short trip like ours as we were always short on something (particularly ice and water) no matter how often we restocked.
Land creatures turned short term sailors were not accustomed to the limitations on water and tended to run it all out just washing up. My wife with good intentions also wasted far too much cleaning cleaning pots and pans and seemed to be constantly cooking.
Bottled drinking water was the most preferred; soft drinks, Gatorade and even beer became the less desirable as it heats up. Coconut water seemed to be the only really equally desired as water and was quickly gone.
Our 2002 Gemini 105mc performed spectacularly; for once everything seemed to just work. Maybe I am just lucky for once after 10 years of improving the boat, I seem to have run out of optimization to do. Switching to 12 volt for most electrical devices (TV/DVD player, Game Cube and LED cabin lights) really removed my need to run the Honda generator and we went all week on battery without concern while keeping the teenagers and younger adults entertained. The inverter has become redundant and unneeded, we did not turn it on even once the last two years except to test it still works (this was a bit of a disappointment as I would like to remove it and reuse the space for something needed.)
Staying connected was clearly high on everyone's agenda, at least at the beginning of the week. There seemed to be a half dozen cell phones and tablets charging on board at all times using car charger 12 volt adapters. Perhaps adding a few more dedicated 12 volt plugs above the chart table would reduce the clutter of electronics on the frig and under the main switch panel to some extent. As everyone eased into cursing mode the electronics were consulted less and less often and all seemed to de-stress considerably.
The fantastic low maintenance 15 hp Honda outboard's charging output when we moved the boat easily kept up with the minor demands placed on our oversize battery bank. Combined with the Panther Electro Steer the boat was easily maneuverable for anchoring and docking even with the single engine. The Honda high thrust motor easily pushes our super light Gemini 105MC at hull speed, in fact we were hitting 8.5 to 9 knots with the current for over an hour according to the GPS on one unusually windless morning on our way from Benicia to Angel island. Typically I like to run the motor right around the 5.3 knot range through the water which based on observation seems to result in the best feel ( the motor does not seem to be wasting power or making too much noise.) Also the fuel seems to last considerable longer compared to pushing her for another half knot faster.
The outboards low consumption became more meaningful during a refueling run on my brothers 21 foot Yamaha jet boat which was acting as our water taxi during our delta stay. The jet boats twin 350hp engines allowed it to transport 15 people at up to 50mph covering great distances in a few minute, reducing the time to pickup and drop off people ashore to a reasonable time regardless of where we were anchored. However the speed and power are not free, I was shocked when the fuel dock attendant asked my brother for almost $400 dollars after filling up his tank. Suddenly I felt silly complaining about the 3.5 gallon Honda portable tank I filled for only 20 bucks even at the marina fuel docks outrageous price. In contrast to the jet boats consumption, during the week we motored our Gem about 60 miles and sailed about the same and ended up only using around 10 gallons total for mother ship and Walker Bay dingy with Honda 2hp outboard. Even our one night mooring fee of $30 at Angel Island nearly matched our insignificant total fuel costs for the week.
The most impressive thing was the Natures Head which seemed to have no problem handling so many people. Although it did not have the nice earthy smell it typically does due to the heavy use, it was no worse than the original head smell we lived with for so many years. Before the Natures Head, we seemed always to be suffering from a full holding tank and seeking the next rare location with a working head pump-out which really limited our options. Life has significantly improved with a composting head.
Interestingly in their book, the Pardey`s defend strongly their simple bucket and plastic storage bags head solution which they conclude is the best and have used successfully for over 40 years of cruising; I think even they might change their mind once they experience a composting head. Of course they don't have a motor on there boat either so they are definitely use to doing things in the simplest and perhaps most thrifty manner, which is really refreshing to me.
I found Lin Pardey's words inspiring (much like the lazy sunsets in the delta) and I am up for making the next trip far more memorable from a food standpoint. She wrote the book while sailing from Japan to Canada while sailing on a 28 foot monohull describing the dishes each day ( providing recipes ) as well as sharing great stories of their sailing adventures. The book is worth a read and having onboard, or on my tablet's Kindle app in my case. Hope your summer was as nice and you found time to spend it with family and friends and enjoy nature from the best vantage point in the bay area, from the water on board a Gemini 105MC.
This site was last updated 04/02/08