Don’t listen to Sailors :-)

The cost of sailing is one of those topics that pops up time and time again. It would seem that if you put the word ‘sailing’ or ‘marine’ next to anything, it instantly triples in price! Now, those of you who know me will have heard me say that sailing is for everyone, and I do believe it is. The key to budget sailing is to not listen to sailors. Ok, don’t leave just yet, although I count myself as one that you should not listen to, I’d be grateful if you read on while I explain myself.

Let me give you an example; most sailors love to nose about other boats, seeing how others arrange things, what layout they have etc., etc., and I am no different. Knowing this, I am happy to extend an invitation to a chatty passing sailor to view our ‘construction site on the water’. On one occasion recently, the visitor enquired as to where and what make of plotter we used. I replied that we had opted to use a laptop at the nav. station as our electronic solution, backed up by paper charts etc. (not uncommon for live aboards). I went on to explain our reasoning behind choosing this arrangement, to which he uttered the following, “Yes, but it’s not very nautical really, is it”.

Perhaps not, but I had a laptop and the GPS antenna only cost me €27, add to this free navigation software and we have saved the best part of a grand. Do you have any idea what work I could do on the boat for a grand? Not much if you listen to sailors, but if you suit yourself, then it could cover most of the refit! It doesn’t stop there, you can look at most aspects of the boat and find ways of reducing the cost of getting on the water. Wind instruments for example, it costs nothing to stick your head out and feel the breeze, or even tie a short length of wool to the shrouds. Both techniques are far easier to maintain and much more reliable than the complex mast head systems found in most boats these days.

Of course, if you like these things, then no one should tell you not to get them, but not having them should not be a barrier to getting out on the water and enjoying the freedom of being pushed along by the wind…


Paperwork? But all I want to do is sail!

In our preparations over the past couple of years, one of the things that has slipped under the radar in all of the many lists that have been produced is the paperwork associated with living on a boat. In Ireland, there is no need to register a small recreational boat such as Faoin Spéir, and no need to obtain certification to say that you can sail it. Other optional extras include life raft certification and insurance. So, can you imagine preparing to take a trip across the globe, visiting countries that have some or all of these requirements!

The problem is that as Ireland doesn’t have these requirements, the whole process seems to run backwards, or at best at a standstill. As it stands, to obtain a piece of paper from the Irish government that states that Faoin Spéir exists and is in fact ours, we have to go through the same process as an oil tanker! There is no ‘small ships register’. Ok, fine I hear you say, let’s just get on with it. Having contacted the relevant department three times in writing, they ignored my request three times. I can’t say that I’m too upset because the costs involved are outside of the Faoin Spéir budget, (which anyone who knows us is about 20c).

We’ve had more success with the other bits, Mary obtained her radio operators license which in turn allowed us to apply for a ships radio license. This document looks all official and has the name of the boat and our names on it too, so if we fail in our efforts to register like all law abiding oil tankers do, then at least we have some sort of evidence of existence. As some of you may know, I got the ICC (International Certificate of Competency), issued by the Irish sailing association who should be giving lessons to the department of the marine as they had a 48hr turn around on my application! Thank’s ISA 🙂

All of these little pieces are needed for our application to navigate the waters of the national parks in Galicia, Spain, later this year on our way south. I guess the lesson learned here is that amongst the piles of wood, buckets of resin and miles of wire, make sure enough time as given in advance to tick the boxes of bureaucracy…

Work, work and more work!

Back on the main land after spending about 10 days on the boat. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve managed to get the deck painted! Something that I have been trying to do since last November. It has really been a winter of storms like no other that I can remember, but like so many hardships, it all fades into the past when the sun is out and the work is getting done. Although even while the sun was shining I found myself cursing a world that would make perfect sailing weather the same as perfect painting weather.

We had our share of rain too, but as always there was plenty of work to be done inside too. Oh the luxury, we have a cooker J no more swapping in and out those little gas canisters that cost more than the camping cookers themselves. We tracked down a gimballed cooker with a grill and oven for a song on Ebay. Toast, can you imagine, toast on a boat! Yes, I know this millionaire lifestyle is getting out of hand.

A start has been made on the heads (bathroom for Mary’s friends), but I’m struggling to find a fitting that will allow me to connect the sea-water in for flushing the toilet. It’s one of the drawbacks of old boats, imperial threads in a metric world. But, at least the bathtub is in place and supports my ample weight. I hear sailors everywhere gasping, “did he say bathtub?” Yes, yes I did, ok so it’s not exactly a 6 foot tub with whirlpool jets. It’s more like one of those sit up deals that you might find in a mobile home (actually it is one of those found in a mobile home). But as the heads does not have full standing room for the average hobbit, then showering while seated makes a lot of sense. This and the fact that it’s a great place to dump wet scuba gear.

The navigation station is coming together too, complete with a blue-tooth stereo (probably worth more than the Fiat that it came out of) and an AIS transponder. AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a very useful piece of kit for those of you who may want to follow our travels. Essentially, when we have it switched on, it transmits our location, speed, ID etc., to other boats and the internet. So, if we are out sailing, we can be tracked using  .

Of course, this is just some of the work going on at the moment, with only about 4 months before we move aboard full time, the jobs are piling up, but we’ll get through the all vital ones, most of the important ones and maybe even some of the comfort ones before we head south…