Updated: Aug 31, 2020
After transporting Solveig from Annapolis to her new home in Oriental, North Carolina, we took about the task of transitioning her from a weekend sailing vessel to a full fledged live aboard cruising yacht. Luckily Robert had the skills to do most of the work himself which saved us LOTS of money and allowed us to start our cruising dream earlier.
The first task was figuring out what we needed to do and what we needed to have on the boat to keep us as safe and comfortable as possible. The plan was to try to follow 80 degrees but we recognized we may have to sail through some cooler days to get there so we wanted to be prepared for both cool and hot weather. While not planning on doing any great ocean crossings just yet, we do want to spend time in the Bahamas and Caribbean so we wanted to be prepared to be in the ocean.
There were some obvious changes such as replacing the original compressed natural gas (CNG) stove to a propane stove but other additions were less obvious. We read, scoured the internet and asked LOTS of questions! Our main goal was to be able to be off the grid as much time as possible so all of our decisions were made with that in mind.
Robert removed the holding tank and head and replaced it with a Nature's Head composting head. This gave us more storage space AND removed the need for pump out stations! We stocked up on coconut coir and added a pump alternative to the liquids part of the head for when we were out in the ocean.
To handle any and all power needs, Robert rebuilt all the light fixtures to LED, added a 365 Watt solar panel and added an inverter.
For food storage, he converted the aft ice box to a fridge by adding a freeze plate and lining it with insulation. We also added and Engel Cooler/freezer which is an amazing, high performance fridge and cooler that can freeze and ice cube solid in 2 hrs! We found stackable storage and shelving to assist with dry food storage. Collapsible crates were filled with 3 months worth of canned, dried and preserved food.
Compressible packing cubes were added for clothing storage and big compression bags for long term storage of cool weather clothing once we get to our warm place. Every square inch of space of this 35 ft boat will be used and the packing cues work great on the shelves in the v-berth.
New instruments included a new radio with a hands free cockpit radio and AIS receiver so we can see other ships around, a new Raymarine multi-function display Axiom 9 chart plotter, an auto pilot that can connect to the chart plotter, AIS Transponder, so others on the water can see us, and an emergency position-indicating radiobeacon (EPIRB). Whew! The only thing we considered and decided against was radar...At least for now.
Finally, a Rainman Watermaker was added to the mix so we could stay off the grid as long as food stores and fish in the ocean would allow.
For comfort, we added a full enclosure around the cockpit area, memory foam to the V-berth and saloon bedding and lots of coziness all around. An extra long hose was added to the inside shower so we can shower both inside and outside. We got a queen size mosquito netting for the cockpit, LOTS of fans and Breezeboosters for both the forward hatch and the side portlights in the v-berth. Small bug sprayers filled with cold water for misting were added to keep us cool while sailing on hot summer days.
When cruising in the Bahamas, we have learned that the dinghy is like a car is to us at home. So, we got a nice new Highfield 10.2 ft dingy and a 9.9 hp Yamaha engine to run it. Of course that necessitated the addition of dinghy davits an engine lift and a new motor mount for the rail.
Robert and I have both enjoyed looking for ways to live within nature AND make it as comfortable as possible. We both tend to be gadget junkies so this preparation has been fun for both of us!