I’VE OFTEN THOUGHT that the three most important attributes for a long-distance cruising sailboat are seaworthiness, strength, and simplicity. Of the three, simplicity seems to be the most difficult to attain.
There is a lot of pressure from one’s peers, and from marine manufacturers with goods to sell, for you to constantly upgrade your boat with the latest gear, often in the name of safety. But safety, in my book, is often a serendipitous by-product of simplicity.
For instance, here is a list of stuff long-distance cruisers don’t necessarily have to have on their boats:
Electric bilge pump
Non-drip propeller shaft seal
Dutchman mainsail control
Mainsheet traveler adjustable under load
Anchor winch (capstan)
Jib roller furler
Folding (feathering) propeller
Extra-large (after-market) alternator
Three-stage “smart” regulator
Masthead anchor light
Outboard motor for the dinghy
Fresh water maker
Halyards led to cockpit
I know people who have crossed oceans without any of the equipment listed above. I myself have cruised the wilderness Pacific Coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island for six weeks at a time without any of that equipment. This doesn’t make me a hero but it doesn’t make me irresponsible, either. Simplicity has many rewards. And it makes coming home to a hot shower and a cold beer so much nicer.
Blissful are the simple, for they shall have much peace.
—Thomas Ā Kempis, De Imitatione Christ
“Why did your algebra teacher confiscate your rubber-band pistol?”
“She said it was a weapon of math disruption.”
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