Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Nautical Christmas

Brittany is a region encircled by rough seas that claim the lives of many each year.  It is no wonder that most of the churches around the coast of Brittany are closely linked to the sea through their architecture, art, and their stained-glassed windows that offer hope and prayers for the safety of those at sea.  For this Christmas season, we present our small collection of (very amateur) photos of some of these artworks.  Happy Holidays everyone !

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sun Odyssey 379 Options

Outfitting a new boat is equal parts excitement and bewilderment.  It’s a bit like walking into Starbucks for the first time thinking you’ll just order a small black coffee. 

When we went to the dealer to discuss prices, he handed us a 3-page small-print list of options.  He explained awkwardly that many of the options weren't really optional. (Hmmm… do I really need an anchor?

Patrick and I rushed home and went to work outfitting our dreamboat: deck hardware, power supply, water reservoirs, navigation electronics, sail rigging, upholstery, and kitchen equipment. 

And then we pulled out the calculator to see how much this was going to cost us. 

And then we went back to our list and started removing options. 

After several days of research and tense negotiations, we designed the boat you see in About Mareda. There are, however, a few features that Mareda doesn't have that may surprise you:

A heating system.  We have 2 types of heaters on board: an electric blower and an electric oil-bath radiator, which provide all the heat we need when in port and hooked up to shore power.  On those rare occasions when we might want heat at anchor, we’ll just have to throw an extra comforter on the bed and think warm thoughts.  If it happens too often, we’ll buy a small fuel heater.  With plans to sail in the Mediterranean from April to October, we thought we could forego this 4000 Euro ($5000) option.

Bow thrusters.  These are very popular but for a 37 foot boat we think it’s entirely unnecessary, especially for 4500 Euros ($5600).

An adjustable backstay.  We have one on Spray and we use it, but we’re never sure we’re using it correctly.  We’re just not that keen on chasing fractions of a knot of speed if we have to pay 650 Euros ($800 US) for the pleasure.

A detachable forestay and set of headsails.  This wasn’t an option and would require an expensive custom order and very expensive set of sails.  On Spray, there were occasions when we greatly appreciated the sail options we had, but there were other times when we really should have changed the headsails and didn't because it was too rough or just too much of a bother.  A friend who sailed from Brittany to the South Pacific said that his set of headsails was the worst investment he made for his cruise.  I believe we do need a storm jib, however.  We have plans... 

A spinnaker.  We decided to buy a Code D furling sail instead of a spinnaker.  A Code D can be used from approximately 60° apparent wind to a full 180° using a whisker pole.  It is easy to deploy and douse by a shorthanded crew.  It is smaller in surface area than a standard spinnaker (65m2 instead of 90m2) but the tissue is more rugged and has to be able to stand up to being rolled without ripping.  Because it’s so easy to install and handle, people use it more often and keep it up longer than with a typical spinnaker.  The price is similar to a traditional spinnaker, even for ours which is made-to-measure for Mareda.  As an added bonus, our sail maker tells us that he can make a storm jib that can be yanked onto the Code D furler in under 5 minutes.  That will be our next purchase !

A radar.  I want one, as well as a Navtex system, but the budget is screaming for mercy already.  We’ll grow into these.

So what do you think?  Enough energy and water for Med cruising?  Enough chain length?  Any must-haves we forgot?  

Friday, 5 December 2014

Make way for Mareda

With Spray nestled down for winter and Mareda’s preparation demanding more of our attention, we need to prepare the blog to host a new boat.  We've chosen a responsive blog template (I think?), which should optimize viewing depending on whether you are using a smartphone or computer, and we've added a few new widgets to highlight content.  There are still some kinks to work out with the new template, but we’ll figure it out eventually.

Coming soon !

I have resisted for a very long time, but am now convinced that we need a Facebook page for the blog. I worry about the time and effort required to manage it appropriately, but it’s just so much easier to interact with readers via FB than with the blog comments feature.  As new pseudo live-aboards (6 months / year) with a new swing keel boat to master, we hope to draw on the expertise of others out there so we’ll need to build up an interactive community.

But of course we can’t keep calling the blog The Spray Logs, now, can we?  I like the idea of having a neutral blog name, one that doesn't use the name of the boat, but in the end we decided that simple is best.  The new blog will be called simply Sailing Mareda. 

As soon as I get up the courage, I will change the URL of the blog to keep our existing content, then make a new one-page Spray Logs page to redirect people to the new address.  Hang onto your hats !