with Rebecca Ann - by Dale Davenport
Davenport goes camping with his Caledonia Yawl Rebecca Ann, often in
the company of Jay Eberley and his Ness Yawl Sara. His account of a
week cruising the Georgia Coast Passage can be found here.
this article he talks about what he takes and how he stows it all.
to take? Where to put it? I've tried several methods of stowing all
the equipment and supplies needed for our week-long trips in my Caledonia
Yawl. My present system - a third generation approach based on our experience
so far - is more than adequate. But I have been thinking about making
a major change that might be even better. In the following I'll describe
the challenge and my efforts to deal with it.
I'll cover what I've found useful to take along on these trips. Second,
I will go over the three major approaches I have used thus far, including
the latest one, which works well. Third, I will sketch out a general
idea I have for a fourth-generation plan and plead for your comments.
My list of supplies and gear has been developed over many years of camping
and not so many years of sailing small boats. My camping began with
backpacking and evolved to fly-and-camp trips with my wife and children
when they were young. Consequently, I always needed the smallest, lightest
gear. That's a good starting place with a boat, but the carrying capacity
of a CY allows me to carefully use heavier, bigger stuff, and more of
it. It also lets me be more casual about packing it tightly.
and repairs: I take small hand tools, bits of various repair materials,
adhesives and fasteners to fix broken wood, fabric, and hardware
for the various parts of the boat. The photo shows the different
Rockets and flares. I have some SOLAS grade ones that are out
of date, but probably are just fine. I have a current set of cheap
ones to satisfy inspection.
I take about three gallons of fuel mix for the motor and several
one pound propane containers for the stove.
First aid: I bought a West Marine kit that is pretty good and
have added a few items to it. You can see the basic approach in
the photograph. The kit has modules organized by different types
of injury or illness.
We've used mostly dry stuff from the grocery store, with some
perishables in an ice chest. We have migrated from more beer/less
spirits to the opposite, due to ice availability and can disposal
gear: When my wife goes with me, I take the china plates and mugs
and the pretty flatware. When the guys go with me, it's all Lexan
and Alladin mugs. The stove is a Force 10 Seacook burning propane.
It is so much better than a Svea or MSR stove, it spoils me.
stuff: (right and below) flashlights, navigation tools, small stuff,
folded radar reflector, sunscreen, sail ties, navigation lights.
experience on longer trips is with four men in two boats, my CY
and Jay Eberly's Ness Yawl, Sara. Sara is so much smaller than
a CY that there is no expectation she will carry all of her own
gear - she benefits from the barge-like capacity of the CY. Sara's
job is to carry her two occupants, their clothes and sleeping
gear, and an ice chest. All the common items go in Rebecca Ann.
Sara does take her own pared down assortment of repair items,
of course, navigation gear, and some food supplies.
Generation Stowage System - The Traditional:
When I wrote up the piece about finishing out the
building of Rebecca Ann that is now growing barnacles on this
site, I said I expected to stow gear in plastic containers like
Frank and Margaret Dye, the inveterate small craft adventurers.
(See Dinghy Cruising by Margaret Dye, ISBN: 0713657146) Implementing
that plan, I started with four containers about 10x14x6 inches,
and placed two in each of two canvas bags and secured the bags
under the center benches. (Right)
didn't take any long cruises before I abandoned this system. It
didnt provide nearly enough space, so I had to take a lot
of additional small dry bags and containers. Consequently, it
often was hard to find what I wanted. Also, it was too much trouble
to open a drawstring closure on a bag, pull out the Tupperware
container, open it, get what I wanted and then reverse the process.
Especially, the reversing part; the bags were screwed to the underside
of the benches and its hard to put a firm object into a
bag that is fixed on one side.
these first trips I was storing fuel mix for the outboard in a
couple of one-gallon plastic tanks. The low quality of the plastic
casting bothered me and it was hard get all the fuel into the
motors tank in a pitching, rolling boat. It took both hands
to turn up the container, leaving no hand for holding on to the
Generation Storage System - The Baskets: I kept the plastic
containers for the key stuff, but started using baskets for more
space. I tried baskets because Jay suggested it, pointing out that
the look was right for our boats. I found several good ones on sale.
On the first week-long trip we took, in 2003, I had my anchor rode
in one, the spares and repairs, medical, and miscellaneous sailing
gear in another, and the food in a real big one.(Right) [Photo SD20]
We put the shore tents in my huge green dry bag. I have some 55
liter dry bags, which are big themselves, and sleeping gear and
clothing went in those. The baskets were tied down to the floorboards.
The biggest dry bag was tied in the bow, all the way up. The 55
liter dry bags, together with some similarly sized duffels lined
with garbage bags, were tied on top of the forward seat and benches.
the baskets worked pretty well. They really did look good and
are very consistent with the appearance of a work-boat finish
on a CY. I got a lot of compliments on them later that year at
the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels, Maryland.
of the Baskets...
leak like sieves, since they are made like sieves and could be
used as sieves, so you need a waterproof container inside. Due
to the irregular sizes there was a lot of wasted space. Space
was wasted around the containers on the outside, but also around
the rectangular plastic boxes stored inside. One of the baskets
had a slightly curved bottom so it wasn't very stable. Another
was tall, so when loaded to the top with food - which was heavy
- it tended to tip over. Also, it got in the way of the mainsail
when it was lowered, because it was higher than the benches. Further,
you didn't want to put your full weight on any of the baskets
when you were clambering around. The baskets weren't reassuringly
capable of taking your full weight while protecting their contents.
Another problem was that the handles on the baskets were not designed
to carry the weight we were putting in them. The photos show three
baskets. I also used a big rectangular one, but it migrated into
the house for blanket storage or something like that. I still
use the anchor basket.
Not to Take: On that first trip, I learned a few things about
what not to put in a boat. One of the crew is an avid hiker, so
he took his gear in a pack with an external frame. Another one
wanted to bring two folding chairs. Those things will fit in a
CY but they don't nestle well. Fortunately, we just sailed to
Cumberland Island and set up a shore camp for a week and sailed
around the island. Still, getting down there and getting back
involved two days of falling over far too much junk sticking every
which way in the CY. (Right)
Generation - The Ammo boxes; The third and present system
has proved entirely acceptable. It came out of an epiphany I had
one day, one of those things that probably most other people would
have realized a lot sooner. Basically, I saw that what I needed
to do was protect items that either (1) could be damaged by being
walked or fallen on, or (2) could injure someone who fell on them,
by putting them in a hard container. Soft, unbreakable items could
go in soft, conformable containers. The hard containers would
make nice places to sit on; the soft containers would make cushions
to lounge against.
it sound like we routinely walk or fall all over the boat when
we are sailing? Well, we do. When a line lets go, or we need to
raise the rudder, or put in a reef, or drop an anchor, or down
the main, or get a fender out, or fend off something, or drop
the mainmast, all those occasions require fast movement around
the boat. If you only day sail and can keep your floorboards clear
of gear, you wont have this problem arise. But if you have
to use most of the floorboard space for stowage, you will find
that in many semi-emergency situations, you will intentionally
tromp across a container so you can quickly get yourself out of
trouble, gladly dealing later with the consequences of what happened
to the contents of the container or, even, the skin on your shins.
At least thats been my experience in my boat.
made four wooden boxes, 1x2x1 feet. I did this before the trip along
the southern half of the Georgia Coast in 2004, written up in the
travelogue. That winter, before the trip in April, I also was making
my boat tent, and had to hustle making the boxes due to the press
of doing so much to get ready. Fortunately, it was one of those
projects where you hit it all right the first time - not too common
for my projects.
had a metal fabricator make eight H-frames of aluminum. For each
box, I glued up six panels of clear yellow pine and rough sanded
the glue joints down. I made a pine tar mix from the recipe in
the back of the Hamilton Marine catalog and slopped it on the
wood a couple of times. I drilled holes in the metal frames, shot
pan-head sheet metal screws through the holes and into the wood,
screwed the bottoms in with healthy stainless screws, rabbeted
and weatherstripped the lids, made rope handles, and put on big
webbing and side-latch buckles to hold the lids on. I beaded the
joints inside with caulk and that was it. The tops tend to warp
but every so often I flip them in the sun and warp them back straight.
that trip, one box got spares and repairs, first aid and miscellaneous
stuff. One became the galley, only gear but no food.
took the fuel, both motor and stove. I credit Wayne for the lab
bottle idea for outboard motor two-stroke mix storage. With the
funnel I can one-hand enough to run for about an hour and I know
that if I have run the tank empty, I won't overfill it with a quart
bottle. This is a huge improvement over the one- or two gallon red
plastic gas cans that I had been using. I can get twelve bottles
and a few propane bottles, plus a funnel, and a mesh bag into the
fuel box. The mesh bag takes all the fuel containers when we sleep
on the boat. I tie the end of the bag to the mast and hang the containers
over the side. I am nervous about the fumes lying in the boat while
sleeping or cooking.
last box is for food. We used it on a trip this year. In 2004
on our great Walter Mitty alligator adventure, we started to put
the food in it, but it wouldnt take all the food, so we
used a big cooler instead without ice. I dont use the fourth
box on my short trips with my wife, because I take food in a cooler
with ice in it.
of that stuff falls into the "you can hurt it, or it can
hurt you" category. The hard boxes protect what's on each
side from what's on the other side.
use, a great unexpected benefit of the boxes became clear immediately.
With two boxes on each side of the centerboard trunk, one fore
and one aft of the center bench, they made a raised platform we
could walk on (or even just three boxes, with two on one side
making a raised walkway, work great)
They were just about the same height as the benches and side seats.
Thus, to raise the mast it was no longer necessary to walk up
the side seats, hopping over to the center thwart to line up the
mast into the gate at the right angle of elevation. That procedure
was just a mishap waiting to occur. Instead, you simply walk down
the middle of the boat, stepping on the box tops. We can do the
same thing to get to the bow from the stern. Being up higher doesn't
seem to cause a balance problem, and it keeps us from wacking
our shins on the thwarts when we lose our balance. I can't emphasize
too much the benefit of the boxes for making it easy to move around
the boat quickly.
did find that the sleeping platforms shown in the boat
tent piece - wouldn't go down all the way over the boxes because
one foot of height is a bit more than the space between the bottoms
of the platforms and the tops of the floorboards. So I went back
and cut down the box height on three of the four. I removed the
bottoms, cut an inch or so off the sides and ends, and screwed
the bottoms back on. The fourth one I left unchanged, and found
that with the lid off, and the box pulled out just behind the
cb trunk, it gives support to the last bit of the platform at
the right height. Plus, this box has the galley, so you can get
to that gear with the sleeping platform set up. I can make the
coffee in the morning while my wife is still sleeping, or trying
to still sleep.
secure, more or less, the boxes with a light line running from
the floorboards to each rope handle. Whether that would keep a
box from shifting and causing a real problem in a capsize has
not been tested.
serious sailing conditions I latch down the lids, but for regular
conditions I usually leave one of the buckles unlatched on the
box with the miscellaneous stuff, so I can reach the items more
quickly. The tops of the boxes will slide down by the side of
the box to allow unfettered access and that works well. The side-snapping
buckles are just a little hard to unclip for the strength of my
hands. They are hard for crew who isn't used to them.
the Georgia Coast passage in 2004, the boxes worked very well. We
also used them on a similar trip in the Spring of 2005 when we sailed
from Hilton Head to Charleston, South Carolina (three days inside
and three days outside). The boxes keep the heavy gear in the center
around the centerboard trunk. It's near at hand when you need it.
It looks tidy. At a marina we can take the boxes out and put them
on the pier next to the boat.
make good places to sit when we camp onshore. Two men can easily
haul a box from the boat in the shallows up to a campsite on the
beach. One man can handle one witch effort. They are raccoon-proof
still keep the boat tent and my shore tent in my huge green dry
bag in the bow. You can stand on it to enter and exit off the bow.
It gives flotation. Each person on my boat is issued two 55 liter
dry bags, one for a pad and sleeping bag and one for clothing. When
we need more space, we use a plastic bag as a liner within a duffel
bag. Those are tied on top of the side seats and the forward benches
and thwarts. We can walk or fall on those if we must, and we can
lie up against them or kneel on them to reach for this or that.
outboard motor stays where it has always been, in a padded canvas
case under the rear bench.
Bright Idea (maybe) For some time now, I have been thinking
about how good traditional grating would look as a replacement
for the floorboards, and I have a big locust log drying in the
back acre that I need to do something with, anyway. I thought
about making the grating in sections, starting with the area aft
of the centerboard. I thought the grating would look good across
that very visible area, and would contrast nicely with the floorboards.
Also, it would be harder to drop small items through the grating;
the spaces between the floorboards seem to attract pencils. Then,
I was thinking of making a grating section for the north side
of the centerboard.
in the boat pondering this, it occurred to me that if I did that,
I could just remove the floorboards on both sides of the cb trunk.
After all, with the four boxes there, you can hardly see any of
the floorboards right now, and you certainly never walk on them
anymore. But, in that case the slant of the garboard would mean
I would need to make wedged cross-feet for each box, to level
them up so we could still walk on the tops of them. And that would
mean they would be tilted when they were on a pier or a beach.
I noticed that I have a lot of duplication in hard sides in the
center areas of the boat. I have the garboards, the floorboards
and the bottoms of the boxes all in the same plane. I have
the cb trunk sides and the inside sides of the four boxes
all in the same plane. I have the side planks of the boat and
the outside sides of the boxes, although those planes are pretty
far apart. Having those extra hard sides doesn't hurt anything,
but it started me thinking about what I really had created with
my boxes. I started thinking about using the same materials, or
materials in the same planes, and creating more space. More space
for stowage and an even better walking surface.
saw a way to accomplish those two goals and deal with a little
nuisance of which I already was tired. It involved those sleeping
platforms. That was another quasi-harebrained idea that worked
out great. Sandwiching blue foam between thin luan, slicing it
up and webbing it back together accordion-style, and using Velcro
to affix it to the side seats and trunk all came off as planned.
I had made waterproof bags for the four platform segments and
have been using Velcro straps to tie them under the side seats.
Again, more flotation, which cant be a bad idea.
what a hassle to get them out, set them up, and then put them
away in the morning! Why does that sort of thing gall me? It's
not that I'm busy out there at anchor. I think that's the answer.
I want to do nothing, and certainly not chores. Setting up the
boat tent is ten minutes of work for two, and then having to set
up the sleeping platform is just a little too much setting up
work at the wrong time.
it occurred to me, what if I boxed off the whole center of the
boat? I could install a bulkhead just aft of the trunk and right
up against the end of it. Another one would go straight down from
the leading edge of the front bench. I could remove the side seats
and deck over the whole area, with four big hatches giving full
access. The height would be the same as the benches and seats
are now. That would give me a built in sleeping platform, many
pounds of flotation, and enough room to store every item in the
boat. I might even get the motor in there.
I thought of further possible improvements. I could partition
off separately a triangular area right in front of the cb trunk,
as well as areas a few inches along the trunk all the way aft.
These compartments would reach the hull and be open in the front
and back. This would let water drain through the limber holes,
a necessary element if I want to pump out the boat with one pump.
In fact, I could grate the top and ends of this area, and that
would look good with grating for flooring. My Delta plow anchor
could go in the triangular area, with its rode along the trunk
on one side and my Danforth and its rode could lie against the
other side of the trunk in these wet compartments.
Water could pass by those items over the garboard planks and the
rodes could dry out in dry conditions. Those heavy items would
lie near to the trunk, in the middle and center of the boat, where
I want them.
could do the same open-to-air-and-drainage trick along the outsides
of the whole area, along the third plank on both sides. These
strips of space could be several inches wide but run the length
of the stowage area and would take wet tent components, allowing
them to air during the day. They would only be eight inches or
so in depth due to the curve of the strake, but water could drain
out the front and back. That way, I could leave the fabric tent
components there all the time, rather than having to remove them
from the big green dry bag and hang them up in garage to dry after
a trip. Perhaps in these areas I should use solid hatch covers
to keep out the rain, and just use grating in the ends.
could move the big Edson pump to the back of the stowage area,
so I could pump without going forward. The back side of the aft
bulkhead would give a sturdy place to put it. I could make a little
area above the slanting down of the cb cap, where my tent poles
could be stored.
could even remove the trunk bench and the forward bench and utilize
the deck to cover those areas. After all, what good would any
of the benches and seats do that a ply deck wouldn't do better?
Big cutouts made into hatches would give plenty of access. Interior
compartments could be fabricated out of thinner ply, and canvas
buckets and boxes could allow categories of gear to be removed.
I could even build in a proper icebox. I could install locks on
some of the hatches, giving a little security that we don't have
that's my idea. Getting it right would be some work, and I would
only want to do it once. I can't think of any serious disadvantages,
but there probably are some and my fear is that there are
a lot. One issue would be trying to row with my legs stretched
out level and my feet sticking out in the air. This could be dealt
with by moving the oarlocks/rowlocks aft by a foot.
there are enough disadvantages to disqualify the idea. I sure
would like to know all about them before I buy the marine ply
for the project, much less before I cut out benches (why did I
epoxy them in?) and glue in bulkheads and deck. I would greatly
appreciate readers' consideration and comments on this.
you think a center stowage area would ruin the look of the boat?
the idea makes sense, why are stowage lockers generally in the
bow, stern, and under side benches? Why are they in the areas
where you dont want weight?
tell me what you think, and thanks very much.
Dale. Anyone who has a Caledonia Yawl sailing story they'd be happy
to share on this site, please contact me via the Forum - Thanks, Nick
Grainger, Site Creator.