Since returning from my three-week, 200-plus mile cruise up the coast of Maine and back to Marblehead
there’s been some discussion over the viability of living aboard a 22-foot Catalina – even of taking much more extensive cruises aboard one, with one member of the Sailnet Catalina 22 forum proposing a trans-Pacific cruise from the West Coast “to Hawaii and points beyond.”
Having just returned from an extended period spent on Chip Ahoy, I think my basic experience has something to offer.
In the conclusion of my
cruise log I wrote:
“Three weeks aboard a Catalina 22 is a challenge but not much different than I’d expected: it was like camping out, comfortably. I had to do this trip just to see if boat and I could handle it, pull it off, and together we did fine. Now I know that it can be done; I just don’t know if I’d want to do it all over again.”
“Camping out, comfortably” pretty much sums up my experience –
the pleasure of again living upon the water and the joy of sailing from port to destination day after day, weather-permitting.
But what was the daily routine of living alone aboard a small sailboat actually like? Cozy but cramped best describes it.
There is not a whole lot of room aboard a Catalina 22 – or any 22-foot boat for that matter. There’s even less after the essentials are stowed away: essentials that are always aboard like the toolbox and assorted spare parts, the requisite battery charger, shore power cord, water hose, foul-weather gear and safety equipment, galley stove and fuel, basic cooking utensils and other odds-and-ends. That space is occupied on a full-time basis. The other necessities
and comforts for an extended cruise must be fit into what available space remains.
A cruise of any duration requires and consumes additional space, and that space is limited. Utilizing what remains must be carefully planned and
husbanded, continually rearranged until everything fits in a semblance
or order that is never fully achieved.
I believe this largely determines your boat’s range – or at
least distance between ports.
For more than a week before my departure, daily I would dinghy things
out that would be coming along with me. I had a basic idea of where they would be stowed aboard, but each trip took a bit of re-adjusting. Even taking along just the basics required for one
person sailing singlehanded, the remaining space was quickly devoured.
Chip Ahoy’s Layout
Starting at the bow, the most forward locker beneath the v-berth
contains 20 feet of 3/8” anchor chain and 200 feet of 3/8”
three-strand nylon rode. It leads up through the deck pipe and
attaches to the 14 pound Danforth anchor, which is secured to the bow roller and
overhangs the bow. (I've since replaced that with a 14 pound
Delta Fast-Set anchor and stowed
the Danforth beneath the cockpit sole as well.)
In the locker just aft of that, where the fishfinder transducer is mounted against the aft bulkhead, I
stow the battery charger in a water-tight plastic box. This box also
contains all the charging adaptors and converters for other electrical equipment that require
110 volt power. Beneath that box is coiled a fifty-foot garden hose. Alongside it is
a fifty-foot heavy-duty extension cord with a 30 amp plug-on adaptor for shore power. I keep a spare set of
light foul-weather gear in there along with my foul-weather “sea boots.” On top of everything sits my all-purpose AM-FM radio-florescent, spot light, flashing distress light-siren, fan (which runs on both its own rechargeable battery and 12 volts).
In the space that runs between that locker to beneath the starboard-side cabin seat I store my working jib and spare (old) mainsail.
I removed the v-berth cushions and left them home for easier access to the lockers. The mainsail cover is stored to one side on the v-berth. One of the dinghy’s oars is stored on each side along the length of the hull. On the starboard-side just forward of the
bulkhead that separates it from the cabin I store
two five-gallon collapsible water jugs. On the port-side sole forward of the cabin
bulkhead is mounted the porta-potti. On top of it I pile a plastic bag of “cold-weather clothes” that
is always aboard, my sleeping bag and pillow, and the laptop computer in its backpack
that I brought along for the trip. Squeezed in alongside the porta-potti is a four-pack of toilet paper and a spare gallon of spring water.
starboard-side locker just aft of the bulkhead the separates the cabin from the v-berth is stored my toolbox and electrical tools (crimping kit and multimeter), a plastic container of spare
screws, nuts, bolts and sundry fasteners, another of spare hardware, another of electrical connectors and fuses,
a big ziploc bag containing small spools of various gauge wire, a roll of duct tape, a spare
winch handle, sail thread and needle, riggers tape, knife sharpener kit,
spray cans of The Blaster and electrical sealant, etc. On top of all that, also in a large ziploc bag, are all the owner’s manuals for my equipment, a copy of Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, and various legal paperwork. For the cruise I also added a bag of my “good” tools from home that I thought I might need along the way. Squeezed into the far-aft corner, beneath where the sink drain hose used to be before I eliminated it, I store a few boxes of various size ziploc bags and a spare roll of paper
towels, teak oil and cans of boat wax and marine grease. There was no space remaining in that locker.
Across from that locker,
beneath the forward dinette seat is stored my coffee percolator and supplies
morning coffee, three coffee cups, a container of plastic tableware, one small pot and one small frying
pan with covers, a couple of foam beverage coolers, a gallon of fuel for the alcohol stove, a quart of paraffin oil for the oil lamp, two candles, small plastic containers which hold, among other things, a few pair of spare reading glasses and bifocal sunglasses, spare batteries of various sizes, more
110v/12v and data adapters
(e.g., for the
always in use GPSs, handheld VHF radio, and cell
phone) and a half dozen hand towels. There was still a little space remaining in that locker.
I dropped the dinette table permanently and removed the seat backrest cushions,
leaving them home: this provided my 6-foot frame just enough space to stretch out
on to sleep. This was “my space” – used both as bunk, couch, and
navigation station, and where I piled cushions, hatch covers, sea bag
and book box when I had to get into another locker. In the space beneath the table I stored cardboard containers of various beverages: a twelve-pack of Coke, an eight-pack of mineral water, a six-pack of beer. I also kept a spare pair of boat shoes there, along with a plastic trash bag. Beneath the center cushion over the table, I stored the large Chartbook of the New England coast in its plastic cover when not in use.
Beneath the aft-dinette seat is stored all my safety equipment – first aid kit, flare and signaling kit, heavy-duty foul-weather gear, two safety harnesses – things I need or may need to get to easily and quickly. I store the sail
tie cords there. While there’s still space here, I prefer to keep it that way, not only because I want
quick and uncluttered access to this equipment, but because the switch panel, a primary buss box and the fuses are accessed through this hatch. Beneath it’s cushion I store the smaller Chartbook of my
local cruising area.
hinged drop-down hatch I built into its backrest earlier this year, beneath the forward end of the port-side cockpit seat, is a large plastic water-tight box. In this I stored the clothes I took along: three pair of shorts, two pair of jeans and socks, five changes of underwear and three t-shirts, three shirts – and a pair of long underwear I never needed to pull out, thankfully. The heavy, zippered turtleneck sweater that’s always on board
often came in handy especially during the cool hours of pre-dawn departures, early mornings and late evenings.
Opposite this space, beneath the starboard-side cockpit seat is where I
store the long and wide but low water-tight
plastic box containing food supplies: canned stew, meat, soups, vegetables, and baked beans, etc.; a jar of peanut butter; peanuts and snacks; boxed granola bars; a loaf of bread, cookies and crackers; condiments (salt, pepper, sugar and mustard); and a can opener. Alongside
is stowed the alcohol stove. On top of the “food pantry” is where I
keep the tiller-pilot when it’s not in use.
the companionway step hatch, below the keel winch, are the two
batteries, bilge pump and its float switch. I’ve attached a “cigarette
lighter” adaptor to one of the batteries by alligator clips and
keep the cell phone’s 12-volt adaptor plugged into it, the wiring
running out behind the hatch to the starboard seat. This is also where I
connect the battery charger when shore power is available.
I stored the Igloo ice chest in the cabin’s center aisle as far forward as possible – but still it was in the way whenever I had to reach the v-berth. It had to be slid aft or moved out into the cockpit. I learned this the hard way one morning, while trying to squeeze over it to reach a water jug to fill the coffee pot. In those cramped quarters, my shoulder brushed the gimbaled
oil lamp fastened to the mast tabernacle post and knocked off the fragile glass chimney, shattering it.
The shelves on each side of the cabin are stocked with small conveniences: bug spray and repellent, sun block and Aloe, dinghy oar locks, a roll of paper towels and a plastic box of
handi-wipes, a bottle opener, two flashlights and a
chart-reading light with red lens, a box of peanut-butter cheese crackers, a spare pair of eye glasses, binoculars, the
winch handle, navigation tools, two gimbaled beverage coolers for the
cockpit, et al. This is also where I store my folding knife on its lanyard and the hand-held electronics when they’re not in use: the two GPSs and their accompanying hard-wiring, the handheld VHF radio, and the fishfinder when
removed from the cockpit while dockside. The primary VHF radio is mounted on the port side above what used to be the dinette table. There’s little room left on the shelves, but more small things could be squeezed in with
a little rearranging.
I don’t have curtains on Chip Ahoy, but I stretched a thin bungie cord across the length of the windows on each side then hung my wet towels over them. It created more
dockside privacy – and dried the towels. And I had lots of wet cloths and towels from wiping up the inclement weather brought aboard during that trip.
Moving out into the cockpit, the port-side locker holds, from forward to aft, the aforementioned clothes locker, behind which is stored my four fenders. Aft of the fenders is
an empty two-gallon bucket with a line attached, a large sponge and a
hand scrub brush. Behind those is the six-gallon primary gas tank and hose, vent hoses, and a few quarts of two-cycle oil. There’s
a little room left down there, and that’s good if I have to do a quick gas tank switch I learned!
In the bilge space beneath the cockpit deck shell accessed on the port side, I’ve got a spare 8 pound Danforth anchor, with 15 feet of chain and another 200 feet of rode stowed in a bag. There’s still some space down there, out of the way but difficult to access.
On the starboard-side, the six-gallon backup tank of gas is stowed far aft. Just forward of it is my SOS inflatable
with my three primary dock lines with a couple extras tucked behind it,
the air-horn and a spare canister of air in front . I keep the “pup tent” tarp and its bungie cords in there too. Forward of that locker, pushed up against the “food pantry” box are a couple of spare life jackets. This space is pretty full, but if I have to do the quick gas tank change drill, I’ve got time to move things out of my way, my first maneuver. In the bilge space beneath that locker I stow more lines along with a spare tarp to cover the boom.
This accounts for all the stowage space aboard. There was a little left over that could be used, but not much. The books, notebook, and cruising guides I brought aboard I stacked in a cardboard box that I piled on top of the cabin’s starboard seat far
forward against the bulkhead. Behind it was my seabag (which held among incidentals, my wallet and
key ring, traveler’s checks, and a wad of cash) and toiletry kit. That took up just over half that long seat. I left the remainder
open for the battery charger (when deployed) and other charging
connectors (eg., my cell phone was almost always plugged into the “cigarette
lighter” adaptor both underway and while dockside, and the laptop was
connected to 110-volt power whenever possible); my “electronics work
station.” I used the companionway step hatch beneath the keel winch as my “dinette mini-table” – it was all that I ever needed.
“Cozy but cramped,” and I was sailing alone. I had to get out
of even my own way to move about. When I once failed to, it cost me the
lamp’s glass chimney.
sailing “to Hawaii and points beyond,” I haven’t even touched on a
C-22’s design and handling capabilities and
limitations: I don’t think a C-22 can be sufficiently equipped and provisioned for such a
trip in the first place. A three-week trip up the coast of Maine was enough
aboard that little boat. Along the way, various ports and sheltered harbors
with provisions were
always no more than a few hours off if needed. Provisions-wise, perhaps
with a few more 5-gallon jugs of water carefully rationed and a steady
diet of fish for a lucky fisherman-sailor, a 2500-mile West
Coast-to-Hawaii offshore trip is possible, but it doesn’t sound like
fun. It sounds like survival.