10 Things That Are Common On Offshore Cruising Boats…But Shouldn’t Be

A proper mast heel fitting like this, installed with Tef-Gel or Duralac, will protect the extrusion pretty much forever, and the gentle curve machined into the bottom surface allows raking of the mast without balancing it on its aft corner. A great solution, but not a common one.

Do you remember how, when we were children and our mothers had forbidden some activity, our standard response, usually delivered in a whiney voice, was:

But all my friends are doing it.

Which was inevitably answered with:

If all your friends were jumping off the roof, would you jump off the roof?

Or something like it. Surely one of the most exasperating parental responses going...but nonetheless a pretty smart one.

And what does this have to do with offshore cruising you ask? Well, it's amazing how often us cruisers (me included) and aspiring cruisers, when confronted with a poor practice on our boats, and thinking about the fix, will say:

But most all the boats I see out there are configured the same way my boat is, so all is good.

But, really, when we think rationally about this, the fact that a practice is common has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it's the best, or even a good, way to do things.

In fact, here are three reasons why the very prevalence of a feature may be an indication of how wrong it is:

  • Boats are built to make a profit, therefore, it is likely that design parameters and gear will be chosen with low price and easy installation, not functionality, as the primary criteria.
  • The vast majority of boats never go offshore, so fully tricking all boats out to do so does not even make sense.
  • The majority of boat buyers have not spent significant time offshore and therefore many (most?) will be attracted to features like cavernous interiors and cockpits, when in fact both are a bad idea.

Let's look at ten examples of things that are common on offshore cruising boats but are actually undesirable:

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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