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Gear for Oceangoing Cruisers

The 28th ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) finished up in St. Lucia in mid December, and a stroll around the docks at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina yielded some interesting sights. Not least among them was the number of general-purpose production cruisers that weren’t specifically built or marketed as ocean boats

The 28th ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) finished up in St. Lucia in mid December, and a stroll around the docks at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina yielded some interesting sights. Not least among them was the number of general-purpose production cruisers that weren’t specifically built or marketed as ocean boats, but are obviously well capable of transiting the Atlantic in good time and in good shape. Many—but by no means all—of these boats had been owner-modified in one way or another, and the nature of the mods was interesting. Most of the rigs looked standard, although some owners had added removable inner forestays for heavy-weather headsails. The most obvious differences showed up in the cockpit area, where extra gear deemed important for extended cruising—davits, solar panels, assorted antennae, safety equipment—ends up. Here’s a quick look at some of the add-ons and ancillaries.

Sprit On long downwind passages ease of sailhandling is paramount. Here’s a nice blend of traditional and modern—the sprit on this cruiser provides a perfect mounting point for an extending sprit for an A-sail.

Propane Most of the European boats sported composite gas cylinders, and it’s easy to see why. You can’t hang steel cylinders on your stern rail without having them rust away in no time, and you can see at glance how much propane is left in the tank.

Davits It’s a rare ocean-crosser that hasn’t had a stern arch bolted to it. As well as supporting the usual solar panels and wind generator, this one provides a convenient stowage point for a kayak.

Super Solar Lacking a cockpit arch, the skipper of this older cruiser had no choice but to mount his solar panels in the cockpit area. The lifeline-mounted one folds down under sail, while that one the transom can be rotated and swiveled to catch the sun’s rays. Note the homemade liferaft cage.

Power Generation In general, there were fewer wind generators than expected. Most boats relied on solar power, and several carried water generators like this towable unit.

Stern raft Most boats had liferafts mounted on the pushpit, which is a logical place for them—if a little unsightly. Note the lifebuoy and danbuoy combo—essential safety gear for all but coastal cruising.

Anchor Several boats had this good-looking and practical stern-anchor setup. Pull the pin and the anchor deploys. It’s ideal for bow-to Med mooring, but also has applications in many other cruising grounds where you can moor with a line to shore.

Raft arch Only recently have builders begun to provide dedicated liferaft stowage, so on most boats more than a few years old it’s difficult to find a mounting point that’s out of the way. The skipper of this boat has stashed his raft in his cockpit arch.

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