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Camp-Cruising in an Open Boat


Don Silsbe
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Now that I have one summer under my belt with my new Bay River Skiff, my thoughts have turned to camp cruising.  Some members of this forum have many years of experience camp cruising with their boats, both open and with cabins.  I am also new to sailing in the southeast USA; I'm an old Lake Erie muskrat.  I would like to tap into your collective knowledge on this subject.  Where do you go?  Do you use a tent on shore or a boom tent?  How do you manage the "skeeter" problems?  What do you pack?

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Oh---Don! I wondered when you'd get around to this. I even remember suggesting beach cruising to ya last Summer.  Anyway, we gotta get together and talk about it. Hey, I especially like to talk about the skeeters down on the outer banks. Ever hear the one about the skeeter that.....  Anyway, I've got a couple issues of messing About in Boats for ya. (No y'all, NOT this forum. The real PRINTED magazine.)

 

I've done a fair amount of cruising in small boats with cabins, but never open boats. Lots of similarities, but lots of differences, too. (Well, duhhh.) Organization is the key. Take watcha need and leave home watcha don't. When you go on your first few cruises, keep a careful list of what you take, but don't actually use, and what you don't take, and find that you need. (Learned this in Boy Scouts.) I like to pack similar items together. Like cooking and eating stuff in a "galley box", Toiletries in it's own little container, and clothing rolled up and stored in a duffel bag. Whatever works for you. 

 

I'm sure that you know all about floor boards that raise into position at seat level for sleeping. Staying aboard has a couple of benefits---well, maybe more than a couple.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1. You can anchor out a ways and stay away from the afore mentioned skeeters.                                                                                                                            2. You don't need to find a place to go ashore to set up a tent.                                                                                                                                                        3. You don't have to actually set up a tent, although you still need a boom tent if you expect a bit of precipitation.                                                                          4. You don't have to lug all of your junk back-and-forth.                                                                                                                                                                    5. all of that "junk' can be organized and stay in the various "hidey-holes" that you have it stowed in.                                                                                              6. Well, there's gotta be more...

Be sure to check out Grahams cabin tent-enclosure that he had on his BRS. brs1.jpg

 

Think like a tent camper/back packer and you'll do GREAT. And be sure that your stuff is kept dry. Especially sleeping bag and other bedding. A cheap way to do this is to pack everything into double plastic garbage bags with a "twisty-tie" around the tops. By-the-way, being an old guy with achy bones, I prefer a real, 2'' foam pad to the usual thin sleeping pads that back-packers carry. I know all about the Therma Rest type of pad, but that still isn't enough for me. The foam pad does take up more room when rolled up, so maybe that's too much for the Honey to carry. Anyway, you're a lot younger and tougher than I am. Oh---I like a real bed pillow, too.

 

Guess I'd better get out of the way and make room for all the other guys to chime in. Hope ta see ya soon.

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Chick, Don,

 

That photo is of LOON at Cape Lookout.  I'm attaching two other photos of our setup.  The floorboards lifted up to make a berth 5' X 7" aft of the CB trunk. We used Thermarest mattresses and they were reasonably comfortable.  The other couple with Liz and I were Jim Brown and Nancy May and you can see that the room inside was pretty nice.  I don't think John and Lynn fully appreciated sleeping on the boat afloat and were more used to a tent ashore.  Everything, including the shelter, needed for camping was packed in the seat and bow compartments in LOON so nothing ever got wet.  I made the shelter from ripstop Nylon.

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I suffered a severe spinal injury years ago that leaves me susceptible to bad seats and bad beds.

I while ago I discovered hammocks. Mine is simply an 8 foot long piece of light cotton, rolled twice on the ends, to form a strong hem, and double sewn. A rope through the ends can either be doubled and hung from two eyes, or each end can be supported by two eyes.

Or, go crazy and use three eyes, one one one end, and two on the other!

Anyway, they can be squeezed into places a hard bed can't, weigh very little, are up out of the bilge, and can be used on land...

Honestly, bugs don't bite me all that much. My family is like insect smorgasboard, but I don't get eaten. Should I be concerned? :)

I really hope I get to,drag out there and camp cruise with y'all next year. I'm saving pennies.

Peace,

Robert

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Thanks, guys!  This is helpful.  Tom, if you can find photos of your floorboard/sleeping board setup, I'd love to see them.  I always thought I'd be sleeping above the c/b.  This is a different approach!

 

It was a simple deal Don.  Floorboards were 9mm rectangles and met over the keelson and sized to fit the space between aft seat/tanks.  A tab on one board allowed the other board to rest securely there.  Ledgers to rest the floorboards on were glued 9mm below the seat and tank tops to fit the floorboards on.  A hinged leg under one board in the center gave enough support to hold the middle up.   A wood toggle locked the boards down on one end of the keelson and a raised lip on the other.   Don't have any detail photos and don't remember any more details but you can work it out.

 

For mosquitos, there were screens on both ends and repellent.  An anchorage downwind from marsh grass is to be avoided when possible. 

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Robert (Action Tiger), the mosquitoes find the half of my blood that is French-Canadian quite tasty.  If you want to go cruising, do it with me, and YOU won't have a skeeter problem!  They'll be feasting on ME!

 

Tom, I've been avoiding the thought of screwing ledgers to my seat sides.  Guess it is inevitable, though.  But the starting point is in using the aft floorboards directly above their normal position.  Let me think on that a while (or a winter).  Thanks for the thought starter.

 

Now, WHERE am I going, once I get all set up for these adventures?  Do I sail across the Bay River from B&B, spend the night, come back the next morning, and toast my daring with a cup of coffee?  What about the Cedar Island/Core Sound area?  Cape Lookout?  Cedar Key, FL?  

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Robert (Action Tiger), the mosquitoes find the half of my blood that is French-Canadian quite tasty.  If you want to go cruising, do it with me, and YOU won't have a skeeter problem!  They'll be feasting on ME!

 

Tom, I've been avoiding the thought of screwing ledgers to my seat sides.  Guess it is inevitable, though.  But the starting point is in using the aft floorboards directly above their normal position.  Let me think on that a while (or a winter).  Thanks for the thought starter.

 

Now, WHERE am I going, once I get all set up for these adventures?  Do I sail across the Bay River from B&B, spend the night, come back the next morning, and toast my daring with a cup of coffee?  What about the Cedar Island/Core Sound area?  Cape Lookout?  Cedar Key, FL?  

 

The ledgers are small, only about 7/16" square or even less. If your boards are cut precisely to fit the space between the tanks, they cannot move about.  No shortage of great places to sail and camp on.  Launch at Atlantic and sail across Core Sound to Drum Inlet and camp on the spit is great and avoids grasses that attract the skeeters.  Skeeters don't like wind and there is usually wind there to blow them away.  Launch at Harkers Island and sail to Cape Lookout where those photos were taken.  Many others.

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Don, launch at Beaufort, NC. across from Shackleford banks and head north. I can fill you in on some of the best gunkholes. Be sure to plan a visit to Portsmouth Village across the channel from Ocracoke. There is where you'll find the biggest, hungriest skeeters! This area is my "home waters". Try it---you'll like it! And take a trip up the Nuese River is a great cruise, too. Go all the way to the New Bern waterfront and spend the night there. And the Pamlico River, too. Remember the book The Last Days of Blackbeard? You can visit where the book says Blackbeard was from---Bath. And Little Washington is a fun little town.When we get together with our charts, I'll show you some good places. 

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Hi Don,

 

I'm in the same boat, well, a different boat really, but you get the idea.  I'm also eager to try dinghy cruising, but until then, I've been doing some reading.

  • I recommend "The Dinghy Cruising Companion" by Roger Barnes, and also a number of Roger's youtube videos.  
  • The UK's dinghy cruising association website, http://www.dinghycruising.org.uk. 
  • The Shallow Water Sailors http://www.shallowwatersailor.us  mostly but not totally Chesapeake Bay club.
  • http://logofspartina.blogspot.com  -- Steve Earley's super sailing adventures in the Mid-Atlantic.   Tidbits on staying away from mosquitoes and preparation.
  • Safety packing checklists on the watertribe website - somewhere.  Can't find it right now.
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Don't overthink it. These shallow water boats allow you to pull up into a tidal creek or protected bay and sleep like a baby. Is there anything better than listening to the sounds of the water as you fall asleep or seeing the majesty of a star filled sky when you are up in the middle of the night to take care of business? Or waking to a dew covered boat and seeing the low angle lighting of the morning sun? Rig a boom tarp and get a sleeping bag and mat and just do it.

 

Rest assured that my plan is to figure out a way to sleep up top on the CS20.3 I'm building. The cabin will be reserved for cold and/or rainy. While no B & B boats are involved, here is a video I made from a trip in the 1000 Islands (St Lawrence Seaway) last September for inspiration. My happy place.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn72j1wRojU

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Wow, I'm excited!  I think I'll start with some local mountain lakes, and go to the coast when I'm properly equipped.  Drum Inlet sounds like a wonderful beginner's adventure, too.  It's not's too buggy?  I forgot about the log of the Spartina.  Those trips are inspiring.

 

One question is related to my sails.  They are on luff sleeves, not tracks.  I experimented with the single "reefed" position at the Messabout.  Do y'all think this is enough for cruising coastal waters?  Should I consider adding a reefing system to my mizzen, similar to what was done on this Spindrift?  

 
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Don,

 

The Spindrift reefing system will not work with a sprit. I think that with common sense, the rig that you have will work for coastal cruising. You just have to anticipate the weather before you set off or find a somewhere to stop to reef. The biggest open passage that I did in my BRS was from Oriental to Beaufort around Cedar Island and down Core Sound. 

 

Because I was racing, I did want to reef. She handled everything well until I got past the western end of Harkers Island. The wind was hard and on the nose and was against the tide with a wicked chop. About every fifth gust heeled me over to the point that I shipped a small amount of water. This started coming in faster than the bailer could handle. I realized that if I did not do something I would sail her under. I reluctantly hoved-to and bailed her out. After a while Carrot Island came closer and the fetch shortened and the nasty chop reduced and everything was good. 

 

Had I not been racing I would have pulled up to the lee side of Harkers Island and reefed and everything would have been fine. Even when pushed hard, her handling was predictable.

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Thanks, Graham.  It's always great to get a story along with the advice.  By "reefing" you mean this set-up, right?  I sure do wish I'd tried it out on that one blustery day...

 

I did know that the Spindrift system was going to be problematic for my rig.  I was just getting to that point in my thought process.  But I'm having my luff sleeves tightened up over the holidays, and wanted to make this jump, if it was the way to go.  I'd rather leave it simple, so thanks for the input.

post-3770-0-53686400-1481565466_thumb.jpg

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Hey Don, Devil's Fork will be a GREAT one. Summer Breeze wants to go on a "cruise" there soon---when it warms up. Of course we'll be anchoring-out somewhere. I'm told that the lake is so far from any light source that it's like being twenty miles off shore when you look up at the night sky. Maybe we can plan a "mini-messabout" there. Whaddaya think?

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