The Ultimate Cruiser, Maine Style

by Doug O'Heir

(from the Ultimatum, volume 3, number 2, Spring, 1998)

Using an Ultimate 20 as a cruising sailboat may seem a bit Spartan, but when you start out originally as a canoeist and sea kayaker, or cruising in smaller sailboats, the space in a U20 seems almost luxurious. My home waters (the Penobscot Bay of midcoast Maine) have an abundance of harbors and islands that are ideal for small boat cruising, and my goal each summer is to explore as many of them as possible.

The advantage of a U20 over heavier cruising sailboats is that you can sail most places rather than resorting to a motor, an unfortunately not uncommon occurrence in a fully loaded cruising sailboat. A lighter sport boat will not handle heavy weather as well as a full keel cruiser, but you can keep an eye on the weather forecast and head for a secure harbor in strong winds.

Packing gear

In a habit learned from sea kayaking, I have stuck with the plan of packing gear into small compartmented dry bags or storage bins that can be easily stowed in the Ultimate 20. I also find that having portable gear gives me a continuing reason to reduce the number of unnecessary items, especially if I have to move them from boat to truck and back again. A U20 can also be quickly stripped of portable gear in preparation for racing. Several alternatives are available for packing gear on the U20, and a few are homemade since I own an industrial sewing machine that can handle heavy cloth and vinyl:

Laundry Baskets. Use a similar size as came with the U20 for beneath-the-cockpit storage. Bins that are slightly smaller and taller fit well when pushed down the quarter berths.

Grocery carry bags (made from synthetic mesh or vinyl) available at any chain supermarket, usually costing $3.99. Check a few stores to see which brand suits your needs best.

Sea kayaking dry bags available from marine stores or camping stores. Clear vinyl ones allow you to see the contents of a bag.

Clear plastic barrels, available at a wholesale club for $5.99 and filled with Utzs or Snyders Pretzels. Once the pretzels are gone, they have a screw-on lid and clear walls to allow you to see the contents.

Pillow bags made with Sunbrella and a Velcro closure (homemade). They can do double duty as clothing storage and as cushions and backrests about the boat.

Flat bags made with clear vinyl and a Velcro closure (homemade). I sewed these up and found the 10" x 14" size very handy for carrying books, tools, spare parts, etc. because I could see the contents easily.

Important gear

Despite trying to keep weight and equipment to a minimum, there are a few items that I consider important, if not essential:

A boom tent greatly adds to the livability of a small cabin. A simple one can be constructed with a blue Poly tarp that goes over the boom and is attached to the sides of the hull with suction cups. A local canvas shop can also sew up a nicer piece constructed out of Sunbrella or some other UV resistant acrylic.

Mosquito netting for the hatch door is another necessity since salt water mosquitoes have a voracious bite. Netting for the ends of the boom tent would be a nice touch, but I dont feel like going to the trouble of sewing it on.

Ground tackle. My inventory includes 3 anchors, reflecting my mistrust of relying solely on one anchor. Given our rocky coastline, 10 foot tidal range, anchorages in narrow creeks, and foggy nights which can take away any sense of position, I usually set up two anchors in a Bahamian moor. I sometimes additionally use Rode Riders with a sentinel weight to improve the apparent scope on the rode.

An inflatable kayak to serve as a dinghy. We have few docks or slips in Maine, and a dinghy is a necessity to reach shore from an anchor or mooring site. Rather than towing a dinghy, I opted to carry an inflatable kayak and paddle in a bag (Seyvlor Tahiti). The kayak is fairly small for two adults, but serviceable. It folds into a large nylon bag that I constructed.

Nylon or synthetic clothing is preferred for the ease in drying. It is not so crucial for a day or overnight trip, but cotton clothing takes forever to dry on a small boat in inclement weather. Camping catalogues now are filled with shirts, shorts, and pants that are suitable for this purpose.

Lighting and electronics

Lighting on a small boat is problematic. I carry oil and propane lamps for anchor lights and for using in the boom tent where there is plenty of ventilation. I will occasionally use them in the cabin, but I have a healthy respect for carbon monoxide and the fumes from kerosene and propane lamps in small, enclosed spaces. A good alternative is using battery headlamps which allow for reading at night.

Note that I carry only battery navigation lights which are quite small and generally inadequate. I would only sail at night in a dire emergency.

All my electronic gear stays in a plastic container with a tight fitting, gasketed screw lid, and I am fastidious about keeping it dry. So far, I havent had any failures or corrosion with these items.

Corrosion and dampness

All items need to be examined for their ability to withstand marine corrosion and dampness. I am impressed by the persistence of rust and mildew in attacking almost everything on board, and thats probably another reason to put most of your gear in portable bags that can be removed from the boat. My worst damage has occurred with items stashed in a remote hatch and retrieved many months later...covered with mildew and crud.

Stick to the essentials

I read a comment somewhere which rings true: "Every trailerable boat needs to be put on a diet now and then." Portable gear also gives you the opportunity to review your equipment and weed out the unessential items. I am sometimes astounded at the end of the summer when I start clearing out nooks and crannies of the boat after a few long cruises and find a small mountain of gear that is both musty and unused.

Equipment list

The following list (organized by bags, naturally) may serve as a good starter for your packing, but the contents are adjusted to the waters of Maine where summer water temperatures rarely climb above 55. Clothing amounts often are calculated for two sailors on board, so make adjustments accordingly. Also, the food list is incomplete and reflects my bland Irish palate. Id be disappointed if others didnt bring along more exciting fare.

BOAT GEAR
Bilge Pump
Boat Hook
Fire Extinguisher
Paddle or Oar
Porta-Potti

CABIN POCKET
Butane Lighters -2
Flashlight - large
Petzl Headlamp - 2
Reading Glasses - 2
Sunglasses - 2
Sunscreen Sunscreen Lip Balm

CLOTHING BAG
Baseball Hat - 2
Fleece Hat - 2
Gloves - Sailing - 3
Gloves - Warm - 2
Hat Shield - 2
Poly briefs - 3
Poly Shirts - 3
Seal Skin Socks
Socks - Liner - 3
Socks - Thick - 2

FLEECE BAG
Fleece Jackets - 2
Fleece Vests - 2
Fleece Pants - 2

NYLON CLOTHING
Nylon Pants - 2
Nylon Shirts - 2
Nylon Shorts - 2

OUTER WEAR
Rain Jackets - 2
Rain Pants - 2
Windbreakers - 2

FOOTWEAR
Rubber Knee Boots - 2
Teva Sandals /
Boat Shoes - 2

BOOK BAG
Leisure Reading
Cruising Guides
Notebook + Pen

SLEEPING BAGS
Sleeping Bags - 2
Fleece Blankets -2
Thermarest Mats - 2
Foam Extension Pads-2

TOILET KIT
Dental Floss
Deodorant
Hair Brush
Hand Lotion
Pack towel
Razor
Saltwater Soap
Toothbrush - 2

EMERGENCY BAG
Butane Lighters - 2
Exposure Bag
Flares - Skyblazers
Flashlight
Food Bars
Hand Compass
Horn - Manual
Inner tube pieces
  (fire starter)
Nylon Cord
Strobe Light
Swiss Army Knife

ELECTRONICS
Cell Phone
Cell Phone Battery
GPS
Kestrel Windmeter
Pager
Speedtech Barometer
VHF Antenna
VHF Chart
VHF Handheld
Weather Radio

HARNESSES
Adult Harnesses - 2
Child Harnesses - 1

NAVIGATION
Binoculars
Chart Case
Compass
Float Plan
Goose Bay Ruler
GPS Waypoints
Nautical Charts
Navigation Formulas
Navigation Notes
Pocket Lens
Tide Calendar

SIGNAL BAG
Flares
Horn - Pneumatic
Horn - Manual
Navigation Lights and
  Battery
Signal Mirror
Radar Reflector

TOOL BAG
Adjustable Wrench
Hand Drill + Bits
Leatherman Tool
Rigging Knife
Sail Card - North Sail
Screwdriver - flat
Screwdriver - Phillips
Sewing Awl
Sheath Knife
Swiss Army Knife
Vise-Grips-Needle Nose

PARTS BAG
Boeing T-9 Lubricant
Chafe Guards
Dacron Cord
Duct Tape
Parts Bin - clevis pins,
  clevis rings, nuts, bolts,
shackles, snaps, etc.
Rope - " diameter x 50
SailKote Lubricant

CLEANING BAG
Boat Scrubber
Paper Towels
Pot Scrubber
Sponge Towel
Toilet Paper

UTILITY BAG
Address Sheet
Bug Repellent
Car Keys
Hand Lotion
Lens Cleaner
Sewing Kit
Thermometer
Toilet Paper
Wallet
Wallet Case

LAMP BAG
Butane Lighters -2
Anchor Oil Lamp
Mirror Reflector
Small Oil Lamp
Lamp Oil

KAYAK BAG
Seyvlor Tahiti Kayak
Feathercraft Paddle

GRAPNEL
ANCHOR BAG
Grapnel Anchor - 18 lb.
Chain Rode - 15
Nylon Rode - 100

DELTA
ANCHOR BAG
Delta Anchor - 14 lb.
Chain Rode - 20
Nylon Rode - 100

DIGGER
ANCHOR BAG
Digger Anchor - 15 lb.
Nylon Rode - 100

ANCHOR
ACCESSORIES
Anchor Float
  + 40 line - 2
Anchor Rode - 50
Anchor Rode - 75
Anchor Rode - 100
Anchor Rode - 150-2
Rode Rider
Mushroom Anchor-10 lb.
Snap Connectors - 6

COCKPIT / LAZARETTE
Bucket
Cushions - PFD
15 Dock Lines - 2
25 Dock Lines - 2
Fenders - 3
Gas Can - 2 Gallons
Lead Line - 40
Honda 2.2 HP Outbd
Mooring Bridle
Outboard Motor Mount
Rescue Throw Bags - 2
Sail Ties

PFD BAG
Adult PFDs - 4
Child PFDs - 2

SHELTER
Boom Tent

SAILS
Mainsail
Mainsail Bag
Jib
Jib Furling Cover
Spinnaker
Spinnaker Bag

FIRST-AID
Bactroban
Band-Aids - 1" x 3"
Dramamine
Hemostat
Scissors - Iris
Scissors - Knowles
Nail Nippers
Kling - 2"
Meclizine
Naprosyn 500 mg
Ointment - Bactroban
Ointment - Lamisil
Ointments - Desitin
Pepto-Bismol Tablets
Sea Bands
Selofix Patches
Sterile Gauze
Telfa Pads
Transpore Tape
Tylenol 500 mg
Zonas Tape

STOVE BAG
Butane Canisters
Butane Lighters -2
Glomate Butane Stove

KITCHEN
Thermos - Coffee
Thermos - Hot Water
Thermos Mugs - 2
Bowls - 2
Cooking pots
Cooler - soft sided
Detergent - Joy Liquid
Knife, Fork, Spoon - 4
Mesh Bag
Percolator Coffee Pot
Plastic Dish Pan
Plastic Food Bags
Plastic Trash Bags
Plates - 2
Pot Gripper
Sierra Cups - 2
Water Carrier - 8 gal.
Water Bottles

LUNCH & SNACK BAG
Dried Fruit
Fig Newtons
Gorp
Granola Bars
Oranges
Peanut Butter
Pilot Biscuits
Ry-Krisp
Polar Orange
Raisin Bagels

FOOD BAG
Coffee
Condensed milk cans
Granola
Honey
Hot Chocolate Packs
NutraSweet
Olive Oil
Orange Juice Boxes
Quick Oatmeal
Raisin Bran
Rice
Salt + Pepper
Sardines
Spices
Tea
Wye River Seasoning

CAR
Bearing Grease
Trailer Lock
Receiver Lock
Trailer Jack