Outfitting a Small Cruiser for Voyaging, Part 1 – The Cockpit

October 16, 2013

Outfitting a small cruiser for voyaging for serious offshore work can be quite a challenge, especially when the boat in question is 24′. See what Karen and Jim came up with and how they had fun doing it.

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Read More about Karen & Jim's travels:

Karen & Jim's Excellent Adventure is the name of Karen's Blog where she talks about their trip through the South Pacific to New Zealand.

Interested in knowing more about Jim & Karen's Boat?

SOCKDOLAGER is a Dana 24 made by Pacific Seacraft.  Karen Larson of Good Old Boat Magazine has a guest blog about Karen's first Dana 24 MINSTREL. And their handsome tanbark suit of sails were made by Hasse & Co, Port Townsend Sails.

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– [Narrator] – A sockdolager is a Mark Twain era expression for a really exceptional thing, what we would call a knockout. In the name of Karen Sullivan and Jim Heumann, the civic sea crafting of 24. A William Prelock design cutter, that’s known for it’s blue water sailing abilities and only 24 feet long.

– This is nice, not like…

– Not like the open ocean.

– No, no.

– [Narrator] Given the choice of having more money, or living the life they dreamed of, Jim and Karen voted for a better quality of life. So they left their careers and they started sailing. Eventually they sailed their little boat from the Pacific Northwest, to French Polynesia and New Zealand.

– Of all those places that were so beautiful in the South Pacific, this is just as beautiful or more.

– Yeah it is. It’s colder, that’s all.

– Yeah.

– Yeah, this is beautiful.

– [Narrator] It’s precisely this sort of voyage, that sets so many of us to dreaming. And here they were, fresh back and right at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. Needless to say, we rushed right over to take a look. What’s it like, we wondered, to go that far in a boat so small? How do you begin to outfit a 24 foot boat, for a 10,000 mile voyage? So we asked them.

– So when we got this hair brained idea to take off on a long trip in a small boat, we knew we had to make it sea worthy and comfortable.

– We had a lot of questions and we had a lot of things that we had to figure out and problems to solve. And we did a lot of that and it took awhile and we thought we would share some of that with you, walking through our boat.

– One thing you’ll notice on Sockdolager here, is that a lot of the things that are attached to the boat, are done with lashings. So we put this on in San Francisco when we were coming up the coast to put on the display for the radar and we bought a three dollar piece of redwood at the local hardware store and lashed it on with some seine twine. You’ll see the same thing over here. Fishing rod holders lashed on. I added this somewhere on the trip, it’s lashed on. These pin rails on the arch, again lashings. Over here we’ve got an outboard holder, that again, is just lashed on. Most people have their outboard on the rail and we wanted it down further, so our friend and shipwright Leif Knudsen designed and made this for us and he’s the guy that we’ve learned to really like lashing stuff. Simple, easy and strong.

– So this is our boarding ladder. Our friend Leif Knudsen came up with this solution. It’s made of large dowels lashed to a big piece of line and the bottom dowel has a piece of lead rope, which I’ll show you in a second. It’s fastened by just rolling it up, wrapping it up, put it on a cleat. Okay, then you can just let it go. Here’s the lead line. Then what we do, is bring it around and put it over this and it works pretty well, both as a swim ladder and as a safety device in case of a man overboard.

– Alright, so this is our stern anchor. It’s a small fortress that has worked really well for us. We have four anchors on the boat and about a thousand feet of road and finding a place for that road is not always simple. Behind the rudder post there was an empty space, so I poked a hole and epoxied a hook on the cap and this is where we store our stern road. We’ve got the rollers here to run it through, so it’s captured and there’s actually 200 feet of half inch nylon line on this ten feet of chain and we just tie it off right to here. We have rollers on both sides, one so we can run the anchor from both sides but this is also for the possibility of running a drogue if you need to at sea, so you can have a bridle and have the drogue in the middle and have lines on both sides.

– One of the concerns that we have aboard a small boat is, getting out of the sun in the cockpit. On a long crossing and if you’re in the tropics, you just don’t want to set yourself up for skin cancer later. Plus it’s nice to get out of the rain. So here’s our awning. It’s just tied in the middle and it’s square of cloth, it’s all it is. Just roll it out like this. Hook it to one of these on this side and one of these. These are really really good. They’re from West Marine and they’re… It’s rubber and they’ve been in the tropic sun for two years and there’s no sign of breakage or stretching, which is unbelievable for bungee cords, so I really like these. So we hook that in there and then this around there, to tighten it up and we’ve had this awning up in 25 knots, and rain and it works great. Plus we have clothespins and if it’s very calm, we just clothespin a piece of cloth that just hangs off here if the sun is very low, so we still can get shade, even in the low sun and we just move the piece of cloth around with clothespins. We also have a full set of regular awnings, but this is so fast and easy to use and roll up, that we use this more than anything.

– The clothespins she was talking about are these things. We bought them several years ago and have about a dozen… Well actually, we probably have about nine left on board for losing a few overboard, but they’re strong and the cool thing is, they hook on a one inch rail. Yeah, so we decided we were gonna go with solar power and we needed a place to put the panel, so we decided to build an arch and put it high up and out of the way. This is a 175 watt panel and it’s been great. We rarely had to run our engine to charge the batteries. But when we put the arch on, this stern pulpit was not strong enough really, to hold it, so I added these braces here and this brace here. So now it’s actually quite strong and I know one of the things that Karen really likes, is that this acts as sort of a cage to hold you in, when you’re really rolling. You’ve got something to hold onto.

– And over here on this side, when we’re just coasting, we just have this lashed to here and just drop the line in. It’s very very handy and we’re trying very hard not to look like the Beverly Hillbillies.

– Alright, so this is our self steering wind vane by Capehorn. It’s worked really well for us. Just as an addition, it also makes a nice platform for storing this gasoline for the dinghy, so it’s out and fumes don’t get in the boat. We added this for support, but also to tie this pulpit together. These lines here are what connect to the tiller, to actually do the steering and then into these PXR cleats. Originally, we had just sort of jan cleats here and they did not work well. It was hard to fine tune. Sometimes they would come loose, so we added these in Mexico and they work really well. I added this fitting here to attach the main sheet. I also added this fitting, so it’s easily detachable, so that we can use this as the down haul for a back stasle, we can use when we’re heaving to in big seas and big winds. So this is our boom preventer, which we found very important to have in big downwind conditions and it just attaches here while we’re not using it. When we want it, we just take it off and clip it on here. You’ll see that the fitting on this end is another PXR cleat. It makes it very simple and easy to adjust and lock off. Originally, we put it around this cleat here. We found that that was actually fairly difficult to do in big seas and so we put this on in Mexico. When I was making this up in Mexico, we didn’t have a source for splicing, and so I used seizings instead and that has done quite well. When this boat is rolling, even if there’s not a lot of… Or particularly when there’s not a lot of wind, but even if there is a lot of wind, the roll can just make this… The preventer’s on, so it won’t let me move it. The roll will just make this boom move across and easy to do an accidental jibe that way. So when you’ve run the preventer, this comes out. You tighten it up and now you can see, you can’t go backwards. You’re relaxed, not worried about the boom flying around.

– So we’ve a dodger. I made one of these things that is just a cup for… And it has a drain on the bottom. I just sewed it with my sewing machine. You can store your water bottle in there. We have these little pockets for things and it’s velcro closed. To keep lines from gathering a lot of dust on the deck, we use these little dodger bags. And I just made these up and lashed them to the strut of the dodger, so it tends to keep some control over the lines. And one thing that I really liked, that Jim thought of, is this piece of line on the edge of the dodger that acts like a rain chain. So what it does is instead of getting dripped on right here, the rain just follows this down and goes on deck and I’ve never seen it used before, but we really like it.

– I’ve figured that we’ve spent… Each of us have spent about 1200 hours sitting right here on watch. So one thing that I’ve wanted to tell people about our voyages, how important it is to have a comfortable place to sit in the cockpit. Because, you know, you spend a hell of a lot of time here and so it’s important to be comfortable. And it’s also important to be able to wedge yourself in. Because even though we’re here, sitting at the dock, you know, we could be having a drink with no problem. When you’re out there, in the big swells, you’re really moving around and being able to have something to hold onto to be wedge yourself in, I think is really important.

– Here.

– The good one too, yeah.

– So, a small boat, you know, is good, because you’re not gonna fall very far. We hope! And you can just brace yourself with your… All these little hand holds everywhere.


9 Responses So Far to “Outfitting a Small Cruiser for Voyaging, Part 1 – The Cockpit”:

  1. Avatar Danny Dupree says:

    Such great ideas! I am considering a Dana 24 or a Mariah 31. I would like to sail the Caribbean, can you tell me how you solved your water storage issue? Do you have a water maker? If so where would you put it especially on a Dana 24?

  2. Avatar David Mowen says:

    Really great presentation of ideas that came from long hours trying and upgrading ideas that keep things in place and retrievable, and you – -safe.
    There’s nothing like having your head in the bilge, your full toolbox beside you, and the boat takes a good roll. You go headlong the rest of the way in the bilge and the contents of your toolbox follows. Upon reflection , you work out alternate approaches

  3. Avatar John Sutherland says:

    I have a Dana 24 that I would like to cruise in and have been trying to determine what all I should do. This video is very informative. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Avatar Kurt Lorenz says:

    Sockdolager was also a name given by John Wesley Powell to a particularly challenging rapid on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in 1869.

  5. Avatar bill cooper says:

    i’ll keep dreaming. thanks for a peek at what it can take to prepare .

  6. Avatar Jim Myers says:

    Many good solutions to common cockpit problems

  7. Avatar edward demarco says:

    excellent ideas..

  8. Avatar James Howard Means II says:

    What size seine twine do you use? I really want marlin but can’t find it.

  9. Avatar C Bradley Hindle says:

    Keep posting vids!

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