Monday, October 11, 2010

How do you spot a *real* cruiser?

Mike, over at Zero to Cruising, tells us...

How can you tell a “real” cruiser from a recreational boater? You can’t tell by the fancy burgees (flags) in their boat’s rigging. Nor can you tell by the anchor on their bow (although a nice big one is a pretty good sign). We’ve determined that the best way to tell if someone is a (long distance) cruiser is by the fuel and water jerry cans carried on their deck. I remember hearing from someone that certain charter operations would actually tell their customers to find boats with jerry cans on deck and to anchor nearby them, assuming that they would know what they are doing!

Before anyone pipes up and says something (John!), yes, we do have a sailboat, but we have (sadly) learned that relying solely upon the wind for propulsion could make for some very long days. Yesterday would have been a great example of this! Our boat carries 27 gallons of gasoline in its main tank and burns approximately 1 gallon per hour when running on 1 engine. Although we won’t be making any huge runs until we get to the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, we are getting ourselves prepared.

The typical method for carrying jerry cans on deck is to string a board between two stanchions and lash the cans to it. There is only one really appropriate spot on our boat for this and the span between the stanchions there is about 6 feet. Because I think that is a fairly big span and I wanted something strong enough to support the weight of 3 cans, we decided to go with 2×6s, but what material to use? After debating for quite some time and counting our pennies, we decided to go with cedar. We purchased one 14 foot plank and had it cut in half, rounded the corners on each piece and sanded them smooth. I purchased some U-bolts from the hardware store to attach the boards to the stanchions but before doing so, was chastised by our friend Kirk for cheaping-out and not buying stainless steel ones. So, I guess it’s back to the chandlery then. :(

Once the cans (4 fuel and 2 water) are all ready to be attached, the final thing we need to do is to protect them from the sun. We have heard that the UV damage can be serious so Rebecca plans to sew a nice Sunbrella cover for each of them. We’ll post some more pics when we get it all done and looking pretty.

Checking the placement for the cans. We’ll carry 2 gas and 1 water can on each side.

Fortunately our friend Kirk has a good selection of power tools to speed up the job.
And I guess it should be added that we have two 5-gallon jerry cans of diesel and a 2.5 gallon can of outboard gas tied to our stern rail on Eolian.  But no board.  Is that close enough?


  1. We have four 5-gal diesel jugs lashed across the foredeck. Lulu sewed canvas sun covers for them. That was quite a trick as they're shaped weird. Ended up using pieces of newspaper draped over the jugs to make a pattern that could be laid flat. Copied the pattern to fabric and sewed them up. Fit pretty darn good, too. They even have holes at the handles so you can still pick them up or run a lashing line through them.

    Our three one-gallon gas jugs sit in canvas covered milk crates that are lashed to the foredeck and cabin top.

  2. That sounds like a great project Steve! The use of newspaper to template the covers is something that I bet others would like to know about - would you consider writing it up for SmallBoatProjects?


  3. No time right now, Bob, but I'll put it on my to-do list. Maybe we'll have something else to make a complicated cover for so I can take pictures as I go along because, of course, the newspaper patterns for the jug covers was used for fire starter a long time ago.

  4. I can't believe we have spent so much time (and money) on these silly boards and we haven't even started on the covers for the jugs yet!

  5. Here is some follow up on that project, including a cost breakdown:

  6. Steve: See Steve, Mike could use your patterning process!

    Mike: Thanks for the followup!


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