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Cruising for weekends, with the occasional fortnight, is not very demanding on the boat systems, especially if the boat is marina based with mains electricity, water on tap and fuel readily available. Simple systems of limited capacity are adequate. Cruising for longer periods is another matter.
First you'll need charts, pilot books and tidal almanacs to reach new destinations. Then anchors may be used far more often and in more demanding conditions. Electricity, water and fuel may be less readily obtainable. Mooring a boat to a pontoon or quay may be a very different arrangement compared to your home marina.
Meanwhile, the need to wash on board, store waste, keep food cool, run computers to keep in touch, will put heavier demands on all systems. So "prepare the boat" pages cover a wish list of changes to consider to make extended cruising more comfortable. Needs will vary depending whether you're going to cool climates, warm climates, or making voyages of many days at a time.
Additionally, you will have time (and may need) to look after routine maintenance on board. It then helps to understand care of fuel, fuel systems, oil specifications, water system purification and cleansing, maintaining toilet systems. At least you can then specify the work to be done, even if the work itself is beyond your ability.
Sometimes, key items break. You may then need to ship replacements from original suppliers, and if you're outside the EU, deal with customs procedures. These are sometimes very expensive and time wasting, and good advice may be needed.
This section will eventually (2017) cover links to authoritative sites, with a very brief synopsis of their contents.
Dinghy and Outboard. Marina based, in UK, you may not need a tender. Cruising further afield, anchoring will become more common, sometimes at a distance from the shore, and sometimes in fairly brisk winds. A dinghy, probably with outboard, will then be essential, together with means of storing it aboard for passages. A vee shaped floor, either hard or inflatable, gives considerably more freeboard, and with 4hp or more, allows planing with one aboard. Climbing in and out, depending of crew agility, may call for a boarding ladder or stern platform.
Electrical Systems. Two sound sources of information about batteries, and charging them. "The Battery University" is an online resource which is easy to browse through if you have an internet connection. Ample Power Systems is a pdf file, which can be downloaded and browsed when there's no connection. The pdf has some bias towards Ample products.
Ground tackle and Anchoring. To gain a wider view of anchoring gear; anchors, chains and snubbers, read these on line pages (you'll need to log into the site to see all of them).
Rope and knot strengths;
Fresh water systems. cleaning them
Toilets and holding tanks. A "must have" for cruising non-tidal waters, such as the Baltic, Mediterranean, or inland waterways, where sewage discharge can attract large fines. Tek-Tanks are the masters of this art, their layout diagrams showing the options.
Useful Chemicals: Hydrochloric acid removes calcium scale in heads plumbing; Oxalic acid removes rust and weed stains; Sodium Hypochlorite ("thin" bleach) disinfects water systems. Branded and/or diluted versions of many of these chemicals may be bought at 3x or 10x the price if you prefer.
Fuel supplies; care of fuel
Lubricants; oil specifications
Communications; GSM coverage
Other Junk . . .
Shipping spares. On line ordering, help and advice for finding and shipping spares throughout the world is well served by a number of organisations. Two which are regularly recommended by European sailors are:
Customs advice - see Comment below
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Last revised Dec 2015