Pocket Cruising

Pocket cruising is a term that applies to sail boats 27 foot and under. This is a challenging form of cruising owing to space limitations. For pocket cruisers, simple things make a big difference. Many of them are inexpensive. Over 15 years I find the following most valuable:

  • 1. 2 gal water jugs

    water jug<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> sink covered<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> by cutting boardI usually have 4 or more aboard. Pouring is a lot easier than pumping and no one will drink from a sail boat’s water tanks. When empty the jugs are extra flotation. They can be filled with salt water for rinsing and with dirty dish water you may not want to dump at a sensitive pristine gunk hole.

  • 2. Baby Wipes

    Why no one markets these as Mariner Wipes is a mystery. Murrelet has a shower drain and one of these days someone will figure out the plumbing necessary for drawing water out of the ballast tank to be used for showering. Then the ballast tank could be flooded with lake water prior to venturing into salt and used for showering, salt water replacing what ever is used. While not as convenient as the baby wipes we rig a sun shower and feed the water into the head compartment as other pocket cruiser owners do. IThe head compartment is in a bad spot both for draining and venting. Baby wipes are still important, however.

  • 3. Bed Bath & Beyond Expandable Hampers

    blue & white hampersCrew store personal gear in them. They can go on deck at night under a cover. When not full of gear they can be used like a cargo net; once inserted into a storage compartment they expand flat and should prevent items from spilling out should there be a capsize. In 2004 we tested older ones as sea anchors. The test convinced us to stow a commercial sea anchor aboard.

  • 4. Zip Loc storage bags

    The small ones keep tins from rusting. The large ones are good for keeping important documents dry as well as spare electrical parts and you can even use them for food storage!

  • 5. Canvas bags

    lots of them. Our shore power kits, chargers and adapters go right in after being zip locked and we move the bags from compartment to compartment depending on who is sitting where when storing them. If they mildew – we wash them or pitch them.

  • 6. Tape Lint brush

    For several years I used a car vac. The Tape Lint Brushes just work better, store better, and no power is required. Any dry cleaner and many drug stores carry them and refills. They pick up everything where a vacuum will not and no noise.

  • 7. Pressure Cooker

    preasure cooker on wallas marine<br />cooker.Just can not see any sail boat with out one any more. Modern ones do not explode and when sealed they can’t be knocked over spilling contents. They sterilize dirty utensils. I also use it to heat water.

  • 8. Pressure Sprayer

    preasurized<br />water systemThe $18 plastic kind you use to spray down roses – but you want one that has never been used for that purpose. Why no one has invented a shower head for these things and called them Mariner Sprayers is another mystery. We store the sprayer in the head compartment and use it for washing hands and spraying down the cockpit. Use it to hose off sandy feet and cool off on a hot day. It is especially valuable in washing out the salt water from the trailer wheels.

  • 9. Heaters

    Wallas Cooker/Heater & Electric HeaterElectric ones for dockside and the Wallas Marine kind for underway, We even carried propane ones. Of course ventilation and CO are issues to watch for. But in cramped quarters being damp and cold isn’t worth it. The electric marine heaters are around $40. A good Wallas Marine burning paint thinner (yep odd but true) will be about $800 and will serve as a cooker. I don’t really use propane that much but suspect it is acceptable. Check out the Sailing Today October 2002 issue featuring Wallas Marine and also containing a review of the Mac26X.

  • 10. Turkey baster

    – the kind with a bulb. Not for cooking but rather for sucking out bilge water. Condensation can be a problem on pocket cruisers and Murrelet can really condense water in the proper conditions. Sponging just gives you a chance to drip water on the carpet. The baster is also useful in sucking out a clog from the engine well or one of the sinks.

  • 11. Step stool

    movable step below companionwayOurs is built into the pocket cruiser. We use the stool for showering and it sets up nice near the sink for washing dishes below deck. Fits on the carpet mid ship like a thwart on a dinghy and will save the back of any galley slave owing to tight quarters where the designer decided the galley sink had to go (likely for mathematical stability calculations) on our vessel. Its a bad spot, but not so bad when using a stool. Later model X cruisers replaced the step with a ladder and removed the step platform. I considered modifying Murrelet in a similar fashion but decided that the step provided more utility. On a pocket cruiser every feature should perform more than one function. In addition to serving as a stool for showering and dish washing the X step qualifies as an emergency baler. The step base is used for storing the aft anchor tackle. In early model X cruisers it contained access for checking the water ballast tanks.

  • 12. Full size goose down comforters

    best berth, any boat, is on the XThese set up well in the V birth or aft. One can be put down to lay on providing more cushion to the mats and one on top for warmth. They pack down well for storing. You forget you are on a pocket cruiser when in them. As fine a berth as a 60 footer, especially when the V berth is extended by using the forward seat back. On the Murrelet you have sky lights right where you want them for star gazing.

  • The notion that the ensign should fly from the stern came from the tradition of making the aft quarters the place of honor for the captain and his wife. Owing to the skylight, forward deck hatch and V birth extension, most X owners will choose the V berth over the larger sleeping area in the stern. The animation to the right shows how the V-berth bedding is stored. Owing to the head on the Mac26m such V-berth luxury is not possible.
  • 13. Office supply document racks

    document racksThe clear ones are nice. These can be mounted with pop rivets through the Mac26x liner once you decide on where you want them. They can be affixed with the supplied wall tape for a season. We have four. All are mounted on the port side starting above the sink and going forward. Your vessel’s owner manual, ships log, and boating magazines can be displayed there. Aids to navigation, Birding and marine life guides, fishing materials etc. The Mac26m does not have the liner necessary for the use of pop rivets. Racks such as those portrayed to the right would be difficult to fasten owing to the lack of a liner.

  • 14. Cell phone

    phone & nav stationTimes have changed. You still will want a radio but we want to phone for reservations at places that are not monitoring radio. In addition, because we may tie to a public dock rather than messing with an anchor and dinghy we want to post the cell phone number conspicuously in case some one wants the boat moved. We have a phone charger mounted on the vessel’s starboard side.

  • 15. Gell Batteries

    Unless you are operating in very warm climates, you really have no reason not to use gel batteries on a pocket cruiser. Think about crew stuffing gear in compartments that also have batteries in them. I do not want battery liquid to deal with ever. Added benefit: if the cruiser is ever capsized, gell batteries will still provide power. That isn’t true with lead acid ones.

  • 16. An engine that can be hand cranked

    I have twice left the cruiser for a few days or week and came back to discover that something, a light or radio, had been left on and the batteries were dead. Gell batteries are not damaged by that. Lead Acid ones are. In both cases, shore power was a distance away. Also in both cases I was able to get a jump or sail to a location to power back up. On a third episode, salt corrosion prevented electrical starting but hand cranking worked (one pull). A dinghy engine and tow would also do. Some one to call for a jump is also nice. Check lists are nice but they only work when who ever visits your vessel while you are gone uses them. I keep the check list in those office supply document racks. Nothing, especially an A/B switch, will solve this pocket cruising problem. If we are moving the boat north for example, I may have a technician visit while we are not there, leave the key with the harbor master or hide a key, something like that. I find the check list will not get used prior to his/her departure. An engine that can be hand cranked makes the pocket cruiser more self- sufficient which is important for an ocean sailboat.

  • 17. A real table

    I retable used for navigation and as dinettead an article about a couple who were purchasing their third or fourth sail boat. They had one non negotiable requirement. That was for a table below decks that DID NOT HAVE THE MAST OR A SUPPORT POKING THROUGH IT. I never really thought about that until the article but with out something you can lay out gear on unobstructed, every little project (packing, repairing, cooking, eating, navigation, loading batteries into a gizmo, whatever) becomes a geometry exercise. We cover the table to protect it or use the earthquake place mats they are selling now at marine supply shops. Some one figured that one out. The mats prevent your project from rolling off the table when a power boat wake disturbs the moorage. My Mac26x cruiser also has a Plexiglas cover that is useful for document and chart display and no mast or support poking through.

  • 18. Chart Guard

    We have the Garmen color GPS unit and the blue charts and that is nice. But nothing beats a big piece of paper on deck for piloting. We were visiting a book store and discovered these $30 chart guards. My wife got one and I didn’t think much of the gift until I started using it. The guard not only keeps the chart dry but it also prevents it from blowing away and you can turn it and bend it with out damaging the chart books they cover. Since each of those books runs $80, it is worth the investment if you are going to use the charts topside. I later purchased a second because they also work well as frames for displaying the charts on a basement wall.

  • 19. Cockpit cushions

    I have tried to do without them but in the final analysis we want them if cruising any distance. They are a problem on the Mac26x because they get water logged if rained on or hosed off. But the water doesn’t harm them. I have gone weeks with out drying them out. Unfortunately it also takes weeks to dry them in my basement. The flat fenders can be used as knee and bottom guards and don’t fade in sun. I use those when docked as seats when the cushions are stored. The cockpit cushions fold well so there isn’t any reason to stand on them. You just unsnap and fold up before boarding or disembarking, setting sail, fueling, loading etc. You can also move them from side to side.

  • 20. Thermal Refrigerator

    The $140 Coleman kind. It isn’t that I need to have refrigeration it is just that it takes a lot of effort to cart food and beer to the cruiser. The Mac26x comes with a Coleman ice chest and the idea is that you cart that back and forth from boat to home. Heck that’s work. If its on the boat it stays there. I am not carting it back – no way. I don’t want it to go bad so hence the thermal. If you remove the liner for the ice chest storage compartment, the fit is near perfect on the Mac26x. Many Mac26x owners remove the ice chest from its designed place under the aft dinette seat and use this for storage. The ice chest storage compartment is the only finished compartment on our vessel and the ice chest itself can be positioned as they are on the Tattoo or better yet under the table. Out pocket cruiser originally was fitted out with a Coleman ice chest by the factory. Many boaters do not know that Coleman (the outdoor equipment firm) purchased Hobie Cat Company (at the time a public company) in the 1970s with Hobie Alter becoming a consultant to Coleman. Since the only finished storage compartment on an X houses the ice chest, Coleman was honored by – if not connected to – MacGregor Yachts, prior to the introduction of the M (which is not fitted out with a chest by the factory). Perhaps today’s camping image for Coleman is not in keeping with the M’s big boat interior which often includes a TV/DVD system. In anycase the Mac26x is tied to the Hobie Cat beach boats through its ice chest and also through Hobie Cat athletes. Remember that MacGregor produced cruising cats for many years. Many owners (not me) beach Mac26x cruisers like a catamaran. I have listened to many versions of a story involving Hobie Cat athletes sailing a Mac26x at 17 MPH in Mexican or San Franciscan waters and one of these days I will bump into a first hand witness, assuming the story is true. The story usually involves a fleet of Hobie Cats with a Mac26x serving as mother ship. The Cats take off and those left on the mother ship take chase and achieve 17MPH under sail. Most assume the athletes on the mother ship hiked out and sailed unballasted. However, having achieved 12 and 13 MPH on several occasions now fully ballasted – with crew sitting inside the life lines – I doubt the X was unballasted or rigged so that hiking out could be supported. One captain has reported to Sailnet of reaching 17 MPH by starting off fully ballasted and dropping the ballast after stabilizing the boat on a downwind point of sail. Even if the Hobie-cat athlete-crewed Mac26x story is fable, pocket rocket is a valid descriptor for the vessel. Bottom line – on an X there should be some kind of Coleman equipment aboard just for tradition.

  • 21. Shore power

    best seat for<br />reading on the boatMy dealer put up a fuss but shore power is one heck of a nice modification for a pocket cruiser. You need electric heat and you need ventilation fans and sure an electric cord may do but then where is your wife going to plug in the hair dryer. You feel a lot better about your dock purchase instead of free anchoring out when you can use the electrical services the docks provide. I use to keep an iron on board and plug that in to freshen up and dry garments but discovered that is something the bottom of the pressure cooker does well.

  • 22. Baking soda

    Not for baking but for the bilge smells. The refrigerator kind with flow through are best. The baking soda also works well as a deck cleaner and I understand it will put out a grease fire. Why someone doesn’t market this as Marine soda is another mystery.

  • 23. CO2 alarm

    24 bucks. Who wants to die while they are sleeping because of something not vented well on board or the guy next to you running his generator. The alarms have a life of about 5 years. I replaced the last one in 2013.

  • 24. Miny hammock

    computer on tableThe kind they sell for hanging fruit. We strap that under the Mac26x table. Seemed a natural thing to do. Most visitors comment. It is against the starboard side and the inflatable life harnesses and straps wedge well behind it. Takes zero space and 4 can still sit at the table. We have a second hammock but it has never been deployed. You can get a lot of junk in one.

  • 25. Digital camera

    I use this to snap pictures of harbor entrances and also boat modification ideas. Then transfer those to a lap top computer.

  • 26. Lead Line

    lead line– no kidding. Simple things are just better. I understand it is possible to determine the bottom type by depth sounder. But heck a lead line will pick up sand, mud, or hit rocks and I can feel that to determine which anchor to use. It also makes a nice stopper and you can actually check water depth with it! A lead line is a required item for racing. The knots tied in my line are in fathoms. The term knots is derived from knots in a line. If a line is tied to a float and then released from the stern a knot tied in the line at the 50 foot interval will pass in 30 seconds if the boat is going one nautical mile per hour. A knot at the 100 foot interval would pass if the boat were going two nautical miles per hour. etc.

  • 27. Swiss Army Knifes

    I have the Lethermans, but owing to AC cup results and Jimmy Buffet, who has a couple of songs about them, just have to go Swiss. Most important tool is the cork screw. Tin opener is right up there. I have several so there is never much of a need to search for one. These get loaned out to the unprepared we meet while cruising – unprepared meaning no cork screw. So far have yet to loose one.

  • 28. Sail Tape

    Sail tape and velco used to<br />secure cup holderYes I am stocked with the much in demand duct tape. But I rarely use that. Sail tape will fix a ripped garment, plug up a hole in a canvas bag, protect against chaffing. Its great stuff. I have even use it on sails. The picture to the right shows a cup holder taped above our SportPilot. An autopilot makes a small boat bigger according to Cardwell.

  • 29. White noise maker

    Sometimes the noise coming from floats, roads, lines whipping against masts, the party boat next dock over, or the mate snoring, just has to be dealt with. The battery operated ones are nice. We have had several kinds aboard. Haven’t found a marine one – another mystery. Many boaters carry these things.

  • 30. Cruising Tunes

    I have been told a good sound system is needed to keep marine mammals from ramming you. The Mureadrita XL, an ILC 40, was reported to have been struck by a whale on the way back from the 2006 Pacific Cup. The four aboard eventually abandoned her. A sound system may have helped. Nonetheless, some thought into the tunes you cart aboard is needed. We copy them from the CDs at home so my wife always knows the originals are safe. One of the great things about sail boats is that you can sail them and listen to tunes WHILE CRUISING. Our system is built into the boat. I also have an Ipad with bluetooth and an external speaker. It is just cool.

  • 31. AM/FM radio

    Why is it that a cheep $10 GM pocket radio will pick up stations no boat system in the marina can? Look when its game time, I need reception. I do not have an external radio mast but would if I thought it would help. Boats with them miss as well. A real big boat mystery that one. The AM band is a traditional thunderstorm monitoring device on cruisers.

  • 32. Flags

    Not that I am a flag freak. But if you hoist a team flag at game time you get a response from the boaters around you. The Mac26x jib hoist works well and since we have roller furling it isn’t really used, so up goes the flag at game time. I also have a hoist mounted to the starboard spreader. This is used for signal flags like the Q and O and V and a courtesy flag when out of country (Canada).

  • 33 Picnic supplies

    Plastic utensils and paper plates, napkins. That kind of stuff. There are always potlucks to join in on and if you forget to retrieve them it is no big deal. Also we do not want to wash dishes on the boat Garbage bags are also important. I use the plastic ones with ties and keep that under the galley sink where everyone expects to find it. As soon as the bags are full they are placed in canvas ones that I hang from the X stern, until a garbage scow comes buy.

  • 34. Scissors

    Always in demand. That little item is used to cut open food items that are hot out of the pressure cooker. Anything in a microwave serving container can go into a pressure cooker. That includes many bread items. The only thing that can’t be heated and snipped open from a pressure cooker is a chicken pot pie (so far at least). The scissors, for reasons I do not understand, often is not in its cubby hole. Swiss army knife can do in a pinch. Scotch tape is also a necessity. One morning, I earned a free breakfast by taping up a carton of milk for transport and rowing it to the omelet maker.

  • 35. Butane lighters

    We don’t smoke. But for a frayed bitter end these things are great. I have even used them to heat up a key to unfreeze a car lock. For precision work a soldering iron is nice.

  • 36. Oil Cloths

    These are napkin sized items made by the blind out of a material that prevents water from flowing through. They are very inexpensive. I get them from Archie MacFees. Anything that I want protected, like a bottle of French wine – oops not suppose to buy that any more, a tool, an electronic device, etc gets wrapped in those. They even get used as place mats. I also temporarily cover the tops of the batteries with them to prevent the rat nest of wires from getting dislodged while storing. One of these days that rat nest will be properly dealt with.

  • 37. Deck chairs

    You know the canvas ones with arm rests that hold a beer. Long before West Marine discovered them we were using them on the beaches and docks. You need something to sit on at pot lucks and at a bon fire. The Mac26m has better conversational seating than the Mac26x. But if you are not fortunate enough to be cruising with a boat that has such seating, something can often be worked up on the dock if you have or can borrow the chairs.

  • 38. Zodiac dingy ladder

    Thboarding ladderese are the two rung ladders that are specifically made for divers to board zodiac rafts. The darn things just fit a Mac26x. While boarding from the transom of a Mac26x at a dock is a snap, getting in and out of a kayak or inflatable is a challenge without the ladder. This hangs from the mid ship stanchion. So far no rain leaks from that spot and it works like a champ. I leave it down when cruising unless it starts knocking on the hull and in that rare case it is unclipped.

  • 39. Deck Mat

    mat used for stern anchorWall Mart sells mats that fit perfect in the cockpit below the companion way and on the cockpit seats where visiters first step when entering from port or starboard. How does the dirt get aboard? Well that stops some of it. Of course this is where the technician will “hide” the key you gave him when he is done working.

  • 40. Electric cord bag

    We keep towels in that when the cord is in use. A cord is an awkward thing on a pocket cruiser and is probably why our dealer fought us over shore power. The bag is helpful.

  • 41. Denim Jeans

    The name denim came from a cloth made in Nimes (de Nimes), France that was used by sailors from from Genoa, Italy, to make pants. The origin of the word jeans comes from sailors in southern Europe who were known as Gens. Hence denim jeans are worn by Pacific Northwest sailors even today. Sorry Prada.

  • 42. Anchor Light

    anchor light provided to Murrelet by the<br />crew of SSSS BalderIt wasn’t until my sixth year with Murrelet that I came to understand why my pocket cruiser wasn’t fitted out with an anchor light. Mac26x cruisers have steaming lights but these are not legal as anchor lights. Nearly all sailboats have anchor lights at the top of the mast. This actually is a very poor position because on a dark night very few boaters are looking high enough above the waterline to notice it. The most effective anchor light is hung just above the boom or at about that position on the foredeck like where you would put it on a powerboat. Less height is more effective.

  • 43. Drogue

    Murrelet is usually lightly loaded like a multi hull and owing to this she behaves like one when at anchor. This means, in some conditions, she will skate back and forth. After experimenting with the rudders, the centerboard, buckets, dinghies, bridles, and even enclosures for catching wind which, with adjustments, help but do not always stop the behavior, we now routinely deploy a drogue. From the video I now understand that the boat when at anchor with drogue deployed is being steered in the current or wind which is causing the behavior. The traditional use for a drogue is to prevent planing which can break up vessels not designed to do so. Powersailers are meant to plane and hence I had considered my drogue a non essential. I almost gave it away. Owing to the video below (especially the part about towing), I now consider this an essential item for pocket cruising.

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