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Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship? 340

Razgorov Prikazka writes "There is a lot of technology involved in sailing these days. EPIRB, FHV-DSC, GPS, NAVTEX, Inmarsat, fishfinders/depth sounders, different kinds of radar (with MARPA or ATA) — you name it and there are dozens of manufacturers out there willing to provide, all of them with a range of different products. Right now I am planning a 'round-the-world-trip,'' and my ship (an 18-meter Skerry Cruiser sailing yacht) is in its early construction phase, so I need to shop for some hi-tech gear and, basically, I got lost in all the possibilities. What kind of hardware would you recommend as necessary for a trip of this kind? What would you have installed in your ship in order to have a safe trip?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship?

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  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sparticus789 ( 2625955 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:24PM (#41326787) Journal

    Satellite internet, so you can read /. in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    • with a data plan that will not let you do much more with it.

    • Firearms (Score:5, Informative)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:53PM (#41327139)

      Several well concealed, yet accessible firearms. Pistols as well as some kind of AR. The ocean's a big place and there ain't any 911.

      That said, be sure you read up on the firearms rules for every place you might find yourself. If they don't want you to be able to protect yourself, you don't want to go there.

      • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:03PM (#41327233)
        Exact. In international waters no country have official police power, so if pirates appear you're alone. Be ready to this.
        • Re:Firearms (Score:4, Informative)

          by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:11PM (#41327343) Homepage

          "If anybody approaches you in open water, he's not your friend."

          • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Insightful)

            by waimate ( 147056 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:10PM (#41328215) Homepage

            "If anybody approaches you in open water, he's not your friend."

            Either that, or he needs help, or he's approaching to warn you of some hazard, or offer you some fish, or just to be friendly. Yeah, you go ahead and pull your gun. Or better still, just stay home.

            • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Insightful)

              by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @07:12PM (#41329625)

              "If anybody approaches you in open water, he's not your friend."

              Either that, or he needs help, or he's approaching to warn you of some hazard, or offer you some fish, or just to be friendly. Yeah, you go ahead and pull your gun. Or better still, just stay home.

              There are ways to indicate all of those situations without actually approaching another boat. And you need to be able to deny their approach. It's not friendly to approach another boat in the middle of the ocean without a discussion first. It's important to know the actual customs and not just make assumptions based on unrelated knowledge.

              • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Informative)

                by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['yah' in gap> on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:55AM (#41332713) Homepage Journal

                Personal history (3.5 years of blue-water cruising, 12K+ sea miles) suggests you're safer without one anyhow. The people we heard of getting shot were either the ones who pulled a gun on their boarders, or who had a guun on board when the boarders snuck on at night (the boarders found the gun, shot the owner, and left).

                "Pirates" in the usual sense aren't really the problem. The much bigger problem is people sneaking onto your boat while you're either away or asleep, and stealing things. They aren't always armed, but if they are, going for your own gun probably won't help, and if they aren't, they may find your gun before you can get to it.

                Incidentally, dinghies are the first to go; use a steel cable or chain and haul the dingy out of the water at night. Make sure the outboard is *very* well secured, as well; a strong and high-quality stainless steel padlock works well, but remember that a hacksaw can get through that too. Unlike pirates, which can generally be avoided just by having some caution rgarding what parts of the world you sail, boarders are more-or-less a risk everywhere; consider investing in a simple motion sensor alarm for the rougher areas.

                Oh, for anybody who is curious, my family's website: [] . Check out the section devoted to the boat gear in particular (for relevance to this Ask Slashdot).

        • I have studied international law. In international waters the laws of the ships registered country apply, there also may be application of laws of the country that the ship is going from or two, or of the nationalities of those on board. Which country applies jurisdiction is somewhat situational. It is true that while on paper there is a jurisdiction there, actually getting something done about it takes a country actually deciding to get involved and actually being able to get the criminals. if they go int

      • If they don't want you to be able to protect yourself, you don't want to go there.

        That basically excludes the best part of the civilized world. So, start in Maine and go to Texas. Reverse and go back. Repeat several times and imagine you have crossed the world.

        Sheesh, the USA is just a smal part of the word. Prepare by reading a lot about the places you'll visit and avoid risky place like the gulf of Aden.

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          You would be surprised at how many places in the Caribbean are very reasonable about firearms. Most simply want you to declare them and lave them on the boat. Others will want you to let them see that they are locked up. Others will want to impound them. Most are on the up and up. Some will try to scam you.

      • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Funny)

        by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:14PM (#41327375) Journal
        In no particular order, I'd choose:

        A 12-gauge auto-loader.
        A phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range
        An Uzi nine millimetre.
      • Re:Firearms (Score:5, Informative)

        by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:14PM (#41327381)

        Even more important is that you must be absolutely willing AND able to use them, otherwise they WILL be used against you and you would have better of without them.
        I am not talking about you telling others that you would use them. I am talking about you knowing in your hart that there never will be any doubt that you will use them without hesitation.

        And I wish that more people would follow your rule concerning firearms: " If they don't want you to be able to protect yourself, you don't want to go there.". Looking at firearms laws here, it would keep all those loud American tourists away from doing their "Europe in 10 days" trip. ;-)

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        yeha heer comes the boats full of men armed with machine and a rocket launcher.

        Yeah, one person NOT going to hold them off. You might, however, piss them off enough where they will send a rocket into the side of your boat, and come back later to ,loot what ever is floating around.
        Or more likely spray you ship with bullets until you are dead.

        • by dwye ( 1127395 )

          Yeah, one person NOT going to hold them off.

          Where did Razgorov Prikazka say that he intended to sail his boat solo? I would assume a crew unless told otherwise.

          Ignoring questions of crew size, the idea is to discourage the bad guys so as to encourage them to attack another ship, not stand up to a foreign navy. If he wanted that, I'd recommend buying a surplus Russian Navy sub and proceeding submerged. Still, stay away from the Gulf of Aden or Columbia. :-)

          Also, get trained on any weapons, so that you don't go all Barney Fife at the worst possible

      • Re:Firearms (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:00PM (#41328081)

        This is from a former cow-orker who sailed a lot around the Gulf waters:

        First, get a concealed weapons permit in the state your port is in. That way, that is one less place that has an excuse to impound and get a free ship.

        Second, you want multiple firearms. A long range one so you can say "hi" before the attacker's AKs become useful, and a semi-auto rifle. For close range, a .40 (best balance between oomph and number of rounds in a magazine) and a 12 gauge. Some well placed holes right at the waterline will usually make an unarmored ship decide to find an easier target. It is always good to have a few well stashed hiding places just in case for additional munitions.

        Third, if the ship is big enough, there are electric fences you can have installed. Yes, they are defeatable, but any barrier is better than none. Just make sure to switch it off and extend the ladder before taking a swan dive into the tropical ocean.

        Don't forget -- you can get boarded by navies. One can be in the high seas, and have the Cuban navy decide to board your ship just because might makes right, and it doesn't matter where you are, they can say the vessel was not in international waters. Dead mean tell no tales.

        PS: Don't use slashdot for marine references. It doesn't take much to die a painful death with absolutely ZERO hope of rescue on the high seas. I'd find some people, be it retired salts, a yacht club, or the guys at the marine shop to actually give you facts and not bullshit.

        You pay out the nose for marine-grade components. Get marine-grade advice, and that doesn't mean reading some anonymous coward's response. Learn from people who know their stuff.

    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:16PM (#41327403) Homepage

      Read "Confessions of a Long-Distance Sailor" before you go. []

    • My own personal philosophy on this is simplicity and reliability. You have to ask yourself the question: what if a particular device breaks. What happens if lightning strikes my boat and zaps most of my fancy electronics? Will I be able to cope. Will I be able to fix the device? Will I be able to replace it "out there".

      That said, being able to communicate via satellite is excellent. Having internet out there is excellent. Having GPS is excellent. Having up to date EPIRBS is excellent. Having cha

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:26PM (#41326811)

    A compass and a sextant. Seriously, learn the basics first.

    • Dammed right. Its a round the world trip. On a boat that small, anything electric will be dead once you are 1,000 miles from home. If its not made from Mahogany and Brass, it will probably be ground to dust before you even reach the middle of the ocean.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't know if you are just trying to be funny, but just in case:
        1) most yatches (let alone those trying world trips) have generators, usually wind-powered. Not a lot of energy, but sure as hell enough for radios, gps and stuff like that.

        2) inox replaced brass many many years ago (before I even started to sail, and I'm not precisely young).

        3) what makes you think the OP don't have a compass, a sextant, and the knowledge to use them? he's specifically asking about the hi-tech stuff, which a sextant is not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          That is right, I have no problems using the a compass, sextant, watch, paper charts, pencils, pencil sharpeners etc.
          It is about the hi-tech stuff. There is just so much on the market. Maybe this is the same as asking: "I bought my first computer, what linux distro is good for me". But some pointers would be nice.
          And the power-supply will come from a small wind turbine, solar panels and if that fails I'll crank up the Volvo propulsion diesel which doubles as a generator. Must be enough to use the electronics
        • I never got the memo, when did we agree to call stainless steel inox?
      • 60' is "a boat that small" to you? People routinely cruise the world on monohulls that are 40' or less. I'm guessing you have either very little, or very strange, blue-water experience.

        That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want a *lot* of redundency in some systems, like GPS and radio. Get at least two handheld VHF radios. Get at least two mounted GPS receivers, plus a handheld (two if you make a ditch bag, and on a monohull you should; put an extra VHF in here too of course) and probably a

    • I'd just install a good skipper, and be done with it. Actually, make that three skippers, so each one only has to do a 8 hour watch.

      . . . and some ex-Navy private security contractors . . . how big is that Jolla again . . . ?

    • by J4 ( 449 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:22PM (#41328351) Homepage

      That ain't shit without a chronometer. You were saying?

    • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:26PM (#41328403)

      What would you install for a safe trip around the world? Electronics won't give you safe seafaring or your sanity. Can't count the number of times in good weather when one or more pieces of nav gear was MIA.

      Sextant and compass are fine but you need a couple mechanical chronometer watches at a minimum. Then comes the charting and math when you have to do the navigation by dead reckoning. The first time you take a lightning strike or a knockdown or rollover and all the electronics goes, the non-electronic equipment will be gold. Yup, I've heard the guarantees about "our grounding is guaranteed to work", but guarantees in the middle of the ocean are worthless. Radios in a water tight aluminum box with batteries as a backup. Typical abandon ship gear.

      Enough experienced sailors as crew to maintain a wide awake watch at all times. A container ship at 25 knots can be invisible now but on your beam in 20 minutes. The other thing which can sneak up, though it is rare is a nearly submerged but still floating metal cargo container that you can barely see. Some small yachts do disappear each year without a trace.

      Traveling without experienced sailors can be exhausting, all the way from "when are we going to get there" to people who become paranoid a week out on the way across the ocean, to those who don't want to share in the inevitable cleaning and fixing and night watches. Then some will just bail out after the first 6 week crossing and you have to "pick up" more crew, which has its own problems.

      Common sea sense enough from experience to think ahead and avoid sailing into a bind, whether pirates, political, weather, lee shore or a bad anchorage... That might include a professional skipper for the first third of the voyage...and a pile of cash. Accidents happen and parts and repairs are expensive.

      Anti-pirate gear? Best is a course to avoid those areas. Thieves in the night in major harbors is a different and all too common story. Slocum used the lowly thumb tacks on the deck near the rails to grab the attention of boarders in the middle of the night. Lots of stories are swapped amongst sailors in every port.

      No easy answer. Everyone is different in attitude and ability. Boy scout motto applies at all times.

  • EPIRB (Score:5, Interesting)

    by etnoy ( 664495 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:26PM (#41326815) Homepage
    Get an EPIRB. If the ship collides with a floating container and sinks quickly you will have no time to manually send a distress signal before abandoning ship. A free-floating EPIRB will automatically engage in case of sinking and with its encoded distress signal you will get aid within hours. For communications on the oceans I recommend getting a good shortwave radio with a decent grounding and antenna that can communicate further than any VHF-based system. Source: I helped build and design a Swedish 131' sailing yacht.
    • Re:EPIRB (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:37PM (#41326963)

      When we run off-shore we have two EPIRBs and a Spot. One ship EPIRB, on personal EPIRB that is always in a zipped pocket on your person when out of the cabin, and a Spot unit for status reports to friends/family.

      Nav instruments are Seatalk/Raymarine (Depth, forward scanning depth, wind, GPS, plotter at helm) with one redundant Garmin plotting GPS at nav station and a handheld Garmin GPS. Fixed VHF with controls at the helm and nav station and a separate handheld VHF, one fixed HF radio with antenna running up the main mast rigging. Finally the boat doesn't go anywhere without the integrated RADAR and AIS systems working with the display at the helm. Lots of freighters and cruise ships barreling around in the fog.

      And most importantly a mast mounted wi-fi range extender for reaching any hotspots on shore while anchored near a town.

      • Re:EPIRB (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sailor UK ( 2729701 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:43PM (#41327817)
        I have an 18M sailing yacht that we fitted new electronics on 3 years ago. I would agree with some of the other posts that if you don't know this through your experience then it may be unwise to undertake such a major trip. However if you want my advice (and 25,000 miles sailed) - 1. Think about power consumption - all the kit in the world is no use unless you can power it for extended periods - are you planning on a genset? 2. Get a popular brand that spares can easily be sourced anywhere world wide (Raymarine good in that respect) 3. Radar is essential and this sound be linked into your chart plotter ideally with AIS integrated too. 4. An EPIRB is 100% essential. A full Inmarsat/Sat comms setup will be expensive (not just to instal but to run - I know we have one). A hand held sat phone will be more cost effective. 5. You can get some great low cost plotters for iPhone and iPad - the Navionics one would make an excellent low cost backup 6. We have high performance mask mounted Wi-Fi but to be honest in Europe at least 3G is great and low cost Good luck
    • Not just shortwave. You really should get your Amateur license to at least General class, and get some HF gear.

      From the water like that, people on the other side of the planet could hear your pleas for help. Of course, knowing where you are is very important. Get some good charts, a good marine timekeeper, and a sextant - learn how to use it. Hope you don't need to use them - but if the GPS is dead...

      Not to mention it might be fun to use them :D

  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:27PM (#41326829)

    If it was good enough for Christopher Columbus it's good enough for you!

  • 18m is too big (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:27PM (#41326831) Homepage Journal

    Quoth the Seraffyn, "go now and go small" - Lin and Larry Pardey
    18m (52') is hugely way too enormous for less than five people. I would seriously consider a 42' boat at the high end. At some point you're going to be tasked with reefing the main by yourself in 30kts of wind and trusting that your systems are working correctly. I've reefed the main with four other people on a 46' boat in 25 kts of wind and even with a fancy expensive duch reefing system, it's still not a walk in the park.
    That said, Garmin (of course) makes a wide variety of systems, as do quite a few others. I'm curious to see if anyone with real experience chimes in here, but while you can get by navigating along the coast with an iPad or Android phone (we do this in our boat), that's not a system you want to rely on for years on end in a marine environment.

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:13PM (#41329019)

      The guy asks a question relating to the equipment that he should include on his boat that is currently under construction, and your reply is to get a smaller boat? Yep, this is Slashdot all right.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:27PM (#41326833)

    You are planning to sail around the world in your fancy new boat, but you don't know enough about sailing to pick out the right gear? How about you start by posting a rescue bond with the coast guard.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:37PM (#41326971) Homepage Journal

      With the advent of cheap touchscreen devices in the last six years, Garmin and their like have really had to reinvent the wheel. Mapping technology is lightyears ahead of where it was even 15 years ago, Navionics is to the point where you can mark new obstructions on your map, and then upload them to the web for other people, and many are eventually included in newer additions. Digital maps and charts are no longer X months out of date when you buy them, they're X hours since your last synch.
      That said, as of two years ago you couldn't buy a whole system (engine/nav/radar/battery/depth sounder etc) that used Cat-5 for less than $15,000. Now they're getting to be under the $8,000 range, and even offer a non-proprietary VGA out for your Nav station. You can get 12" primary waterproof displays with decent resolutions for under $1200 now.
      There's been a huge turnover in the industry with the advent of cheap GPS enabled electronics (Smartphones) and the industry is scrambling to catch up, with prices finally falling. You can buy a 4" B&W chart plotter for $172-199 online these days, medium resolution US costal & lakes charts included.
      Go check out what Garmin had for marine GPS 12 years ago. Big squishy backlit numpads with B&W LCD displays that made a TI-83 look high tech. There are major changes happening in Marine technology these days. You can pick up low end radar equipment new for $1000 these days. That used to be $10,000 ten, fifteen years ago.

      • by radtea ( 464814 )

        That said, as of two years ago you couldn't buy a whole system (engine/nav/radar/battery/depth sounder etc) that used Cat-5 for less than $15,000.

        Cat-5? I'd expect most systems today to be NMEA 2000 enabled, which is four-wire CAN-bus-based serial network, if memory serves (although admittedly I may be misremembering.)

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kgibbsvt ( 162082 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:44PM (#41327047)

      Spot on! Dump a couple of million into a boat and you don't know what kind of gear to buy? Worse, you come to Slashdot to find out? Head over to Sailing Anarchy. They'll tell you what to buy (and provide an earful to boot).

      - kg

      • Where'd he get the idea that a bunch of basement-dwellers would know anything about sailing or marine gear?

      • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:34PM (#41327679)

        Well, (s)he did come here, so we might as well help out. Here's what I know about nautical gear:

        You'll need a hatch and something to batten it down with, a jib with a good cut, some timbers to shivver, and a mainsail that sets attractively. Other than that, you're on your own, matie. Arrrrgh!

    • by cptdondo ( 59460 )

      Yeah, that. Really, if you have to ask a bunch of strangers on the internet for advice I'd wonder about your skills. Unless you want to see if there's some cool tech that maybe you missed.

      My sister and her husband are full-time sailors, right now somewhere in the south pacific. They went through a lot of gear testing and research before building their boat. They have picked out pretty much everything themselves; I would not trust gear on a voyage like that that i have not personally test.

      Me, I backpack,

  • by bakuun ( 976228 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:27PM (#41326837)
    While I'm sure there are some here that are into sailing, this question should really be placed at a sailing forum instead. There are plenty of those - I'd suggest that you become a member there, and ask the question there instead. It also seems to me that a round-the-world trip may be a bit ambitious if you don't even know about the gear (or have tested the boat) yet. Something more limited may be suitable initially.
    • On the other hand, there are people on this forum that are into long distance sailing, and are heavy-duty geeks to boot.

      For example (cough) - me.

      I sailed for 2 years back in the very early 80's on a small vessel (a 29' Iroquois cat, in case you are interested). After some 10,000 miles of sailing I might possibly comment.
      There were few electronics at that time - we had a miserable depth-sounder, a crappy VHF, a crappy electronic log. Not much worked after a while - we used a Walker log (yup, trailing log wit

  • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:30PM (#41326869)

    What would you have installed in your ship in order to have a safe trip?

    Nothing. The zombies can't get you on the open ocean.

    • That's just what they want you to think. Contrary to what zombie movies show, decomposing corpses tend to float very well. There's no reason to suppose that the corpse being animated would change this.

      Now the question is: who does it benefit to spread the myth that boats are safe from zombies? Hmm.....

      • by Jeng ( 926980 )

        Hmm, ok here is one I don't think the movies have answered.

        If a creature eats a zombie, does the creature get infected and become a zombie themselves?

        Just think of the horror of Zombie Sharks with Lasers on their heads!

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        only until they loose enough fat, and the decompose quicker in the ocean. That is why WWZ pretty much had to make a 'magic' infection

    • na once they bloat up a bit they float.

    • And that's when the zombie surfers get you

  • sailmail (Score:3, Informative)

    by mspring ( 126862 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:31PM (#41326885)
    As a cheap way to do email: []
  • Why would .. what?! Your building a ship to sail around the world and your asking people, "So exactly, how do *you* sail around the world?"
    Sorry, it's just a really weird post.
    You need the advice of a very limited number of highly experienced sailors, not a random mob of geeks and nerds.
  • Escape! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:32PM (#41326893) Homepage Journal

    I didn't realize Romney posted on Slashdot. Must be planning his next vacation.


  • I recommend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:33PM (#41326907) Journal

    "Handling Small Boats in Heavy Weather" by Frank Robb.
    Also, get British charts, they are better than American charts.

    • Wow, what a total waste of money. $3-5k just to watch fucking TV, so you can see crap like Jersey Shore and Maury Povitch?

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:36PM (#41326949) Homepage
    one of these []
    then I would stay home and pilot everything via my iPad.

    That way when the ship capsized, I would be fine and still be able to send out my backup ship.
    You DO have a backup ship right?

  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:41PM (#41327011)
    ....mounted right on the bow in plain site. Good luck off the coast of Somalia, the Indian Ocean and pretty much all of the waters around Indonesia and the Philippines.,
  • Faraday cage.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:42PM (#41327025)


    I'm a sailor myself, having done a lot of time on the Atlantic up near New England, and having had my share of surprises out there. And I can tell you this: Slashdot is not where you should get your advice. I'm seeing things like "Satellite internet, so you can read /. in the middle of the Pacific Ocean," listed under "Easy." Really? REALLY? You're asking about gear which will help you do one of a few things: 1, find your way so that you reach land on the other side instead of going off into the wild blue yonder, 2, keep your boat operating so that you can continue to direct your own fate, and 3, not sink and/or die. And you're getting answers like that.

    There are communities of sailors who have actually done long-distance sailing. Speak with them. The question is not about the tech, it's about the problems you're likely to encounter, and what to expect. The choices you make will literally affect your chances of survival; you really want to have one-on-one discussions with people to get a sense of what you need to know, to make your own decisions. Circumnavigation is no joke, even in an 18-meter yacht. You're going to have disasters. Speak to some people who have actually had to deal with those disasters, not a population that is full of people who think this is some kind of cool game.

    • by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:52PM (#41327125) Journal

      Now, now, nobody actually does an "Ask Slashdot" looking for advice, they do it to brag about the cool thing they have/are doing/are trying to do.

      That said, it should be obvious that what Razgorov really needs is a yardarm attached to the mast so he/she/it has somewhere to hang all the pirates from.

    • Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

      Were he seeking a serious answer, this isn't the place for it. But to prevent you from having a brain aneurysm, I'll make a serious list.

      Sextant and waterproof maps which require no electricity to read.. Having an old-school backup is a necessity. Maps includes star charts.
      Extra marine batteries attached to a solar panel array which produces enough wattage to power the boat's radio and GPS systems. Or get creative, stationary bike with alternator. Wind t

    • While I agree with what you're saying, it's actually an entertaining "Ask Slashdot" and I'm glad he asked it.

      I'm one of those people who dreams of getting a sailboat and sailing around the world. I will probably never do it, granted, but it's one of those "Retirement Fantasies." So it is interesting to read some of the answers. At the very least, it will probably give him a place to start. I wouldn't necessarily take these answers as the be-all and end-all, you're right. I'd seek more expert advice. B

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:43PM (#41327033) Homepage [] and a HF radio ( and a license if you dont already have one ).

  • A sextant, a clock, a compass, a nautical almanac and paper charts more advanced technology than that will fail you when you need it most.

  • You never know when you need to relax with a movie []

  • Buy Garmin stuff! Plotters, sonars, radars; they all network together nicely. If you're serious about this, you're looking at probably $20k worth of electronics for navigation, weather, safety, and communications.

  • by nairnr ( 314138 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @03:55PM (#41327157)
    You want to ask a bunch of people who live in their mother's basement what you need to sail around the world? Good luck with that.
  • Have you sailed across the open ocean yet? I'm concerned since that boat looks like a racing cruiser. She looks fast, but she also looks like she'd roll on you in a second unless you were paying lots of attention. You're not going to try to sail solo, are you?

    Boat forums would be better to post on, and there are many of them. You'd also be able to find some sailors with experience to tell you about gear and the best boats to attempt an around the world cruise.

    There are more than enough books out there t

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      so, 50 people having trouble on the whole ocean with pirates s enough to keep you away? Do you even go outside? Take a bath? eat?

      Floating containers? that mean booty!

      No,l laziness keeps you away..or cowardice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just did what you are planning (except the circumnavigation) and I was in IT prior to that.
    I did it on a Hylas 46 with my wife. Down to Trini and back to FL.
    Never mind Sextant and compass as stated above here's what we needed and relied upon.

    3G (with DGPS HW) iPad and Navionics /iNavX charts installed (pre-downloaded).
    A couple mac/linux laptops with OpenCPN and Bu535 GPS dongles as backup - we never used the ships navigation as much as handheld.
    A high gain Wifi (a/b/g/n) anntena with at least 1W xmit - wi

  • 50 caliber machine gun. A 12.7mm machine gun would also do the job.
  • A real response (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward


    EPIRB, properly registered and with a new battery.

    Marine handheld in the ditch bag.

    Get an FCC marine VHF license. Required for international voyages. You need an FCC issued MMSI number for your VHF. The free kind of MMSI is not listed in the international search and rescue database.

    DSC-VHF. Be sure to set up the MMSI number in the VHF. Be sure to connect a GPS to the radio, so that if you hit the red button, it actually works. That red button won't do a thin unless it has an MMSI programmed in an

  • Paul Lutus sailed around the world over the course of four years. He posted a free book online so you can read about his adventures: []

    He was tempted to rename his sailboat "Entropy" because things kept breaking, so I recommend you carry tools and essential spares (whatever those might be for your ship).

    Also, you should be armed, and you should be trained in the use of your weapons. Paul Lutus had a close encounter with a pirate; after he made it clear he was armed, th

  • Stow the traditional sail and hoist the wingsail.

    Just be sure all the equipment is rated for use at sea.

    If you haven't learn to navigate by stars, and have a how to laminated and chained down.

    The ocean is a maw that is just waiting for you to make a mistake.
    Good Luck, good speed, and happy sailing.

  • by Fishbulb ( 32296 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:11PM (#41327335)

    My parents tool around the Bahamas every year in a Little Harbor 39'.

    They've got at least three different GPS units; one built into the radar so you can match up coastal features with your charts, one built into the map desk, and at least two hand-held units (ala' Garmin Trek). Make sure the units you're looking at have digital sea charts available, as most of the hand-held units don't (or didn't last I checked) come with sea charts built in. The handhelds also have non-slip, brightly colored (yellow/orange) rubber protectors, bought separately.

    You'll want to get into HAM radio, maybe even get a license. Definitely get one for home to try out, even if you buy a different unit for the boat.

    Get eneloop batteries and a good charger or two. Also get a solar charger that you can roll out or pack away easily that will charge two AA's fairly quickly.

    A wind turbine may be a good idea if you're planning to have a lot of tech gear, and almost certainly if you want a fridge with a freezer. However, most of them are noisy and getting a broken line caught in one while in bad weather will only make things worse. Also, if you have the wind to your back (generally speaking, sailing west) they won't generate as much (as if the boat were stationary) since you're traveling with the wind. If you're traveling east, you'll need more fuel to push it through the air (at a much less efficient rate than just running a more powerful generator off your engine).

    An app like Night Sky that will super-impose constellation and astronomy info over a live camera image might be of use. (disc: that's the only app like that I've used and not much - not an endorsement, but it is a cool app)

    If you're not already, become a: carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, and eagle-scout level knot tying master. Practice doing separate skills with each limb while balancing on a see-saw.

    Get used to making really detailed sailing plans and estimating how long it will take and how much gas and fresh water you'll need to get from point A to point B. Then flush those plans down the toilet. Repeat ad nauseam.

    Lastly: have fun, it's great! :)

  • I;m not a sailor but I've been on a few boats.

    - Plenty of extra batteries for anything that uses them. Sealed in waterproof something. If you carry two spares for your GPS, keep them separated, lest they both get ruined in one event.

    - Of course, a handheld VHF radio or two, for backup and covnenience. Spare batteries of course.

    - And handheld GPS, similarly waterproofed, preferably using alkaline batteries. Spares for everything, right? Lots of waterproofed pouches for stuff also, of course.

    - Sat phone.

  • by PhinMak ( 630548 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:20PM (#41327477) Homepage Journal

    Some credentials: My folks own and operate a boatyard. We built a 64'8" (20m) Alden staysail schooner in the early 2000's called the Lion's Whelp. This boat was to be used by the family as an blue water cruiser. Many trips to the carib via Bermuda and along the Maine coast, but nothing across the Atlantic yet. Also used as a design tour-de-force displaying our company's know how. We won the Concours D'Elegance at the Antigua Classic yacht Regatta our first year there, a 2nd place the next year. The boat hasn't been back in subsequent years.

    Full build history plus many, many photographs and discussion can be found on the yard website: []

    Some of the systems we have onboard include: Reverse osmosis watermaker, EPIRB, GPS, IBM Blade server, AC, diesel heater, diesel generator, deep cycle batteries, LCD movie projector, Stereo/DVD/CD/MP3/iPod, main engine direct powered 3000 gallon per minute bilge pump, RADAR "pinger" (makes us look bigger to cargo ships), Sauna (yes, a sauna), full wind instruments, satellite modem, satellite weather station, universal shore power inverters (europe,japan is 50hz, etc), autopilot, VHF, shortwave radio, cell service repeater, wifi, etc, etc, etc.

    If you read through our site you will note that we deliberately overbuilt the boat because the owner is the builder is the captain and any disaster onboard would kill his family. Stays and shrouds are each strong enough to hold up the entire 42 ton boat. Anything that could save lives was installed on the boat. As a consequence, the boat was 3000 pounds over the original design weight. Doesn't really matter because it's a cruiser not a racer. Righting arm would still right the boat at 178 degrees (almost upside down), while most modern fin keel boats won't right at 120 degrees.

    After years of being onboard we've realized that there needs to been a dedicated systems expert onboard at all times if you expect to have every piece of the systems up and running at all times.

    Not sure where you're building your Skerry, but we'd be happy to discuss your needs and right-sizing your equipment needs without overloading your day-to-day maintenance. (or today's budget) If you're in Portland Maine you could come by the yard and see the boat now for a full tour and more discussion.

    207-774-1067 - Owner Phin is on site and wife Joanna is in the office answering phones.

  • Wrong boat (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:41PM (#41327763)

    Forget worrying about electronics, you have chosen a boat that that is not suited to a circumnavigation.

    (Obligatory /. car analogy: I just bought a Toyota Prius. I am planning in driving the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. How many pairs of socks should I bring?)

    A skerry cruiser has very fine ends and low freeboard. Long and narrow it works well for its intended purpose: fast daysailing between islands of the Baltic sea archipelagos. However, they are miserable, if not downright dangerous offshore. The low freeboard will make for a very wet boat. The fine bow and stern lack sufficient reserve buoyancy (lack volume) for big seas. Instead of lifting to a steep wave and riding over the crest, you will pow through taking lots of green water over the bow going upwind, and take boarding seas over the stern and into the cockpit when running downwind in big seas.

    I suggest reading "Heavy Weather Sailing" by K. Adlard Coles. A must read for offshore sailors. It's not a lake out there.

    Disclaimer: I have not sailed around the world. However I have made several ocean crossings and sailed several tens of thousands of mile offshore and in all kinds of weather.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:52PM (#41328761)

    In my view the depth sounder is the most important piece of electronic technology so make sure it works and you have spare parts. If you have a sonar it will provide some redundancy since they both provide depth information.

    Not only does the depth sounder tell you how deep the water under yer ship is when combined with chart and tide table it can be used to help figure out where you are by comparing depth contours.

    Sonars/fish finders.. are awesome toys especially the new chirp mode gear...yet hardly required. Every time you drill a hole in the bottom of your boat for some new gadget you are increasing your risk.

    GPS with fancy chart plotter..of course...don't buy a chart plotter that looks like a tablet.. It can have a touch screen but it must have real knobs and buttons....touch is useless at sea with the waves knocking you around all the time. If it were me I would pick up one of those new e series raymarine thingis. Look for a GPS unit with RAIM.

    It is important not to depend on shit that can break or shit that won't work without power. You still need to get paper charts and should have basics of dr, danger bearings, running fix..etc. Having a good hand compass is important.

    Obviously a DSC capable a must. I recommend getting one with integrated GPS..they are cheap today and by having an integrated GPS just like the fish finder vs depth sounder you have more redundancy in location..if your chart plotter or gps unit dies you can get your location from the radios GPS. Or get a separate GPS and wire it to the DSC and nema bus for chart plotter.

    If it were me I would also get a portable vhf radio and ipod with gps/ navionics/notebook/tablet with charts loaded store them in a metal toolbox, oven or protected ditch bag. Not only for backup incase of electronics failure but incase you get hit by lightning.

    For safety get several passive radar reflectors to hang high from your mast. One or two is not enough. Especially if you have a grb boat..they are quite transparent to radar.. They sell fancy active enhancers but these things require/consume power and are unecessary.

    Radar is in my view a must have. Radars have a TON of different uses ..the swiss army knife of marine electronics. Take some care when positioning the radar antenna so that the beam path is not in the way of other antennas...lots of peeps make this mistake.

    When you can't see 5 feet in front of you the radar will show you what is out there.

    It can be used to detect birds (AKA fish) or uncomming weather/swells giving you more time to reef. When going thru hazardous channels rings can be used to help position your boat away from any charted hazards by measuring against land contours.

    In terms of weather if you are not poor I would go for a sirius weather subscription and buy a chart plotter that supports is not world wide coverage so check against where you plan on going to make sure it still works where you are going.

    With get tunes, weather/grib data will overlayed directly on your plotter.. it is cool to have but it involves subscription costs.

    A navtex receiver is nice to have. In most locations in the world you can get basic weather information to have an idea what is going on via the radio/shortwave.

    Weather fax and navtex can also be had on the cheap simply by plugging the line out from your radio into a notebook using software and the computers sound card to decode signals... If you don't like screwing around with technology it might be better to buy a separate dedicated navtex unit that will just work and consume less power than a notebook...what is the fun in that?

    AIS looks like radar but works by boats broadcasting their GPS location over VHF so others know who is out there. The problem is not all boats or floating obstructions have working AIS transceivers so you can never depend on it.

    Most modern chart plotters integrate with AIS and overlay location of other ships and their info

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger