Now that the hardest decision is out of the way and we’ve chosen the type of boat we want, we have to make the hundreds of little decisions that go into actually building a boat. We’re going to have, as I’ve taken to call it, two stages of readiness. We’re planning on picking the boat up in France and sailing it back to Florida where our dealer will do the final commissioning. That means, we need our boat to have enough equipment installed in France that we can safely make it across the Atlantic. This will be Stage 1. Stage 2 will be once our dealer has finished commissioning all the systems that will eventually take us around the world. The Admiral and I have been discussing exactly what things we want done at which stage and this is roughly what we’ve come up with so far:
Electronics – I consider myself a fairly competent sailor, but we’re going to be up the metaphorical creek if we have to navigate the Atlantic using a sextant. While we don’t know yet exactly what brand of electronics we’re going to elect to go with, we will need at a minimum:
- Chart Plotter
- Communications (some combo of VHF, SSB, Sat Phone, etc)
Sails – We have no desire to motor around the world, hence why we’re buying a sailboat. For this crossing, we’ll have the basic standard sail set up with a genoa and mainsail. We’re having the boat set up from the factory with a bowsprit and gear for a gennaker, but likely won’t have that sail onboard until we reach Florida.
Helm Bimini & Helm/Cockpit Enclosures – The Admiral and I both agree that protection from the weather is an important safety feature on a boat. We’ve heard from other Helia owners that the factory installation of the bimini over the helm and the helm/cockpit enclosures are well constructed and good quality. Die hard purists may argue that you aren’t truly sailing unless you feel the driving rain on your face, but while they’re soaking wet, we’ll be nice and dry.
Refrigeration – Refrigeration is one of those modern conveniences we’d rather not do without. Sourcing the fridges and freezers from the factory will ensure the proper units are used that are designed for the boat.
The boat will come standard with other items from the factory, such as a stove, oven, engines, showers, heads etc. However, our intention is to have as many systems installed in the US as we can, given we can pay in dollars (cheaper) and can be more closely involved in the work. Thus, I consider the Stage 1 set-up to be more like camping than the finished home that will take us around the world.
Outdoor Cushions – Fountaine Pajot offers a very limited selection of fabrics and colors for outdoor cushions. We are both happy with the Marine Blue Sunbrella color that will make up the Lazy Bag and UV protection on the genoa, but are still looking at other options for cushions in the cockpit and on the lounge deck.
Solar – We’ve been told by a number of sources that the solar panels installed by the Fountaine Pajot factory aren’t all that great. And with solar technology getting better seemingly every day, it’s not all that surprising. By having the solar panels installed in Florida, we’ll have access to many other types of manufactures and can install more solar panels than would come standard.
Generator – While we don’t want to be that boat using their generator all the time, it will be nice to have the option to run our systems as needed, or cooling down the boat using air conditioning. Speaking of…
Air Conditioning – This is a big one that we may yet have done at the factory in order to take advantage of their ability to do the ducting while building the boat. But it’s in the Stage 2 list because we don’t consider it essential for the crossing, especially considering we’ll likely be doing it in November.
Watermaker – Again, lots of choices easily accessible and cheaper in the US. Not essential to a crossing as long as we plan ahead and have plenty of water on board.
TV & Entertainment – There will be days during long passages, or at anchor when it’s raining for the 10th day in a row that it will be quite welcome to sit down and watch TV or a movie. We’ve already been hard at work converting our movie and TV show collection into a Media Server that we will use to entertain us, rather than having satellite TV on board.
These are some of the big decisions we’re working on making, and fortunately we still have a while before they need to be finalized. But it never hurts to start getting prepared early!