Boat Criteria

As our first sailboat, Rode Trip was just right for us. She has a comfortable interior, and keeps us safe in a way that few small sailboats can. Now with the opportunity to look at sailboats to share with Bruce and Kathy, we can use our experiences during our first 2 years of cruising to guide our search.

While out cruising, boats are a constant source of discussion with other cruisers, so we have spent countless hours discussing the pros and cons of different sailboats. We also have been paying close attention to what boats we really see “out there.” As we sailed farther from the US and Bahamas we noticed that there were more and more metal boats. The owners of the metal boats were universally happy with their boat. They were all happy with the strength of the hull as well as how absolutely, totally dry the boats are on the interior. We liked the sleek rugged appearance of metal sailboats, and their owners had sailed to some amazing locations. We were convinced that a metal boat was right for us. Research into aluminum versus steel turned up many technical articles like this one. We also found stories about how long aluminum lasts while still maintaining its rigidity and strength. We have always said that if we were shopping for a new boat the one thing that we would want more of is performance. Many times small boat owners want more luxurious accommodations or more storage space. Although these would be nice we were more focused on a boat that would continue to sail well in light air, but still be safe for crossing oceans. We decided that aluminum was the right hull material for us.

Bruce may be interested in cruising the ICW someday so that gave us a maximum mast height (65 feet) and a maximum draft (6 feet). We also wanted a boat that could be easily handled by 2 people, but had enough waterline to be a bit faster, this gave us a length between 40-45 feet.

For the inside we knew we wanted to have a minimum of 2 full double berths, large water and diesel tankage, and a place to put foul weather gear near the bottom of the ladder. Many items that we think of as luxuries that we never installed on Rode Trip were standard on nearly ALL the boats we looked at. These items will provide comfort for Bruce and Kathy’s floating retirement, and are a huge BONUS for Stephanie and I.

The list of must haves:
safe bluewater boat
shallow draft
mast height appropriate for ICW
can be handled easily by 2
aluminum hull
2 double cabins
comfortable seating for 4 in salon and cockpit
good engine access
adequate tankage (100 Gallons water, 40 gals fuel)
autopilot (wind vane or electronic)
cutter or staysail sloop rig

The list of features that we would like:
roller furling
mainsail reefs from cockpit
dodger/bimini to provide protection in the cockpit from the elements.
hot water
good power generation systems
plenty of Storage
electric Windlass
saltwater plumbed to sink
indoor shower
cockpit shower/ rinse station
dinghy davits

Armed with these lists carefully scribbled in Stephanie’s notebook we were ready to set foot on some potential boats.

2nd Quarter By the Numbers

We’ve been aboard for 6 months now which means it is time for round 2 of by the numbers.
Rode Trip has now travelled 2575 nautical miles during our first six months aboard!

All the rest of the numbers are only for the months of October, November and December

How we got here
Miles travelled – 1259
Days on the move – 33 (36% of the days Rode Trip was on the move)
Miles per travel day – 38
Engine Hours – 113
Engine hours per day – 3.4
Estimated Distance motored – 622 nm
% of Distance travelled under sail – 49%
Miles of Intra-coastal waterway – 912
Ocean Miles -347
Longest Passage – 347 miles in 56 hours
Nights spent at anchor – 66
Nights spent on a mooring- 19
Nights spent on a dock – 6

$What it cost$
Total for the Quarter – $5897
Total Budgeted – $6000
$ per day – $65
$ on Rode Trip maintenance – 1684
$ on Groceries – 1530
$ on Diesel – 421
$ on Entertainment – 145
$ on utilities – 214
$ on Dockage – 199
$ on Eating out – 521

Fishing & Gathering

Blue Crabs – 32
Tuna – 1
Shrimp – 36
Sea Trout – 1
Baby Flounder – 1

Fishing purchases
1 used rod – $3
1 box o’lures (used) – $6
1 polespear (new) – $40
1 cast net (new) – $35

Estimated value of catch
Crabs – $25
Tuna – $40 ( 4lbs of sushi grade! )
Shrimp – $10
Sea Trout – $0 returned uneaten
Flounder – $0 way way way way too small

Total – $75
Total expense in gear – $84
Still not quite breaking even…maybe next quarter


Hurricanes weathered – 1
Visitors – 20
States visited – 4 1/2- ( MD, VA, NC, GA) + DC
Highest Wind speed ( from NOAA buoy) – 40kts
Days spent in St. Mary’s, GA – 37
Longest walk to rent a movie – 6 miles

Engine Update

This blog post gives a summary of what was ACTUALLY wrong with our engine leading up to this point. It conveniently compresses two weeks of troubleshooting down into one post. If only I had read this post before starting the process…

When we suspected that our raw water pump was leaking into the engine the first step was to disconnect the pump from the engine so that no more water would get in. I continued to monitor the engine oil level even though we weren’t running the engine while waiting for the new pump. Even with raw water pump separated from the engine our oil level continued to rise! This meant that we must be getting water in through our exhaust system. As soon as I disconnected the exhaust hose leading to our muffler I found our “smoking gun”. I had finally found the real problem. The exhaust hose was full of water and it was at a level high enough to be running into our exhaust.

The short version of this problem is that the exhaust system was installed improperly, and has been allowing saltwater into our engine for a long time.

The long version is that three things were wrong at the same time which allowed water to backfill into the engine.
1. There was no anti-siphon loop on the water injection into the exhaust. This should have been installed with the engine.
2. The water lift muffler was mounted higher than the exhaust outlet. This is supposed to be at least a foot lower.
3. Our raw water pump was allowing a trickle of water to leak by when the engine was off.
The combination of these three items allowed the water into our engine.

This video shows these parts of our engine.

Once the problem was located we took steps to fix the situation. All of our resources indicated that with this much water coming in through the exhaust our engine should be at a high risk of “hydrolock”. Hydrolock is when one or more cylinders inside the engine are filled with water and since the water can’t be compressed the engine can’t turn over. Not wanting to do any damage to the engine trying to start it. I disconnected the exhaust system from the engine, and flushed the oil system. I moved the oil through the engine by turning the engine over by hand using a large wrench. After cleaning the lubrication system thoroughly we refilled the engine oil including a dose of Marvel Mystery Oil an oil additive designed to help clean the engine. I reconnected the muffler at a level lower than the engine exhaust and ran the engine long enough to get it up to temperature and drive out any residual moisture. The engine started much easier and ran smoothly!

An Endeavor 37 here in St. Mary’s also has a Perkins 4.108 and we went over and listened to his engine to make sure ours wasn’t make any highly unusual noises. The owner Josh was nice enough to start his engine up for us and let us listen at a variety of RPM’s. Josh’s engine was just as loud as ours, and sounded nearly the same!

After I setup a proper exhaust system our engine will be running better than ever. Hopefully having saltwater in the system hasn’t added too much wear to the engine.