Escape on a 20 footer

Cygnet

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Having bought a 1975, Sygnet 20 sailing boat (called "Cygnet"), a friend and myself (Andy and Mat) are planning to leave from Torbay on 6th May 2002 (May Day!) for St Malo, use the canals to cut off Brittany, down the west coast of France and then use the canals to get to the Med. There's no detailed itinary or timescale to adhere to, but the plan is to head east and eventually end up in Turkey at which point we'll make a decision to either continue on or head back.

20 foot is we know a very small vessel to be living on, however we can't wait to get going. Andy is no stranger to leaving the rat-race, having last year cycled nearly 6,000 miles from Calais to Turkey, only to be run over by a tractor, breaking legs, pelvis & internal damage etc. Hopefully he'll have better luck this time.

We understand the cramped conditions and slow speed over the ground would make the trip tedious for many, but for us that's all part of the adventure. However, we would prefer to avoid any obvious pitfalls that may detract from the enjoyment trip, e.g. paperwork not being in order, local etiquette, safety issues, mandatory equipment etc and we would welcome any advice anyone has to offer.

There's little time left before we go (about 53 days), but no-one's counting. The boat has a bilge keel and draws 2 feet.

Mat & Andy
 

Cygnet

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There's two of us going, and so far we've been using the very compact, but adequate quarter berths (or coffins as they're now known). That leaves the pointed end free for storage; useful as this is the dry end away from the main hatch. In preparation for better weather than the UK offers, we've also set up a system for hammocks running parallel to, and either side of the boom over the cockpit. So far we've been sailing with five on board (a few being sick) and slept with 4 on board including kit - that was a bit crowded, but once again all part of the adventure.

We're using meths to cook on and for heat while w've been staying on board this winter - does anyone know if this gives off CO? My limited recollection of chemistry tells me that only carbon and water is produced but this could be completely wrong. We're looking at fitting a pushbike inner tube around the rim of the sliding hatch which could be inflated when closed ensuring a watertight seal in stormy conditions. This increases the risk of burning meths if CO is produced.
 

tcm

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no there's no CO produced. It produces carbon dioxide and water. I think the idea of attempting to seal the cabin is crap, though - you'll be using oxygen and replacing with water vapour and carbon dioxide. You shoud be in a well ventilated area and not use the stove unattended or whilst asleep. A quick burn to get things warm will be ok.

Other problems include keeping the sun off.

I was going to say that u need a dinghy to get ashore from nice med anchorages - good for low cost and to stay cool at night, tho perhaps it'll be too big -or will you tow something? Sorts out the liferaft scenario too. Oars of course, no outboard...unless the 20 footer has such a device? How very cunning that would be.
 

Roberto

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A 20footer is faster than a 40\' !

I am sure you will have lots of fun. I first went cruising in a 5.6m boat (18'ish), we were four young enthusiasts sleeping on it and we had a wonderful time, even if it was only for a few one month periods.

If on one side a small boat is slow, if you have time it is an excellent choice to take advantage of the best a coast can offer. With our small boat we went to the then Yugoslavia, you know that place with more than one thousands islands, and having a small boat allowed us to sail for no more than 15/20 miles a day, less if windward: it meant that we could really comb the coast and appreciate so many places and anchorages so near to each other that ironically it would have taken three times as much in a bigger, faster boat.
If you can sail 50nm a day and have a beautiful anchorage every 5miles you won't stop 10 times in a day will you?

We towed a rib which was almost half as long as the boat itself, but never regret it, really useful in so many circumstances -we forgot about sailing performances much earlier! Oh, and do not forget a solar shower: in the Med that makes you often feel like having the same comfort as a 50footer, save that you can always find a free mooring in a port whereas they cannot!
 

romany123

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Go for it guys you have, im in no doubt at all the best wishes of everybody on this BB....brilliant

Dave
 

Cygnet

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Hi Dave et al,

Thanks everyone for all your encouraging words, generally people are so defeatist and write off any challenge to convention as being pointless, stupid and in some eyes dangerous - it's a great pity that more poeple don't have vision beyond their established comfort zones.

However, my plan to travel to the Isle of White (Lymington to Yarmouth) in an open coleman canoe this weekend may be considered stupid by any standards!

Over the remaining weeks I'm sure we'll be seeking further more specific advice and hope that you'll all be there to help.

Mat
 

LadyInBed

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I have done a round trip twice, in a 22 footer. I went via the Seine, Saone and Rhone and returned via Midi, Vilaine, and Rance. It would be sad to miss out on Rouen, Paris, Lyon and Avignon. I was single handed for half of each trip, the first time as far as Avignon and the second time from Agde to Weymouth, so the canals are not that difficult.
You don’t say what engine your boat has. That is the important factor. Mine had a 7.5hp Yanmar which served me very well. Your other necessity is a bicycle to get shopping and fuel.
Have a wonderful time.
 

longjohnsilver

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Go for it and have a good time. Just make sure that you have as much safety gear as you think fit.

Where in Torbay are you moored at present? If you're both living on board during the winter it must get a bit cramped, much better once the good weather comes. Make sure you take a camera to record the special moments.
 

graham

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Will you keep us posted of your progress?Possibly a friend back home could post something on the site occasionally.

I would experiment with a half inflated inflatable dinghy lashed on deck .Not having a dinghy will be a pain and I doubt you will have room for a liferaft and a dinghy so this could be a compromise.

Best wishes for a safe journey .The memories will last a lifetime.
 

Cygnet

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Thanks for note Nigel,

The boat is fitted with a honda 7hp outboard which charges a single 12V battery. I've fitted a retractable bracket for another outboard (Wanted advert placed) - probably 4 to 8hp to act as auxilliary power if required or if the Honda motor duffs out.

As for the bike we're looking at taking two with rear suspension so that they can be stored dismantled to save space.

Advice on canals noted.

Thanks,

Mat
 

Cygnet

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Thanks for note Graham,

We're looking at the possibility of setting up a website - I don't know much about it myself, but I know a man who does - we're taking a laptop (need to sort out power - it requires 20V, which means converting the 12V battery to AC, stepping it up and rectifying back at the required voltage), mobile phone with IR link for internet connection to laptop and a digital camcorder. We should be able to record and report progress quite well - mainly we want to make our mates jeolous when they're still stuck in the office!

Mat

We'll post the website address before we go.
 

Cygnet

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Like the Skull and Crossbones!

The boat was kept in Brixham, but is currently out of the water at Noss. Planning to return to water on Thursday this week, and then being kept on the Dart until we depart. So far we've only only been staying on board at weekends - we still have to work during the week to finance the trip although I hope not much money will be spent - not because we don't have it, but rather to show that you don't need lots of money to enjoy all that sailing has to offer.

Mat
 
G

Guest

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Inspiration.....

I have just spent a cold and wet Sunday looking at 40+ft sailing boats and wondering how to fit in all the stuff that I want to take when I 'Abandon Shore' in the summer and go cruising, for a year or ten :)

You are an inspiration to all of us who fight the fear demon within us, I hope to bump into you one day and will buy you a Beer !!

Good luck with your adventure..... and please post narrative and photo's here for us to be jealous over !

Steve
 

dk

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Mat

Best of luck with the trip - I did something similar on a 24ft woodie many years ago.

Re power for the laptop - take a small inverter. I have a Synergex 150W which just plugs into a 12V cigar lighter socket and allows you to plug the normal mains lead directly in. The added advantage of this is that you can use it for other low power AC devices such as mobile phone chargers and stereos etc. I bought it from Merlin Equipment (01202 697979) in Poole for around £50 I think.

Best of luck & happy sailing!
Duncan
 

Adrian

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8 Jun 2001
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Me Midlands, Boat Port Grimaud SOF
Good on you,
Ive got a 18ft trailer sailing boat i bought last year with the intention of sailing all over the uk and continent, but , after reading all sorts of scary posts on the pbo forum ive restricted my sailing to windermere, reading this post has reminded me why i bought the boat in the first place and i have already looked at cost to trail the boat to france for a couple of weeks on the rivers/canals.
thanks for the kick up the a*se.
 

Abaker

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Re: Escape on a 20 footer--tender idea

Go for it. We had a very reliable Honda on a 22-footer many years ago; new spark plugs only spares required. Recently I met a small-boat cruiser in Annapolis MD whose tender was an inflatable kayak, which he found very satisfactory, easy to stow, and inexpensive. Probably it was a Saylor; West Marine lists them at US$155. In the 1950s John Guzzwell thought his 21-foot Trekka was just the right size for a circumnavigation, did it, and wrote a great book about it.
 

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