Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the sextant-and-anchor dept.

Communications 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?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

first post module (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326773)

be sure to install a first post module

stupid head (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327285)

it's not a schooner, it's a sailboat!

Easy (4, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326787)

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

Re:Easy (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326977)

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

Firearms (4, Informative)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327233)

Exact. In international waters no country have official police power, so if pirates appear you're alone. Be ready to this.

Re:Firearms (3, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327343)

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

Re:Firearms (0)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327243)

On this note, I'd skip the AR - go for something larger caliber, like a FN-FAL, M1A, HK91/G3/Cetme, etc.

Re:Firearms (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327355)

Yeah, a FN-FAL is good. I used them in the Navy frequently. They are heavy and rather bulky but reliant and solid. Good one!

Re:Firearms (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327369)

And make 100% sure it'll stay dry for the entire voyage.

Re:Firearms (2)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327309)

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.

Re:Firearms (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327345)

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 (5, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327375)

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 (4, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#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. ;-)

Compass and sextant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326811)

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

Re:Compass and sextant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326981)

This. Plus, an 18 meter vessel isn't a ship. If it's a sailing vessel, it isn't a ship unless it's square rigged on all 3 masts. Duh.

Re:Compass and sextant (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327113)

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:Compass and sextant (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327223)

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.

EPIRB (5, Interesting)

etnoy (664495) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326815)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326855)

I'll bite. How the blazes does one achieve an (electrical) "decent ground" with a (buoyantly) floating chassis?

Re:EPIRB (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326889)

I'll bite. How the blazes does one achieve an (electrical) "decent ground" with a (buoyantly) floating chassis?

A wire to the biggest conductor on the planet. The ocean.

Re:EPIRB (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327249)

Just make sure it's a suitably thick wire. You might want a sacrificial anode, because with enough of a potential that salt water is going to eat that wire quickly.

Re:EPIRB (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326967)

you have a chunk of metal (a porous copper plate, if I recall correctly, as it provides a pretty large surface area) on the outside of the hull, or get a metal boat.. seawater is an excellent conductor.

I've also seen a sheet of copper laid against the inside of the hull, relying on the capacitance effect with seawater.. but I don't know how well that works. On the other hand, a metal hull is generally isolated from the seawater with paint, so I guess that is relying on capacitance also.

Re:EPIRB (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327275)

Keep in mind - you need what's called a sacrificial anode if you are going to be dangling things in the seawater that can conduct and possibly hold a potential (such as an RF ground would). Otherwise electrolysis is going to make that metal disappear faster than you thought possible :P

Re:EPIRB (4, Informative)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326999)

An "electrical ground" is simply a large reservoir of neutral charge -- large enough that sending our stray voltage into it won't significantly raise it's own potential. On land, a wire is sunk into the earth (i.e., into the ground, which is why it's called a "ground") for this purpose.

On a ship, ground wires are simply tied into a metal part of the ship that will have constant contact with the water -- thus, the body of water the ship is in is used as that reservoir of neutral charge. (Of course, that body of water is most likely in contact with the earth, which can further absorb the stray electrons.) To get a "decent ground", you want a large enough surface of metal in touch with the water, and want the wiring system tied to that metal body to be able to handle the charges involved should something short to ground.

Re:EPIRB (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327167)

Be sure to keep the handheld GPS unit OFF until you need it. I have seen too many people run those things dry by keeping them on and then they are not availible when you really need them.

Re:EPIRB (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327183)

I agree, but wear your EPIRB on a well inspected survival suit! Plastic bread bags over your boots will help you get into it faster. For that matter, take a safety course such as an Onboard Safety Drill Instructor course. AMSEA (Alaska Marine Safety Education Association) offers one, but try to find one in your area. You should be able to ask any Harbormaster where to find a local one if all else fails. Let someone know where you plan on going and update them as often as is possible/reasonable. If you don't check in, they can at least let the coasties know where you probably are expected to be. Carry something that lets you chart your position. Lots of people read the weather and tides, but pay attention to the shape of the sea floor and the direction of the current to predict places where swells could be amplified by shallower transitions - 100 fathoms or less for example. Celestial navigation would come in handy, but knowing where to find a few stars to at least ascertain direction would suffice. Know ahead of time what safety equipment may be required by the ports you visit. The best technology is your brain, no gizmo will save your ass when the shit hits the fan better than your ability to not panic or make rash decisions. Have supplies on hand to make repairs! Make peace with your maker and have the time of your life! Good luck.

Re:EPIRB (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327193)

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

AIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326825)

I would think an AIS transmitter highly valuable, particularly for ship's safety.

Re:AIS (2)

kilyerd (768611) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326985)

I agree, the AIS really makes a difference, especially if you are planning to be around areas busy with ships at night. It is going to be pretty pointless in the middle of the Atlantic, but still worth the effort when you are approaching coast.

Additionally, make sure you get an EPIRB, there is pretty much nothing like that for signalling your position in case of distress, and it makes you sleep better.

For the rest, go with your taste...

A Sextant (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326829)

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

18m is too big (4, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326831)

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.

Re:18m is too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326905)

I don't recall him saying he was going to be alone...

Re:18m is too big (2)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327003)

Generally people who sail around the world either do it themselves or with their spouse (Assuming their spouse goes the whole trip with them). Oceanic crossings are sometimes done with groups of friends, but it's difficult to find five or six people who can take off three to five weeks to make that sort of passage.
Circumnavigation attempts are almost always shorthanded. You don't want to be stuck on a 52' boat alone in the middle of the northern atlantic ever.

Re:18m is too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326959)

I was wondering if he meant to say 18 m Skerry Cruiser after reading the linked Wikipedia article...

Re:18m is too big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327001)

Slashdot ate my square!

Re:18m is too big (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327073)

Should be easy to spot in the crowd with the large L shaped bulge in the throat.

Seriously? (3, Insightful)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326953)

...or don't.

Re:Seriously? (5, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326971)

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.

Re:Seriously? (2)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327315)

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? (4, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327397)

Cat-5 has the advantage of being able to replace parts anywhere in the world, and not having the Gold Plated Marine Use Tax attached to it, as well as working with your existing network.

Re:Seriously? (4, Informative)

kgibbsvt (162082) | more than 2 years ago | (#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

Re:Seriously? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327129)

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

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327105)

Buster Keaton's recipe book.

36 22 36

Fill your order....

Why be serious?

What is this anyway? Marketing Research for some new POS website?

Re:Seriously? (2)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327425)

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, and do the same thing. Everything in my pack has been tested under controlled conditions, I carry backups (map + compass to back up the GPS), backup stove if the primary fails, etc.

Not only do you have to have the right gear, you also have to know how to use it when tired, stressed, in the dark and in adverse weather.

Now if you're asking about unnecessary gear (entertainment, etc) then I can understand. But basic survival gear?

Wrong audience for the question (4, Insightful)

bakuun (976228) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Good luck... you'll need it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326839)

You're planning an around the world trip and you need the advice of /. to know how to equip your ship? Best of luck...

Solar, wind, and synthetic rigging ... (1)

Resol (950137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326863)

Since the sailor is familiar with Slashdot, I think he's probably all set for the electronic tech ... I'd concentrate on supplying power to all the gadgets he's likely to bring along - solar, wind gen, towable water gen, battery banks for storage ... And he should also consider some of the new tech for sails and rigging -- many of the synthetics can be worked with by the owner (no need for swaging, etc.).

cel nav (1)

mspring (126862) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326865)

Besides buying all these gadgets, I'd learn celestial navigation as a backup when all your electronics are getting fried by lightning.

Best Zombie Protection (2)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Best Zombie Protection (1)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327037)

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.....

Re:Best Zombie Protection (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327199)

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!

Re:Best Zombie Protection (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327365)

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

Re:Best Zombie Protection (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327069)

na once they bloat up a bit they float.

Re:Best Zombie Protection (2)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327081)

And that's when the zombie surfers get you

AIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326871)

AIS Transponder is a must.

sailmail (3, Informative)

mspring (126862) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326885)

As a cheap way to do email: []

What?! (2)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326891)

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! (3, Funny)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326893)

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


Re:Escape! (-1, Troll)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327341)

Naw, he has his own personal plane, boats are for the peons and those who want to get away from it all. He wants well, he wants "to be president" but doubt he wants the actual work involved, he wants to be around people he can boss around and fire. Getting away from it all is the last thing he wants.

I recommend (3, Insightful)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326907)

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

Re:I recommend (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327289)

... and the companion volume "How to avoid huge ships" by John W. Trimmer.

With a bigger boat you can get satellite tv (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326923)

Re:With a bigger boat you can get satellite tv (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327159)

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?

I would install (3, Funny)

microcars (708223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41326949)

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?

A couple of brain cells. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326951)

You clearly have more money than sense. You want to sail around the world but you've never sailed enough to know what equipment you need for navigation? Simple answer: hire somebody else to make that decision for you. While you're at it, put somebody else in charge of sailing the boat. Hell, I'll do it if you can match my current salary. You provide women and champagne at every port, and I'll even let you hold the tiller when the weather's calm.

LRAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41326997)

Long Range Acoustic Device []
Watch out for those Somali pirates.
A couple mounted machine guns might not be a bad idea either.
Either way, good luck and have fun.

Re:LRAD (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327177)

Mounted machine guns will make it pretty hard for you to dock in most ports, and probably get you in a lot of trouble.

Assuming you're an American, it's easy to buy AR-15 rifles in any gun shop. Find a good place to hide one in your boat (where port inspectors won't be able to find it).

Of course, it should go without saying that you should absolutely avoid the Gulf of Aden in your voyage. But there's other parts of the world where pirates are a problem too.

Have a safe trip? A high-tech .50 cal gun... (3, Informative)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.,

Simple. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327015)

Faraday cage.

Wrong place to ask. (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wrong place to ask. (3, Funny)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327125)

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.

Re:Wrong place to ask. (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327287)

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 turbine, whatever.
Iridium satellite phone, with list of phone numbers to Coast Guard units in all countries which you will be passing by.
Radar/Sonar, to warn about above/under water dangers.
Learn how to navigate a submarine. They calculate their location based on distance and direction traveled, since they have no atmospheric indicators. This will allow you know where you are even when GPS fails.
Cell phone which will work in any country (for port calls).
Self-defense tools (guns, whatever), the ability to use them, and knowledge of local laws concerning said tools at any port call.
Over 2 weeks supply of food and fresh water. MREs would do just fine, and they are relatively cheap ($5-$8 a piece). Also include some sort of device to collect evaporated water in case you run out. And a fishing pole, just in case you run out of food. However food should be a lower priority than water, you can last a long time without food.

Winmor (2)

stox (131684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327033) [] and a HF radio ( and a license if you dont already have one ).

Old reliable tools (2)

smoore (25406) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327045)

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.

It seems unwise to ask this question to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327065)

...people on Slashdot, seeing as sailing is a quite uncommon pastime - and one to not take lightly or recklessly. The crowd here is likely not suited to give apt advice for it as the question is more leaning towards what you need to survive out there than what you need to survive in your bedroom. This is just the wrong forum to ask on, kind of like asking junkies about savings advices. You should resort to sailing forums, where you find people that actually have experience in this. I'm into sailing since 8-9 years back, but not the "bluewater" type you have before you, so I can't offer more than this well-placed constructive criticism.

Spares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327071)

And spares for the spares.... Sextant, pen, paper, almanac, and small compass. Have builder make hidden storage for spare cash, copy of papers, and a gun.

Useless advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327101)

If you're in the market for marine electronics, then you have alot of choices, so giving someone directly in the industry a call would be for the best. If you're in Washington State, try giving Fisheries Supply or Captains Nautical a call, both are good businesses that have alot of experience in that department.

Done That (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327115)

Garmin modular unit GPSMap 4012(minimum) with modules for depth, autopilot, and if you're running at night radar is a huge peace of mind. Make the GPS, VHF and possibly the depth sounder redundant by also getting a handheld GPS and VHF and a small secondary depth sounder.

Doing it without a satellite phone makes it a white knuckled adventure all the way. Simply having a sat phone on board changes your entire mental perspective and the thrill/fear of being completely and utterly alone and cut off from the world and any possibility of help falls away. You still have fun, but it becomes almost no big deal compared to the sense of terror you get when it's only you and the elements.

Any other tech is entirely up to you. It depends on the type of person you are and the sort of adventure you wish to have.

Carry spares. Spare pumps, spare power sources, spare parts and WAY more water than you think you need.


Uh oh. I'm getting that itch again...

A Large Caliber Machine Gun Turret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327119)

Pirates. Enough Said. :)

shameless plug (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327121)

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.

Right crowd? (4, Funny)

nairnr (314138) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Sailing Experience? Big Yes to other boat forums! (2)

Greyfire (25489) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327175)

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 to inform you about the harsh realities of open water sailing. There's also a few that would make someone foolishly optimistic about first time around the world sailing. Be careful about those books. Floating containers and pirates are more than enough to keep me away from such an endeavor.

Ignore the harsh tone of some of these posts, but don't forget the ocean is one harsh place and not forgiving. Good luck and safe voyage.

Re:Sailing Experience? Big Yes to other boat forum (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327301)

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.

Just went from high-tech IT to 16 months at sea (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327197)

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 - wifi is crucial in port or even nearshore to pickup wx reporting and comms.
A roccna or Manson Supreme anchor - trust the data not the barflies.
AIS is more helpful that radar- both are good to have but AIS is really helpful and makes night watches simple.
As for safety, G-pirb, pay Chris parker and listen to him every morning in the Atlanic on SSB or if you can afford KVH/inmarsat then download his reporting, and a canister raft with a grab bag.
Safest possible way to travel is with acquaintances on other boats together making the same passage and stay in touch with SSB, satphone or VHF for short hops.
Spectra watermaker, danfoss/frigoboat refers and solar!!!!! (yes there is space on a monhull either on bimini or in the lifelines between stantions- no they dont ruin the boat's asthetics since they are only 1" high and horizontally mounted they disappear in profile.
We tossed the genset and lived at anchor indefinitely with solar only covering powertools, laptops, refers, gps anchor alarm 24x7.


Depending on where you plan to go (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327209)

50 caliber machine gun. A 12.7mm machine gun would also do the job.

A real response (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327219)


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 and won't do much unless you also have a GPS connected to the radio so that it can send its location when you hit the red distress button.

I think you'd be nuts to head out without the items listed above. Totally nuts. I'd think long and hard about including the items below, in my kit.

Satellite phone.

AIS transponder. Ideally - that way you can see and be seen by the enormous cargo vessels who take 1 mile to stop and which CANNOT turn on a dime.

AIS receive, minimum. Standard-Horizon's Matrix AIS+ GX2150 radio combines DSC-VHF radio with integrated AIS receive only. Just add GPS & proper MMSI number and you are good to go. You do have backup VHF antennas, right?

Marine GPS chartplotter, with appropriate charts.

Paper charts and the knowledge to use them.

If you know what you are doing, or are willing to invest the (non-trivial) time to get up to speed, marine SSB radio and pactor modem to do email by HF radio.


If you are going to put a laptop or tablet aboard, keep in mind that saltwater is a hostile environment. Don't assume that your basic consumer grade laptop will hold up aboard a sailboat.

Gotta say, if you are asking this question on Slashdot, I don't think you are ready to cast off the docklines.

There are much better places to be asking this question. Places were folks who do lots of long distance sailing are hanging out. Online groups composed of serious, experienced cruisers. If you don't know about those resources, you have a whole lot of work ahead of you before you start buying stuff and definitely a whole lot of work ahead of you before you cast off and set sail.

Some software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327229)

I was doing similar research for a short sailing trip I went on a week ago. As was suggested, a shortwave radio and an EPIRB are pretty much essential. For any on board computer, you can also add a USB GPS like the well-recommended BU-353. With that little GPS, you can use chart software like, or if you don't mind paying ~$40, there's

You can find free vector charts to use with either software. In my experience, these were usually 5 to 6 years old for the location I was sailing in. Polar Navy's software has an in-app interface for purchasing up to date vector charts, which is nice. You can also hook up Polar Navy's program to the autopilot on your boat. It also supports AIS, if you find yourself sailing through some busy shipping lanes.

I wouldn't recommend using this kind of stuff as a primary navigation tool, but they are great affordable supplements.

Sailing BOAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327247)

ship you wish

The Slashdot Rule: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41327251)

If you need to go ask on Slashdot, you're doing it wrong and probably shouldn't be doing it at all.

Read Paul Lutus's book (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327255)

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, the pirate decided to go somewhere else. As is often the case with firearms, it wasn't necessary to kill anyone or even shoot the firearm, but having it present made all the difference. This incident is described in day 5 in this page: []

He says on the above page that he was often below-decks, reading, and he was very lucky he was on deck and saw the pirate coming. He wondered what would have happened if the pirate had actually gotten on board his sailboat before he knew anything was up... nothing good, surely. Is there any sort of proximity alert system you can get for your ship, that would alert if anyone approached?

Paul Lutus is a computer geek as well (he wrote GraForth and some other stuff; see his web site) so you might try contacting him for advice on tech gear. I have no idea whether he is likely to reply or not.


Re:Read Paul Lutus's book (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327407)

The ATF can give you a licence for a light machine-gun for ships for a couple of hundred bucks. []

Also a military grade Distress radiobeacon, additional to a normal one, even if illegal illegal, it's better to go to jail a couple of years than being dead the rest of your life.

Lets talk marine tech (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327261)

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.

Gun mount (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#41327279)

CIWS Gatling Machine Gun FTW.

Great for a "friendly" welcome for unexpected guests.

I Am Not A Boatie (but my parents are) (3, Interesting)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 2 years ago | (#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! :)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?