Cruising people’s dream is a yacht capable of cruises over long distances. This remains no more than a dream as large yachts are high-priced, but a number of families take the decision to seek a maritime lifestyle and swap their houses for boats.
But before selling your house and spending and purchasing a long distance yacht, consider also that you need a continuing and considerable income to maintain and run such a yacht. Berthing, fuel, insurance, supplies, maintenance, repairs and spares are the costs incurred so do an appraisal of these costs and budget for them.
A difference between a normal family cruiser and a long distance yacht is storage space where a two-week cruise you can live out of a single bag, but one lasting months calls for long term approach.
You need to be able to store more in the way of food, water and fuel. Cans stowed under the floorboards was the standby on ocean cruisers, but these days yachts are equipped with freezers. The type of freezer used is normally fitted with 'hold-over plates' keeping the temperature down for hours but freezers use a lot of power and it necessary to run the engine for couple of hours a day to maintain freezing.
The question of power generation should be a consideration on a long cruise. A long-distance cruiser has installed a diesel of around 50-60 bhp, but running it to solely generate electricity is inefficient, so they carry additional smaller engine driven generators. The assumption, when at sea, is that if one system fails there should be a backup. This is carried over to the generation of electricity where there is an instance on having at least one other source of electricity, such as solar panels or a wind-powered generator.
Crossing the oceans inevitably leads to areas of complete calm when it becomes necessary to use the engine. Tanks holding 250 gallons of diesel are more appropriate for a mid-sized world yacht, and consequently points toward a vessel with heavy displacement.
Cruising yachts used to carry at an amount of fresh water for drinking, cooking and washing, but technology means that most of this quantity can be taken from sea by a reverse osmosis seawater purifier. However, these might fail so it is essential to have an adequate stored water capacity as well.
When coastal cruising, a basic VHF radio is sufficient but ocean-going yachts require long range radio communication. This in the past has consisted of a high-frequency single-sideband radio with able to contact national radio stations, but these sets require experience to use effectively, making it necessary for training and obtaining an operator's licence.
The Inmarsat satellite system provides an alternative with the Inmarsat A or B systems giving direct-dial telephone calls anywhere in the world for a high cost. The Inmarsat C system provides a reasonable alternative, being a text-only system where messages are typed via a laptop computer and then despatched via the satellite to any telephone number capable of receiving in the form of a fax. Being simple and reliable, the Standard C set requires a small antenna the size of a plate and consumes little power.
See: Marine Electronics
An autopilot is necessity with long-range cruising as it is a waste of effort to have someone steering all the time. A person on watch can activate the autopilot then adjust the sails, do navigational calculations, and take a refreshment break. Utilization of the autopilot makes it sensible to sail with only one person on watch while the others rest below, however safety precautions should stipulate the wearing a safety harness when alone on deck.
Large yachts require a big sail area to power them, but this creates the problem of sail handling by a crew of average strength prompting the development of sails that are easy to handle.
Roller-furling headsails are now seen on the majority of cruising yachts and on the larger sizes another option is in-mast roller furling. In terms of convenience roller-furling mainsails the ideal solution where just winding a winch makes the sail disappear inside the mast. When it comes to performance these sails are less impressive because they are smaller in area and lack in part the aerodynamic shape of the normal one.
The alternative is a fully battened mainsail, which resist flapping uncontrollably when being set or lowered and are made to drop down neatly onto the main boom with the aid of lazy jacks. The newest scheme is for mainsails to roll up inside the boom, but the engineering required is complicated and expensive.
A spinnaker or cruising chute is a desirable sail on a run in light weather conditions, but many crew cringe at the thought of setting and retrieving one. The solution is a device called a spi-squeezer, being a tube made of light spinnaker cloth that muzzles the spinnaker by being pulled down over it. It then can be safely dropped to the deck without any risk of it suddenly filling with wind and becoming uncontrollable when halfway down.
See: Yacht Sail Handling