SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Simplifying an AS-29

September 10, 2012

Just how simple is too simple to be comfortable? That is sort of like asking how small is too small. If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said that I could never be comfortable in a boat smaller than Eurisko. After all, she is a big 34-footer, so even going down to a normal-sized 32-footer would be like losing a quarter of the boat. But, as we have learned repeatedly in our crazy lives, never say never. Here I sit, on a 29-footer, as comfortable as I ever was on Eurisko.

Feeling at home and comfortable on a boat has more to do with her accommodations than with her size. The smaller the boat, the more important it is to remove superfluous systems, gadgets, and stuff in order to be comfortable. If I can gain room by simplifying, then I will gladly change my lifestyle a bit in order to be more relaxed at home. And Walküre has indeed become a very comfortable home.


No dish rack, new folding table and Air Head

At some point in her life, Walküre has had a watermaker, wind generator, and autopilot. Thankfully for us, they were all removed before we purchased her, saving us the trouble of getting rid of them. Because once we bought her, we had enough to remove. We started with the holding tank, the Y-valve, the endless hoses and connections leading to, and including, the head. Gone. I will not tolerate a boat that smells of holding tank and every boat that has one does. (If you deny that your boat smells like holding tank, just remember, smokers can't smell smoke, either.) When we made the final move from Eurisko to Walküre, we took our Air Head composting toilet with us. That and a bucket are the only two head options that should be on a boat. (It's been almost 4 months and the locker still smells of holding tank.) While we were removing things, we took out the shower sump. Eurisko has a simple shower, and we decided to build a small seat in Walküre's shower and use our Eurisko-style shower sitting down, since there is no standing headroom in the head. There is something about icky nasty shower water sitting in a box that disgusts me. (And even after you pump it out, a shower sump still is not completely empty. Trust me, this one still had water in it when we removed it.)

Now that we had removed a few systems, we had extra thru-hulls that were unnecessary. Dave fiberglassed over 5 holes in the boat. There, that was better. One more head simplification: we removed the hose going to the head sink and the sink drain. On a 29-foot boat, I just can't see needing two sinks. You can almost touch the galley sink from the head, so we decided running water in the head was not necessary.


cat rail

Our next modification was the removal of the fridge. We sold it (got a month's storage for Eurisko out of the deal) and put a cooler in its place. We have lived without refrigeration for 12 years, why start now?

The most drastic change to the interior of the boat was when we took out the huge table. Phil Bolger designed the AS-29 with a salon table with two fold-down leaves. That's great, if you don't ever plan on going forward, past the table. The problem is, of course, that the head is forward. I could not stand having to walk on my knees on the settee cushion in order to get around the table, so we removed it. In its place, Dave built a folding table, which will be featured in a future edition of Small Craft Advisor. We also removed a large, heavy, partially broken set of drawers that was in the aft cabin. In its place, Dave built a folding jewelry bench, and has been creating fabulous pieces of jewelry back there ever since!


A touch of grey

But simplifying Walküre wasn't all about removing things. The galley had only a Whale hand pump. After over a decade with a foot pump, having both hands free to wash and rinse dishes, I would not tolerate a hand pump. Rather than remove the pump that was already there, Dave simply installed a foot pump in addition to it. So now we have two options at the galley sink.

My favorite simplification is a line. One line makes all the difference. Walküre's mast is on a tabernacle, counter-weighted to be easy to raise and lower. The weight in the bottom of the mast is not quite adequate to make it "easy," however. So Dave cleated a line to the base of the mast, ran it aft over the cabin house to the cleats normally used for the halyards. I run the line, pulling on it to help him raise it, keeping tension on it to help him lower it. Because I have a cleat to wrap the line around, I can exert tremendous tension on the line, making both raising and lowering the mast a simple process. And I can keep the mast upright by myself while he takes his time wrapping the line around the bottom to secure it. Life can always be made a little easier with bits of string.

There were other changes as well. We removed the structure over the cockpit in order to make moving around easier. We will build a simple Eurisko-style bimini when necessary. We added a small guard rail to help keep the cats onboard. And Dave changed the small galley spigot to a much larger one, again, because I was so spoiled on Eurisko. We replumbed the water system and completely rewired the boat. We replaced the walk-on solar panels with Eurisko's two 50-watt panels and replaced all the lights with LED bulbs. Dave built a silverware drawer and we removed a dishes rack that blocked our view between the galley and the salon. And we painted her grey.

Walküre is noticeably smaller than Eurisko, but we compensated for that by bringing less stuff and removing the extras we didn't need. Just how simple is too simple? We haven't gotten there yet. How small is too small? We've had our eye on an 18-footer...

MONDAY we'll respond to a reader's question: "What will I be sorry, in danger, or miserable if I don't have when I go cruising?"

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