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Cruising the Alerion Express 28

October 25, 2007

From the log of Bob Spann's Resilient:

I regularly take my Alerion Express 28 for two to three day (one to two nights) cruises on the Chesapeake Bay. The Alerion Express 28 can be an excellent cruising boat for the solo sailor that is willing to “rough it” a little bit.

There is a certain joy in the peace, quiet and solitude of solo cruising. There is also the satisfaction that comes from applying some ingenuity to utilize a boat designed for day sailing as a cruiser.

The first problem that needs to be solved is the lack of a refrigerator. I have found that by putting one block of ice, plus one bag of ice cubes in the cooler, one can keep bottles of water cool for up to 48 hours. After 48 hours in summer heat one still has a cooler full of ice water that will keep food in water tight containers chilled.

Although there are one burner butane stoves on the market, I feel safer not cruising with butane or propane aboard. I like fresh fruits and vegetables (as well as genuine smoked Virginia ham) so not having a stove doesn't present any problems. When I first started solo cruising my AE 28, I asked the produce manager at my local grocery store what fruits and vegetables would keep well without refrigeration. He stated what I then realized was the obvious — buy the fruits and vegetables that are sold unrefrigerated. Carrots, cherry tomatoes, and green beans all taste great raw.

Cruising the Alerion Express 28: News

Resilient, moored in Annapolis harbor on a summer evening.

Cruising the Alerion Express 28: Image

An autopilot is obviously a great aid to single handed cruising. It can be used to hold the boat into the wind when raising or lowering the main sail as well as for any other times that you need to be away from the tiller. The standard Alerion sail plan with the 95% self tacking jib does not perform well in light winds — a condition all too common on the Chesapeake Bay. I use a 155% Genoa (purchased for racing) when cruising. The 155 is still small enough that it can be tacked easily by a solo sailor. My autopilot can tack the boat through 100 degrees while I handle the genoa sheets.

Finally, the Alerion Express 28 is small enough that solo anchoring is fairly simple. Since the boat is light and doesn't have much free board, I have found that a Fortress anchor with only about 6 feet of chain and 150’ of nylon rope is sufficient. I store the anchor in a cockpit locker.

When anchoring, I first cleat off the bitter end on the mid-ship cleat. Next I wrap the rode around the self-tailing winch on the cabin top at a point such that if I drop the anchor off the bow, the end of the chain would be at or below the bow chock After dropping the anchor off the bow, through the bow chock, I can remain at the bow playing out the rode or can return to the cockpit and can let out rode from the cockpit. That way, if there is a wind gust or shift after I have dropped the hook, I can still use the engine to maneuver the boat. Once I have set the anchor, I can cleat off the rode at the bow cleat as well.

This same system works in reverse when breaking anchor. Simply uncleat the rode from the bow cleat, but keep the rode running through the bow chock. Pull the rode into the cockpit until the chain is nearing the bow chock. Then go forward to pull in the chain and the anchor. This approach works better than casting and pulling in the anchor over the side. I used to set and retrieve the anchor over the side — until I was pulling the anchor up and got hit with a wind gust that was 45 degrees off the bow. Because the bow is higher than the stern, this caused the boat to spin and I found myself with the stern (not the bow) facing the anchor with a slackened rode. This created a real risk that the rode could get fouled in the keel, rudder, or prop — not good outcomes.

Many of the ideas contained I this log were given to me by fellow cruisers, so I am always interested in how other sailors have solved various problems while sailing and cruising.

Cruising the Alerion Express 28: Text
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