Considering buying a Rhodes 22 for a specific trip.
Up the ICW from Jacksonville, FL, poke around the historical rivers
etc...., up the Hudson to Great Lakes via the Erie Canal, down the
Tenn-Tom and out Mobile, down the FL Gulf to the Keys then across to
Bimini and explore the Bahamas then back up to Florida either open
ocean using the Gulf Stream or into the ICW to home.
Expect to take about a year. Mostly single-hand with wife along at
intervals and friends/relatives at various locations.
Because of 20 years in the Coast Guard I've seen a good portion of
these waters and am a pretty fair seaman both in small boats and
Not a sailor yet but have been out enough to know I'm smitten and have
rejected using a power boat.
Have looked at Nimble 24, Seaward 23, Menger cat boat, Compac 23 and
the Rhodes. Stan sent me his boring video and I'm well acquainted
with the website. I like what I see regarding the design,
workmanship, and, thus far, my initial conversations with the
Spitzers. Boarded one at the ST. Petersburg, FL show earlier this
Request advice, experience, etc... from you good people to help me
- Is the Rhodes 22 a good candidate for this trip?
- Have any of you sailed all or part of this trip?
- Any problems with the boat or manufacturer you can tell me about?
regards and FWFS's....
Dennis C. Kiefer
25 NOV 2000
I'm sure you are more familiar with the waters and weather conditions
than most of us on the list. However, I'm also sure you can get some
useful insight from some of the list members.
I can't suggest that these thoughts will be particularly useful, but
I'll try anyway! ;^)
First, I think a 22-25 foot sailboat is SMALL for the kind of trip you
are suggesting. I have no doubt that the Rhodes 22 is up to it, but
you need to be sure you will enjoy the trip. Accordingly, I recommend
that you spend a lot of time on some 22 foot sailboats before you
start such a long trip in one. I love my R22, but I couldn't imagine
being cooped up on it for a year. It really depends on your
disposition. Certainly there are folks who would thrive in that
Second, storage and maintenance could be an issue. You will need a
complete complement of tools, and spares for just about everything,
including sails. All those spares and tools will take up prescious
space. Any 22-25 foot boat will be tight on storage for such a trip,
and the R22 is no exception. You don't want to be in a remote marina
somewhere waiting for a new mainsail to be delivered! That brings up
the question of rigging. I absolutely ADORE the IMF main. But, I
think I'd want to opt for the conventional main and a headsail furler
which permits easy sail changes for such a trip. You certainly would
not want to get caught in a storm and need to lower the mast to change
the sail because it just got torn in that 35 knot "breeze".
On the other hand, the IMF might be able to protect your sail so well
that you won't need to change it. Either way, bring a spare.
I'm sure most of the daily necessities will be be easy to get along
the way, but there are certainly some things you will need to have
stockpiled. You will do a lot of motoring on the way, so you will
want a strong and reliable motor, with convenient tankage. The motor
lift on the R22 could be a significant advantage over other boats for
bringing the motor up so you can work on it.
I wouldn't worry too much about water on the R22. 15 gallons is a
lot of water for one person, when you can count on regular marinas.
Additional water in gallon jugs would be perfectly adequate for
cooking and drinking, for the occasional longer passage. A solar
shower is good for washing up between marinas, and doesn't necessarly
require potable water. A decent water purifier is inexpensive
insurance, and won't take up much space. It won't work in salt water,
but would be great once you get inland. I've used them backpacking
for years, and they really are marvelous.
OK, so what do I think are the main issues against the R22 for such a
- 1) Size, and related issues. Storage, and the general feeling
of being cramped. You might feel that the large cockpit that makes
the R22 so nice for weekend cruising would be better used for
additional cabin space or storage. On the other hand, it could be just
what makes the R22 cruise like a 32 footer. I'd want to spend a week
on several others boats before I made that judgment.
- 2) No sea berths. Granted, you aren't crossing the Atlantic, but a
nice secure berth would be good piece of mind. I'm sure Stan could
make one. Maybe he could make half of the V berth into a sea berth,
and create storage lockers on the other side?
- 3) Cockpit drain size. The cockpit drains are fine for inland lakes,
but you might like them a lot larger the first time you take a
following wave in your gulfstream crossing. The boat was not
designed for ocean crossings.
- 1) All of the stuff on the R22 web site. The boat is
exceptionally well designed and strong for pleasure cruising.
- 2) Well designed for inland waters in most weather conditions
except freezing. Head for shelter before winds get to 30 knots or so.
- 3) By the time you attempt the ocean with it, you will know more
about the boat and its capabilities than any of us, so you should be
in a good position to judge whether to continue.
I'm sure you'll get some more thoughts on the boat. Good luck and
best wishes. It sounds like quite an adventure. Let us know how it
25 NOV 2000
I've sailed several parts of the trip you are proposing, either in
our Rhodes 22 or in other sailboats:
- Lake Worth, FL To Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas (3 times)
- ICW: St. Lucie Lock, FL to Lake Worth, FL
- OCW: LaBelle, FL To ICW: St. Lucie Lock, FL
- Upper & Lower Chesapeake Bay
- Delaware Bay
- Finger Lakes
- Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron,& Lake Michigan (Extensive)
- Kentucky Lake & Barkley Lake
- Arkansas River/Lake Dardanelle Russellville, AR @ Mile 209 to
White River @ Mile 10 to Missisippi River @ Mile 599
The only difference is you're going to compress about 20 years of my
vacations into 1 year.
For planning purposes, may I suggest the following reference books:
- Bahama Islands: Yachtsman's Guide To The Bahamas
Tropic Isle Publishers P.O. Box 610938 North Miami, FL 33261-0938
- ICW, Florida East Coast & Gulf Coast, Gulf of Mexico,
Tenn-Tom, & Bahamas: Southern Waterway Guide, Intertec Publishing
Book Division, P.O. Box 12901, Overland Park, KS 66282, 800-233-3359
- ICW, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay: Mid-Atlantic Waterway Guide,
Intertec Publishing Book Division
- New England East Coast, Long Island Sound, Hudson River,
Triangle Loop, Northern Waterway Guide,Intertec Publishing Book
- Great Lakes: Lakeland Boating Ports O' Call Series Of Books,
Lake Ontario, Lakes Erie & St. Clair, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan,
O'Meara Publications, Inc., 500 Davis Street, Suite 1000, Evanston,
IL 60201, 800-892-9342
You'll be doing a lot of motoring, especially on the ICW, Hudson
River, &Tenn-Tom. We use a Honda 8 four cycle outboard with
extra long shaft & alternator. It's a quieter & more fuel
efficient engine than a two cycle outboard. We get about 10 nm/gal
@ 5 knots cruising speed. The extra long shaft option will help keep
your prop from cavitating in waves. Consider installing cockpit
mounted remote engine controls. They make close quarters boat
handling much easier. If you'll be doing a lot of singlehanding,
consider an autopilot for those long offshore passages. We have an
Autohelm ST1000+ Tillerpilot & have been very pleased with its
The only leg of this trip I hesitate to recommend the Rhodes 22 for
is the offshore passage from Florida to the Bahamas across the Gulf
Stream. The Rhodes 22 is not really an off shore boat. I suppose if
you were very careful about your weather window, it would be OK. It
sounds like a pretty exciting trip! Your cruising area is too
extensive to just start writing about. But, if you have some
specific questions, ask away & I & the others will try to
S/V Dynamic Equilbrium (1976 Rhodes 22 Owned By Me Since 1987)
25 NOV 2000
If safety is a primary concern, considering your past experiences,
then the Rhodes might just be the boat for you. The positive flotation
has to be implanted somewhere in the back of your mind. For one or
two people, I would think you would be able to pack enough supplies
for several days allowing for stops for food, water gas and other
Several owners sail the ICW and we have others on the
great lakes. Knowing the quality of construction and the almost
complete lack of builder problems would make the Rhodes a great
choice. One of the comments we hear from new people to our list that
have come from other lists is our apparent lack of builder problems. I
can't think of any problems with a Rhodes that many or a few owners
Depending on your outboard choice, two six gallon tanks could take
you quite a ways. I have an 8hp Tohatsu that burns one gallon per
hour at full throttle. I usually run about two thirds throttle which
would then give you approximately eight hours per tank figuring five
miles per hour is about 80 miles worth of motoring if you needed it.
One thing I've found necessary with the new gas is the full time use
of gas stabilizer. I use it all year and it has helped to keep my gas
from spoiling this year. My boat has a ten gallon water tank. I use
it for dishes etc., but drink bottled water.
Hope this helps.
Rummy in SC
25 Nov 2000
What you are contemplating is almost the same trip we have been
thinking about. We would like to be able to leave the Duluth or
Ashland WI area in the fall and maybe take a couple of months
to get down to the Carolinas or in that general vicinity somewhere,
then mess around down there till it warms up and go the other way
again. Just so it's warmer than it is here!
Need to be up here in the summer anyway. Hadn't really given
too much thought as to what route would really be the best yet, still
in the dream stages so far. We would sure like to hear about this
"excellent adventure" as it begins to unfold.
As boats go I am certainly no expert, but looking at your list of
choices, I'd have to say that the Rhodes is at least as good as any
of them. I have read about folks taking a lot less boat than the R22
across the stream to the Bahamas. If you are already "broken in" on
blue water and have a good understanding of weather patterns and such
it doesn't seem like this should be a real problem.
The rest of the trip, the R22 is almost custom made for. Haven't seen
a 22-24 footer out there with more big boat cruising options than the
Rhodes. And, I don't believe you'll find anything that's easier to
Hope it all works out for you and please keep us posted on your
progress, as this is the stuff that dreams (ours) are made of.
Rik Sandberg and Sandy (the Admiral) Johnson
S/V Country Rhodes
25 Nov 2000
Sounds like you have a adventure ahead of you, I guess I would view it
as a 1 year camping trip. Can not help thinking "Iron Men"
The Rhodes is a great boat for freshwater or very limited coastal
(same goes for all the boats you mentioned), the problem with this
size range is they are unable to ride out heavy weather for days on
end. So you will want safe harbor/shelter to ride it out.
For the Erie Canal section you will have to unstep the mast and be
under motor for the whole (1000+-) mile trip(also a second set of
hands for locks). So a good quality motor is a must, a Yamaha 9.9ht
with the remote controls and the GB tiller salve system for close
quarters. 4 six galleon fuel tanks under the seats for 48 hours fuel
range. After the fuel you have room for 5-6 8 galleon
"Rubbermaid's" under the seats and 8+ drypacks rolled into
the gunnels for soft storage.
You will need a tender for anchoring out, (figure 2$ a foot every
time you take a slip), 3 set of anchors/rodes, 150-200 of New
England 3/8, 10-22 1/4 chain and a Bruce, Fortress foldup, and Spade
to handle any bottom. Peter added a anchor roller system that you
might want. This plus the Fendering and the tender will take up most
of the lasserret.
I Figure the front V berth will become storage, spare sails, blankets,
lines, etc... The front is sensitive to weight so do not weight it up
to much. The galley storage and behind the sidling panels should
handle the cooking/food needs. And under the setae is for the
overflow. So for storage you should be OK.
Couple of other Thoughts:
- 1)The stove on the rhodes22 is not ment for cooking in a seaway,
you might want to upgrade this with a single burner gimbaled stove,
plus a barbecue/stove on the back rail.
- 2)You will want a Autopilot (plus a spare), this is almost a must
for what you have in mind
- 3)You WANT the POPTOP enclosure!!!!!
- 4)You want a fixed mounted VHF plus a handheld might want to use
a cellphone/VHF antenna
- 5)You will have a problem with the energy budget for the boat,
with 2 batteries you will have about 100 useable amp/hours, a link 10
to monitor it is a must, AGM batteries will help with recharging,
50 watts of solar will help, but the depth, VHF, and Autopilot will
pull about one amp (50 watts of solar will should cover this) the
problem will be the anchor, navigation and interior lights will be a
problem. Now the Yamaha 9.9ht will produce 13 amps while at cursing
speed. So changing the incandescent lighting for a mixture of LEDS
and fluorescent lighting might be a very good idea, not cheap, and
even with that you might be motoring 2-4 hours a day to recharge.
- 6)You know to do it right you will need about 1000+ in charts.
- 7)Sanitation, because of the inland rules, no over the side
discharge, portapoty with pumpout seems right(that way two ways to
empty) but every two days you will be looking to empty and in use for
a year might become "smelly", A marine head might be better
but 9 gallon holding is not much and finding pumpout might be a
That is just a start. It seem that you are concerned about the
builder, GB has a very good reputation, been building the same boat
for about 30 years, the basic deigned problems have been worked out a
while ago, it is a good sturdy boat, Stan the builder is always
trying new things on the hardware side, year after year of
improvements, but sometimes the "improvements" do not work
out, in that case people are taken care of. Also GB is very good about
taking care of their people, each boat is almost a custom build to
owner taste, when something is not done right it not unusual for the
boat to fixed in the field or brought back to the factory to correct
it. Many stories of how GB has done right by people, In fact I never
seen any posts over the last 5 years that GB has never done the right
A few of the boats you mentioned are sold by a dealer network that is
responsible for all repairs(the factory does not want to know about
any trouble). with out any names, herd of a few pissing contest over
the years, different set of interests in play, and the dealer is the
factory's customer not you. In GB case everyone knows Stan's phone
number (including his house, rose will give it to you), all problem
lead back to him, to keep his sanity very a self-serving interest to
make people happy.
I would spend a session with the boat to learn it, shake it down,
make any modifications and try some "week" trial runs,
find what works for you, before you are a 1000+ miles from home port.
26 Nov 2000