R 22

Rhodes 22


Offshore Sailing

There are many reasons why the Rhodes 22 is not really an offshore boat. However, in all my years of Great Lakes sailing with our Rhodes 22, the cockpit size and getting pooped by a following sea are not really a problem.

The transom on a Rhodes 22 is high. Unless you are in a breaking sea, the waves simply roll under the boat. The only time I can envision getting pooped by a following sea would be while trying to cross a bar while returning from seaward when there is an onshore wind and breaking waves over the bar, say from wind in opposition to tidal flow + river current. But this would be a dangerous maneuver in any boat. The smart play in this situation would be to wait out the tide and cross the bar when it's safer.

The flared sides tend to deflect waves coming into the cockpit from port and starboard. I have always found the cockpit drains to be adequately sized. The hatch board can be installed in the companionway hatch and left folded down. Now, the opening into the cabin is well above the sides of the cockpit. Because the sides of the companionway hatch are not tapered but vertical, the boat would almost have to be flipped upside down in order for the hatch board to come out. It's not as convenient as the full companionway hatch; but you will find you can even climb in and out of the cabin with this hatch board in place. We routinely sail with the hatch board in place like this when it's rough out.

The boat can be configured for sailing in up to 40 knots of wind. Above that, you're under bare poles and simply trying to ride out the storm. The Rhodes 22's main deficiencies for offshore sailing are overall small size and lack of storage (fresh water, sewage, engine fuel, stove fuel, etc) and lack of carrying capacity for the stores required for extended cruising.

Roger Pihlaja
s/v Dynamic Equilibrium
29 Feb 2000

We've had this discussion before on the list as to whether the Rhodes 22 can be used "offshore". We've even had lengthy discussions of what "offshore" means.

Well, clearly nobody is about to attempt to circumnavigate the earth in a Rhodes 22. Even an ocean crossing, which would involve weeks at sea, is probably too much. But, explain to me what's different about sailing in the Bahama Islands vs. sailing along some remote stretch of the United States coastline, the Great Lakes, or in the Florida Keys? There are enough islands & destinations in the northern Bahama Islands, each one less than a day's sail from each other, to make for a great cruising vacation. But, to get to & from the Bahama Islands by the route I suggested in my previous post, you would have to be willing to wait in Florida & the West End for a suitable weather window. My family has done extensive wilderness cruising on the Great Lakes & it's no different. We routinely pack 2 - 3 extra days rations along on a Great Lakes cruise to allow for weather related layover days. Patience to wait for suitable conditions is simply a fundamental ingredient in this sort of cruising. Crossing the Gulf Stream in a Rhodes 22 is definitely at the upper edge of the boat's capability envelope. I certainly couldn't guarantee a pleasant or comfortable Gulf Stream crossing. But, given a suitable weather window with a capable crew on board & the boat properly prepared, I think it's doable.

This sort of voyaging in a Rhodes 22 has more in common with remote wilderness backpacking than with big boat cruising. You have to learn to be self sufficient; plan all aspects of the voyage; posses the proper skills - sailing, navigation, First Aid, weather forecasting, etc; set the boat up properly; plan the meals & the use of other consumables such as fuel & water. The whole trip becomes a series of calculated risks with contingency plans A,B, & C at every step of the way. At this level, factoring weather into the equation, even the possibility of a hurricane, becomes just another part of the process. Obviously, this sort of cruising is not everybody's cup of tea & it's definitely not for the faint of heart or a beginner. But, this is the manner in which some people, myself & sons included, choose to use their small boats. I thank God our society has not yet reached the point where the do-gooders have made it impossible to play in this manner. Richard, please excuse my bluntness, but I tend to chafe at such intrusions into my personal liberty. I think I know far better than you what the risks are, what Dynamic Equilibrium, my sons, & I are capable of accomplishing, & I neither need or want your advice. If I screw up, then I am also prepared to accept the consequences.

There are a thousand things that could go wrong on this sort of trip. You try to prepare & plan it out as best as you can beforehand. But, at some point, the trip is all about having sufficient confidence in yourself, your crew, & your equipment to go & do it. If your personality isn't setup that way, then you will never understand & you should stay closer to home.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
07 Sep 2002

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