What kind of boat is Lealea?
Lealea is an Albin Vega 27, hull number 1860, built in Kristinehamn Sweden in 1973 and first sold new in 1974. For more information about the Vega visit The American Vega Association web site. For details about Lealea and how we have modified her for ourselves, go to The Boat.
What does "Lealea" mean?
Lealea is a Hawaiian word meaning excessively happy, carefree, joyful and, perhaps, a little bit crazy...or a number of other things depending on context and inflection.
I'm always surprised that you don't have a wind vane self steering system considering the distances you sail. Any reason for that?
We thought we would try doing without at first and tried various alternatives. After cruising the Pacific since 2007, we have gotten use to not having it and we can’t justify the expense or extra weight off the stern. We do use a tiller pilot (ST2000 by Raymarine) but when making long distance passages we find our $3.00 self steering works just fine in most conditions.
I notice you sail with just the jib a lot. Why is that?
The Vega sails best with more headsail and less main. Often this means no main at all.
How does the roller reefing mainsail work for you?
It works fine, up to a point. We had our sail maker put in a conventional slab reef point to allow for a deep reef in the event of high winds.
Why do you not have a roller furling headsail?
Partly expense; the Vega came with hanked on sails, and partly on the KISS principle. The Vega’s sails are small enough to handle without the complication of roller furling and hanked on sails are, after all, more efficient. Modern furlers seem not to have the problems of earlier models but we have seen and heard too many horror stories involving roller furling head sails either blowing out or jamming open at the worst possible time. Roller furling is easier to use; we have sailed on boats that have it; but Lealea has hanked on sails and we are not inclined to change.
What small craft/dinghy do you guys have on board?
When passage making we carry only an inflatable kayak in a duffel bag on deck. When cruising in protected waters, we may pick up and tow a small hard dinghy like the Walker Bay 8 we had while we were cruising the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, there is no room for a hard dinghy on the deck of such a small boat and towing is out of the question at sea.
Do you have RADAR?
What electronic equipment do you have?
We have a combination VHF radio and AIS receiver. For navigation we carry three or four hand-held GPS units and a hand-held depth sounder. Lealea is equipped with pulpit mounted navigation lights and a masthead tri-color/strobe/anchor light, all LEDs. There is a 406mhz, auto release EPIRB mounted in the cabin.
What make and model is your water maker?
The water maker is a Katydyne, Power Survivor 40e reverse osmosis de-salinator. It produces about 1.5 gallons of fresh water per hour.
What kind of cook stove do you use?
The cooker is a two burner non-pressurized alcohol unit from Origo. While unerway and using it to cook all our meal, including hot water for coffee or tea, the burners generally last three weeks before needing to be refilled. When we arrived in Neah Bay after our 55 day passage we still had roughly two weeks of fuel left. We carry 6 gallons of alcohol at all times.
Do you have refrigeration?
No. There is an article in The Galley which talks about how we manage without.
What do you do about cabin heat in cold weather.
For use in port, we have a 5200 BTU AC electric heater. At anchor we use a 5000 BTU alcohol heater from Origo. So far this has been adequate and we are not planning on going anywhere colder than SE Alaska. We do not use heat while under way. We tend to stay in port when it is really cold. We estimate the Origo Heat Pal uses one qt of alcohol for every twelve hours of heat.
What do you do about condensation in cold weather?
While in Friday Harbor, WA, we found a book, now out of print, called “The Warm Dry Boat”. From it we learned to concentrate on ventilation and air flow. Chuck wrote a comprehensive answer to this question in an article we posted in the Captain’s Notebook.
Why don’t you have (Insert your pet gadget here)?
As minimalists, we think more in terms of what we can do without rather than what new piece of equipment we can add. On a small boat like Lealea, and with our small budget, we must always be concerned about weight and cost. Every pound and every dollar has to be justified. Joshua Slocum built his boat in a pasture and sailed solo around the world without even electric lights. We feel very well equipped indeed by comparison. Our Cruising Philosophy defines the choices we have made and why we have made them.
What kind of cameras and audio equipment do you have?
We currently have four cameras. The primary is a Sony HDR CX 560 Handycam. We also have a waterproof Nikon Coolpix AW100, a Sony Bloggie and a GoPro Hero Surf. None of these are professional grade or particularly expensive. Other than a gun mike for the CX 560, we have no special audio equipment.
What editing software do you use.
Video editing is done with Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 11.0
We edit the video and upload from port.
Have you taken sailing lessons?
No. We do think it is a good idea for anyone contemplating cruising to get professional instruction however. Had we done so, we think the learning curve would not have been nearly so steep. We did make passages on other boats before setting off on our own.
How long have you been living on the boat?
Chuck bought Lealea in 1990 and has been living aboard ever since. Laura joined the crew in 1996
What are your monthly expenses?
It varies, of course, depending on where we are. Mooring is a major component of monthly costs and moorage alone (At a dock) has varied from over $800 per month in San Francisco Bay to free at Port Alexander, AK. Anchorages are usually free but in some places there is a small charge, usually under $100 per month. Over twenty plus years our boat maintenance has averaged about $100 per month. After mooring and maintenance there are only personal expenses and groceries. Ours run about $500 to $800 per month when in port. Liability insurance for the boat, required by many marinas, runs $160 per year. Cellular service (We use Trac Phones) costs about $150 per year. Doing the math, our total monthly expenses run from about $600 to $1800. Laura has written an article on budgeting but we also highly recommend Lynn and Larry Pardey’s “The Cost Conscious Cruiser” for a comprehensive discussion of the subject.
Watch Q&A - Nine - How much does it cost?
What happened to Bree?
Bree came aboard at the age of 8 weeks old in 1996 and was a member of our crew for 16 years. She became ill on our voyage from Nawiliwili, HI to Sitka, Ak. and upon arrival we took her to the vet for overnight observation. After several tests it was determined she had developed kidney failure which is common in older cats. Because of its advanced stage it was necessary to put her to sleep.