Fitting out an Alberg 30 for a circumnavigation

(Leg 1 - Maryland to Brunswick, Georgia)

(Leg 2 - Brunswick, Georgia to Panama)

(Leg 3 - Panama to Bali, Indonesia)

(Leg 4 - Bali to South Africa)

(Leg 5 - South Africa to Cartegena, Colombia)


Salsa departs Brunswick, GA on 2 March 2008


Salsa's Latest Position

- 1 November 2013 -

In San Blas, Panama

Current Weather on Salsa's Route

Sailing Salsa Blog


(Leg 1 - Maryland to Brunswick, GA)

With his permission, below I've copied an August 2007 email I received from Kirk Little in Deale, Maryland:

Subject: Checking on Consulting and Services for refitting an Alberg 30. James, I am equipping a 1972 Alberg 30 for a planned three-year circumnavigation via Panama and Suez. I plan to head south from the Chesapeake Bay November 2007 for Panama via Key West and Mexico. My primary reason for contacting you is to check your availability for (at the very least) some basic consulting during my equipping and minor-refitting projects over the next three months and to discuss the possibility of you assisting with some of the projects. Big items on my list right now is to purchase and install; radar, chart plotter, autopilot, SSB, solar/wind chargers and batteries. Plus rebuild and install my Aries windvane. Install new Profurl unit, rebed all chain plates and deck hardware. I guess thats the bulk of the list. Im a bit torn somewhere between attempting to tackle these projects on my own, possibly delaying my departure, or paying for help and over-extending my budget. The reason I have contacted YOU specifically is that over a year ago I read nearly your entire website and remember being greatly inspired by your story, and very much agreeable to your style of solving problems, modifications and sailing in general. Hope to hear from you soon! Kirk Little

I often get email from young people wanting to know how to get started on an adventure under sail. Many are just dreamers, bouncing from one fancy to another and their schemes fizzle out before they get started. Some are committed to seeing their dream realized; a few even succeed. Kirk, I learned, had less than a year sailing experience, sailing mostly as crew between the northeast US coast and Bahamas.

To prepare for my first circumnavigation in 1984 I spent three years fitting out and learning to sail my 28-foot Pearson Triton. Since returning to the US in 2002, after a second trip around the world, my wife and I have come ashore and been fortunate to work on preparing other sailboats and other sailors for their own voyages - great and small. Our part in their sailing stories is usually a small role - online consulting on boat and equipment choices or passage planning, adding improvements to rigs, installing windvane self-steering, fitting sails or custom made hardware, and so on. A few times we got involved in a complete refit taking several months. It's always greatly satisfying when our customers, now friends, get underway for their own distant or even not-so-distant sea.

Getting on a fast-track to prepare a boat for an extended voyage by hiring expert assistance is becoming more popular. The idea that you can take a shortcut to gain the seamanship skills and sound decision making abilities by hiring a consultant is still controversial, even in my mind. Ideally, you would slowly work your way up to a high level of experience before you set off across an ocean, taking years to acquire skills and gain confidence in your boat and yourself. On the other hand, a few months working with an experienced sailor and getting some time under sail with him could knock a year or more off this learning schedule. How good an idea this is remains to be seen and will to a high degree, depend on the individual's innate abilities, and as always, a bit of luck.

Will this inexperienced sailor succeed in his planned circumnavigation? His boat is ready, but has he realistically anticipated the trials ahead? I hope so. What's important is that he has gotten underway, wherever his path may lead. The world is now wide open to him. Check back here for updates of his voyage.

Kirk agreed I should quote some of our discussions here and we hope other would-be voyagers will find something useful in it. Our correspondence continued:


After speaking with you last night I have some questions and ideas to begin with. It would help if you let me know exactly where you are now with jobs done and jobs to do. We covered a few things on the phone but there are some missing bits. Regarding your questions: 1. Radar/chartplotter/ (multifunction display - MFD) with world set of Navionics charts - I'm concerned that if you go with this you will burn through your 30K refit budget before you get underway. There are many thousands of dollars of other gear you need and an unknown amount for my labor and consulting and assorted boat and living expenses. I say unknown because we don't know how much of the work you can do yourself and how many jobs you will ultimately decide to get into.

You need a lot of paper charts as backup in case of a system crash (theft, water damage, lightning, etc) anyway so you need to decide how badly you want this. You cannot count on reselling your electronic charts because in three years they may have little value. There is nothing essential about a multifunction display or electronic charts. I admit it's enticing and convenient but there is more to it. In the Chesapeake where you sail now, it's fine - the system goes down, so what, no big problem to replace. Now lets imagine you're running like a scalded cat through a black night in reef-strewn waters of the Torres Straight or Red Sea and it crashes. Because you became so complacent, you stopped updating your position on the paper chart. You say you will but you won't. Now you're searching for a chart you don't have and trying to relearn how to plot acourse on paper. Or even worse, the chartplotter has taken you onto a reef because of some programming or user error. More boats are lost this way by guys sitting below deck staring at their chartplotter than by a prudent navigator on deck with eyes and ears open.If you mount the chartplotter below, there are times you'll want it in the cockpit. If you mount it in the cockpit, you won't want to go out there in rough conditions to check it. The only option, aside from two displays, is to have it on an awkward swing-out bracket at the companionway where the wiring cable connections are sometimes exposed to the weather. It's a possibility, but consider a stand-alone radar display accessible from your bunk where you can monitor the radar guard zone with one eye while napping. You can always upgrade later to a MFD if desired. You already have a good amount of world digital charts and MaxSea chart reader software for planning and backup using your notebook PC.

Another issue is adequate detail and coverage of digital charts. Has anyone sailed through Fiji, for example, with Navionics and found all the harbor charts with sufficient detail available compared to paper charts of that area. When someone says "world set" what is meant? You don't need north or south of 40 degrees latitude, so why buy those areas. You probably don't even need any North Pacific, most of Africa, most of South America, etc. What you do need is detailed coastal and harbor charts for your proposed route and a few possible off-route alternatives. The digital chart packages I've seen come up short on harbor chart coverage outside the US. Consider buying a set of paper charts for your route to Panama. Get them used or photocopied - not new. If you find a cheap set of used Pacific charts, get them as well. Bellingham Chart Printers offers sets and individual chart photocopies at a reasonable price. But don't worry about it. In Panama you can trade, photocopy or buy charts from other sailors. Same thing at every major port ahead of you. Don't buy the Red Sea and Med yet - I still have a chance to talk you out of that route. Once you buy the charts I'll never be able to convince you to take the S African route. I can hear it now: "But James I already have the charts for the Med..." ;)

Get paper or electronic Pilot Charts for N. Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean - maybe S Atlantic too? Now if you tell me, "James, I like these tech devices and everybody tells me they're important to have." Then I won't disagree. Now you know the cost/risk/benefits so it's your choice. 2. Radar - if you decide not to get the Raymarine C-series or Garmin MFD, then the Furuno stand alone unit makes sense. Get the small radome, you don't have the extra power to spare and have no need for the big unit. Its expensive, heavy and more windage as well. Mount the radome on a standard bracket about two feet above the spreaders making sure it isabove the whisker pole topping lift fitting and well below any possible inner forestay you may add later. No, you don't need a gimbal radome mount. 3. Autopilot - consider Raymarine S1 tillerpilot. Others models are too small. The electric autopilot will be used only when motoring or in light wind conditions when your windvane self-steering is struggling to hold a course. 4. SSB - If you don't have anything yet, suggest you buy the Sony 7600GR receiver for listening and for backup and connect it to a simple wire or home-made dipole antenna. I recommend you get an Icom M802 or the less expensive ham version Icom706 if you want to communicate with anyone. We can discuss the merits of each rig and accessory components. 5. Solar panels - consider a minimum of 100 watts output from one or two panels. Of course I like the Atom SolarTracker (read my article) since they optimize electrical output with a minimum footprint. We can set these up for you or you can mount one or two semi-permanent on your bimini or one flat on top your pushpit. Flexible panels are low-output, but if you feel you need more power you can get a third flexible panel to hang over your dodger or bimini when not shaded by the boom. 6. Wind Generator - You'll spend a lot of your time in the cockpit in close proximity to the wind generator, whose whining noise would drive me insane before I reached Panama. Other sailors get along just fine and will tell you you'll get used to it. Add to that the high cost, including mounting, the windage and lower than expected output on a downwind circumnavigation. If you have a need for refrigeration on top of many other appliance loads, you may want to consider the Air-X unit or the quieter, lesser output Rutland 913. But remember, it will shade and cut output to your solar panels and things will get crowded back there. 7. Batteries - if you have refrigeration, radar, autopilot, chartplotter, SSB, inverter/PC, etc you need 400AH minimum - 600AH is better. 8. Repair your Aries windvane - yes, or better yet, sell it and buy a new Norvane. Or even better, if you can afford it, get a Monitor with emergency rudder option. Money spent here is way more important than chartplotters. 9. Install your new Profurl - we can do that here with the mast up. I prefer the Harken Unit 1 for your boat with its integrated turnbuckle, but since you already bought a discounted Profurl, we can make it work. 10. Rebed chainplates and deck hardware - You'll need to check for water intrusion into core around fittings and need to seal holes with epoxy and redrill. If the chainplates are corroded or undersize, you need to replace them. Do it here if unsure how to proceed. 11. Modify jibs for furler - For your genoa or largest jib this is doable for about $700 (you need the luff tape, luff foam, sun covers for luff and leech). While it's OK for the Chesapeake, this conversion is not suitable for a circumnavigation because your genoa is probably too light, maybe 5 oz and designed for light air only and isn't cut right for a furling system. I called Mack Sails (we are the Georgia area dealer) and a new 135% furling jib for your boat is $1,944 retail, but our price to you is 10% less. Shop around and you may find one cheaper, but they will likely be made in China so be sure of your specifications since they will have no useful advice to give you. You can keep a working jib and storm jib if you have an inner forestay. Otherwise, if your existing sails are in excellent condition you can sell them through Bacon & Associates in Annapolis. Other issues: Do what you can about your loose rudder pintles and shoe and suspect thru-hull fittings while you're there to avoid another haul-out here. If you have a chance to drop your mast there it will be easier than doing it here. If you do, then go ahead and install your mast steps and lights, making sure there is a conduit or other means of preventing wires from slapping inside the mast as the boat rolls. Also, drill a hole about 3/4" diameter (check radar manufacturer for exact hole size) for the radome power supply and run a messenger line through a conduit large enough to pass the radome cable through. Or we can do it here, if needed. Before you start buying things you should write out an updated equipment list and check costs on everything so you can see more clearly what compromises make sense so you end up with the necessities, if not all the "wanna haves."

Other things we should discuss include:

ground tackle - manual windlass, anchor roller, three anchors, chains and nylon rodes? depth sounder? head? stove? storm sails - trysail and jib (inner forestay?)? standing and running rigging? electric and/or manual bilge pumps? updated notebook PC? dodger, bimini and awning? mozzie screens?(you'll need them in Georgia!) water tanks with galley foot pump? engine spares? dinghy and outboard? whisker pole with cruising spinnaker? emergency rudder and tiller? 12v to 110v inverter?

James Baldwin Cruising Yacht Services Brunswick, GA

Kirk's initial itinerary was to spend September and October equipping the boat in Deale, MD, near Annapolis, leaving the Chesapeake Bay in mid November. By late December he hoped to depart Key West for Panama via Mexico and Central America. He talked so glowingly about this route, I jokingly nicknamed it The Glorious Route. After we examined his job list I realized this rushed schedule was impossible. His proposed route to Panama was also in question. I suggested that he take time to fit out and properly shake down his boat and take a more direct route to Panama and avoid the headwinds when trying to fetch Panama from the west. As reluctant as he was to give up the Glorious Route, events decided it for him as he fell way behind schedule. It is nearly impossible for someone doing their first refit to accurately assess the time, expense and details of preparing a boat for a voyage.

We had much back and forth communications over his ideas for equipment: He wanted an inflatable dinghy with large outboard. I suggested a cheaper, longer lasting, better rowing, small hard dink and 3.5 HP outboard. Because of a lack of time to build a stich and glue pram, he ended up with an 8-foot inflatable and 3.5 outboard.

He wanted to use his non-gimbaled Origo alcohol stove supplemented with a small Force 10 propane canister stove. I suggested a gimbaled kerosene or propane stove. Where south and west of Florida would he find alcohol fuel and little steel cans of propane? He ended up choosing our custom-made kerosene Atom stove.


Original non-gimbaled alcohol stove and hand water pump.


Added an Atom kerosene stove and spout for new galley foot pump.

He wanted to use a monstrous 45 lb.(!) Delta as primary anchor, 150' of 1/4" chain, no windlass and a tiny 10 lb aluminum Fortress second anchor and a 21 lb Fortress as storm anchor. I advised Kirk: best chain for your boat is 5/16 Grade 40. It's stronger than BBB or proof coil - 3,900 SWL, 11,600 break strength. 150' is a good length for primary anchor and 2 pieces 25' for other two anchors. You need the Lofrans Royal windlass and proper deck chain pipe. 1/4 is not your best choice because you need a reasonable amount of chain weight for catenary effect which prevents wind and wave shocks from snatching your anchor loose. 5/16 is a good compromise for this. 5/16 is also a good compromise for strength. 5/16 chain can rub on the bottom and rust a good bit and still be strong enough to carry on years longer than 1/4. The 5/16 will fit the windlass gypsy. The windlass will be needed in any case to retrieve your 35 lb anchor if there is any wind in an anchorage. 1/4 chain wrapped on a coral head and being shock loaded can easily deform the links and make it useless. I sailed Atom as far as New Guinea with no windlass and light ground tackle, but it was high risk and lots of work. You can still choose the no windlass, light chain option. You now have the information to decide.

We settled on a 35 lb. Delta as primary anchor, new heavy-duty anchor roller, 150' of 5/16" high test G4 chain with 50' of 5/8" nylon rode attached, manual Lofrans Royal windlass, and three danforth-type secondary anchors each with 25' of chain and 125' nylon including the 21 lb. Fortress.


Original hardware layout.


Hardware removed and holes filled in. To prevent water intrusion into the core a sharpened allen wrench chucked in a drill was used to dig out the balsa core in the holes, which were then filled with thickened epoxy.


New anchor roller and aluminum backing plate prepared.


Manual windlass, chain pipe, anchor roller installed.

On it went as we worked out best choices for a hundred or so items from SSB radio to strengthened rigging to water tanks and spares. While in the small boatyard in Maryland, he finished whatever jobs he could alone, including reinforcing loose rudder bearings, checked and rebed all thru-hulls, secured temporary old batteries, installed two electric bilge pumps, installed tiller pilot, rebed handrails and other hardware. By November, in a mix of short offshore legs and some miles motor-sailing on the ICW, Kirk sailed into Brunswick where we had a slip reserved for him at the private docks next to Golden Isles Marina within sight of the St. Simons Inlet.

Kirk was determined to do as much of this work himself as possible so we immediately got him the necessary tools and parts and made up a list of jobs to get started on. Over the next three months, Kirk worked an average of six long days per week, finishing about 80% of the actual labor himself. He had read Don Casey's Sailboat Maintenance Manual and other how-to books back in Maryland, but since he had last worked in auto sales, every step of boat repair was a new challenge to him. I'd stop by and get him started tearing out ports and hardware and come back the next day to assist on installation jobs. In December, my wife and I delivered a 49-foot Liberty from Brunswick to St. Thomas, V.I. while Kirk carried on with his work.

On a job like this, things always get worse before they get better: A new watertank under the V-berth ended up with a complete tear-out of the forward cabin since now was a good time to get rid of that inner fiberglass hull liner that reduced storage and blocked access to the hull.


The original watertank was built into a fiberglass hull liner with aluminum plate for the top.

Salsa_18 Kirk rips out and rebuilds the forward cabin, adding a flexible 31 gallon watertank, new bulkheads and v-berth raised 1 1/2" for increased storage.



We fitted two Photowatt 55 watt solar panels on SolarTrackers mounted to Salsa's pushpit where they can be positioned for maximum output in an unshaded area. For more info see the SolarTracker page.


(Leg 2 - Brunswick, Georgia to Panama)

In the first week of March 2008 Kirk got underway for Panama with his brother as crew for the first leg to the Bahamas. Since east winds were forecast for the next several days they took a route south along the coast of Florida, staying inside the Gulf Stream current, until reaching Ft. Lauderdale. From there they caught the westerly winds of an approaching cold front for a wild, reefed-down run east across the stream and through the Providence Channel to Nassau.

Salsa_9 Salsa_10

The newly installed Norvane windvane being tested near St. Simon's Island shortly before departure for Panama.

Kirk's brother flew home from Nassau and Kirk carried on alone to the Exumas and then a nonstop 11 day passage to Colon, Panama. His blog recounts plenty of drama along the way and makes a good read.

Since then Kirk's been through the canal several times as volunteer linehandler on other yachts. Unfortunately his engine broke down twice forcing him to delay his own transit for a few months. Since he missed the best season for crossing the South Pacific he set out on a side trip to the San Blas Islands and Columbia, returning to Panama in February.

(Leg 3 - Panama to Bali, Indonesia)

In 2009 Kirk transited the canal and crossed the South Pacific to Australia and on to Bali in 2010. Check out his blog for details of the islands he visited in the Pacific, some equipment reviews, travels in Australia and on to Bali. He also took a side trip on a friend's boat up to Phuket where he made a motorcycle trip across the mountainous interior of Thailand.

Kirk emailed me copies of some of his correspondence to enquiries regarding his equipment and choice of boat and gave me permission to copy it below:

Regarding the choice of boat; Im happy with the Alberg 30 overall. On the upside, she sails beautifully in light to moderate wind, and does ok in heavier winds. I say only ok in heavier winds because offshore, heavy winds mean heavy swell and I feel the Alberg is a relatively tender boat. Not tender to wear you feel unsafe or she is hard to sail or balance, but a bit rolly a little earlier on than if you had a larger boat. Also, she is a very wet boat! I would say the cockpit has been wet more than half of my trip, maybe more like 75% of the trip. Thats just because she is little without much freeboard. I think lee cloths to block the spray would be a huge help to make the cockpit more useable. In fact Yeves Gillenas recommended that to me as well when I met him at a boat show. On the other hand I wouldn't like the way it interferes with fishing, and blocked my view, especially at anchor when you dont need the protection.

But back to the evaluation of boat itself, Im certainly satisfied with her. You will find that in many ports you are the smallest cruising boat and your friends on other boats will have heaps of space comparatively but if that kind of thing doesnt get to you then it doesnt matter. I also notice that I have a lot less maintenance then my friends because I have a smaller simple boat and because James Baldwin and I did a complete refit just before I left. I added a lot of equipment to the boat at great expense and realize I could have bought a bigger boat with less gear, but I think I prefer things they way I have them. Just for the record I didnt set out to buy an Alberg 30, I just wanted a 28 to 33 full keeled sloop, proven offshore boat with a diesel engine, that was my initial criteria and that led me to the Alberg 30. The owners club and manual and website are huge bonuses, even adding to the resale value in your area. I paid $15,000 for salsa about 3 years ago and she was in great shape for bay-cruising, even new sails and bimini/dodger. But she wasnt close to being ready for offshore by my standards, so I spent about 6 months full time, and probably $30,000 more on gear, heavier sails, five total (trysail, asym spinnaker in a sock, 145% genoa, and new main with slab reefing).

We installed a norvane windvane that has been awesome, seems to work as easily and well as the more expensive models out there. The raymarine st1000 tillerpilot is great for inshore, and calms, but I dont think its built to take boats across oceans, just not beefy enough, I use mine about 2% of the time and it is still working fine, but I baby it. A good dodger is a must, a bimini is nice too, contrary to what I thought I would do I almost never take mine down. The Furuno radar really helps me sleep at night with the proximity alarm on watchman mode, it works well 90% of the time, I would consider AIS alarm instead for less money and power consumption but I dont think I would replace the radar as it also verifies your position and detects squalls and non-AIS equipped boats. Im happy with my two 55w solar panels, when its sunny, they run the Engel fridge (love that too), the lap top and everything else. I have nearly all LED lights, this is a must at least for your reading light and tri-color/anchor light. I also have 600 amps of trojan golf-car type batteries, they are great.

The Icom 802 SSB transceiver is great for getting weather info and chatting with friends and following nets. I'd find an SSB hard to give up at this point.The little Sony ICF-SW7600GR SSB receiver gets used just as much as the Icom transceiver for listening in on SSB and FM/AM. Sometimes I wish I had a pactor III modem for grib-file weather and email offshore, but cant quite justify the cost, even of a used one, especially since Im not a HAM and so would have to pay 120 annual or so for sailmail to use it.

I do 90% of my navigation on an old Panasonic Toughbook CF-28 using MaxSea software and c-map charts. I love this setup because the laptop has an internal GPS so its basically a chartplotter with world charts for 10% of what you would normally pay, its a powerful navigation and planning tool. Plus I use it for photos, internet, writing, everything. I switched to a Raritan head (great) from the old wilcox crittenden (not so great). Added a mini-whale foot pump for fresh water at the sink, and used the old hand pump for saltwater, thats worked very well.

The 35lb Delta anchor (love it) and 150 5/16 chain is hoisted with the Lofrans manual windlass and has worked nearly flawlessly when other boats were dragging through the anchorage. In general Im very happy, I dont think I would make many changes at all. I credit that to James Baldwin ( that walked me through most of the equipping and installation process. He works on a consultant basis so if you are considering other boats maybe you should talk to him as all my experience has been on the Alberg.

The very worst weather Ive had was sustained 45kt winds and 15 seas, running dead down wind with bare poles at 5kts, this wasnt even scary and the norvane worked great. I just mention that to reiterate my confidence in the Alberg. I hope to in the near future to provide a equipment review section on the website with more details.

Lastly, one very helpful thing I did in regards to making this trip happen was make a list and follow it. When I decided to circumnavigate only about five years ago I couldnt even sail. Here was my list, only took 2.5 years to do it; 1) Learn to sail 2) Get offshore experience (deliveries) to be sure Im up for the challenges 3) Research and choose type of boat 4) Buy the boat 5) Equip / refit it for offshore 6) GO!

To an enquiry whether a new sailor would be better off with a Triton or Alberg 30, Kirk replied:

You may know if you have done much research that James Baldwin has done two circumnavigations in his Triton, and I'm halfway through mine on Salsa / Alberg 30. While James was helping me refit a few year ago he was helping Fernando, a young Spainard with a Triton to sail across the Atlantic, his website, Of course he made it. Don't worry about that, everyone freaking makes it! - Alberg 30, Triton, doesn't matter. Neither one is too comfortable after enough time below, both are wet in the cockpit on passages, speed isn't too different, the safety will be based upon first the skipper, second the boats condition, and lastly the equipment, (in my humble opinion) hope your getting a windvane.

Go with the outboard, Fernando did, James did, and I nearly wish I did every time my diesel breaks down 1000 miles from anywhere. A 4-stroke that can make a few amps of power for your batteries is nice as you get more range, quieter, etc, but if you are a purest, you can push your boat in a calm with a 5hp bolted on the back NO PROBLEM. Of course you need a long shaft, mount the motor in the lazarrette, and you have a great set up, another friend of mine is going around the world that way, it works great. I think you will be a LOT faster (maybe 0.5 to 1kt avg) under sail once you rip out the old motor and prop, weight and drag are huge, fill the gap in the rudder that clears the prop, you'll actually cross faster than the idiots with diesels like mine. An inboard gasoline motor like the Atomic 4 on a blue water cruiser makes NO sense to me.

During your refit James Baldwin could be a MAJOR asset if you need help, he is hands down THE sailing guru and triton expert, I doubt any one has gone as far as he has in one of those boats, he charges a reasonable fee for consulting or helping with the refit, my circumnavigation's success would be seriously in question had I not got his help before leaving but then again I wasn't to familiar with refitting boats. Last thing, I bought my alberg for 12K and spent probably another 45K on it, but it is VERY well equipped and that's what I wanted, it sails itself across oceans.

(Leg 4 - Bali to South Africa)

The Indian Ocean leg of a circumnavigation is usually the most challenging due to the increased gale frequency along the route. In July 2011 Kirk departed Bali after nearly a one year layover to travel inland in SE Asia followed by a couple months recreation and boat maintenance in Bali.

From Bali Kirk sailed nonstop for ten days to Cocos (Keeling) Island. In his Indian Ocean Passage Report Kirk details his often stormy passage between Cocos Island and Nosy Be Island, Madagascar, covering the 3,000 miles in 28 days with no serious issues aside from the general discomfort and wet ride in strong SE trades with high running cross swells from the south.

With a small group of buddy boats all heading the same way and chatting daily on the SSB radio, Salsa sailed west from Madagascar across the channel to the Mozambique coast and then south to Richard's Bay, South Africa. Kirk caught some uncommonly good weather windows and sailed on to Port Elizabeth then around the Cape of Good Hope to Hout Bay near Cape Town. In March 2012 he plans to sail for Brazil and then back up to the Caribbean.

Below are excerpts Kirk sent regarding his latest comments on fitting out his Alberg 30 for the circumnavigation:

...regarding the mast, boom, support, spreaders, as far as I know it's all original. The only things I modified in that department (as recommended by James Baldwin ( was; changed the lowers shrouds to the same diameter as the upper shrouds, through bolted the spreader bar fittings, through bolted the goose-neck track at top and bottom, eventually had to re-rivet the sail-car track, defeated the rolling mechanism on the boom (tapped bolts into the gears) and switched to slab reefing, and I believe everything else is original (of course we improved the well known chain-plate issues). I have noted no compression on the aluminum mast step either, but I have noticed significant deck compression above this post, if I had time and hindsight I would have bored out a good amount of the wood core there and filled with epoxy as it is under massive loads and very difficult to keep water out, but I've never even had my mast down. is a work-in-progress list of all the equipment on Salsa:

Ground Tackle:
35 Lb Delta Anchor (primary and is good) but would prefer a Rocna, Manson Supreme, Spade, Bruegel, (something like that) 150' of 5/16" high test G4 chain with 50' of 5/8" nylon rode attached (+ extra 50' chain separate as spare)
Fortress FX (16 & 37?) 10 and 21lbs? (collapsible aluminum danforth-style anchors for stern/spare/and storm anchors)
Heavy duty SS bow roller.
Manual Lofrans Royal windlass (If you get one of these make a cover for it) [to help prevent corrosion]

Sails and Rigging:
Profurl R35 roller furler
Mack Sails; mainsail, furling jib, asym Spinnaker in ATN sock, trysail (not sure I needed the spinnaker, hope I don't need the trysail)
1/4" ss rigging (uppers and lowers)
Replaced upper shroud chain plates
Dodger, Bimini

Power and Charging:
(2) Photowatt 55 watt solar panels on Atom SolarTrackers
Morningstar ProStar-15 Solar charge controller
(4) Trojan T-1275 12V batteries at 150 1AH each (600AH battery bank) 82lb each
1000W 12v-110v inverter Chicago Electric (cheap, works great, used just for power tools)
No shore power connections

Icom 802 SSB and tuner
West Marine VHF 550
Sony ICF-SW7600GR FM&SW receiver
Uniden Mystic VHF&GPS combo
HANDHELD GPS units 2 more spares
Furuno 1715 radar
Toughbook CF-28 laptop w/ internal GPS and Chartplotter software
Small Net Book for backup/internet/movies/etc... 
Raymarine ST1000 Autopilot
Raymarine St40 Speed log
Raymarine St40 Depth Sounder

Rule 2000GPH electric bilge pump and switch (panic pump)
Rule 500Gph automatic bilge pump (primary)
Whale Gusher Mark 10? Manual Bilge Pump (severe internal corrosion!)
Raritan Head 
Plastimo 30Gal flexible water tank (patch it every year)

Norvane windvane with spare parts package and emergency rudder adapter. (full review on
Universal M3-20 (marinized Kubota block) 18HP diesel engine (could have got by with an outboard)
API marine 70Amp alternator
2HP Yamaha dinghy outboard,
Sea Wizard dinghy
15 Gal SS fuel tank + (4) 5 Gal jugs.
Atom gimballed kerosene stove
Aluminum mast steps (very useful)
Engel MT27F-U1 w/optional cover 22qt/30cans/37lbs (use it only 50% of the time like when I catch fish or at anchor because of 3 amp power demand)
Mast head LED tricolor / anchor light combo
(All cabin lights LED)
Mozzie Screens 
Forespar telescoping whisker pole (essential for sailing downwind)
Curtains sewn by Grandma (hey these are important!)

Safety Equipment:
Harnesses X 2
Jack lines port and stbd
McMurdo Fastfind 406 Personal Epirb PLB??
Life Raft; Plastimo (4 man offshore)
Spot Check satellite tracking device.
Home made sea anchor.

Spare parts:
Various pump rebuild kits
Old working jib (hank on)
And so much more.

There are a FEW things on the list I could get rid of, like the Fridge, spinnaker, maybe that's about it! 

What I WISH I had, is a Pactor modem for email and weather offshore, AIS (ordering it from the US now, Standard Horizon has a VHF with built in AIS for $300), spare tillerpilot, lee cloths (weather cloths) around the cockpit would be VERY nice as this is a VERY wet boat offshore, but they block your view, maybe something removable. I could go on and on here, but I'll leave it at that :-)

Equipment I DONT have or need!
Starting battery (I just have one big house bank and this works fine!)
An electric windlass (not needed if you are healthy)
Modern winches (my original old-style non-self-tailing winches have been OK)
Steering wheel
Chartplotter (I just use my laptop and Cmap charts, works great)
Oven, mircrowave
Shore power /  battery charger or generator
I have a radar reflector but not installed / don't use it.
Notes on use of spinnaker/whisker pole:
The pole I have is much more of a 'whisker pole' rather than a proper spinnaker pole and gets used almost 
exclusively for poling out the jib, almost always to windward, flying wing on wing downwind and even with 
the wind nearly on the beam.

The windvane loves the way the boat is balanced this way, and it generally hates to steer when you try to sail on a broad reach without going to wing on wing or dropping the main entirely. 

Keep in mind that my opinions here are based primarily from the perspective of single handing offshore. If I was cruising around the bay with friends, I would have a much different approach to all of this. And if I was more comfortable and knowledgeable with the spinnaker I would probably use it more. I don't think anyone should eliminate if from their inventory based on my comments below as much more experienced sailors swear they are a life saver in light winds. But in my reality cruisers talk about flying spinnakers a LOT more than they actually fly them. Maybe we are either lazy or scared...?

I think (it's hard to recall) the reason I bought the spinnaker was because James Baldwin convinced me I needed one, and he seems to be right around 98% of the time, so often I wonder if I could be using it more, but in truth it hasn't been out since maybe... the protected waters of Fiji. 

So here is WHY I don't use the spinnaker more than say.. 1% of the time I'm cruising. I feel that offshore there is a tiny little window of conditions that make that sail worth setting. Generally in fairly settled seas and when the boat is going about 3kts, and say you would LIKE to be going 4 to 5 kts, that's IT. Reason being, if the boat was going more like 2.5kts or slower when you'er thinking of setting the spinnaker (realize that I'm already going downwind wing on wing with full main and a 145% Genoa on the whisker pole so I do have a bit of sail out to start, and its probably flopping around a bit at this speed so I might have even put a reef into the main just to flatten it out and keep it quiet, it's all the way out, prevented foward, vanged down, and very tight. On a tender boat such as the A30 you're almost certain to have enough rolling to start luffing the spinnaker and TWICE I've blown out the spinnaker halyard block under these conditions. 

Now the other side where your sailing faster than 3kts and you want to go faster (hey this doesn't sound like a cruiser at all, more like a racer!). I've had a few generally short beautiful runs with the asym spinnaker, these windows are exhilarating but brief, and if the boat is going 4kts I don't really care if I go 1kt faster to make 5, and anything over 5 starts to agitate the windvane.

Now if I have flat seas, and light wind what I LOVE to do (but rarely do) is pole out the genoa to windward, sheet the Spinnaker to the end of the poled out boom, and fly them like twin head sails. Still bored? put up the main too. Amazing how stable the boat is and nearly going downwind at wind speed, so of course your windvane wont steer now but the autopilot might. And even this sail configuration only makes sense if you are certain the wind is going to remain constant a while. Can you imagine getting caught solo with that much sail up? So now you have to pay attention, again, not so relaxing, but the boat sails like a dream until the wind falls off completely, the swell sets in, or you get overpowered. 

I've been asked if I would use a light air main sail and/or jib instead, particularly if it was easy to rig/fly?

Answer; No. I get by fine with my heavy sails, rarely am I underpowered. I do know people on similar boats that are VERY happy with a light air genoa, but they didn't have roller furling. With nothing more than my 145 genoa, pole and main, I can sail rings around 80% of the other cruising boats out here in light winds, that is assuming no one is using a spinnaker (another reason its hard for me to justify the cost and space for it). IMHO, the A30 is an over canvassed boat for ocean cruising. When the wind gets up to around 30kts, maybe even as early as 25kts if you're trying to sleep, even dead downwind, with only a triple reefed main, you start surfing down the swells, and often have to drop the main completely and revert to just a tiny tiny piece of jib unrolled to keep the boat balanced. I could say a lot more about how often I feel over canvassed on this little boat, but hopefully this gets the point across. Remember you're not just dealing with wind, your dealing with wind and relatively big swells quite often. And lastly, if I had just finished my Pacific crossing (rather than the windier Indian Ocean) I wouldn't be beating this point home so hard. Hope you find this useful.

One more thing. You can buy on Ebay, the Panasonic Toughbook Laptop (Fully ruggedized, shock and water resistant, internal GPS, Touch Screen, low power consumption, for $300USD, maybe even $250ish. I just ordered another one as my old one (still working!!!!) is getting seriously beat up and something like 7 years old. They come with Windows XP (perfect for maxsea) and they have a quick-removable hard drive (no tools) so if  you get a spare hard drive ($40ish) you can have a complete back up ready to go with all your nav stuff pre-loaded. I just think this is the answer to cheap chart-plotting, everything in one unit that even on a small boat you can take into the cockpit. When I want to check my position I just open it, and it automatically comes out of standby with MaxSea open and usually has a GPS fix in under 1 minute, Then just close it, it automatically goes back to standby, SO if you just open and close it 5 or 10 times a day for 1 to 5 minutes at a time you use practically no power. -Kirk

Alberg 30 #504, South Africa

(Leg 5 - South Africa to Cartegena, Colombia)

Kirk extended his stay in Hout Bay, near Cape Town, from January 2012 thru May, explaining: "Lately I find myself daydreaming about returning to the San Blas, I hope it's as I remember it and not more a product of selective memory or the friends I met there at the time rather than the islands themselves.  And at the same time I really like it here in South Africa, it's not quite 3rd world cheap but I almost never eat or drink out (once a week or so and even then rather cheaply) and have several local friends who take me around, so no transport costs, plus I've been racing every Wednesday as crew and meeting people, going to dinners, Briaas, parties, its  great and still I can't believe how beautiful it is here. Since I'm in no hurry I might stay here till May."

By staying those extra months in Cape Town, Kirk missed the preferred summer season for the passage to St Helena. Instead of gentle SE Trades most of the way, he encountered much stronger winds and colder temperatures. Salsa arrived in St Helena Island in mid-June, completing the 1,750 mile passage in 17 days. On this passage he had some troubles with the windvane. Before departing South Africa he apparently had not noticed the plastic bushings on the main shaft were worn out and required replacing. The excess movement between the gears caused some erratic course-keeping which he repaired once he got to St. Helena.

After a couple weeks at the island, enduring the rolly and deep anchorage, Salsa got underway for Brazil. Since he was still in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere winter, on this passage he continued to have strong E-SE winds with uncomfortably large seas, cloudy days and rain squalls.

From his Sailing Salsa blog, Kirk reported: "I departed Saint Helena on July 5th with 1919 Nautical Miles between me and Salvador, Brazil. In less than 48 hours from the start I had been “pooped” where a breaking wave filled the cockpit with water, and as close to being knocked down on my side as I have ever been. I think the official definition of “knocked down” is when the boat is over 90 degrees from vertical, so literally on her side.  I’m not sure how far over we went that second night but it must have been around 70 degrees’ from vertical, I was in a deep sleep and would have been knocked out of bed if it weren’t for the lee-cloth (netting) that holds me in place, things that have never moved before went flying across the cabin, and a nice little wall of water came inside after it completely filled the cockpit. Moments later the emergency bilge pump came on, not exactly unexpected as quite a bit of water made it inside, but not enough to be concerned about.  I mostly remember feeling startled and angry. Even though I couldn’t think of any good reason to be scared, considering that within just a few seconds the boat was back to vertical, and about one minute later all the water was pumped and drained out. By some act of god, my computer didn’t even get wet (but don’t worry it will later).  Looking back at my actual log entry I wrote “4AM, My God, knocked down and pooped, was going 5.4kts with triple reefed main sail only. Now down to bare poles and still making 4.2kts”.

The next log entry was at 9AM “Sailing with bare poles (so no sails up at all), winds ESE 30+kts, boat speed 4.8kts, 210 miles down, 1715 miles to go, and a squall sneaking up on me…” At that point I was contemplating how I was going to slow the boat down for when the squall arrived. Either string some very long warps (ropes) off of the stern for drag, heave to, or maybe use this opportunity to try out my sea anchor.  In the end the squall was brief enough and I simply continued to ride it out with no sail up. I think that was as rough as it got on the entire passage. Only a few days later I was re-reading James Baldwin’s Book “Across Islands and Oceans” and found a quote I really like;

“The sea, especially in its moments of fury, demands first your attention, then your endurance, and finally your patience and acceptance. If you lack this capacity, the sea will soon find you out and make it known to you that the shore is where you should make your home”  -James Baldwin

I’m not sure if the sea was letting me know that I should make my home on land, but it was certainly making implications."

After a few weeks in Salvador, Kirk decided he'd rather not contend with the current security issues of further exploring around the ports of Brazil and so sailed nonstop with mostly favorable weather conditions to Trinidad. In the yacht repair center of Trinidad, Salsa was hauled out for several weeks of maintenence including replacing the cutlass bearing, re-bushing the lower rudder shoe, installing new batteries, new bottom paint and many other jobs that have to be redone every 20,000 miles or so.  

SalsaTrinidad01Salsa hauled out in Trinidad for maintenance.

In late November 2012 Kirk sailed from Trinidad to Cartegena, Columbia. During these winter months the normal trade wind pattern along the coast of Columbia have prolonged periods of reinforced winds when 30-40 knots from the NE is not uncommon. Kirk described the passage to me: "Had 3 or 4 days of perfect sailing, then squally for a day then 30-40 kts all from behind. Things were getting really hairy and all the forecasts I was hearing every day was for 20 maybe 25kts for a day then deminishing while each day I had stronger winds and approaching the area where I thought I might get a counter current I got pretty nervous even though things at the time were under control, it was wet and wild as you know. I was down to bare poles and eventually took off the bimini and opened the dodger windows and threw a warp out to get the boat steady.  Prior to that the GPS was jumping form 1kt to 10kt on every swell and I was getting knocked every  which way, the windvane was keeping up and I was happy to be making 5kts but I didn't want to see everything straining so hard and with the S curves she was making rather than a straight course through the swells I was taking a lot of extra waves over the boat and several inside since I was just way too hot to completely shut the companiway hatch (had all the slats in).  It was a solid 35 and then touching 40 with gusts I'm sure slightly higher but mostly just in the afternoon/evening and sometimes late at night. The next day when it was slightly calmer I asked a freighter for the windspeed and he said 30. 

The approach to Cartegena was exhausting. I don't know how I would have done it without the AIS. By then I was getting used to the sea state and never found the counter current but I must have seen over 20 ships, 10 or more were potential collision threats, all in the last 24 hours. I was sailing through a huge field of frieghters that were alternating between drifting then steaming back up wind/current to hold a position, but no way to see that before you are in the middle of it and it was to big to go around. I try not to bother those guys too much but the first boat I called just to see if he could even see me (very unlikely in those conditions) and was super nice and altered course to give plenty of room and one of the other freighters started shouting on ch16 "f*****g little boats" over and over, nice ehh. This is 50 miles offshore and in english, geez.

The wind finally started to ease down, probably went from 30 down to 10 in the last four hours of the approach and eventually got just ahead of the beam, so no issues there at all. Everything held together wonderfully but I felt like I was just waiting for something to break the entire time and I was just imagining what 35-40kts with a 1kt counter current would look like, I still dont want to know.

On November 27th 2012 around 10AM at 10.23.386N, 075.34.244W I started my motor just before crossing through the Boca Grande small craft channel entering the harbor in Cartagena Colombia. Just over four and a half years since I departed the U.S.A in March 2008 and almost exactly 4 years since I departed Colombia in December 2008, Salsa and I had crossed my old path and COMPLETED the CIRCUMNAVIGATION."