3. For storage, use clear plastic bags or containers. Label them. Write down where you stored everything.
4. Plan to conduct your finances from afar. Auto-deposit your income. Have regular bills paid automatically by draft from your credit card, if possible. Have everything else, including credit card bills, paid by automatic draft from your bank account. Use an ATM for cash. Have a relative on your signature card for bank services - checks and money movement accounts - for emergencies.
5. Unclutter and simplify your lives before you leave. Give away things that will need attention while you are gone.
6. Get an air card and an amplified Wi-Fi antenna for Internet service. Get a booster and outside antenna for your cell phone and air card. The total, about $350, ensures contact with family and friends. You are paying for monthly service anyway. You might as well be able to use it.
7. See the sights along the way by rental car (share with other boaters) or bicycle. Buy cheap bikes, spray them with WD-40 or silicon lubricant, and give them away when you return.
8. Go to a cruisers' association rendezvous. Meet the people you will see on the trip. En route, whenever you see an association flag, white or gold, meet those people. Share your anchorages, your pictures, your meals with them, and learn from the more experienced boaters.
CAPE DORY 40 EXPLORER
LOA: 40 feet
BEAM: 13 feet, 10 inches
DRAFT: 3 feet, 9 inches
WEIGHT: 25,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: modified-vee with full keel
POWER: twin 300-hp Caterpillar diesels
TANKAGE: 400 gallons fuel, 170 gallons water
CRUISING SPEED: 18 to 24 knots
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 2 mpg at 7 to 8 knots
BUILDER: built between 1992 and 1994 by Newport Shipyards of Amityville, N.Y., and Bristol, R.I., which bought the molds from Cape Dory in 1991
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This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue.