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Old 17-10-2011, 13:25   #1
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How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

Hey guys. This is a pretty abstract question, and more of a sanity check... I sail a Catalina 34 out of San Francisco and my brother and I have been gradually getting bolder as we venture a bit farther from the bay. Rationally, I think I'm ready for these trips: I'm very vigilant with the weather forecasts, we have good equipment and safety items, I've had training at a maritime academy for a couple years, and I have countless sea days of crewing and skippering experience. I'm lacking a bit in offshore passagemaking experience in small boats, especially in heavy weather. Anyway, I'm still often (secretly) nervous before trips to the Farallones, etc, but I want to push myself a little to gain more confidence. Am I going about this the right way?
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Old 17-10-2011, 13:47   #2
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Re: How do I judge my own experience level?

Yes you are going about it the right way. Nothing wrong with being a little nervous as that just means you are paying attention.
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Old 28-01-2012, 22:20   #3
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

I think you are doing it right, taking baby steps and being cautious about everything. A little nervousness is a good thing. It means you care and don't think you know everything. It's the arrogant-ignorant people who think they know more than they do that get into trouble the most often.

You have the best type of attitude to have...cautiously pushing your comfort envelope a little bit at a time, remaining vigilant and never allowing familiarity to breed contempt.
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Old 28-01-2012, 22:49   #4
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

What Don and David said, +1.
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:00   #5
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

+2 -- you'll be fine.

Also, I feel that some sailors in the Bay Area lay it on a bit thick with machismo about experience and all of that. I have no idea why. So... just keep it in mind that, in any port, there are sometimes people on the dock who will tell you that you (or your boat) are not ready, or that the next passage is completely different from everything you've done before and will be the one that gets you. It's part of the color of the sailing community.
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:22   #6
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

The only point that jumps out is that you seem to trust the weather forecasts.

I'd expect some degree of suspicion if making long trips out of SF, and some sort of plan for dealing with much worse weather than forecast.

Here in Oz the BOM says
Quote:
Please be aware
Wind gusts can be 40 percent stronger than the averages given here, and maximum waves may be up to twice the height.
with each marine forecast.

Every so often one of the locals gets beat up and, yup, say they got hit by winds 40% stronger than forecast.

Our other really nasty trick here is that if the wave period is less than 8 seconds it's going to be a very, very unpleasant trip. Not mentioned in forecast.
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:29   #7
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

To answer your question, yes. You are doing fine.
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:29   #8
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

Bay sailing is not for wimps and going out to the Farallones.....hot stuff! I sail in So Cal waters......sailed out under the Golden Gate once.....one of the most memorable experiences of my life. You're doing good.
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:36   #9
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

HEH ! just sailing thru the Potato Patch to get to the Farallons is work in any sailboat ! you are doing Just Fine your sure beyond baby steps !! folks who have never done it ,don't know just how quick it can get Salty there !! Just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 28-01-2012, 23:59   #10
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

To paraphrase Muriel Blanchett (sp?) who wrote "The Curve of Time" most of us start out seeking to have adventures. Then we have a few, and spend the balance of our time trying to figure out how NOT to have adventures. Don't go looking for trouble, it will find you soon (and often) enough.
I think that the more mistakes or breakdowns you get behind you, the
more experienced you will BE, and the less experienced you'll FEEL.
It's all about knowing what you don't know, and you have to know a lot before you get an accurate picture of the extent of your ignorance.
I, for example, am a total idiot.
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Old 29-01-2012, 01:52   #11
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

G'Day Jackson,

As an ex SF Sailor who cut his teeth doing much the same as you... you are doing fine. Now, some 125,000 miles later, I know that the training I inflicted upon myself and eventually, my wife, stood me in good stead.

Winter forays out of the Gate can be pretty traumatic, but for the rest of the year it isn't likely to do you much harm. Try going up to Drakes Bay instead of Halfmoon Bay, and eventually down to the Socal islands. The trip down is great, the trip north is educational.

And BT W, the advice from Boracay, who lives in Sydney, isn't germane to Calif. Aussies can't fathom how steady the wx is on the Calif coast. Here, life is a steady train of frontal passages separated by highs which (surprisingly to me) bring onshore winds, clouds and drizzle followed by a few nice days. So different from a Calif summer!

So, IMO you are following the right path. Carry on, and soon you will be fully prepared to join us out here... it's great!

Cheers,

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Old 04-02-2012, 20:15   #12
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

Welcome to Tassie, where you can have all four seasons in one day

There is a general agreement in Australia that perhaps the forecasters should not worry about long term forecasts and just try sticking their head out the window and getting today right!

(said tounge in check, however we don't place a lot of trust in forecasts, just use them as a guide here unless your in the tropical regions, thenthey are generally right.... But then again the weather stays the same for about four months anyway! Lol)
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Old 05-02-2012, 17:05   #13
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

Quote:
How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?
To answer the question directly, you can't realistically judge your own experience level. As a pilot I took check rides on a regular basis with an experienced check pilot who corrected any bad habits he saw creeping in. I have flown with many private pilots who refused to take check rides and many of them I never flew with more than once.

You are probably doing very well, but it wouldn't hurt to hire a good instructor to go out with you once in a while just to make sure you aren't letting bad habits creep in.

Actually, last fall, I hired a driving instructor to take me out for a few check rides and I was quite surprised at how many bad driving habits I had picked up over the years.
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Old 05-02-2012, 20:46   #14
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

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Originally Posted by Pacificcatalyst View Post
---- most of us start out seeking to have adventures. Then we have a few, and spend the balance of our time trying to figure out how NOT to have adventures. ----
Amen to that. I'm a big fan of boredom at sea.
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Old 05-02-2012, 22:35   #15
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Re: How Do I Judge My Own Experience Level ?

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Originally Posted by jacksonlord View Post
Hey guys. This is a pretty abstract question, and more of a sanity check... I sail a Catalina 34 out of San Francisco and my brother and I have been gradually getting bolder as we venture a bit farther from the bay. Rationally, I think I'm ready for these trips: I'm very vigilant with the weather forecasts, we have good equipment and safety items, I've had training at a maritime academy for a couple years, and I have countless sea days of crewing and skippering experience. I'm lacking a bit in offshore passagemaking experience in small boats, especially in heavy weather. Anyway, I'm still often (secretly) nervous before trips to the Farallones, etc, but I want to push myself a little to gain more confidence. Am I going about this the right way?
Your experience, your nervousness, your steady advancement, your formal training, and your desire to push further are all traits of good seamanship. From as much as I can tell about someone online I think you have your **** together. My $0.02.
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