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Old 31-10-2014, 17:58   #1
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Extreme Novice asks for Help

Hello all
New to the site. First post.
I am a complete novice when it comes to sailing. I've always dreamed of sailing the world but life went in other directions. Well, here I am, 39 years old, and really want to make my daydreams a reality.

Experience: none (unless you count a 14' flat bottom up and down Texas rivers doin' some spotlight fishing) lol

I have been reading on this site daily for the past 4 months. I have read and am reading as many books as I can, but there is only so much time to read and I can't read two books at the exact same time (that'd be cool tho huh). Ok, I know, blah blah blah blah. Needless to say, I have a million questions.

My plan: I want to get an ocean going liveaboard boat, 30' to 35', for me, my wify type person, and my 3yr old son; do some US coastal sailing to get the experience 'we' need, then take off into the wild blue yonder. Yes, I'm aware of the 'You should make sure you can live with each other in such a cramped space for long periods' bit, so please refrain thank you. I am a jack of all trades and am an electrician and mechanic. I am a certified autobody tech, and woodworking has been my hobby all my life (one of my many). So, maintenance and working on/with boats won't be a problem. Also I'm very tech savvy. But for the life of me I can't find the answer to one very simple small, probably obvious, staring me right in the freakin' face answer.

Do I need some sort of license to operate my future liveaboard ocean going boat? After that, how about helping simplify some of my future research by answering a few more.
Do I have to take some sort of certified class or can I learn from other sailors?
What documents do me and my family need to set out into said wild blue yonder. Medical, Legal, etc.

I am well aware that I did toot my own horn there a bit, but, I am also very very aware that my horn is currently nothing more than a kazoo.

Ok, all done. Any help you wonderful, knowledgeable, experienced, awesome people can offer will be greatly appreciated and...I'm sure more questions will follow.
Oh, and yes I have used the search tool extensively.
Thanks
Dave
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Old 31-10-2014, 18:22   #2
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

What you need to begin with depends on where the boat is berthed. Maryland, where my boat is, required a 5% excise tax and a license fee. If you were born after...? a date I can't remember but long after I was born, you are required to pass a boating class; I was born in 1951 and escaped that.

What do you need? Very little. What do you need to be safe? That's different. I would think you need the following to be safe.
1. Experience. That ranges apparently from learning to sail to learning to sail your particular boat safely and in heavy weather. How much experience? In my case, I have almost 50 years of sailing on various boats. Last summer we bought a 35' sloop. I've been out quite a bit this past summer and fall; I am just beginning to feel competent on the boat in light to medium conditions. I expect my wife (she's new to sailing) and I will need a year to feel competent in 25-30 knots of wind on the Chesapeake. Two more years to feel competent to take her offshore for a day to get to Long Island Sound. I would think another year or two beyond that to try for Bermuda or anywhere in the Caribbean. That's us; perhaps you are much better at it.
2. A sound, well fitted out boat. Finding that boat will be hard since you have limited experience. Pride/thinking you know what you are doing will make it harder. People talk bout boats all the time on here but honestly the only way to know is to go and inspect it. The catch is that if you are new, you won't know what to look for or how to look. The best thing I can recommend is look at a LOT of boats. Don't brag about your qualifications; emphasize you are inexperienced. Some dealers/brokers/owners will help you. Some won't.
3. You will need a survey. When you are ready to buy, you're going to need a survey, so start looking for a surveyor now.
4. Skills. You talk a lot about your skills. That's great. I envy you. I'm learning about the diesel on my boat and it's been tough. I would gently point out however that boat mechanics and boat carpentry are not necessarily the same as the ones on land. Just a thought.
Just some thoughts. Good luck, sailing is life long passion and the water can reward a good sailor with some amazing moments. Just remember: it can also snatch your life away in an instant. Recently a USCG license captain, life time sailor/racer etc etc drowned two miles from the finish line of a race on Puget Sound. In a big gust, the boat turtled with an open hatch and sank; he wasn't wearing a PFD. Very sad; very instructive too.
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Old 31-10-2014, 18:27   #3
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

We have been sailing smaller boats for a couple of years and just purchased our 39' in May. I wouldn't mind getting some experience in heavier winds, as we wear our life jackets, have three reefs and a good handle on sailing. We just can't get up the nerve to try to *dock* in heavier winds, yet.

My husband and I are both very handy, but we have been a bit overwhelmed with learning all the new systems. It really isn't fair that I had to replace the joker valve twice already! Sure wish I knew what happened to that first one...
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Old 31-10-2014, 18:29   #4
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Dave, welcome to CF. If you have been reading for months, you already know there is a tremendous amount of information available here on CF. As far as the license goes, some states require that you take a course to get a certificate to operate a vessel of over ??? number of horse power. That applies to sailboats with auxiliaries also. That is usually a number like 10 or 15HP depending on the state. I would not worry about making decisions based on a simple course that will undoubtedly teach you a few things and keep the state happy. I dont think there are any states that require something like an ASA sailing course to sail your own boat. ASA sailing courses are good, but mostly are a requirement if you want to charter, and can be pricy. Any sailing course can be a big help on the learning curve, and crewing on other boats is a great way to learn. Have a wonderful journey. _____Grant.
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Old 31-10-2014, 20:32   #5
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Hey thanks for the quick replies and the information. Pendragon35: Thanks for the fast response. I'm happy to hear that I don't have to get some captains license. You make good points and those are things that have been at the top of my list of study..my long list. I apologize if I came of as a braggart. I just didn't want to get flamed as an idiot. Yes marine mechanics are different. I just hope what I know may give me an advantage. Please do not ever envy me. You're sailing...I'm not. I should have started on this path so many many years ago. It took a bad car accident this last year to give me a swift kick in the back side so here I am.
Greenhand: "joker valve"? Is that akin to doomaflatch?
Grant: Hey thanks for the welcome. Yes there is a ton of info. I admittedly got lost in the great sea of info so I figured I'd just come right out and ask my simple stupid question. The only stupid question is the one not asked, right? Thanks for your insight. I most assuredly will be taking some sort of proper class....and hoping, when I get a boat, that some salty sea dog will show me the ropes (wow lotsa metaphores there ha). I figure that I'm about 4-6 months out before I start stepping on any potential purchases. Maybe up to a year before I purchase. I'm taking the time now to do all that I can to get ready just to 'start' this adventure. I would love to be able to crew a boat, but I don't think my wifey type person would much go for that. I know, I gotta long road ahead, but I'm committed. I'm not going to die having done nothing except working to get by so I can work some more. I want to work for a fulfilled life. Just hope it's not to late.
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Old 31-10-2014, 22:43   #6
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Hi GC and welcome.

I started sailing with the same boating background as you. My father had a 14' Sears jon boat that was my entire experience on the water. I lucked into a trip with a couple of friends on a 37' sloop to the Bahamas and caught the bug. Went home and read everything I could, did a bit of crewing and then took off on my own. Still had a lot to learn but mostly got by.

If you move onto a boat you will eventually encounter the dread joker valve. That's a little piece in the exit line of a marine toilet that keeps the brown stuff going out and not coming back in. They will occasionally clog or fail, always when the toilet is maxed out with the most unpleasant contents. The only solution is to dig it, hold your breath and clear it out. The most fun you can have on a boat.
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Old 31-10-2014, 23:11   #7
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Hi, most of the replies talk about US certification but if your plan is to go foreign then it is almost certain you will need some form of sailing qualification. The UK is one of the few places where it is not compulsory, only voluntary. However, over here the RYA, has various levels of certificates which are accepted world wide and I think are available in the States. As to experience, well you can be taught to sail in a day, but then you do the same as the rest of us, spend the rest of your life learning. I don't think there is a single CD member who would say they had learned it all.
I would advise crewing first or even chartering for a week or two in a flotilla to see how you like it. Investment in a boat is quite heavy, and then you start throwing money at it.
If all ok after that the enjoy the sailing experience, there nothing else to equal it.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:12   #8
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

skipmac- It makes me feel better that there are others out there that started as I am now. My father was a sonar tech in the navy on the USN Sea Devil submarine. I grew up listening to him and his adventures, and, of course him pressing on to me being a sailor. Of course, as the oldest of 8, I rebelled. AND, being named the same as him, an identity crisis set in early. Unfortunately, now that he is gone, I have realized the wisdom of his words. I wish I had listened. I wish he was still here. His stories of patrolling the north pacific, and breaking through the ice, the crazy sailors they would surface up to and would offer up a part of their catch just for some alcohol and cigarettes... There is another life out there that is free and relies on barter, compassion, and truth..obviously danger included. But more die or are shipwrecked from car crashes just in the USA than are lost at sea world wide (can't find a statistic that says otherwise). If anyone wants to show me one, then they are just being a devils advocate and a killjoy.
The joker's valve makes perfect sense lmfao. Funny at first but until you realize the joke's on you. Ironic, you should see one of my tattoos.
AndytheSailer-RYA? ya'll have to forgive me. I am not hip with all of the acronyms yet. It would seem that an RYA would be something I should be interested in, in the long run. I do intend to cruise European territories...maybe many years down the road, hopefully sooner. You say it is available in the US?? as in I can acquire this RYA in the US? Please elaborate.
As for seeing if I'll like it. Boy howdy..I can't wait. I was in the US Army in the 90's and lived out of my ruck sack on a 5-ton truck for months and months....(oh the stories I could tell) compared to the BS life that I have dragged myself through?... a boat that I own and can direct it to, the culture and amazing locals that I want..priceless. Yeah, I know..mid-life crisis is a common psychological experience that most go through, and in many circumstances are unfounded. For me, humanity, God, the great philosophers, are slapping me in the face and yelling "WHAT THE F IS WRONG WITH YOU!!"
I intend to die peacefully at sea.
I wish I could just charter, but it's so so so expensive. I may end up crew on a boat or many boats. Hell I would might be happy doing just that. We'll see what happens. All I know is...My jaw is plenty strong. I ain't takin' no more punches.
Thank you to you both for the warm welcome. It's because you people like you on this forum that I joined. I look so forward to chatting and posting with you all.
I believe the proper salute is..
Fair winds. And, safe travels
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:00   #9
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Grim Coyote, what i'm thinking after reading all these posts is that what you are dreaming of as a goal needs to be broken down into segments.

One, of course, is the ultimate dream, that of the freedom, etc. However, I gotta tell ya, how you bring in your wifey-type person to this plan is going to have huge effects on the outcome of the whole project. Many women think boats are unfit places to raise a child--not true, of course, but a huge obstacle to overcome if she is adamant. The best way to bring her along, I think, would be to make it fun for her, and for you to treat her as if she were your very best friend's wife, to be cajoled rather than hollered at.

If you've been reading here a lot, you'll realize I am an old lady (literally), having grown old cruising with my husband Jim, and I've seen a lot of unhappy women soon to leave spouse and boat. So, IMO, if you're to succeed, you need her on board as a supporter of and worker for the goal.

Also, the more competent she is, the better you'll sleep on your off watch. Many women are disinterested in the "care and feeding" of the boat, but some are, and others just need encouragement. Now, your good lady has a youngster to care for. Yet, if she is to be a good sailor, she needs to learn to sail and not be taught by you. Nothing against you, it is just that women learn faster and better when they don't have hubby hanging around to impress. My explicit suggestion is that she join a group of women who are learning to sail, so she starts to develop a keen appreciation for the interactions of wind and boat. Sailing dinghies are fine for this purpose. It should be fun, exciting, and she should get a lot of confidence building. Once she knows it's fun, then she'll be in a much better position to be your helpmeet in following your dream. When you guys take off, generally it is the woman who bears the burden of home schooling. All of you will benefit from her being given frequent breaks to be enjoyed sailing the boat while you interact with the child.

Diesel engines are diesel engines, very similar land to sea-going, except for the marinization stuff. You'll be good at that. In fact your whole "hands on" background will be a help.

What you are up against is the lack of experience, so I'd suggest re-locating to where you (and your wife) (alternate weekends, maybe?) can get some sailing experience, perhaps crewing for other skippers, and find out if you really like this small boat stuff. If the two of youse are on the same page, then great. If not, maybe time for a re-think.

Ann
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:06   #10
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Hi GC,

There's a saying - "you can learn to sail in a weekend, but you'll need ther rest of your life to get good at it."

If there is a a sailing club near you - join. You can almost always get a spot crewing on a boat in their weekly "beer can" races. This will teach you a lot about sailingin a very short period of time (get your wife to crew also - sailing is a joint project).

By all mwans take a course or two. There are several parts to saiing
1- The pure mechanics of sailing - sail trim, helmsmanship, heavy weather, docking etc

2- Maintenance - you seem to have good ahndle on that, although you'll be surprised at what you end up doing (i very small cramped spaces LOL)

3- Rules of the road, otherwise know as the Colregs. I simply can emphasize enough that you get yourself( and your wife) enrolled in courses that will teach you this. It is a sad commentary on boaters that an unbelievable amount ofthem are not conversant with the Colregs. They can be difficult to truly understand (even here on CF, when we have Colreg discussions, our experts can sometimes disagree regarding with rule is the applicable one).

One thing about Colregs and make sure you truly understand this - there is NO "right of way" on the water. There are "stand on" vessels nd "give way vessels"

Whenever I hear someone say "right of way" I know they do not understand the Colregs.

4- Navigation - yes, chartplotters have been invented, but you do need to learn terrstial navigation, how to read sea charts etc etc.

And finally - when you do get a boat - practice, practice practice. Docking, setting and trimming sails etc. Go out into heavy weather to see ow you handle that.

As you can see- this is a lifelong project. By the way - Welcome to CF

carsten
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:25   #11
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

I can only tell you what worked for us.
1st - we were never on a sailboat until dec 2000 when we took our first sailing lesson via asa.
2nd - we continued with more lessons in march of 2001 taking 2 more asa lessons with a great capt in fla who made us work as a team not capt and crew
3rd - we chartered a couple of times close to where we lived.
4th - in 2003 i bought a new jeanneau ds40 as i could and as i knew nothing about repair and upkeep of a sailboat. By this time we lived in Miami and moved the boat there and sailed Biscayne Bay almost every weekend and began to understand a bit about sailing.
5th - in 2007 i quit my job, sold my house to pay off the boat and sailed up the east coast of the USA from Miami to Mass and back. I got lucky and got adopted by an elderly crusing couple who had sailed for years and were out on one of their last trips and they taught me a bit on how to cruise.
6th - in 2008 sailed to the norhtern Bahamas and then back up the east coast of the USA to Maine and back with the same couple on their final cruising season.
7th - in 2009 sailed all of the Bahamas then up to the Cheaspeake as by now we knew what the boat needed for extended voyages and had a bit of work done to prepare her.
8th - we left in 2010 and headed to Mexico and points south and made it all the way to Colombia then across the Caribbean to Jamaica and down the island chain to Trinidad and back to Antigua and across the Atlantic on a 2 person crossing and now are in our 2nd year in the Med.
9th - I still do not know a lot about boat repair but work on it each and everyday
10th - You did not mention weather which we spend a lot of time on which we think is one of the most important things you can learn.
11th - you did not mention how the other half feels about it as it becomes a team effort and if it is not it will not last long. It is not an easy life style especially with a young one. Do not underestimate how hard it is on the other half with a young one. We met one couple in Maine that said they were headed on circum nav and wanted us to go with them. We declined as we felt we were not ready nor was the boat. A couple of years later when we got to the Bay Islands of Honduras they were still there headed back to the USA and never got past the Bay Islands. They went back to the USA and sold the boat never to sail again. What happened we do not know only they were not prepared for life afloat in foreign countries.
12th - we have not been in the USA with the boat in a while so no idea on the license requirements there but in the Med we have been asked for our license and they have accepted our asa book with stamps in it.
13th - you also did not mention how you were going to afford sailing offshore. We put our 5 year costs of cruising out there on the dollars and cents forum and will update it for the Med when i get the data put in a spreadsheet but it is not free.

This is just a small beginning. We are proof that you do not need 100 years of experience to sail blue water and long voyages but you really have to work at it.

My son lives in Castle Rock so if you want to talk sometime this winter we wil be visiting so pm us with an email and we see if we can hook up.
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:51   #12
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Hi, RYA, Royal Yachting Association. They do courses from day skipper right up to Ocean Master as well as the ICC, the International Certificate of Competence which is accepted in Europe as a qualification of competency. Check out their website RYA - The Royal Yachting Association | RYA. they have a school in Rhode Island.

Andy
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:39   #13
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Dave.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:31   #14
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

Grim Coyote, you're not even near "too late" at 39! You've got 14 more years available than me. So far we've done the classes and chartering and close to buying the boat. Chartering with friends helped make it affordable, not to mention tons of fun.

Just get started any one or more of the ways already suggested and you'll be fine.

+ about 100 to what Ann says about making the wifey type person enjoy the experience. Happy wife, Happy life as the saying goes! 5 years ago when I got the "idea" my wife was just waiting for me to get over it. We went in baby steps and I was smart enough to make it fun for her too. She's accused me of not always being that smart! We have now sailed in the Pacific NW, Sea of Cortez and the eastern Caribbean from Grenada to Antigua. She's just as much in on this as me now and we're looking forward to the time on the water.

Best of luck!


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Old 01-11-2014, 08:03   #15
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Re: Extreme novice asks for help

OK. You've got the cruising bug, you're reading and trying to build a base of knowledge but how to move on to the next step, getting hands on experience? When I had my second sailing trip all the stuff I had read in books started falling into place and made much more sense.

If you are trying to get into cruising on a limited budget chartering is a huge expense. Best is to look for a spot on OPBs (other people's boats). It is fairly common for couples or singlehanders to look for an extra hand to help them on a longer passage. Your lack of sailing experience might be a handicap but could be totally overcome by your mechanical skills. Volunteer to be the engine mechanic, oil changer, etc for a trip and bet you will have plenty of takers. In fact, if you volunteer for that job I'll take you on my next trip.

If you haven't been on a small boat at sea before it might be good to try some day trips first to make sure you are not one of the very small percentage of people that have serious motion sickness problems. Would be a bummer for everyone if you took off on a 2-3 week trip and discovered the first day out that you have a problem with sea sickness.
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