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Old 29-06-2009, 22:23   #1
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pirate Quickest Way to Learn Cruising Skills?

I am soon departing to the bahamas with my girlfriend who has no sailing knoledge and I have limited 18ft sailing knoledge. What is the fastest and cheapest way to learn how to navigate and basically all the neccessary skills to go cruising?

Should we just wing it?



Should I just buy more books? Ive read alot already.



Thanks,
DB
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Old 29-06-2009, 23:38   #2
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The Bahamas can be extemely easy in some locations and conditions, and frighteningly difficult in other locations and conditions.

After completing our circumnavigation, I felt the Bahamas were more difficult than most places I have been around the world. Water is shallow, coral is abundant, many anchorages are marginal with a hard pan bottom and poor holding, and currents can get you into trouble.

A GPS tells you where you are, but it won't get you out of trouble. You will know exacly where you are when you hit a reef, drag an anchor, or run aground in the shallow water.

I would follow the cruising guides to the letter until you get lots of experience navigating in coral, shallow water sailing, and anchoring.

Don't sail with the sun in your face. Have it always overhead or to your back. Don't sail at night. Make short hops so that you have plenty of time to put the anchor down early in the afternoon to make sure everything is secure before the sun goes down.

If you have lots of common sense, have good judgment, follow the cruising guides, don't take chances, and don't push your luck, you will probably do fine.
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Old 30-06-2009, 10:04   #3
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Where in the Bahamas are you going?

The Sea of Abaco is very shallow with lots of coral heads. Anchoring can be tricky as there are many areas with lots of weeds; you need to get your hook into sand and dig it in and then set a second anchor. The navigation is generally straight forward, but if you wish to get around Whale Cay, you need to know how to use a hand bearing compass to get lead marks and back marks. The sea state off Whale Cay can also be difficult. Some entrances such as the one into Hope Town can be tricky - take the advise above and use the guides. Some companies also conduct chart briefings.

The biggest determinant of a good sailor is helm time, which cannot be gained from reading books. If you can, take some instruction.

The boat systems can also be problematic. Pay very close attention in the orientation to the boat.

Jack
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Old 30-06-2009, 10:51   #4
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Helm time is one thing I do not have alot of 40 hours max maybe
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Old 30-06-2009, 11:27   #5
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More local experience

"If you have lots of common sense, have good judgment, follow the cruising guides, don't take chances, and don't push your luck, you will probably do fine. "

This is probably the best version of "don't do it!" I have ever read. Well done. But they are correct. Given the sunny day scenario what is the worst that could happen? (insert your list of horror stories here)

But seriously - the captain is responsible for the ship and passengers is not "just a saying," or romantic notion. Ask anyone who is a certified captain (and plenty are on this board). "I didn't know that " is unacceptable in many countries and criminal in most.

You did not mention a boat, so I presume you will get one there and cruise? If so, you will need to call ahead. It will be the rare charter that allows someone with the experience you describe take a boat. Insurance will also be a bit given they will want some type of protection and so will you. (It's not the big ocean I fear, its the five feet between me and the guy with a 1,500,000 yacht next to my slip.

A quick google produced this as part of chartering:
  • You should be a competent yachtsman, with experience of coastal navigation, passage planning and previous experience in handling a yacht of similar size to the one you intend to charter. You will need to prove your competence with a sailing certificate.
  • You will need to leave with the agency a refundable deposit to cover any loss or damage during the trip, that is not covered by the vessel's insurance. The amount of this deposit varies with size and value of the yacht and it may be paid in cash, traveller's cheques or major credit card prior to embarkation.
  • You will be asked to sign a charter contract (in several copies) upon booking, or the latest upon your embarkation. You will also need to present your passports to the company.(Greek islands flotilla sailing)
Many require bareboat charter certification to ensure that someone (other than you) has evaluated your skills to at least a minimal level.

All of which makes sense. Would you loan someone with your experience a $200,000-500,000 boat? Will you find someone willing to provide you a boat? Probably - but review their contract too. No one loans that without coverage.

But what if it is your boat? Again, going back to Maxingout's comments. If you can really live to those, and you can navigate, as well as maintain the boat, and your crew could do the same if you were boomed... then the question is how comfortable are you?

Look at this on the positive side, the two of you could go through the bareboat chartering classes together. You both would then feel comfortable that if something happened to either of you, the chances are good for both. You would also both have a common language which is far less colorful and certainly more acceptable in mixed company.

Please don't give up the idea - plan for it.
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Old 30-06-2009, 12:56   #6
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Charter for 10 days/2 weeks. Link up with someone knowledgeable for the Gulf Stream crossing. Pay attention and have fun.
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Old 30-06-2009, 13:00   #7
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Charter for 10 days/2 weeks. Link up with someone knowledgeable for the Gulf Stream crossing. Pay attention and have fun.
Thanks for the tip I will look into chartering
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