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Old 23-09-2012, 10:15   #1
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15 year looking for boating experience?

Here's the deal: I'm really wanting to take a gap year when I turn 18, go on an epic adventure, then return home to go to college. I was thinking attempting the pacific crossing would be perfect. I was wanting to go to California and get a ride to Hawaii and island hop from there, enjoying every leg of the journey, and eventually making it to new Zealand and Australia. This is just an idea. The major problem is that I have absolutely no sailing experience. I live in Dallas Texas, so trips to the beach are rare and my dad hates boats. So, the only boating experience is sailing a friends catamaran on lake cypress springs. I don't even know if I'll get seasick or not. But I really want to try it. Anyone have any ideas on what to do? I'm an extremely hard worker when I'm motivated, so I feel that I could overcome many obstacles.
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Old 23-09-2012, 10:24   #2
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

I think your best bet, since your options for building experience on a boat are limited, would be to read and learn everything you can about boats and sailing. Read this forum and go back through the archives. Visit the local library and check out every book they have on boats, boating, boat building, navigation and anything else even vaguely related to boating.

There are also a number of lakes around Dallas where you might be able to pick up some hands on experience. Don't know exactly what kind of boating happens around there but if there are any sailboats on the lakes I think there will be a good chance they have weekend races and racers are frequently looking for extra crew. So check out the local scene to see what's going on in your neighborhood.
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Old 23-09-2012, 10:28   #3
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My main concern isn't as much as how I will sail, but how I will handle being on a boat for possibly weeks at a time. But I will look into the basics
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Old 23-09-2012, 10:38   #4
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

Well have you done much camping? Ever spend a couple of weeks in a tent? How about traveling in a camper van or very small RV? These will give you some idea of what it's like to spend a lot of time in a small space with other people.

The other suggestions are to give you a better chance of getting a spot on a boat. Opportunities for an 18 year old with zero skills and knowledge of boats are rare. Think about it, if someone offers to give you ride across the country they're only committed for a few days at most and do have the option to kick you out if things don't work out. If someone offers to take you on a boat trip they are stuck with you for weeks or more and if things don't work out they have no options. Also, a boat owner or captain can be legally and financially liable for the crew members on their boat, especially in foreign countries. If you bring a crew member into another country you can be required to pay their ticket home if they decide to leave the boat. So picking up crew can be a big responsibility for the captain. The more you know and can contribute to helping on the boat the better chance you have of getting a spot.
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Old 23-09-2012, 10:46   #5
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My mom is trying to organize a 2 week hiking/ camping trip in Colorado next summer, so I guess I'll find out how I handle that stuff there. As stated earlier, I will work extremely hard when motivated, so I'd be willing to put in the work to learn. What experience would I need to get let on? And how would I find a captain? I was thinking of waiting in San francisco bay along the docks and asking around to see who's heading west, but I know that assumes a large amount of risk.
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Old 23-09-2012, 10:53   #6
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

I would suggest that you research the Tall Ships and do a semister or summer on one of them...

It would be a great adventure, you would gain a tremendous knowledge of sailing and attend High School in the best class room in the world...

Many of the Tall Ships offer summer programs, full semisters or even years of education on their ships.

I have included a link to one of their main associations, which will give you some information on the Tall Ships programs.

Tall Ships of America
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:12   #7
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

Great advise from Tom.

As far as other things you can do. Like I said, read and study everything you can about boats. Learn the terminology: fore and aft, port and starboard, names for all the sails and lines (ropes), names of all the boat parts and hardware.

Then learn how to tie knots: square, bowline, cleat (very important to learn how to properly fix a line to a cleat). Learn how to tie the basic knots with your eyes closed, you may need to tie them in the dark.

Read books written by other sailors and their voyages. You can learn a lot by reading about their experiences. Some to start:

- Sailing Alone Around the World
- Any books by Hal Roth, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Lin and Larry Pardey.
- Chapmans Piloting and Seamanship
- Nigel Calder's books on boat maintenance.

You might also take a first aid course, learn CPR. Basically anything that would make you more useful on a boat.

How to find a boat. Post links on the internet. This forum and a lot of others have places for captains to post looking for crew and for crew looking for a spot.

Willingness to work hard is a basic requirement but you will have a much better chance of finding a spot if you have something more than that to offer. Very few captains willing to take on a completely unskilled teenager looking for a free ride across the ocean. Having a little cash and medical insurance to show that the captain won't be at risk for your financial support would also be a huge plus.
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:17   #8
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaymax972 View Post
My mom is trying to organize a 2 week hiking/ camping trip in Colorado next summer, so I guess I'll find out how I handle that stuff there. As stated earlier, I will work extremely hard when motivated, so I'd be willing to put in the work to learn. What experience would I need to get let on? And how would I find a captain? I was thinking of waiting in San francisco bay along the docks and asking around to see who's heading west, but I know that assumes a large amount of risk.
I think online is your best bet to hook up with folks - another crew member (or 2) aboard is often wanted on longer legs (and trans pacific would count as that!). A few websites around that focus on the "Crew Wanted" angle - otherwise get known on a few forums. Pick the right one(s) and you will also learn a lot. Not all of it about boats - and not all of it useful mind . CF is better than many.

I would start looking earnestly a year out, albeit likely only be a few months beforehand that maybes can turn into a definite (life changes plans for everyone - good intentions notwithstanding).

Actual crew qualifications (paper and experiance) will vary from Skipper to Skipper and what they require from a crew member. Personally I would go for a personality I would not strangle inside a week (and vice verce!) and someone being willing to get stuck in and willing to learn (including to listen!) over experiance or paper, but I wouldn't be fundamentally relying on them either so could afford to make a bad call. In practice the sailing / boating end of things is not that involved (as crew) and nothing that can't be picked up enroute so a blank canvas has advantages over a numpty with own half assed ideas.

However other Skippers will have different ideas on what they need from crew. Somewhere between the above and a squillion sea miles accross the 7 seas with paper qualifications up the yazoo .

What will increase your chances of getting a spot is being willing to chip in for expenses - however every Skipper has differing ideas on what expenses are (from zero on principle - to the same as a 5 star suite on the Queen Mary ).

Your biggest concern should be about selecting a skipper and boat carefully - not simply because there are some funny buggers out there (pun intended ), but also because some folks have more ambition than skill as a Skipper and boats that are relying a touch more on the weather gods being kind than would be prudent.
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:27   #9
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

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Originally Posted by Jaymax972 View Post
Here's the deal: I'm really wanting to take a gap year when I turn 18, go on an epic adventure, then return home to go to college. I was thinking attempting the pacific crossing would be perfect. I was wanting to go to California and get a ride to Hawaii and island hop from there, enjoying every leg of the journey, and eventually making it to new Zealand and Australia. This is just an idea. The major problem is that I have absolutely no sailing experience. I live in Dallas Texas, so trips to the beach are rare and my dad hates boats. So, the only boating experience is sailing a friends catamaran on lake cypress springs. I don't even know if I'll get seasick or not. But I really want to try it. Anyone have any ideas on what to do? I'm an extremely hard worker when I'm motivated, so I feel that I could overcome many obstacles.
Thinking about it a bit more - I would fly to NZ (maybe a stopover enroute for a week or so - Fiji?). They have a well developed "backpacker" circuit designed for folks your age bracket to do exactly what you are intending. and if you later hook up with a boat going to Oz then all the better, otherwise fly accross.

I would suggest instead going to Thailand - but your Mum would likely go apeshit with me. and she'd be right to .
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Old 23-09-2012, 11:50   #10
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Yeah, but I thought it'd be cooler to actually make the whole distance and see how far it is to the other side of the world. You gave a lot of great advice!do you think you pinpoint the key things I should work on NOW? and how do I know if I'll get seasick or not?
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Old 23-09-2012, 12:01   #11
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

Jay, there are hundreds of boats sailing the lakes around DFW -- Lewisville, Eagle Mountain, etc., and Texoma just north of you is miles across. By hooking up with local sailors and learning to sail locally, you could acquire good skills that would help you get a crew berth later on in more exotic places. Have you tried getting on the crew lists of any of the local sailing or yacht clubs near you?
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Old 23-09-2012, 13:21   #12
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

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Originally Posted by Jaymax972 View Post
Yeah, but I thought it'd be cooler to actually make the whole distance and see how far it is to the other side of the world. You gave a lot of great advice!do you think you pinpoint the key things I should work on NOW? and how do I know if I'll get seasick or not?
Most people get seasick. those who suffer terribly are in a minority. For most a combination of the weather (not just obviously rough weather - sometimes can be specific conditions, probably something to do with a rythmn )...and also circumstances (food) and smells (diesel doesn't work well for me - and for many others).

The only way to find out where you are is time on the water. On which note (and fitting in with the NOW angle), you will have a few vacations to play with - so I would try and snaffle a few short trips online with folks, in US or Carribean. Or sign up with an organisation that does sea trips for young people, whether tall ships or smaller boats. Will learn more doing coastal stuff anyway than simply sailing in one direction for great distances (the tricky part with boats often involves the bumping into stuff - other boats and continents , and that latter one applies whether a new one, or the same one you left 10 minutes ago ).

Likely some cash would be needed to smooth the way, but not automatically so. Plus don't discount the lake sailing angle - will learn a lot on any water, and for some things lakes are more challenging than the sea. and for some it's not - overall IMO about the same, if only for the fact that an idiot can drown or sink on each .

Book / class based I would get Navigation under your belt - in practice most people use the electronic gizmos nowadays, but IMO being able to use a Pencil and a Paper Chart is not only useful (gizmos do go kaput) but also makes understanding WTF the gizmo is actually telling you easier (99.99%+ likely it will always be "right" - but right for a gizmo is not the same as wise, and never prudent to unthinkingly only have a bleeping gizmo to follow).

To really annoy folks in the future you could even learn to use a Sextant to navigate with (that's on my own "to do list"....likely will stay there out of laziness ).
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Old 23-09-2012, 15:14   #13
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Alright cool. I want to try to spend as little as possible on this stuff so I'll have money to spend in places like Fiji, Hawaii, new Zealand, and Australia if I ever get that far. Are these crew listings in Dfw expensive?
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Old 23-09-2012, 15:19   #14
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And another thing- my parents are really against this idea, but they say they can't stop me. II thought itd ease their fears if I got on the ocean beforehand to see how I handle it. I saw someone comment on some Caribbean trips. Would I be able to find one of those? And how would I know that my shipmates aren't going to drive me crazy, or rob me for that matter?
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Old 23-09-2012, 15:40   #15
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Re: 15 year looking for boating experience?

probably i should chip in here since i have been pretty much traveling independently since i was your age,hitchiking around southern africa at 15,then around the world at 17,on a budget of $3 a day.

best advice i can offer is get yourself a good back pack,sleeping mat and sleeping bag,coulple that with a good 1man tent and stove and you are pretty much independent of expensive stuff like hostels,be prepared to move at a moments notice.

having a supply of cash is essential,you don't need much but you do need some!

threre are so many oppertunities out there too numerous to mention,but try some of these.
for a place to stay
CouchSurfing – The world’s largest travel community
for crewing
Yacht crew agency, yacht crew vacancy, sailing crew from Crewseekers
for work
Gap Year Programs | gapyear.com
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