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Old 01-01-2015, 07:27   #1
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Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Hello all,

I'm new the community, and relatively new to the sailing/crusing world. I've spent the last year and a half or so reading and learning to sail smaller boats (15 foot hunters and 22 foot O'days), but I was hoping to gain some insight on how most people moved forward into the crusing lifestyle. Here's my tentative plan, but I would love to hear some other thoughts and recommendations.

1. There is a local sailing school on a lake in my area, so I plan to take all the ASA light wind classes they offer there between April and October 2015. (As a side note, the winds are generally light on the lake, but constantly shift around, so instructors swear that learning to sail there is much harder than learning to sail on the ocean. I however really can't comment since I've never spent a ton of time ocean sailing). I believe the US Coast Guard Auxiliary also offers some safety courses that I should probably take.

2. I have a friend who owns a sailboat and swears we will go out and do some sailing come summer time. This should at least get me some ocean experience an expose me to larger vessels.

3. Come Spring of 2016, I would like to purchase my own boat and liveaboard for at least the first spring and summer. My girlfriend has agreed to this, and seems to think it would be fun, however convincing her to stay aboard during a cold, snowy New England winter may be a challenge she is not up to.

4. At this point I would most likely stick to crusing New England waters (Cape Cod and the islands, the coast of Maine, Block Island sound, etc.). I should add that I work on a rotating 12 hour shift and have 7 days off in a row once every four weeks. I'm assuming that between my scheduled off time and vacation time I will have plenty of time to cruise around leisurely.

I do have a few concerns however. I am a recent college grad with an excellent paying job in electrical generation, no debt, and very good credit, but I'm unsure how willing a finance company will be to give a loan to a 22 year old engineer fresh out of school with only a couple years experience. Mostly I find that I am attracted to Beneteau boats, but I have the feeling that financing will really dictate what I can afford to purchase in the end.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences about jumping into the crusing world, and any advice on how you think I should go about it myself. Thanks in advance for all your help!

Regards,
Eric
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:36   #2
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

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Originally Posted by EGB14 View Post
Hello all,

I'm new the community, and relatively new to the sailing/crusing world. I've spent the last year and a half or so reading and learning to sail smaller boats (15 foot hunters and 22 foot O'days), but I was hoping to gain some insight on how most people moved forward into the crusing lifestyle. Here's my tentative plan, but I would love to hear some other thoughts and recommendations.

1. There is a local sailing school on a lake in my area, so I plan to take all the ASA light wind classes they offer there between April and October 2015. (As a side note, the winds are generally light on the lake, but constantly shift around, so instructors swear that learning to sail there is much harder than learning to sail on the ocean. I however really can't comment since I've never spent a ton of time ocean sailing). I believe the US Coast Guard Auxiliary also offers some safety courses that I should probably take.

2. I have a friend who owns a sailboat and swears we will go out and do some sailing come summer time. This should at least get me some ocean experience an expose me to larger vessels.

3. Come Spring of 2016, I would like to purchase my own boat and liveaboard for at least the first spring and summer. My girlfriend has agreed to this, and seems to think it would be fun, however convincing her to stay aboard during a cold, snowy New England winter may be a challenge she is not up to.

4. At this point I would most likely stick to crusing New England waters (Cape Cod and the islands, the coast of Maine, Block Island sound, etc.). I should add that I work on a rotating 12 hour shift and have 7 days off in a row once every four weeks. I'm assuming that between my scheduled off time and vacation time I will have plenty of time to cruise around leisurely.

I do have a few concerns however. I am a recent college grad with an excellent paying job in electrical generation, no debt, and very good credit, but I'm unsure how willing a finance company will be to give a loan to a 22 year old engineer fresh out of school with only a couple years experience. Mostly I find that I am attracted to Beneteau boats, but I have the feeling that financing will really dictate what I can afford to purchase in the end.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences about jumping into the crusing world, and any advice on how you think I should go about it myself. Thanks in advance for all your help!

Regards,
Eric
Your age is actually working for you not against you however because of your youth my advice would be take lots and lots of time to make your decision. Once you make that call turning back without loosing a chunk of dough is unlikely. Enjoy the sizzle for as long as you can, its almost as good as the steak without the risks. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:57   #3
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

You have a mature sensible approach to your endeavor. Your 3rd point, I would like to give you some insight. There is no better way to loose a relationship or boat or both than making your significant other uncomfortable and/or inconvenienced, living aboard a cold New England winter. Why not stay in a cheap apartment during the cold months? That way you could stay aboard a weekend, say at Christmas time. You would soon be grateful for that little apartment.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:07   #4
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

You have a good paying job, save enough money so you can buy an older, cheaper boat for cash, then as your learning etc., keep saving so that you can sell your cheap boat and move up. Don't get caught up in the I gotta have it now, finance game. Drive an older cheaper car you pay cash for, don't finance things, you'll save a lot of money if you don't.
Don't plan on living aboard during the winter, that is survival, not living. It's a great way to ruin the love of boating, one winter would do it for me, my wife wouldn't last a month.
I'd say buy a small pocket cruiser with the intent of staying on it during your weeks off and vacation, but live in a house, apartment etc. during normal working times. If after a couple of years you really do love living aboard, even in the winter by that time you should have saved up enough to buy a boat large enough to do so.
I'm going to differ from a few here, I don't think you will save money by living aboard, I beleive living in a small apt. is just as if not maybe cheaper
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:08   #5
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Are you crazy? Yes. But that's a good thing. I was also once a crazy 22 year old engineer wanting a bigger boat than my Sailfish.

Skip the local sailing school and instead get your own small lake boat and teach yourself to master it. You can learn on your own the fluky lake winds while also taking it out on the snotty days and make mistakes. That's how you learn. Most any, small dinghy will do to really learn the fundamentals. Get one that you can right yourself - or with one other person - after a capsize.

As you learn find a local yacht club or sailing club and try to get on a small boat racing crew. Gain experience and move up to bigger boats.

The CG Aux Safety course is probably a good thing for both you and your gal. Cheap and maybe free. Any learning she does in parallel with you is a bonus.

Instead of an early, small liveaboard with cold winters, you might consider an early target of doing your own bareboat charter - once you're confident with your skills on a bigger boat and have a resume the charter company will accept. Formal classes are not important - experience and time on the water is. I did my first charter at age 26 in the Virgins. There may be local charters or some not too far away. I know you can do it on the Ches Bay.

Bottom line, get as much time on the water in small boats as you can. This will make you a better cruiser. The best boats to do this on are OPB's - other people's boats. I didn't own my own cruising boat until I was age 53 (hopefully you'll get there sooner). In the meantime I owned 5 small boats, all 17' or less, but sailed many, many, many OPB's and charter boats.

Good luck,
2 Hulls Dave
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:24   #6
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Hi Eric and welcome to the forum,

I agree that you have put together a very sensible plan for learning to sail. Not unlike how I went about it. My first time ever on a boat I was 23 and went on a 2 week trip to the Bahamas with a couple of experience friends from college. I caught the sailing disease and when I got home proceeded to read everything I could find on boats, boating, boat design, boat building, boat repair and maintenance, sailing, navigation, stories by sailors, novels by sailors. That gave me a great background and I believe dramatically accelerated the hands on learning process when I got to get on a boat again.

Also agree with your instructors. Learning to sail on a smaller boat is more difficult and also better than learning on a larger boat. On a small boat any mistake you make you see the results immediately. Same when you do it right. On a larger boat the results are more subtle and not as immediate.

You should think about learning to sail as two separate skill sets. Sailing as in how to hoist and trim the sails is relatively simple. I could teach the basic skills of sail handling to any reasonably competent person in an afternoon. He/she would certainly be no expert but would be able to get the sails up and down and roughly set the trim to go upwind, downwind or across the wind. The bigger and more difficult skill set I would call seamanship which is everything you need to do to sail or motor, navigate, understand what is important to keep your boat safe and afloat, weather, maintenance, etc, etc, etc. Someone on the forum put it more or less like this. You can learn to sail in a day but spend the rest of your life mastering the details.

By the way, I'm with Celestial 100% on his recommendation. Living on a small boat can be challenging in the best of circumstances. Living onboard in a New England winter could be miserable. If your SO likes to hike in the winter, go ice climbing, pitch a tent in the snow, camp for weeks at a time then it could work. If she prefers a bit more comfort and a few more amenities then you need to rethink the winter plan or be ready for a change in your relationship status.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:49   #7
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Do it till you don't like it anymore. The ASA classes will suffice for the safety issues. My only suggestion is to get a job in a warmer place.
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Old 01-01-2015, 09:11   #8
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

at 57, I jumped in hook, line, and sinker literally sailing farther out in Lake Erie each time trying to convince ourselves that the world was indeed not flat. It was scarey to me and I think that little seed of fear is a good thing to always have. Complacency can lead to trouble. Be prepared for bad stuff and it is less likely to happen. Strong agreement on the relationship stuff. Some adventures and conditions the guys like may kill it for some women. Join your local Power Squadron and take their classes. Marine electronics, weather, Sail 1 &2, navigation, engines, cruise planning etc. Excellent source of information. I wish I could have started sooner. That messin' about in boats is so true!
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Old 01-01-2015, 09:19   #9
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Eric

I am 52 and 30 yrs ago was in your exact same spot with the exception I grew up racing lasers and hobies. At this point I have about 15k bluewater miles so I am not as experienced as many people on this site.Click image for larger version

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Whatever you choose to do - it will be right! You can't make a mistake if your having fun. I can tell you in short what I did.

Go to your local yacht club's crew needed board and start racing as crew on larger boats. Get a rep as good crew and the fastest boats / best skippers will be calling you. Start round the buoy 's and move to offshore races.

Focus on coastal navigation as a life time hobby. Water won't hurt a well found boat - land will - it's hard.

Next step is go bare boat in the Caribbean - that will introduce you to cruising. Specifically, bare boat in the Bahamas, coastal navigation in skinny water is best learned by doing it. It's one of the best places you can do this without getting into too much trouble and its a blast with great spear fishing. If you can navigate in the Bahamas it's been my experience that you can navigate safely anywhere.

As stated in a previous post - take your time to decide on what boat you want to invest some of your life into - it's like a marriage in many respects. Read the book - "Cruising Survey" - it's a great way to see what other people value in a marriage / boat.

Good luck bud!


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Old 01-01-2015, 09:36   #10
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

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Do it till you don't like it anymore. The ASA classes will suffice for the safety issues. My only suggestion is to get a job in a warmer place.
Our 1st sailboat we bought we asked seller for lessons and he said yes. He took us out for @ 45 minutes and then back in and we asked what time next day and he said "that was it I have taught ya'll the basics the rest you have to learn through experience" we took that advice and have been still practicing for the past 8-10 years gaining knowledge every trip out and yes we usually go out month or 2 at a time. As Everything for sail says "find warmer place to work and play. Warmer water is lots better to splash in than cold
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:24   #11
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Just a note as to how I do it... I'm in my 60's now. Had 8 boats, 2 wives and a few houses. Here is what is working for me now. I have an excellent quality, famed named boat that is 35ft. long.
In the past I've had overall lengths have been 21ft. to 46ft. Cutter/Ketches/Sloops. Fiber-glass and in steel. I started doing this craziness when I was 22 years of age. Since I've always been a blue-collar guy, I could never afford much. So I always ended up with bargain basement boats. I was amazed how working on boat enriched my life. To be on the docks with like minded people, making new friends and losing some who weren't into what I was.
It's taken awhile to find the right size boat for me. Bigger is more comfortable but the maintenance/slip fee cost can be a stress in my life.
Both wives appeared interested in the lifestyle until it came to actually doing something. It's not for everyone.
I've been mortgage free for 9 years now and my Hallberg-Rassy, I bought cash. This is reflective of some prior posts mentioned. I come and go as I please. I have a significant other at home who is into horses. She supports my habit and it's clear to both of us that she is not interested in sailing and I am not interested in 1100 lb. four legged methane machines.
Currently, I'm back in Mexico, working on the boat. There are others here doing the same. Last night we had a news years party....total strangers.
There are lots and lots of boats out there. I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to by a newer, bigger, financed dock queen.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:37   #12
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

You are definitely starting out right. I'd nudge you to consider getting an older (and sooo much less $$) sailboat. There are a lot of sailboats available for a very reasonable price. Not a 'project' boat, but one that you can use day one... but needs updating/ improvements for eventual Liveaboard status. Expect to pay $5-15k. I pointed out on another post like yours to checkout the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum site/ annual boat auction in early Oct every year. 10-15 boats are auctioned off in sail away condition every year in this price range with working diesel engines, galley, heads, ... These boats are usually donated by older sailors whose health or other circumstances have changed and are loved/ well kept boats and are remarkable bargains. If you sick to your plan (training/ saving) you may be ready by October to sail one home.

I'm sure others may disagree but I'd discourage considering liveaboard status on anything smaller than 27'. Of all things... there is just not enough room for clothes for two working people!! Having a 3+' long closet seems about the absolute minimum from personal experience. As you will learn, below space significantly grows with every +3' of boat length. 33'-35' becomes very doable.

Buying a boat and updating systems as your time & $ budget allows... you to learn your boat and tweak it just how you two want it.

We lived on our sailboat in San Diego, Caribbean, NYC, and here in Chesapeake Bay area. Up here I installed at second power cord just for electric heat and also a marine diesel heater for anchoring out. But while the boat can be comfortable you need to think about the realities of a long walk from a mostly deserted Winter parking lot in cold rain, down a icy dark dock with 15-20 kts winds and arms/ fingers aching going numb holding bags of food starting to tear open... somehow starts to lose the romance of boat living. This might be a phase best eased into after a year or two of 3 season liveaboard status.

Water is also a big Winter liveaboard issue where you are from Dec-April. Most marinas/ fuel docks shut off their water Nov-April. Most liveaboards use about 3 gal per person per day... about 5 gal/ day. Most sailboats of the size you looking at only have a 30 - 50 gal water tank. That's only a 10 days of water. While your usage might be a little less being at work 8 hours, getting 30-40 gal of water to the boat every week during the Winter can be very challenging. It was a challenge also in the Caribbean cruising beyond marinas.

There are many many threads on your topic spread throughout this site... make sure you check them out for more insights, recommendations, experiences. Good Luck



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Old 01-01-2015, 11:03   #13
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Hi Eric: I agree with many of the posts above, especially those about relationship stresses during winter, buying an older boat rather than financing a newer boat, etc. I am rather confused about your comment about liking the Beneteaus, however. I suggest looking at the Pacific Seacraft '38 and '40. They have a modified fin keel and are widely considered some of the best blue-water boats around. Check this out: https://t.e2ma.net/webview/wsmvn/245...04d750d7460524 Cheers, John
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:05   #14
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

Forgot to mention: Not only does the PSC have a bullet-proof keel, but also they have a skeg-hung rudder. Takes away a lot of the stress about hitting something on the bottom.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:07   #15
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Re: Am I Crazy?: My Plan to Learn to Sail and Get Offshore

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Hi Eric: I agree with many of the posts above, especially those about relationship stresses during winter, buying an older boat rather than financing a newer boat, etc. I am rather confused about your comment about liking the Beneteaus, however. I suggest looking at the Pacific Seacraft '38 and '40. They have a modified fin keel and are widely considered some of the best blue-water boats around. Check this out: https://t.e2ma.net/webview/wsmvn/245...04d750d7460524 Cheers, John
Pacific Seacraft are fantastic boats BUT $$$$.
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