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Old 06-01-2016, 16:10   #1
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Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

With more and more friends about to leave (this summer or the next) and having left already, I am kinda feeling the pressure ... And I'm not getting any younger either, so there's that little voice in the back of my head telling me that waiting for later could very well mean never. I'm only in my early 40's but come from a family where 65'ish seems to be the magic number. So - I should probably get a move on

But ...

I am not at all sure I'll enjoy sailing solo all the time. It's no problem for day trips obviously (been doing that for years), but getting from the Netherlands to where there be coconuts will take a little more then comfy day trips and overnighters straight out of the brochure.

On the other hand, sailing from the Netherlands to the Caribbean is relatively easy sailing, as far as routes go, with the brochure promising me an easy downwind sail (...). The Gulf of Biscay is, in theory, the hardest part, but I'm more worried about what comes after.

Taking on crew on a 29' boat - now there's a challenge Provided there are people willing to hop on a tiny 29' boat with only the basics instead of a nice, luxury 45' + footer ...
I think it might be even more difficult then just biting the bullet and go solo. There is no room (I usually go outside to comfortably change my mind), no privacy and zero luxury.

Also, I've been told that dumping annoying crew members in a liferaft mid ocean is frowned upon ... so I'm guessing I'd be stuck with whomever joins me for (over) a month.
Right now, I can barely make it through a couple of hours with a 2nd person onboard
I know that sounds horrible, but I've been living alone for most of my adult life, and I've been living alone (with a cat) on this boat since I bought her, a little over 2 yrs ago.

Having said that: most people that join me are landlubbers, who seem to have a freaky talent for getting in the way every single chance they get, and bringing bags that are bigger then my V-berth
My redeeming quality is that I get along just fine with my kid (now an adult who complains about the lack of headroom) aboard for a week or so at a time. Bought a 22' boat when he was little so he is well adjusted

If I were to wait a few more years, I could buy myself a nice Centurion 36 (yes, I like old but expensive and smallish boats ...) which would at least make it a little easier to sail with a crew when needed.

I have more or less given up on the idea of finding a nice guy to join me -- landlubbers be landlubbers, and single handers ... well, they are simply impossible to live with

Sailing solo together has been discussed, but I don't think that's viable option. Very, very difficult to stay close enough -but not too close!- on a crossing.
I think it'll just make things harder for both boats, not easier, and that's putting it nicely. Especially considering I'll be trying to keep up with 38+ ft boats since very few people go smaller these days.

Anyway -- this is obviously a decision I have to make for myself, while remembering why I want to go sailing in the first place: cos it's fun. Most of the time. Usually. I luckily suffer from sailors' amnesia

I am just not sure having to sail solo all the time is as enjoyable as being able to sleep sometimes, knowing there's someone keeping watch.
More and more people put more & more trust into AIS / radar as "2nd crew member" but call me old fashioned - I really like the idea of another human being sitting outside keeping a human eye on things. Not to mention human beings can make coffee and actually take action when an electronic crew member goes bleep bleep BLEEEPP!

Pretty much everyone I know (will) set sail as a couple.The only other solosailors I know personally haven't left yet.

Again, I have to decide for myself obviously , but I wanted to post anyway - maybe there's solo sailors here who are willing to share their experiences?
And I am sort of curious to know what others would do in my position. Go solo on a small boat (more or less cancelling out taking on a crew) now, while I know I'm healthy and fit, or wait a couple of years and at least go with a bigger, more comfortable boat that also has a little room for a crew member when needed / wanted?

Since there's little use outfitting this boat if I'm going to end up selling her (read: donating her to my son and buying and outfitting a larger boat to actually leave with) I kinda have to make up my mind this winter ...
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Old 06-01-2016, 16:34   #2
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

It is nicer to sail with somebody you are compatible with. REALLY REALLY REALLY not nicer to sail with someone that you aren't. Size of the boat is somewhat immaterial as you have to go really big in size to get enough space to be able to hide from a companion. Then you have the issue of a boat that is so large you HAVE to have a crew to sail.

Have done a bit of single handing and sailing/getting there is relatively easy once you are offshore. I sleep when I feel like it, usually in relatively short snatches, which is the way I sleep on shore. Usually wake up 3-4 times in a night. Coastal sailing is another story with the need to maintain a watch for traffic and hard stuff. Have done very little coastal cruising but it's been a day or two without sleep then heading inshore and anchoring or stopping at a marina and civilization for eight hours of sleep and exploring on land. Love my Bike Friday for getting around.

One thing for going smaller and earlier is the lack of guarantees in life. You just don't know when the fickle finger of fate is going deal you a bad hand. Have known a number of potential cruisers who waited to cruise while they worked to afford the too large gold plater, just to get a smaller boat perfect, or to find they just didn't like living on a boat/cruising and had to abandon their plans.
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Old 06-01-2016, 16:49   #3
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Buy a cat, they won't drink your beer or criticize your sail trim.


Happily single handing for years
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:04   #4
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

She has a cat (see above). Liz, I am all for you carefully (you do have plenty of time right now) vetting a crewmember until you find the right one. Then- start on daysails, then start coming down the coast sails (with options to leave that member at port should anything not work out) Finally to sail across the pond and to the Caribbean (if that is where you want to go)
You may find that you really don't need anyone (like MarkG) or that you would rather sail alone and socialize at port. It's all good, you don't have to sail with someone!
I would lend you my first mate, but a crew member on a boat is like a custom glove, they are generally not exchangeable. People are all unique.
I can empathize, as I often find myself sailing the big blue alone in order to meet some goal. Make sure your windvane and autohelm is up to date and the way you like it, otherwise you and your crew will just get angry.
Following winds and fair seas to you....
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:07   #5
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Wondering the same question myself Liz. I think that the long passages would be challenging and there are times when a second person is a big asset --- but there are also times when a second person is worse then being alone. If you enjoy sailing then what difference does it make how long it takes to make a passage. If you were menat to find someone to sail with it will happen if not . . . that will happen too.
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:10   #6
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

The idea of the world is more often than not much scarier than the real world turns out to be....
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:19   #7
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

The big old universe has a way of delivering just what we need. You seem to be an engaging person with people and social skills. I don't think finding a companion to sail with will be very difficult. But don't wait! Just like preparing you boat, if you wait until you think you are "ready" you might wait too long. Go now and keep your options open. I don't think you really need to decide anything except when to go!
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:23   #8
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Shes already got the cat...

If you are comfy and happy with what you have.. go now.
By the time you reach La Coruna you will know your needs/limits better after a Biscay crossing solo..
If it is any help I remember one of our 'Veteran Singlehanders' being rather nervous when he went solo first time from Italy to the Caribe.. MarkJ.
Folk always overthink it.. but to be honest its not that bad if your happy with your own company.. the first three days are the worst then you kinda relax into a comfortable routine.
If your not comfortable solo by Spain head home and get the bigger boat..
The experience will whet the appitite and hone some skills
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Old 06-01-2016, 17:54   #9
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Besides the solo thing, maybe you should allow yourself that you can always go back to working if you don't like it.

BTW - I bet a solo female can find a solo male floating around if they are interested
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Old 06-01-2016, 18:17   #10
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

The challenge, from what I read and have extrapolated, is that of an introvert trying to find another, compatible, introvert. I can relate to the problem but not offer much other than sympathy. If I was in another place, in my life and geographically, I'd propose a meeting to discuss mutual interests, but it's not happening.

FWIW, I don't think boat size is the real issue. I have some experience sailing in small boats, and more experience wilderness camping in small tents, and believe that people with the right approach can find their "own space" even in those conditions. But you want to be very careful that everyone respects that space.
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Old 06-01-2016, 18:20   #11
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

As an old fart, I believe when you get older, you'd regret not going now more than you'd regret going now, and having to go back to work later.
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Old 06-01-2016, 18:22   #12
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Yes, and I'll second that. I should have gone thirty years ago.
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Old 06-01-2016, 18:32   #13
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Lizzie... Here is my advice... take it or leave it.

I think you SHOULD plan a passage to the Caribe via the Canaries which are very cool to visit... I lived there for a while on GF's 36' sailboat. I digress.

You need to prepare the boat for offshore... HF radio, Life raft (rent or borrow)... drogue, staysail.... deep reefs or a trysail.... and I would suggest an electric windlass and all chain for when you are anchoring every night... jack lines... ditch bag... you can find out what people do.. just ask.. YOU DECIDE.

I would definitely audition for one or maybe 2 crew for the passage. Have them sail locally with you... do some MOB drills and so forth... before you shove off soundings.. your crew need to know the boat because your life may depend on it.

MOST sailors are pretty OK but things like smoking or drinking or... sense of humor or none... and so on makes living in tight quarters very annoying. You don't want that.

I've crewed up many times for the NY to Caribe run and back... and done in alone too. Two works fine if both are competent and can cook, steer, navigate. The company is more fun... I've enjoyed them all! Some more than others... once with a lady... not a great sailor but adequate and careful. I never had someone who seemed nice become a monster offshore.

I am sure you can find crew... and maybe they come for one leg and then another for another leg... why not?

But definitely GO now... this is a great time. I did it when I was 44 - 48 and some more deliveries and so for after that... now married and a coastal guy.

Please go and we'll all help!
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Old 06-01-2016, 19:42   #14
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Coastal sailing is another story with the need to maintain a watch for traffic and hard stuff. Have done very little coastal cruising but it's been a day or two without sleep then heading inshore and anchoring or stopping at a marina and civilization for eight hours of sleep and exploring on land.
My current plans involve quite a bit of coastal sailing (Spain & Portugal) although I could do most of it in a day, or two at the most.

I don't do well with little sleep; I once found myself in the middle of the night on watch duty after the person who was supposed to take that shift decided she was too tired and simply went to her cabin ...

Didn't help it was a 60' I didn't know too well, but regardless - I found being dead on your feet, half asleep and responsible for a boat + crew was no fun at all, esp not with other boats and 'hard stuff' near. At times I had serious trouble figuring out what the darn lights were I saw, or even how many there were exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
Liz, I am all for you carefully (you do have plenty of time right now) vetting a crewmember until you find the right one. Then- start on daysails, then start coming down the coast sails (with options to leave that member at port should anything not work out) Finally to sail across the pond and to the Caribbean (if that is where you want to go)
I'm not really looking for a 'permanent' crew, just people willing (and able) to join me for parts of the trip, when a second pair of eyes and hands comes in handy.
If that's doable ... I'm not sure and probably won't be until I'm actually talking to whomever seems willing to join me for a bit.

Should I meet someone I fall head over heels in stupid with, and he wants to sail with me, I'm not gonna say no but realistically speaking, I'm going to assume that's not going to happen and it'll be just me.
I'm actually fine with that -- means I can go with my boat, om my terms, where and when I want to. In many ways, solo sailing is a lot easier then sailing as a couple

My concern is the 'you're on your own' when you're seasick, dead tired etc. etc. especially near the coast / shipping lanes etc.
Once I'm crossing the pond, I'll take my chances and sleep asif on split watch duty. Figure I'll be fine as long as I reef like a storm is coming before crawling into my bunk.

There's always a risk of hitting something, which I accept. I can't stay awake for a month nor would I last a month waking up every hour or so -- at some point, sailing solo -to me- means accepting the risks and rest / sleep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandero View Post
I would definitely audition for one or maybe 2 crew for the passage.
Two crew? Oh hell no, hahaha! Three adults on 29' isn't going to happen if I'm one of them

My friends are all landlubbers who have nothing with boats (they don't even like coming aboard when visiting now, they like the land) and my sailing friends are all couples with their own boats.

I grew up on boats, but somehow all my friends are from the wrong side of the shore
So I'd have to go find crew looking for a boat online or locally before taking off on a certain leg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
the first three days are the worst then you kinda relax into a comfortable routine.
If your not comfortable solo by Spain head home and get the bigger boat..
The experience will whet the appitite and hone some skills
Oh, I'll be nervous as all hell crossing Biscay probably, but that's OK. Doubt there's many people not nervous the first couple of days out ...

The thing is: I have a limited budget. That means I can either outfit this boat, or keep my money and work for a somewhat bigger one and outfit that one. Any money spent on this one is gone. Not just cos I'd donate her to my son, but simply because a 40+ yr old 29' boat isn't going to fetch any real money, no matter how great she looks and how well I outfitted her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
BTW - I bet a solo female can find a solo male floating around if they are interested
I don't doubt it, but I do seriously doubt putting any 2 single sailors on one boat will be a huge success. There's a solo sailor a few slips down from mine, and since we're friends, people here keep dropping not-so-subtle hints we don't have to sail solo, we could just go together. Yeah ... no
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Old 06-01-2016, 22:04   #15
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Re: Go solo, go now ... or wait a few more years?

So...the Japanese find privacy in spaces so small we'd think them cruel for one.
If you think it challenging to find a compatible partner at 40 something, try waiting till you're 67! LOL!
That's the devil of waiting - it just never happens. the perfect partner is like the perfect boat: only exists after you choose one!
So start out, and discover. As many on this forum relate, you can do it in your style, whatever that may be.
Check it out, there are the folks cruising on large cats with companions and crew, and people on nice 20 something footers single or double handing.
IMHO, start where you are stretching yourself just a little, and take it from there.
(Preaching to myself, too, once again)
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