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Old 01-11-2005, 10:02   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Montana
Boat: Pacific Seacraft 34 - Spirit
Posts: 2
New to site - need cruise help

Hello everyone

My husband, David, and I currently live in Montana but are in the process of purchasing a 1988 Pacific Seacraft 34 to cruise and live aboard for the next couple of years. Before we got married, David sailed the Texas gulf coast for a nuimber of years but neither one of us has any true blue water experience. As you can imagine, we have a ton of questions and would appreciate everyones help and patience.

For right now we would like some input on the following:

Our primary goal is Costa Rica and we have read numerous cruising guides about whether to follow an eastern Carribean route through the islands or go south along the Mexican coast to the Yucatan and south from there. Obviously, both routes have their pros and cons.

For example, we have also read that Mexico can be a very difficult country for cruisers and that the paperwork cha cha involved in entering and leaving port can make the trip pretty miserable.

Then there is the issue of timing and weather. The boat we are planning on buying is in Kemah, Texas, which is near Houston. We have to do quite a bit of work on the boat and we don't think we will be ready to leave until mid-February. A lot of books that we have read say that if you are planning an eastern Carribean trip you need to leave Florida by January or February at the latest in order to have enough time to get as far south as Greneda before hurrican season. So if we can't leave Texas until February are we already too late? If so should we simply go up the east coast of the US this spring and summer and wait until late fall of 2006 to head south?

Lastly, we have no real idea on what to expect for monthly expenses. We have a limited budget, most of which will be spent on our boat and the fix up projects. We are pretty frugal and don't require a lot of frills, but we have no idea what a normal month of living will cost (not including repairs etc).

We would certainly appreciate any information and advice on these issues that anyone is willing to share. We need all the help we can get. Thanks so much. Also if someone is willing to chat by phone please send us a PM with their phone number.

Jo & David
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Old 01-11-2005, 13:57   #2
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Caribbean
Boat: 2004 Manta 42 - Perseverance
Posts: 303
Going cruising

You raise a lot of the same questions we all asked before we slipped our dock lines. Some of the best information my husband and I received was from members of the Seven Seas Cruising Association ( They publish a monthly newsletter made up of letters from cruisers all over the world on topic of interest, such as port entry requirements, "must see" places, etc. I would heartily recommend that you join this group - you don't have to be a liveaboard to join. You don't even need a boat. You just need an interest in cruising. Once you've joined, you can search back issues of the newsletter on line to get information on topics that interest you. You can also access their bulletin board and check the archives for information.

Hope this helps.

s/v Perseverance
Manta 42

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Old 01-11-2005, 14:01   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Gabriola BC
Boat: Viking 33 Tanzer 8.5m Tanzer 22
Posts: 1,034
Images: 5

I do not have the answers for you.
Lattitude 38 ?? has an email messaging service that has had a lot to say recently about the Mexico thing. They are in San Diego. They also organize the Baha Ha Ha which is getting underway about now. They go from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with stops on the way. About 58 boats are taking part.
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Old 14-11-2005, 14:54   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Montana
Boat: Pacific Seacraft 34 - Spirit
Posts: 2

Thanks so much for the insight! I will check both sites.

We did officially purchase our Pacific Seacraft last Tuesday in Texas. We are so excited about packing up and sailing on. The boat is still in Texas and we will join her in January which brings up another question.

We are going to have to do some work on our boat and will probably not be able to head out of Kemah, Texas until March. My husband has heard that March is too late to head south (down around 15-20 degrees). Any experience out there?
Jo & David
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Old 14-11-2005, 18:50   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Deale, Maryland
Boat: SeaView - Privilege 37
Posts: 1,019
Images: 5
First of all, you should not worry too much about getting other opinions. Just wait until you get down to your boat and start doing things on it. The opinions will roll in like the waves!

I can give you a little bit of the cost side. You can eat out, you can cook in. You can go to movies, you can read books. Much of the cost depends on the lifestyle you choose to live. Marinas can vary from reasonable to outrageous. We paid about $700 a month for a slip in Hollywood, Florida. We paid about $250 a month for a slip in New Bern North Carolina.

While we were bringing up the boat from Florida, we paid up to $1.75 per foot per night as a transient fee. VERY expensive. We paid about $13 to fill up our 20 lbs. propane tank. A tank last us about 3 months. We cook very regularly. Aside from the dockage cost, most things are the same cost as being ashore, with perhaps the cost of boat insurance being another variable. We paid about $1300 for a year of coverage. But, we had to be out of the hurricane area durring the season. We still have to pay for gas for the cars, food, entertainment, no dry-cleaning, but we have to pay for laundry mats now adays. We still have health insurance cost, auto insurance, we still buy gifts for friends and family. All those things will tend to remain the same.

Maintenace and upgrades is probably going to be your biggest shocker. Boats can be awfully expensive!! This is where you will have to be concerned. We have spent $$$$ every month on maintenace and upgrades, a couple of months it was $$,$$$. Be aware. Budget closely and add 35% for all those misc items you need to install it with, make it work.

Mexico has recently, last couple of months, changed its rules. You no longer have to check in and out of every port. You can do it once. This has made cruising there a lot easier. I'd be slightly less concerned. I am partial to the islands, but I'd suggest following your heart and going where your fancy takes you. Isn't that the whole idea of the sojourn? Start from the heart, then plan to make it real.

Back to my first point. You are going to be DELUGED by opinions. It is often difficult to ascertain which is good and which is less good. Don't let it frustrate you too much!!!! You have to figure out what is right for YOU. There are people out there that have been sailing for years in boats with no motors and who use Kerosine for lighting. There are people who have every bell and whistle imaginable and who have never been further than 20 miles from their home port. Both are right! if they are doing that which makes them happy.

Start out with shorter trips, don't get carried away with so many of the things that you just HAVE to have. Find out what makes you happy and add it when you have had a chance to define YOUR cruising style.

Well, back to determining whether I need that whiz bang new Pactor modem!

Good luck, See you out there!

Fair winds,

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