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Old 22-04-2010, 02:32   #1
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Learning to Sail while Crusing the Caribbean

I did a transatlantic with 3 other people. Was a basic deck hand and took shifts with everyone else at the helm. I am in my younger twenties and I am planning to sail the carib with a few buddies this Fall/Winter. I have the most sailing experience, but I am by no means a competent solo sailor.

The plan would be to get a small boat down in South Florida and then do some extra learning there with any sea dog we can find. We are young guys not afraid of the unknown but want to determine if this is really possible. Just go down, get a boat, and take off for a few months.
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Old 22-04-2010, 02:50   #2
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Originally Posted by JonathanJenkins View Post
learning there with any sea dog we can find. .
I think you would be the best dog! Learn your own tricks and then you don't have to unlearn stuff.

If you have a local sailing or yacht club then get down there and volunteer for racing. you will find lots of spots and have some great fun whilst learning.

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Old 22-04-2010, 04:09   #3
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When you say 'get a boat' do you mean to buy one, or to get a job on one?
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Old 22-04-2010, 05:14   #4
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Buy one

I mean buy.
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Old 22-04-2010, 05:25   #5
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How are you going to learn from an sea old dog if you're sailing on your own boat?
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Old 22-04-2010, 05:37   #6
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Ask around for advice. Help out on other boats. Take a sailor out for a few day trip.
etc
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Old 22-04-2010, 05:41   #7
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Are you near any water now? If so get out as much as you can all summer. By fall you can be ready to be competent skipper.
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Old 22-04-2010, 06:14   #8
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I think you'd do better working on other people's boats until you feel you know what you need to know. Get experience on as many other people's boats as you can. Everyone has different ways of doing things which are good/bad right/wrong. They'll all tell you theirs is the right way.

Most of them, especially those who think that the only way to learn is to buy a boat and get out there and have a go, are the worst of all - insisting their way is right etc...
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Old 22-04-2010, 07:30   #9
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go for it. BUMFUZZLE's crew sailed around the world starting off with about your level of experience. check out their logs for inspiration.
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Old 22-04-2010, 08:14   #10
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Yes you can definitely do this. Just be smart and prudent and take your time.
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Old 22-04-2010, 08:43   #11
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get a radio and figure out how to listen to weather reports. Then do it every morning. It will help keep you from getting into conditions you arent ready for.
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Old 22-04-2010, 11:04   #12
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Probably not the best idea, but it's not that unusual either - many people with little experience make the crossing to the Bahamas all the time. And that's what makes your idea something less than crazy:

The Bahamas are the conventional route to the Caribbean; they begin only a day sail from east Florida; there are hundreds of islands and you can and should spend several weeks or months exploring them. The hardest part of Bahamas cruising is entering and exiting anchorages - often shallow with reefs and coral heads, and finding anchorages protected from weather. They are also some of the most spectacular cruising waters in the world. If you don't fall in love with the Bahamas, you can consider moving on to the Caribbean.

Yes, you can do this. You need a reasonably good condition boat, some anchoring practice, Explorer brand charts, GPS, access to weather info, and cruising guides by Pavlidis and Dodge. You should get the charts and the cruising guides now - you will learn a lot.
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Old 22-04-2010, 11:19   #13
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You certainly have more experience than I did before I did my first solo trip. However, time on a boat, does not necessarily equate to what you are ready to handle.

I think the biggest problem with your plan will be finding a boat that is cruise ready. Many boats on the used boat market have been mostly day sailed and neglected by the previous owner for some time. Often it takes some short cruising to discover the problems. Finding them and fixing them can take some time.


Four days into a long cruise you've been planning is not the best time to discover your engine uses oil almost as fast as diesel.

When I purchased my first cruiser, I spent 2-months living on it on Lake Superior, mostly cruising on my own and then month long cruise the following summer to the Bahamas. Going solo really forced me to learn everything and not be dependent on crew. I had taken the bareboat course prior to this.
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Old 27-04-2010, 08:08   #14
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hiya jonathan

Hi there. JJ was on my boat for his transat. He's definitely intelligent enough to do this.

If you like, JJ, we could meet up in St Lucia - a definite centre for cheap boats - have a look for boats located in Rodney Bay, and i bet there's a lot.

I'll be in st lucia from about 8th Decemeber and happy to crawl through a boat with you, go out and help.

You should be wary of trying to go to the carib too soon - possible big winds etc. If you had a boat in the carib - early december might be about the time you relaunched anyway.

Well anyway, I'll help if you're around.
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Old 29-04-2010, 08:51   #15
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Going to St. Lucia with your friend would have many benefits. You could pick up a boat that actually had to cruise to get there. I would try to pick up a US documented vessel (providing, that is you are from the US), get it in shape for the trip, and cruise back to the US (with the wind and currents) having a sweet "milk run" down the trades.

Seatime will build confidence and there is no substitute for experience. As mentioned, keep on top of the WX broadcasts, watch the currents-give yourself plenty of sea room.


Take a "spot" locater and a liferaft.

Have fun!
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